Election 2020: OBA bashes ‘unrealistic’ PLP platform
The leader of the One Bermuda Alliance branded the Progressive Labour Party platform on Wednesday as “smoke and mirrors” and built on unaffordable promises.
Craig Cannonier said David Burt, the Premier, had attempted to deceive the public.
He added: “The Premier's platform is simply not based on reality. Bermuda, there is an absence of reality with the PLP's platform.
“The sleight of hand has become tired. We see through him. It is all smoke and mirrors.”
Mr Cannonier said the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton — touted as an economic boon — had nothing to do with the Government.
Mr Cannonier said that talk of a state-of-the-art medical tourism facility had been discussed for more than 20 years without any progress.
He added: “He talks about the new arbitration centre, yet overlooks this prime piece of real estate in the centre of Hamilton has been gifted to a US company under a deal we still know nothing about, but has excluded Bermudian companies.
“He talks about moving the container port, of new affordable housing and upgraded water supply. What he does not talk about is cost and who will pay for these promises.
“The Premier promises all of these new developments that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and in the next breath he says he is going to balance the Budget in three years. Really?”
Mr Cannonier said the deficit at the end of the financial year would be about $200 million at least and a balanced Budget would require significant cuts in government employment and spending.
He also took aim at immigration policies intended to encourage investment in the island's economy.
Mr Cannonier said: “He wants immigration incentives tied to investment in Bermuda. Does this sound familiar? It should.
“It is exactly what the people behind Caroline Bay wanted to do in the first place.
“Years ago this was brought to the attention of the PLP by the Caroline Bay team who had brought investors to the table. Now David Burt steals this idea as if it was his when he could have implemented it years ago.”
He added that a proposed requirement for future residents to make economic investments was “selling PRC status with a twist” — something the PLP had branded a red line not to be crossed.
Mr Cannonier said: “What Bermuda needs more than anything right now is a sound policy to stop the economic bleeding.
“It needs a party that understands the economy is out of whack and must be stabilised, and programmes and policies must bear reality to what can be afforded without massive tax increases.”
Mr Cannonier also defended the OBA's record on its own election pledges, despite repeated attacks from the PLP.
He said: “We have a Premier who needs to turn around the economy. We are not the Government.
“The promise that we would make 2,000 jobs, I have answered this over and over and I will do it again. You do the math for yourself.
“Add up the number of jobs at the airport. Add up the number of jobs at St Regis. Add up the jobs at Morgan's Point. Add up the jobs at America's Cup. Add up the jobs at the Loren.
“For the Premier to continue to go on about 2,000 jobs is just another one of his sleight of hands to make Bermuda believe we did not create jobs.”
He added: ‘The reality of today is we have a government who continues to look in the rear-view mirror rather than give hope to the people of Bermuda of sustained economic growth. There is none.
“He needs to get on with the job, and making the empty promises that we see in his platform does not fulfil that.”
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, a shadow minister in the last Parliament, questioned the PLP's approach to the airport redevelopment project after Mr Burt pledged to put the airport back into Bermudian hands.
She said: “He says he wants to put ownership back in the hands of Bermudians — the truth is Mr Burt surely knows the airport is owned by the Bermuda Government via the Bermuda Airport Authority. You cannot buy what you already own.
“What Aecon owns is a management contract. Aecon would probably quite willingly sell that contract back to the Government, but it would cost at least $60 million, which is the equity that Aecon put into it.”
She added that if the airport was brought back under government control, it would need a loan and assumption of the risks without guarantee of profit.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “That 16 per cent is a hoped-for profit margin, not a guarantee.”
She also raised concerns about the Government's decision to give an $800,000 loan to American Anthony Blakey to create a music studio at Cross Island, which never opened.
Lawyers for the Government have since failed to find Mr Blakey to serve him with a legal demand to return the taxpayer funds, plus interest.
She asked what Bermuda received for the money, what background checks were made before the money was given and what efforts had been made to recover the funds.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “We are told the Government has said they have engaged local and US authorities to investigate, yet the Bermuda Police Service say they know nothing of the matter. Who are the local investigators?”
She highlighted the PLP government's work with controversial fintech company Arbitrade as an example of its gullibility.