House: Premier upbeat on economy and jobs
The Premier defended his Government's role in supporting job creation during an economic debate in the House of Assembly.
David Burt told MPs on Friday night that Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow finance minister, talked about “doom and gloom”.
He claimed that her Reply to the Budget 2020-21 did not mention “the reality” when it was delivered earlier that day.
Mr Burt said: “The reality is that last year job growth in Bermuda was the fastest paced it has been in 13 years. Four hundred and forty-one additional jobs inside of the Bermuda economy, but what do we hear? Not a dickey bird about jobs in that speech.”
He said the only reference to the topic in the Budget Reply was about a “loss of jobs of many Bermudian employees”.
Mr Burt added: “Complete nonsense. Disconnected from reality.”
The Premier told the House that the Opposition claimed that his Progressive Labour Party administration “failed to lay out an economic growth and diversification strategy and failed to address the biggest elephant in the room, that of needing more people to contribute to the economy”.
Mr Burt said: “You know how you get more people to contribute to an economy? You create jobs.” He added: “There are 650 more people working in Bermuda now than there were when we took office.”
The Premier explained: “We know that there are a number of mergers which have taken place in international business, which have led to a contraction of jobs in certain areas.” But, he said there were 55 more jobs in the sector than there were in 2017.
Mr Burt added: “Despite the mergers, despite the economic headwinds, we are still creating jobs in international business inside this country.
“That is because of the work and advocacy of this government, of the agencies that work with this government, of the work of which we've done on the international sphere.”
Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, described the Budget Statement delivered by Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, last month, as a “status quo Budget”.
He added that Budgets were just numbers and that their effectiveness was “reflected in how our people are doing”.
Mr Cannonier said: “Bermuda's reality continues to be the concern over our debt. Bermuda's reality continues to be the cost of living in Bermuda.
“Bermuda's reality continues to be that confidence is low, accountability is questioned, emigration seems to be growing, the young are frustrated, businesses who employ a majority of Bermudians are closing, and ... now we have more deaths than births. This is a major, major problem.”
Jason Hayward, a PLP backbencher, said that Ms Gordon-Pamplin's Budget Reply had “glaring omissions about the state of our economy”.
He added: “The facts are our economy grew in 2017, it grew in 2018.
“In 2019, for the first two quarters, the economy grew, on average by 3½ per cent.
“That is contrary to the rhetoric that is spewed by some. It is contrary to the narrative of doom and gloom spewed by some.”
Mr Hayward said the Government was elected to “ensure more Bermudians are employed”.
He added: “In 2019, we broke the trend of declining Bermudian employment. Bermudian jobs are up.”
Mr Hayward said that “numbers across the board are trending in the right direction”.