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‘Government must stop playing political games,’ says new OBA senator

Outspoken: Opposition Senator Douglas DeCouto (Photograph supplied)

A new senator went on the attack as he delivered his maiden speech in the Upper House yesterday.

Douglas De Couto, of the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance, said that minor reductions in taxes were “trinkets” handed out by the Government to distract from the elephant in the room – the country’s massive debt.

Mr De Couto said: “This PLP debt is a millstone around our neck, drowning our economy and preventing us from progressing, both individually and collectively.”

He was speaking during the Budget debate and claimed that it lacked serious initiatives to change the status quo.

Mr De Couto dismissed three of the Government’s four main economic recovery projects and claimed that vertical farming “will not work”.

He claimed that progress on casinos had slowed and questioned why the ageing and decrepit Tynes Bay Incinerator was on the economic stimulus list.

Mr De Couto said: “Tynes Bay is not a stimulus programme – that’s just repairing things we would have had to repair anyway.”

He also hit out at proposals to legalise cannabis, which the Government has claimed would give the economy a shot in the arm.

“It is well known that our island suffers many social issues, and those who have dedicated their lives to helping with those issues have spoken with one clear voice here. Increased cannabis use in Bermuda will only multiply those issues, ” he said.

“Leaving morality aside for a minute – we know that we will have to spend more money to deal with the social problems increased cannabis use will raise – so will we really come out ahead?”

Mr De Couto recommended that David Burt, the Premier, should stand down as finance minister and tourism minister, so that others could dedicate themselves full-time to the “difficult and intricate problems” the country faced.

He said: “Every ship has its captain, but also its navigator, its engineer, its purser, and so on.

“Each job requires full attention. We frequently hear about the depth of talent in the PLP government and I look forward to seeing this talent finally put into action by the Premier.”

Mr De Couto added that the Bermuda Tourism Authority should be apolitical and that the Government should not attempt to compete with private enterprise.

He said: “Instead, enable the people. Remove red tape and blockers so that they can innovate and create.”

Mr De Couto added: “Real stimulus requires an inflow of capital and people from overseas. Reform our immigration policy to enable this, thinking creatively about things like economic citizenship that can be used to pay down the debt.

“Address the government spending so that it is more sustainable for an island of our size and reform taxes.

“None of us want to pay more, but many of us are willing to pay a fair amount if we know it will not be squandered by the Government. I hope to see the Tax Reform Commission in action this year.

Mr De Couto said: “This government must stop playing political games and be honest with us. Is that too much to ask?”

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Published March 24, 2022 at 7:44 am (Updated March 24, 2022 at 9:23 am)

‘Government must stop playing political games,’ says new OBA senator

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