Burt claims 14 of 21 pledges completed
David Burt claimed yesterday that the Progressive Labour Party had completed 14 of its 21 “first 100 days” election pledges.
But statements by the Premier and his PLP colleagues suggest only ten of the promises have actually been fulfilled, with nine as works in progress and the status of the other two unclear.
Mr Burt delivered a speech in the House about the 21 initiatives that the party had promised to complete within 100 days of winning the General Election on July 18.
The Premier gave his audience a list of “promises made, promises kept”, and claimed all 21 were “completed or significantly advanced”.
Pressed during parliamentary questions about how many of the pledges had been completed, he said the figure was 14.
Mr Burt praised his team for the tasks they had accomplished, which included providing financial support for Bermuda College students and starting the process towards creating a technology hub.
But his comments indicated many of the other pledges remain unfinished. These included conclusion of negotiations with the unions, changing policy on overseas entertainers and the installation of fitness equipment in parks.
For many of the incomplete pledges,
Mr Burt said progress was expected in the coming weeks, although there remained confusion over the pledges to increase training for Bermudians to fill jobs held by guest workers and appoint a director of co-operative economics at the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
Mr Burt told MPs: “These first 100 days have been trying and testing as the new government comes to grips with the enormity of the task before us.
“However, we are equal to the task and I am pleased to advise Honourable Members and the public that these 100 days have been a success story; a story of demanding more from ourselves as public servants and a story of charting a course for this country that matches the mandate we received from the people on July 18.”
Asked why all 21 initiatives were not complete, Mr Burt told The Royal Gazette: “Some take longer than others. The job of the Government is to make sure we can marshal our resources, not only in Cabinet but the civil service.”
Mr Burt did not accept that the list of tasks for the first 100 days had been too ambitious.
He said: “Our pledges were aggressive. But in order to change the topography of Bermuda we must be aggressive.
“We made 21 pledges and some of them, as I said, are in progress. When we talk of union negotiations, we can't say it's complete, but others were within our power to successfully complete.
“To me, the most important item is that there are 188 Bermudian students who are either entering the Bermuda College or having additional programmes.”
Mr Burt added: “There is a lot more work to do. We have pledged to work collaboratively and involve the Opposition in the work we are doing, and we will continue to proceed in a bipartisan fashion. I hope that whoever becomes the Opposition leader will recognise that the election has ended, and now it is time to work in collaboration with the Government.”
One Bermuda Alliance leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin suggested Mr Burt had overplayed the progress made by the PLP.
She said: “When you misinform people about the little things, it affects your veracity on the larger issues. It's important to be accurate.
“That might seem to be a minute point, but when you have minutiae and you misrepresent them, it undermines your credibility.
“Some of the initiatives they committed to were progressed under the previous administration, such as appointing a gang violence co-ordinator.”
Independent political observer Denis Pitcher, who published regular reports on the pledges on his blog 21 Square, has criticised the PLP for its lack of communication on progress.
Mr Pitcher said yesterday: “I'm disappointed that not only were there fewer updates than I expected to see, but also that there was a considerable amount of spin.
“Mr Burt proclaimed ‘we have successfully completed or significantly advanced 21 of the 21'. When pressed in parliamentary questions of an actual completed number he reduced this to 14. With such a massive majority and mandate, why is this sort of spin necessary?
“One has to wonder why it is necessary to spin the results rather than just tell us the truth.
“So, not all the pledges are completed, many have shown strong progress, some are in a holding pattern and a couple are still unknown.
“Hopefully, regardless of the 100-day target, all will ultimately be completed and none will be conveniently forgotten.”
21 pledges update
• Provide financial support for Bermuda College students. Announced on August 15
• Start the installation of wi-fi in public schools. Began on September 11
• Appoint a gang violence reduction co-ordinator. Announced on October 4
• Double the guarantee of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. Announced on October 11
• Issue a Request For Information for a tech hub. Published on October 13
• Update the Ministerial Code of Conduct. Announced on October 20 that it has been strengthened, and will be tabled soon
• Establish a tax reform commission. Approved by the Senate on October 25
• Re-establish the Bermuda First advisory group. Announced on October 26
• Establish a bipartisan committee on immigration reform. Approved by the Senate on November 1
• Review health and safety in schools. Announced on November 3 that report is completed
WORK IN PROGRESS
• Provide access to funding for community clubs through loan guarantees. Announced on November 3 that clubs would soon be told about the programme
• Conclude negotiations with public sector unions. Mentioned on November 3 that negotiations are ongoing
• Reverse OBA policy on overseas entertainers appearing without Bermudians on the bill. Mentioned on November 3 that Government is reviewing policy proposed by the Musicians Union
• Review the airport contract between Aecon and Government. Mentioned on November 3 that the contract is the subject of a review
• Establish three parliamentary oversight committees. Mentioned on November 3 that the Standing Orders and Privileges Committee will establish them
• Implement a Code of Practice for Project Management and Procurement. Tabled in the House of Assembly on November 3
• Increase the power of the Price Control Commission. Announced on November 3 that a Bill will go before the House later this month
• Install fitness equipment in public parks. Announced on November 3 that outdoor fitness equipment has been identified for installation at three parks
• Implement a Code of Conduct for MPs. Mentioned on November 3 that the Standing Orders and Privileges Committee will soon ask for approval for it
• Increase job training for Bermudians to fill jobs held by guest workers. Mentioned on November 3 that Bermuda Economic Development Corporation capital has doubled to support entrepreneurs, and National Certification has been waived until the end of this year
• Appoint a director of co-operative economics at the BEDC. Mentioned on November 3 that a director of co-operative economics will lead an increased focus on co-operative economics at the BEDC
• To read Mr Burt's statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.