‘It really has to be all about austerity’ Shadow Finance Minister claims – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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‘It really has to be all about austerity’ Shadow Finance Minister claims

The United Bermuda Party has called for Government to cut spending to keep the Island from falling deeper into debt.

Speaking in the Senate on Wednesday, Opposition Senate leader Jeanne Atherden said that while Premier Paula Cox had promised savings, she had not yet heard of any cuts.

“I'm still waiting, and I think Bermuda is still waiting to see the meat on the bones,” she said. “I haven't heard anything.”

Earlier this month, Government revealed that the Island's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) slumped by 5.8 percent, or 8.1 percent after taking inflation into account. Sen Atherden said that many people in the public didn't understand just how a drop in the GDP, a measure of the size of the economy, would affect them.

“It effects the number of people in the workforce,” she said. “It causes jobs to be lost. It's going to mean that revenue that Government is supposed to collect is not going to be extracted and if we don't manage our costs then we will have real problems. That's going to mean fewer jobs.”

Yesterday Shadow Finance Minster (ET) Bob Richards echoed Sen Atherden's concerns, saying: “So far I haven't seen any evidence of cuts.

“It really has to be all about austerity, and that's not something Government is going to want to talk about because it's never popular, but it's about saving so when times improve we have some purse power.”

He also criticised the comments of Senator Laverne Furbert, who told the Senate that she felt the extent of poverty in Bermuda was being exaggerated by campaigner Sheelagh Cooper. Ms Cooper, addressing the parliamentary select committee on violent crime, described poverty in Bermuda as an epidemic, but Sen Furbert said the statement was “sensational”.

“I remember people having to go outdoors to go to the bathroom,” Sen Furbert said. “I don't see that kind of poverty in 2010.”

Regarding the statement, Mr Richards said: “This kind of thing represents a complete disconnect from reality, particularly how it relates to the poor people in Bermuda. “I think we have a growing number of people who are really struggling to make ends meet. It's sad that we have a Government living in its own reality rather than try to improve the world we have.”

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Published December 10, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm)

‘It really has to be all about austerity’ Shadow Finance Minister claims

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