Economic recovery pledges too much to tackle, warns OBA MP
A wishlist of more than 30 Throne Speech priorities is too many for the Government to deal with, an Opposition MP said last night.
Scott Pearman, the shadow legal affairs minister, said the Government should prioritise immigration changes, foreign investment in the country and cutting the cost of the civil service.
Mr Pearman said in the debate on last week’s Throne Speech that the government had “bitten off more than it could chew” with an economic recovery plan that included 31 priorities.
He said: “We need real immigration reform and it must be comprehensive”.
Mr Pearman added the Opposition welcomed immigration changes spearheaded by Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour, but that they did not go far enough.
He said that the island had to work harder to attract outside investors.
Mr Pearman added: “Circulating the same dollar from one to the next to the next in the confines of this island isn’t going to work. We have to grow the pie.
“If we are going to grow the pie, where is the money going to come from, because taxing those of us who are still here as people leave will make more people leave.”
Mr Pearman said that the cost of Government had to be tackled.
He insisted: “That doesn’t mean getting rid of public sector workers, but it means looking at what we are spending and trying to rein it in.”
Michael Dunkley, the shadow minister for health said, the economic outlook remained grim and that large numbers of Bermudians had emigrated.
He added that the healthcare system had been “brutalised”, and small businesses were “on life support”.
Mr Dunkley said: “Our economy is stuttering at best. Many people are just trying to survive.”
He highlighted that the US had started to “open up” despite the pandemic and he appealed to the Government to loosen restrictions.
Mr Dunkley warned if the Government failed to do so “the economic engine is going to struggle”.
He said: “It’s time to get back to a more normal way of life.
“The virus is unlikely to go away in the next three years, but the difference now is we have the tools to manage the virus.
“If we believe in the vaccine then we have to open up.”
Mr Dunkley asked: “If we accept that the vaccine works and if we as a people are smarter, what are we afraid of?”
But Mr Pearman praised Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, for looking at public private partnerships to fund major projects.
He said: “It is a very sensible course of action.
Mr Pearman added: “The reality is we don’t have much money left. As we learnt today, our debt is $3.35 billion, so if we are to have projects to better enhance Bermuda, to try to improve the lot of all of us, we are going to need to find a way to pay for them.
“The solution to that payment, as the Minister of Finance has recognised, is not to raise more taxes in a declining economy if we can avoid it.
“We are going to have to look at finding others who might be prepared to pay for the projects that we need.”