Dunkley reveals $900 million of projects
Premier Michael Dunkley told the OBA Spring Conference that projects costing in excess of $900 million are lined up for the next three years.
More than 400 party members at Pier 6 on Front Street were told that these ranged from ”a new airport to the America's Cup”.
Mr Dunkley also pointed out the conference marked the halfway point of their term in office before the next election will be called.
He told party faithful: “In two years, we've essentially rebuilt the economic foundation, putting in place conditions to stop the bleeding, reboot the engine and restore confidence in the Island.”
He added: “Jobs are key to all of this, and we are starting to see the ‘green shoots' that will grow them: planning applications and building permits are up about 20 per cent, company formations are on the rise, as are construction starts and retail sales. Business confidence is up.”
He added the OBA has started the “massive job of right-sizing government to make it financially sustainable,” and said the Budget this year will see the first current account balance in seven years.
“The goal is to balance the budget in three years,” he said. “To do that we've raised taxes where possible and imposed stringent disciplines across all ministries, including spending reductions in some areas.”
In other legislative changes, the Premier pointed to the outlawing of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, passing municipal reforms granting ratepayers the right to vote, freedom of information and publishing online the travel costs of ministers.
“We tightened controls and increased penalties for businesses that violate hiring regulations,” he said.
Premier Dunkley called the 2012 OBA election victory “one that will go down as one of the most important in our history. “I say that because the election gave Bermuda the opportunity to reject calamity, change course and start moving toward recovery and renewal.”
He said: “We took over a Bermuda in dire straits — sagging under debt, addicted to deficits, shocked by crime, with unemployment and underemployment the casualties of a shrinking economy. The pain in households across the community was real — and it remains real.
“Our priority was to get us out of the mess, to undo the damage and rebuild connections and confidence for jobs, opportunity and hope.”
He said his Government has led by example and cited Ministers' ten per cent pay cut, the reduction of the GP fleet, a smaller Cabinet and “the fewest political appointees and consultants in many years.
“Our goal is to get the Island on a path where Bermudians can see we are all in this together, that we stand or fall as one people, and that we have a duty to help and support one another — to make sure everyone gets the chance to participate and succeed.”
Guest speaker and the former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg and the Premier held what an OBA statement described as “a lively discussion including questions from members of Bermuda's Youth Parliament, who had been invited to attend.”
A statement added: “Mr Bloomberg discussed a number of topics including what he loves about Bermuda and why he has been coming back for 25 years, his time as Mayor of New York, politics and philanthropy.
“He spoke at length about one of his greatest passions, healthcare and the projects his charitable team have undertaken in Africa and other regions to improve healthcare in impoverished communities.”
Party Chairwoman Senator Lynne Woolridge also gave a speech at the event.
Premier Michael Dunkley has hit out at the Progressive Labour Party leadership, saying they “offer nothing but aggression and spite.”
Speaking at the One Bermuda Alliance Spring Conference on Saturday night, Mr Dunkley said the OBA are “willing to collaborate,” but added: “How can that happen with a party led by a man who has said there will be ‘no collaboration?’”
The Premier said the parties are “two competing narratives that seem to be in a 24/7 struggle”. He said: “There is our positive view that believes in Bermudians, believes in the future and our collective ability to get there. And then there is the grinding negativity of the PLP leadership, who offer nothing but aggression and spite, who attack to distract, who feed the cinders of historic mistrust whenever they can; who work to keep Bermudians apart.”
The Premier said that the PLP has in fact supported the vast majority of legislation the OBA Government has put forward.
“Two weeks ago in Senate, they chose not to vote against an Immigration Reform Bill despite organising a protest that shut down the proceedings. That incident, and the PLP’s record of support for our legislative agenda, exposes their empty politics, which puts party first, party second and party third.”
The Premier called it “a great disservice to Bermuda”.