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OBA questions Government’s inflation figures

Cole Simons, the Leader of the Opposition (File photograph)

A One Bermuda Alliance claim that the Government has misrepresented the inflation rate yesterday sparked a war of words.

Cole Simons, the Opposition leader, said that the figures produced by the Cabinet Office “just don’t add up”.

But Wayne Furbert, the Cabinet Office minister, hit back and said Mr Simons had attacked the impartiality of the Civil Servants who compiled the statistics.

Mr Simons was speaking after the latest Consumer Price Index for the period to the end of August indicated an increase in inflation of 1.6 per cent.

He said: “The OBA questions how this is possible and how were these figures calculated.

“In the United States, The Brookings institute and the US Labor Statistics Department confirmed that their rate of inflation for the year ending October 31, 2021, came in at 6.2 per cent.

“Across the Atlantic, in the UK, The Independent newspaper indicated that their inflation rate for 2021 was at its highest in a decade at 4.2 per cent amid fears about Covid recovery.

“This figure was supported by CNBC News, which reaffirmed that the UK’s Consumer Prices Index rose by 4.2 per cent in the 12 months to October 2021.

“As for the eurozone, their inflation rose to 4.1 per cent for October, hitting a new 13-year high according to the Euro Department of Statistics and CNB.

“The figures presented by the Cabinet Office to the Bermuda public just don’t add up.

“As Bermuda is totally dependent on imported goods, how can this government either unintentionally or intentionally misrepresent or miscalculate Bermuda’s inflation figure to the people of Bermuda to be only 1.6 per cent?”

Mr Simons spoke out following claims last month by one investment firm that the inflation rate may be four times higher than the Government’s official Consumer Price Index.

Mr Simons said: “It is well documented that Bermuda is interdependent and interconnected to our supply chain countries. These supply chain countries show vastly different inflation rates to that of Bermuda for the 12-month period ending October 31, 2021

“This disparity is further exacerbated when shipping and local profit margins are factored in.

“Based on this information, Bermudians will actually have less purchasing power and less value for their hard-earned dollars. Unfortunately, Bermuda’s real purchasing power will decrease as the price for a basket of essential goods increased by at least six per cent, not 1.6 per cent.

“As painful as it is, the increase in Bermuda’s already expensive cost of living makes it extremely difficult for middle-class, blue-collar workers, the under employed and the unemployed to survive.

“The Cabinet Office must do a better job and provide a clearer picture of the real reduction of our spending power. Bermuda deserves it.”

Mr Furbert said: “Official statistics are not prepared by ministers and it is shameful for the Opposition leader to attack the integrity of the hardworking public officers in the Department of Statistics who serve the Government of the day with integrity and professionalism.”

He added: "If the Opposition leader has questions, I ask him to put forward these questions in the House of Assembly and not attack public officers who do their work without any political interference.”

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Published December 10, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated December 10, 2021 at 7:56 am)

OBA questions Government’s inflation figures

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