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Richards: deal with wolf at the door first

Bob Richards: one wolf at a time

Tackling Bermuda’s myriad financial challenges is no longer the responsibility of Bob Richards, the former minister of finance who authored the book Bermuda Back from the Brink. But the former politician, now retired, has some advice for the current government.

The underfunded pension issue, while important, is “not critical”, he says, because the Government has bigger issues to solve first.

“If there are two wolves, one at the door and one ten miles down the road that is bigger than the wolf at the door, you have to remember that you won’t get ten miles down the road until you deal with the wolf at the door,” he says. “Bermuda’s public debt is the wolf at the door.

“The underfunded pension liabilities are huge, but they are not at your door. You have got to solve the problem of the wolf at the door — and then you can look at those longer-term issues.”

Mr Richards says the perilous financial situation the island faces can be traced to the recession that began to bite Bermuda in 2009.

“The six-year recession in Bermuda will have ramifications for the next 20 to 30 years,” he said. “We are in a much more difficult position financially than we used to be, and now we find ourselves in a demographic situation that is much more difficult.

“We are not replicating ourselves to quite the extent that we did, making it tough for an underlying growth pattern. Most of the problems in Bermuda are due to growth, or lack thereof.

“We might not be in the shadow of the valley of death, but we are still in a difficult place.”