Premier needs refresher on what matters most
Under the guise of “emergency powers” and fearmongering, the Premier has instilled a post-Covid authoritarian regime like no other. To come out of this, we need a quick-jolt recovery, financial stability and sustainable economic growth. Time is not our friend; we need to see swift-course correction to put our island back on track. We need to put people’s trust back in the Office of the Premier.
The Government’s recently announced economic priorities to refurbish the Tyne’s Bay Incinerator, open casino gaming, invest in vertical farming, and support the rejuvenation of North East Hamilton are important initiatives, but they can be hardly seen as the sharp end of a robust economic recovery plan.
Collectively, we can make Bermuda the best it possibly can be for all Bermudians. This means a refocus on what matters — what matters for the interests of all of Bermuda, not what matters for political wins and maintaining power.
The economy matters, businesses matter, education matters, tourism matters, foreign relations matter, morality matters. Underpinning all, this leadership matters — and it starts at the top.
Pressure on Bermuda’s debt and budget deficit, combined with the recent abrupt departure of our internationally respected finance minister, and the already weakened economy owing to severe Covid policies, has put us on the back foot.
Growth in gross domestic product is challenging in an economy reliant on few revenue sources coupled with a shrinking, ageing, health-challenged population. Inflation is rapidly rising across the globe, further driving the ability for real economic growth to levels beyond those seen in the past, and will require an even greater economic growth on an island relying on imports and import duties and service fees.
For example, if inflation in the United States is 6 per cent, it will drive inflation at least two points higher in Bermuda to have to ship goods to the island. This would mean an 8 per cent GDP growth to just maintain the present status quo. We are already seeing this impact in everyday life for Bermudians. Inflation is impacting every aspect of the supply chain, with supermarkets and other supplies of goods and services forced to pass along increasing costs directly to the consumer. A dozen eggs costs nearly $6; roughly $1 more than a year ago.
Interest rates and the existing debt carry in Bermuda will go up even higher if we have further issues with the rating agencies. This is hard-earned money paid by the people of Bermuda going directly into the pocket of the lender.
These external forces put more pressure on using all the tools in our arsenal to grow the economy. This requires not only attracting dynamic new businesses and tourism revenue streams, but also having a sharp focus on maintaining and growing the economic drivers already here in Bermuda.
My interests have been always focused on Bermuda, making our island home the best it can possibly be for our people. This is particularly poignant for our younger generations. I want us focused on what matters to keep Bermuda prosperous now and well into the future. Steady, trusted leadership matters now more than ever. We need to save ourselves!
• Sir John Swan, a National Hero, was the Premier of Bermuda from 1982 to 1995