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Dunkley: Budget struck the right balance

Michael Dunkley

The ranks of the civil service have dropped by 12 per cent under the One Bermuda Alliance, compared with an increase of 20 per cent under the former administration, according to Michael Dunkley.

Speaking after Friday’s Budget, the Premier said the Government had cut jobs without resorting to layoffs or redundancies — and would continue to implement recommendations from the Sage Commission for “greater efficiencies and performance accountability”.

Mr Dunkley said he was “particularly proud of our work to reform the payroll tax structure, because it will introduce fairness into a system that has been unfair to people who earn less”.

The three-quarters of Bermudians who take home less than $137,143 per year will see an increase in pay under payroll tax reforms that Mr Dunkley said would provide “cash relief to the people who could use a break”, starting on April 1.

Responding to remarks from economist Craig Simmons, who said the 2017-18 Budget failed to adequately address the island’s rising inequality, Mr Dunkley said he believed it “struck the right balance”.

“We’re starting to get in a much better position, but we have to be careful. The economy that we are stimulating is still in a somewhat precarious position,” he added.

Mr Dunkley cited initiatives such as increased funding for education and national security, but gave particular attention to tourism, saying that “even the most hardened and cynical critic” could not deny signs of “new life in Bermuda tourism”.

“There are those who have a differing view regarding our economic strategy, but I believe it’s important to point out that everything we are doing to generate economic activity is being done to generate jobs and opportunity for Bermudians,” he said.