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OBA: IB success masking ‘government ineptitude’

One Bermuda Alliance leader Jarion Richardson holds a press conference on the 2024-25 Budget Statement with Scott Pearman, left, the senator Robin Tucker, Craig Cannonier, Susan Jackson and party chairman Aguinaldo Medeiros (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The success of international business is concealing “the consequence of government ineptitude”, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, Jarion Richardson, said yesterday.

At a press conference, Mr Richardson said that the Budget did not reflect the “reality of everyday Bermudians”.

He said that the OBA had “grave concerns” over the forecast Budget surplus, claiming “the Government has raided the sinking fund and borrowed money”, adding: “This is aspirational; they’ve done this before and overshot.

“This isn’t the first time the people of Bermuda have heard this. In 2019, he made the same assertion, but a balanced Budget didn’t happen. Are we going to end up down that road again in 2024?”

Mr Richardson added: “The PLP government would love for the people of Bermuda to believe this year’s Budget is one which will solve many of the island’s economic problems, but the fact of the matter is, it will not.

“David Burt even said today, quote, ‘the promises we made have been delivered’ and also said ‘we can look at those figures and pat ourselves on the back’.

“This is simply not the reality of everyday Bermudians.”

Mr Richardson claimed the Premier had not explained how he was going to reduce the cost of living. “All he’s given us are aspirations … but you can’t continue to reduce taxes without stimulating the economy.

“The Premier seems fixated on the international business sector, which is no doubt a valuable contributor to our economy … but the One Bermuda Alliance feels IB success continues to conceal the consequence of government ineptitude.”

Asked why it was wrong to aspire to a balanced Budget and to the suggestion that it was better to be in a position whereby there could be a balanced Budget, Mr Richardson said: “We’re at the point now in Bermuda where we have to move beyond basically an aspirational hope-and-dream state.

“The simple fact of the matter is that all of the easy decisions have been made in Bermuda’s past, and now we're at the point that the only thing that's left is hard decisions.

“On the revenue side, all of that’s coming from international business, which has a lot more to do with events taking place overseas than it does in Bermuda. So the simple fact is that serendipity is by no means a governance strategy.”

Mr Richardson said the Budget was not what Bermuda was expecting. Asked what it was expecting, he pointed to the state of the roads.

The Budget has earmarked another $5 million for roadworks but Mr Richardson said the public works minister, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, had made it clear that to repave all the roads the cost would be about $100 million.

Pushed on what else Bermuda was expecting, Mr Richardson pointed to the need to bring more people to the island.

Last year, the Government announced plans to increase the island’s working population by more than 8,400 within five years, “so what we're expecting is if you say there’s a problem and there’s a solution, we’re expecting you to keep going with that solution.

“I would expect to see mention of it. I would definitely expect to, especially given any impact on cost,” said Mr Richardson on if he would expect that kind of issue to be mentioned in a Budget.

• Jarion Richardson’s full statement and the full Budget Statement can be read in Related Media

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Published February 17, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated February 17, 2024 at 7:59 am)

OBA: IB success masking ‘government ineptitude’

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