Hayward dismisses OBA Budget reply as empty ‘rhetoric’
The Opposition’s Reply to the Budget statement amounted to “two hours of rhetoric” closer in tone to a Throne Speech reply, the economy and labour minister claimed yesterday.
Jason Hayward told the House of Assembly that “all of Bermuda should be disturbed” by the speech from Cole Simons, the Leader of the Opposition, that he said contained inaccuracies on topics such as inflation and Bermuda going on the European Union’s grey list.
Mr Hayward opened the Government’s response and attacked the Opposition for questioning the lack of a specific jobs creation target in the Budget delivered at the end of last month by David Burt, the Premier.
He said: “We learnt a lesson from the Opposition as it pertains to promising jobs.
“They promised 2,000 jobs while they lost 2,000 jobs.”
Mr Hayward defended the 2022-23 financial blueprint for its priority for health and economic wellbeing over an early balancing of the Budget.
He said Mr Simons’ speech highlighted rising property prices, which he claimed put real estate out of the reach of Bermudians.
Mr Hayward admitted the real estate market had performed better than expected.
But he said that the Opposition had failed to credit the government’s programme that had brought “well over” 1,000 people to the island to work on a remote basis.
He added that the Progressive Labour Party had done “more in terms of progressive immigration reform than the previous government”.
Mr Hayward said his new portfolio, where the economy was added to his responsibility for labour, was set up to ensure a sustainable future and a job strategy designed to target unemployed young people in particular.
He insisted the government’s economic recovery plan would deliver economic growth and an expansion of jobs, including a successful casino industry.
Mr Hayward told MPs the government would push on with the implementation of a minimum wage and universal healthcare.
He maintained the government would not “yield to the calls to cut public sector jobs”.
Mr Hayward said: “We can’t cut our way out of this problem. We have to grow our way out.”
He added: “All of the things the previous speaker spent two hours telling us what we need to do, we already have a plan to do it. It’s time we execute.”