No sign of Burt’s $15m relief package, says OBA
The Opposition has accused David Burt, the Premier, of failing to live up to government promises that he would help people to battle the cost-of-living crisis with a $15 million relief plan.
One Bermuda Alliance leader Cole Simons said payroll tax rebates and financial assistance to help with the price of food and LED light bulbs had yet to materialise.
Mr Simons, who is also the shadow finance minister, questioned why pledges to provide the families of public school pupils with a one-off $150 payment to help them to prepare for the new term were still in the application stage days after children went back to classrooms.
The Opposition leader said: “It is now mid-September, and on July 15, 2022, the Premier made a statement to the House of Assembly regarding an economic relief package to ease the burden on Bermuda’s working families.
“In that statement he approved $15 million dollars for payroll tax rebates, school supply support, an increase in the food allowance budget for the Department of Financial Assistance and LED light bulbs, that these initiatives would be in place now and that the funds would come from the positive variance of the Bermuda budget and its performance to date.
“These are common measures, as countries such as the UK and the US are also making similar allocations.”
Mr Simons also accused the Government of pursuing a short-term agenda rather than long-term help.
He said: “What is troubling is that they appear to be one-off concessions, which are not sustainable. They are very, very, temporary measures.
“What will happen after the $15 million has been spent?
“How will these families maintain themselves as they will be in the same situation? Are they to expect additional support? And if so, from what source?”
The OBA leader said Mr Burt was ignoring the “out of control” national debt situation.
He added: “The Premier and finance minister is also not addressing Bermuda’s national debt, which continues to spiral out of control, and Bermuda’s economy that is not close to being robust.
“Where is this Government’s long-term plan to get us back on the road to recovery as we expect the country to be in this economic malaise for the next year to 18 months, at the very least?
“The One Bermuda Alliance takes the view that if the national debt is reduced, those reduced debt-servicing costs can be applied to provide long-term sustainable support programmes for the hard-working men and women of this country.
“We all look forward to receiving the Government’s long-overdue plan to manage the reduction of our debt moving forward.”
The Government has not responded to questions from The Royal Gazette regarding the rollout of the payroll rebates.
Mr Burt previously told MPs: “It is expected that by September applications will be made available where 75 per cent of Bermuda’s workers will be eligible to apply for their rebate.”
Diallo Rabain, the education minister, has apologised to parents for delays in the back-to-school $150 payments.