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Public apathy is the new pandemic in Bermuda

David Burt, the Premier, and Cole Simons, the opposition leader, at the opening of Parliament. Neither have the taxpayer’s back, says Beverley Connell. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dear Sir,

It is official!

Political will: neither the Premier nor the opposition leader has the taxpayer’s back. By their silence, they do not care one iota about those/us who fund their policies, year after year, decade after decade, with continuing, damning Auditor-General (AG) reports on the management of public funds, ie, your money.

The bipartisan, investigative arm of the AG, the Public Accounts Committee (headed by the Leader of the Opposition), seems to be ineffective and the AG has already mentioned the lack of their reports to the House of Assembly, which is where the Minister of Finance can actually take up the recommendations contained therein.

We watch our leaders continue to bicker back and forth about the merits of their policies, but they never speak to the core of how the implementation of those policies by the Civil Service has historically been appallingly inefficient, resulting in poor return for the taxpayer´s hard-earned dollar.

This is not my opinion, people, it is the failing grade given by our AG every single year and the silence of our leaders is deafening. The stern words of our AG demanding stronger leadership from government ministers regarding the accounting deficiencies are met with passive responses from the Ministry of Finance, responses which our AG says are unacceptable. Year. After. Year.

Public apathy: apparently, I seem to be the only one who reads the Auditor-General’s annual reports. Or maybe it’s just that I am the only one who is vocal about them. I guess you should call me “the lone voice in the wilderness” because that’s exactly what I am.

I see no loud voice from the public, many of whom have been struggling to make ends meet and survive in an economy which is now beyond their reach and, in some instances, has forced them to leave and find a better life. When things get this bad, I can somewhat understand how an Auditor-General’s report card is a very low priority on their worry list. But Bermuda’s fragile economic future is in the balance and it demands a loud voice from the public to hold the political and the administrative government accountable in the management of our money.

Heaven knows we have a history of doing just that when it comes to the policies we disagree with. We have no problem loudly protesting those and we come out in droves, blocking Parliament, hanging bras on the Cabinet building fences, shouting down town hall MP speakers, hunger strikes on the lawn of the House of Assembly, protest marches …

Why then are we silent about the costly, wasteful implementation of government policies and the abysmal way that our money is being accounted for by the Government? Heck, we have no hesitation crying foul about high prices when it comes to our groceries, utilities, gas, taxes … but we are mute when our AG says financial instructions are not being followed, public entity financial statements are years in arrears, paper trails of your spent monies are missing and, thus, the value for your taxpayer dollars is in question, not to mention the increased risk of nefarious accounting activities. We are in debt up to our eyeballs and we, the taxpayer, dutifully keep “writing cheques” to the Government to fund it and the AG keeps saying “all is not well” with the Government's accounts department. I just don’t get it.

Lack of political will and a boatload of public apathy. This is the new pandemic, people, so put your mask back on, because it's fatal.

May you all rest in peace.



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Published November 24, 2022 at 7:52 am (Updated November 24, 2022 at 7:52 am)

Public apathy is the new pandemic in Bermuda

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