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PLP MPs praise handling of economy at public meeting

Getting the message across: Jache Adams, far left, addresses the audience while Jason Hayward and Lindsay Simmons look on

Bermuda faces a bright future thanks to the Government’s responsible stewardship of the economy.

The was the view of Progressive Labour Party MPs Jason Hayward and Jache Adams at a public meeting at the Ocean View Golf Club in Devonshire last night.

Mr Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, and backbencher Mr Adams, who is an adviser to the Ministry of Finance, rattled through a series of initiatives and accomplishments under the current administration that this year has delivered the island’s first balanced Budget in more than 20 years.

The two MPs were speaking at the first in a series of planned “Community Connect” events organised by the PLP in order to deliver the Government’s message and hear constituency concerns.

Addressing an audience of about 35, Mr Hayward began the presentation by claiming that positive developments in the economy were not always “fully shared”, while negatives were often “reinforced”.

The MP for Pembroke Central dismissed criticism that the Government lacked a vision for the economy, citing its Economic Recovery Plan as one success that had delivered jobs.

He listed a stream of sectors that had witnessed economic growth in recent years and denied that it was not just the international business sector that was booming.

Mr Hayward also stressed that the Government had been able to bring relief to those struggling against a high cost of living.

He said that government subsidies on fuel and healthcare, the elimination of taxes on certain foodstuffs, a minimum wage, payroll tax reductions, regular pensions increases had all assisted the less well-off.

He said: “From an economic point of view, the economy is doing extremely well. Unemployment is down and we’re trending in the right direction.

“What this means is that the Government is now in a very strong position to execute its future plans. What we do need to improve on is communication, because the work is being done.”

Mr Adams, the MP for Pembroke West, continued with the upbeat message.

He began by quoting from a series of ratings agency reports that had given “positive comments” on the Government’s economic performance.

He said that the Government deserved praise for tackling the debt issue — and solving it.

He said: “We recognised that the path we were on was not sustainable.

“Both parties raised concerns about debt but we understood that complaining about it will not fix the issue and that is why I’m proud to be a part of this Government.

“The days of deficit are over. We have reached a balanced budget before one dollar of corporate income tax has come in. The foundation is set and we are ready.”

Although the state of the national economy was the subject of the presentation, audience members appeared more concerned with parochial issues that they faced on their doorsteps.

In a question and answer period, Mr Hayward and Mr Adams — along with Education Minister Diallo Rabain, who was in the audience – faced a barrage of questions from several Devonshire residents concerning a police CCTV camera that had been erected in their neighbourhood.

A lack of protection for landlords who had had their homes damaged by negligent tenants who refused to pay rent was also a concern for one audience member.

There appeared to be some scepticism to the MPs’ claims that the economy was on the verge of a boom, with audience members suggesting that thousands of Bermudians had left the island in recent years because they could not afford to live here.

Government senator Lindsay Simmons — the third member of the panel – did not deliver any statement on the economy, or address questions from the audience.

But she did wrap up the evening by explaining why she entered politics. Ms Simmons has been selected to run for the party as a candidate in next month’s by-election in Smith’s North.

Ms Simmons explained that she was driven by a desire to help this less fortunate than her and that she had been able to do that on several occasions since canvassing the constituency six months ago.

She said: “If you have a problem, we have individuals who have connections and get your problem addressed, or at least point you in the right direction.

“I want to to the best that I can. I want to be your employee, I want you to be my boss. I am going to give the best of me.”

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Published April 17, 2024 at 7:49 am (Updated April 17, 2024 at 7:14 am)

PLP MPs praise handling of economy at public meeting

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