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Politicians and their changing faces

To accommodate an increased population, Bermudians must accept increases in construction around the island

“I need a roof over my head

I need a roof over my head”

— Mighty Diamonds

It has been interesting, sorry amusing, to watch the One Bermuda Alliance attempt to move from one “semi-populist” opinion to another. Depending on the week, month or year, the OBA has pivoted 180 degrees on a number of key principles.

It is on record as being the biggest proponent of turning Bermuda into the next Cayman Islands.

"Bermuda would do well to follow the lead set by the Cayman Islands…"

— Bob Richards (July 2020)

How many can forget the attempts to erase any semblance of immigration control, inclusive of doing away with term limits, proposing the granting mass status and issuing work permits to dependents of guest workers?

Before the critics kick in, giving status to those already resident here does not equate to significant population growth.

The OBA was also gung-ho on allowing foreign investors to purchase property and gain concessions in order to build.

In the bigger scheme of things, in an age of globalisation and regional competition, no island can continue to do things the same way as they did since the 1980s. Essentially, it is adapt or die. So, here is where the plot gets interesting, sorry amusing.

Political gymnastics

As of late, the OBA, the very same proponent of hyper-immigration and development, has been attempting to play the role of gymnast.

“From an economic perspective, Bermuda will not improve without a larger and stronger workforce. Bermuda needs more job creators and more people paying taxes and consuming service.”

— Reply to the Throne Speech (2022)

Last year it jumped on one particular bandwagon and accused the Government of having no plans for development.

“If Bermuda is to attract the necessary economic and human capital to support Bermuda, things must change — there is too much at stake.”

— Cole Simons (July 2022)

How ironic that as various plans that “attract economic and human capital” are rolled out, the OBA jumps on yet another bandwagon and runs to the media. There comes a point when it has to admit to itself that what it is saying and doing does not quite add up.

You cannot be major proponents of significant population and economic growth without being proponents of growth in housing. You cannot say the Government needs to attract investment, then attempt to be populist and rail against said growth.

Lest we forget, it was the same OBA that went to great lengths to discredit a housing project on the South Shore in 2012 with claims that the houses would “fall into the sea”. Only to do a 180-degree turn in 2017 and house multiple crews and their families from the America’s Cup 35 in the exact same units it claimed were heading to disaster. That alone proves that the OBA says and does two different things.

The cold facts

Three of the cold, hard realities are as follows:

• Most Bermudians have accepted that we need a growth in population

• Most Bermudians have accepted that we are short of housing inventory

• The vast majority of future housing will have nothing to do with the Fairmont Southampton property

If Bermudians can put aside their justified reservations on population growth, then the OBA and others must accept that over the next few years there will be a significant number of proposals for renovations and/or new builds to accommodate a marked increase in residential population.

Because of the scarcity of land, energy efficiency and rising construction costs, many of them more than likely will be multistorey units.

The OBA needs to decide if it plans to join every objection to housing growth, just in order to get in front of cameras. If so, it can no longer claim to be a proponent of population and economic growth.

Happy holidays

Enjoy the Coronation holiday. We probably won’t see another before 2040. See you at the King Jammy’s Coronation Dance on Sunday.

• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at carib_pro@yahoo.com

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Published May 05, 2023 at 7:54 am (Updated May 05, 2023 at 7:54 am)

Politicians and their changing faces

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