Burt, Commissiong pour scorn on jobs claim
Opposition leader David Burt and MP Rolfe Commissiong have lambasted claims by Michael Dunkley that the One Bermuda Alliance had fulfilled its election promise of creating 2,000 jobs during its first term.
The Premier made the assertion last week that 2,000 jobs had been created “in the Bermudian economy” but it was strongly challenged during the opening of the summer parliamentary session in the House of Assembly on Friday evening.
In an impassioned speech, Progressive Labour Party MP Mr Commissiong said: “In a fashion that I can only describe as bold-faced … we have been placed in a Trump-like alternate universe. I am sure that many of you heard that statement by the Premier — even he didn't look convinced by his own rhetoric — this is a man who always projects confidence. Certainly the statement, probably prepared by their newfangled American consultants, was not one that even the Premier felt sanguine about.”
The 2012 Employment Survey, carried out less than four months before the OBA came to power, showed there were 35,443 jobs in Bermuda, compared with 33,375 in last year's survey — a fall of 2,068 jobs over four years. In the four years before that, from 2008 to 2012, when the PLP was in power, the number of jobs on the island fell by 4,770.
Following Mr Commissiong's speech, Opposition leader David Burt told the country and his colleagues in the House: “That is the record of the OBA, they want to forget.”
Mr Burt claimed that Bermudians have “gone backwards under the OBA,” saying they take care only of their wealthy, well-connected friends.
He also called Mr Dunkley's statement on job creation a “ridiculous” assertion.
In reference to St George's hotel developer Desarrollos, Mr Burt then went on to say the OBA had not told Bermudians “what they had signed the country up for” and that if the party did not reveal details such as concessions then “this house can not have confidence in this government”.
Mr Commissiong also spoke of there being “two Bermudas” under the ruling party, making the claim that the economy is again in recession.
The PLP and OBA have clashed in recent days over whether the island is in a recession with Mr Burt saying: “Two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth is a “big deal”.
However, in a previous statement, finance minister Bob Richards said the statistics told a different story.
“For the record, there was no recession during the second half on 2016,” he said. GDP results, he added, must be viewed contextually, not politically. As it relates to the fourth quarter of 2016, it was compared with the same quarter in 2015 during which the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series was held in Bermuda.
“So comparing that extremely successful period in Bermuda's 2015 calendar to a similar period without those benefits, will naturally skew any results.
“You need not be an economist to understand that.”
One Bermuda Alliance MP Jeff Sousa stood up to highlight the inroads being made to improve the economy, including the hundreds of jobs created in construction from Morgan's Point to St Regis.
He spoke of “the largest event in our history”, the 35th America's Cup, which he said “would benefit the country for decades to come”.