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OBA denounces payoff to Brown

Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition (File photograph)

Payments awarded as compensation to Ewart Brown, the former premier, have been branded “Robin Hood in reverse” by Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Cannonier said yesterday that, instead of helping “wealthy” Dr Brown, the Progressive Labour Party should be focusing on seniors with high healthcare bills and small businesses struggling with tax increases.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, revealed on Friday that Dr Brown was expected to be compensated for more than $1.2 million in total for losses at his two medical clinics after fees for diagnostic imaging scans were cut in June 2017.

Financial supplements were also paid to the Bermuda Hospitals Board. Ms Wilson blamed the One Bermuda Alliance administration for imposing “drastic” cuts on the scans, and said the Government had intervened to “right a wrong”.

Mr Cannonier asked yesterday whether the priority of the PLP was to Dr Brown or to “the welfare of the Bermudian people”.

The Opposition leader said the payments, which come from the public purse, “should be a major concern to all taxpayers”.

He added: “It is Robin Hood in reverse. With healthcare already at sky-high levels, despite pledges by the PLP to bring them down, how is what amounts to subsidising a private sector provider, going to lower those costs for Mr and Mrs Bermuda?

“How is this going to help those who have to make a choice between paying healthcare costs, rent or food?”

Mr Cannonier added that the Government had been good at raising taxes to eliminate the government deficit only to “lavish” it on a wealthy recipient.

Mr Cannonier said: “What about those seniors on fixed incomes with high healthcare expenses, Bermudians who are struggling to make ends meet and those small business about to be hit by the sugar tax or tax on dividends.

“The OBA government raised taxes on the wealthy and international business while the PLP has raised taxes on Mr and Mrs Bermuda instead. What happened to all the rhetoric of ‘Two Bermudas’?”

David Burt, the Premier, last night said that Mr Cannonier should tell the truth “about why this vendetta was approved by him in Cabinet”.

He added: “The Opposition leader should explain to the people of Bermuda how he sat in a Cabinet that disregarded the advice of the Bermuda Health Council and approved this economic vendetta which negatively affected the hospital and caused this $3.6 million liability for the taxpayers of Bermuda.

“Between these payments and what he and his colleagues left the people of Bermuda to pay for Cross Island, it makes this government’s first quarter performance all the more impressive.”

Last night, Dr Brown said: “I will not respond to this statement. Maybe after the Jetgate explanation.”