A government playing around the edges
Now that we have had a chance to hear the Progressive Labour Party government’s Throne Speech, we are reminded how bare its cupboard of courageous leadership and meaningful ideas really is.
Right now, a number of residents on the island are in need. They can barely afford food, and the food banks themselves are struggling to keep up with demand.
Residents can’t find a job because of the pandemic and job openings are being inundated with applications. Students’ education has been continually interrupted.
Meanwhile, the Government is playing around the edges, going through the bureaucratic motions of commissions, committees and consultations.
Sure, some of the ideas are worth executing, but they are not substantial enough to lift Bermuda up to where we need to be. And some ideas are actively harmful, such as meddling with the Bermuda Tourism Authority or partnering with an overseas business to encourage Bermudians to send their money overseas.
Where are the bold ideas befitting a 30-6 majority, and, importantly, the true commitment that will give people the opportunity that they deserve? How is this government going to take care of our most needy?
This government should make the tough choices required to restart the economy, which will provide the required critical resources. There are some good and well-known ideas such as duty holidays to support small businesses or to reduce the impacts of inflation for the needy. Or opening immigration to increase the number of people on the island who are spending and patronising local trades and businesses.
Most importantly, this government needs to check its ego and stop meddling so that professionals can run tourism, gambling and education. And stop chasing headlines and photo ops with flashy operators who come and go, leaving behind empty buildings and news articles that reflect poorly on Bermuda.
The Government should focus on being a reliable and trustworthy partner for the kinds of business that will actually bring capital, but more importantly, real jobs and opportunity to the island.
It is true that as a result of Covid-19 and the unemployment benefits that had to be paid out, the Government is in a financial pickle — as demonstrated by its inability to fund a revamp of the incinerator. But this is just the straw on top of the camel’s back of 20 years of gross PLP mismanagement of the people’s funds. The pigeons have come home to roost.
The Government did have the money to pay out Ewart Brown, give almost $1 million to a scam artist, and front the redundancy payments for a major corporation. But for the charities and services our most needy rely on? Nothing but loans.
The Throne Speech speaks about “Changes that were resisted” as “negligent” — indeed, this government has been negligent. I look forward to this government changing so that it can stop “borrowing from our children” and start investing for their future.
• Doug DeCouto, PhD, is a One Bermuda Alliance election candidate for Warwick North East (Constituency 25)