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OBA pledges to cut Island’s debt and get people back to work

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Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards last night pledged a One Bermuda Alliance Government would get people back to work, cut overspending and reduce the Island's crippling debt.

Speaking at the OBA's town hall meeting on the economy, Mr Richards painted an ugly picture of financial mismanagement by the Progressive Labour Party.

But he said that working with the whole Country the OBA can create a brighter future.

“The situation is grim, but I believe we can turn this around,” the Devonshire East MP told an audience of around 70 people at St Mary's Church Hall in Warwick.

Pointing at the OBA's finance panel including MPs Grant Gibbons, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin and Senator Craig Cannonier, Mr Richards continued: “I don't believe just this A-team, I mean the big 'we': all of Bermuda.

“Our objective as a Government would be to grow the economy, to get people back to work, to cut or control overspending and to reduce the debt.”

He said the first step would be to stop living beyond our means, adding: “That's what deficits are. We have to stop it. To do that, we have to rein in our expenses.”

Saying tax increases had proved disastrous for the economy under the PLP, he said the OBA would generate funds by being more welcoming to international business and changing immigration policies it believes are damaging, such as term limits, foreign spouse land licences and red tape.

He added that the Bermuda First report had stated $100 million a year could be made from giving permanent residency to 50 job creators.

To cheers from the audience, he said the OBA would cut consultants, reduce the size of the Civil Service and Cabinet and cut Cabinet Ministers' pay.

Earlier Mr Richards had delivered a presentation on Finance Minister and Premier Paula Cox's record on finance, saying Bermuda is now more than $1 billion in debt, equating to $15,000 for every man, woman and child on the Island. Overspending has soared since Ms Cox replaced her late father Eugene Cox as Finance Minister, said Mr Richards.

The crowd was made up of a wide range of ages, more than half were white, with several past and present Opposition MPs and Senators in attendance, as well as PLP Senator Jonathan Smith.

Sen Cannonier, the deputy OBA leader, delivered a rallying cry for people to do their own bit by not voting en bloc for the PLP.

He said PLP Senator David Burt had dismissed his criticisms of the way the Country was run by telling him: “Brother, at the end of the day, the voter will decide.”

Sen Cannonier told the gathering: “You are the game changers.

“When it comes to voting time, I will not put up with this nonsense any more. Do you not know that we have got people who are not able to feed themselves in Bermuda? We are all consistently worried.

“Are you motivated to get out of your seat and to make sure at the next election this does not continue?

“We have been far too lethargic about the politics of this Country. That's why things don't change.”

The deputy leader warned the PLP would “spin things all kind of ways”, adding: “We have got to get a little smarter.

“They talk about the 'economic downturn'. It's a crisis that we are in. We do not have enough money to pay our bills, not even close.

“We have got to stop accepting all this rhetoric and spin on things. Government will say the OBA is pro-foreigners and pro-business.

“You must not accept that kind of talk. It's getting you back to racial slurring. I voted for PLP over and over, but I will not accept inconsistencies. I will put party politics behind us and do what is right for this Country. We need to get Bermuda back working.”

Sen Cannonier then invited the OBA's caucus members onto the stage, where they were clapped and cheered by the audience.

Mrs Gordon-Pamplin gave a brief speech on tourism, outlining the Opposition's plans to improve visitors numbers with a Tourism Authority and to put pride back in the hospitality industry.

Useful websites: www.oba.bm

Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards holds the OBA?s reply to the Budget in this file picture from earlier this year.
Photo by Mark Tatem ¬ Craig Cannonier

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Published August 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm (Updated August 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm)

OBA pledges to cut Island’s debt and get people back to work

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