‘We have made mistakes and I think our judgement came on December 17’
Opposition Leader Marc Bean last night defended his party’s time in Government, while calling for constructive input from the community.
Speaking to more than 100 people at a town-hall meeting held at the Warwick Workman’s Club, Mr Bean said the Progressive Labour Party is renewed, and focused on cultural and economic empowerment.
Commenting on the recent budget debates, Mr Bean said: “There is a pattern that has started, since December 17, where the Progressive Labour Party is being blamed for everything, even the current decisions.
“Our position is yes, we will put our hand up and understand we have made mistakes and I think our judgement came on December 17.
“Moving forward, the OBA is the Government of the day, and they have to stand and make the decisions of their own, if they have the capacity to make those decisions.
“Now that they are in Government, they realise it’s not as easy as one may think in their minds.”
He described the OBA’s economic strategy as ‘trickle-down’, but said the real task at hand is to help Bermudians help themselves move forward without requiring the assistance of Government.
However Mr Bean pledged to hold the Government’s feet to the fire as the party in opposition, and keep them transparent and accountable.
Mr Bean was joined at the meeting by a panel of PLP MPs, including Shadow Education Minister Walton Brown, Shadow Transport Minister Lawrence Scott and Shadow Finance Minister David Burt.
Mr Burt echoed the Opposition leader’s comments, saying: “The fact is after all the noise that was made about the PLP, out of control spending, the last two PLP budgets reduced spending in this country.
“The first OBA budget increased spending. We did what we did in reducing budgets at great pain. We made the choice to be responsible to the budget, and we will apply the same level of scrutiny.”
Mr Brown said that while he agrees with the concept of shared sacrifice, OBA’s policies do not fit that description.
“We see a lot of legislation and policies that are designed to promote the interest of the powerful and the Government. We have seen tax increases on the most vulnerable. You say cuts to student education and scholarships.
“What you saw for the business people and the powerful were tax breaks. Licence fees for work permits, payroll exemptions for new employees, so a lot of companies I’m sure are going to be getting rid of some staff and hiring new staff to make sure they don’t have to pay payroll tax.
“Focus on the policies that are put in place to take away some of your rights and put a greater tax burden on you.”
Mr Scott meanwhile took aim at the Government’s decision to bring the charter ferry
Millennium to the Island, saying the move was unlawful because it wasn’t advertised in accordance to the Marine Board Act, and the Bermuda Industrial Union was not notified in accordance to a collective bargaining agreement.
He also attacked the recent amendments to the Motor Car Act which require seniors to pay to licence their vehicles.
“What adds insult to injury from our perspective is that the Government says they are enacting this legislation in order to recoup some revenue lost by the Government due to alleged abuse of the system,” Mr Scott said.
“We can understand that concept, but what we can’t understand is that there has been no address of the alleged abuse. There has been no legislation proposed to end this abuse.”
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