Dickinson hits ground running after Cabinet shake-up
The new Minister of Finance said yesterday if Bermuda's Budget is not balanced this financial year, it will be in the next one.
Curtis Dickinson said: “We are still working through the numbers, but we definitely need to balance the Budget and if we don't get it this year, then certainly it will be next year.
“Some work is being done. I haven't been working as shadow on this issue, but tomorrow is a new day, and I get in with the team and talk about what it is we are planning to do.”
The Progressive Labour Party's election manifesto last year contained a commitment to balance the island's books by 2019.
He was speaking after he was sworn in by John Rankin, the Governor, at Government House, alongside Zane DeSilva, the new Minister of Tourism and Transport.
Mr Dickinson, who won a by-election in Warwick North East just five months ago and has taken the portfolio held by David Burt, the Premier, said a top priority was next year's Budget. He added: “The Budget is next on the agenda.
“I am looking at the economic substance issues around the European Union which is topical and I'm looking at the debt situation. Those are the three biggest priorities.”
Mr Dickinson said: “We need to grow the economy and I think the Government needs to look at how we can do our jobs more efficiently.
“That doesn't necessarily mean getting rid of people, but about how we can improve our processes and help our stakeholders and wider community do things in a faster and more efficient way.”
Mr Burt also reshuffled responsibilities among his Cabinet.
Michael Weeks, who was Minister for Social Development and Sport, will return to the back benches as his ministry was abolished.
His sport responsibilities will be taken over by Lovitta Foggo, former government reform minister, who will become Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport — a new ministry.
Mr DeSilva takes over tourism from Jamahl Simmons, who becomes Minister without Portfolio, as well as the transport brief from Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier.
Mr DeSilva said: “In tourism we have to increase the numbers — we need more tourists and heads in beds. It's nice to have all the cruise ships coming, but we all know that heads in beds produce more jobs and income for our people.”
Mr DeSilva said that he also was keen to improve road safety.
He added: “All of us are very concerned with the number of deaths and serious accidents and the huge effect that they have on Bermuda.
“We in Cabinet, caucus and the country as a whole can have a deep discussion about penalties — maybe they are not steep enough. If the time fits the crime, then you may find that you get fewer people who commit the crime.
“Anything that we can do to deter people from speeding, I am supportive of, including speed cameras. We also have to talk to all our taxi drivers. We have to try the best we can to have alternative transport.”
Walton Brown, who was Minister of Home Affairs, was replaced by Mr Roban.
Home Affairs will gain the Department of Energy and lose immigration, which will move to the Ministry of National Security under Wayne Caines.
Mr Brown will be Minister for the Cabinet Office.
Financial Assistance, which was part of Michael Weeks's social development and sport ministry, will be taken over by Kim Wilson, the health minister.
Responsibility for information technology policy will be shifted to the Premier.
Mr Burt said the changes were part of a reshuffle of responsibilities which has reduced the number of ministries from 11 to ten.
He added: “After 16 months in office, we have accomplished much of what we set out to do, but there remains plenty of work to be done.
“Today represents an opportunity to approach the task ahead with a team with whom the people of Bermuda can continue to have confidence.”
He added, departments had been realigned “to fit with the policy aims, objectives of the Government”.
The New Cabinet:
• Minister of Public Works: Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch
• Minister for the Cabinet Office: Walton Brown
• Minister of National Security: Wayne Caines
• Minister of Tourism and Transport: Zane DeSilva
• Minister of Finance: Curtis Dickinson
• Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport: Lovitta Foggo
• Minister of Education: Diallo Rabain
• Minister of Home Affairs: Walter Roban
• Minister of Legal Affairs: Kathy Lynn Simmons
• Minister of Health: Kim Wilson