“Contrary to the claims by the OBA, we’ve made $1.38 Billion of Capital Investment in Bermuda and Bermudians,” the PLP said in a statement issued last night.
On Tuesday [June 26] Fitch Ratings downgraded Bermuda to ‘AA’ from ‘AA+’ citing “deteriorating fiscal and government debt ratios and lack of a credible fiscal consolidation strategy.”
Later on Tuesday Government raised $475 million in 10-year bonds at 4.13% interest, with $180 million representing new debt thereby increasing Bermuda’s debt to approximately $1.4 billion.
Speaking yesterday, Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards said, ““Let us also remember that this bond issue is to be used for current expenses: keeping the lights on, paying salaries, servicing the debt etc.
“As for the nonsense Government spouts about using the money to build infrastructure, this is not borne out by the facts. The fact is that no more than $500 million has been used for capital spending – which leaves nearly a billion dollars not spent on infrastructure,” continued Mr Richards.
Yesterday UBP MP Kim Swan said, “The PLP’s justification for the huge debt is that it is an investment in our infrastructure, but that theory gets called into question when one looks at the impact of the plethora of poorly managed projects which led to multi-millions of overspending and untendered projects which have raised the concern of the Auditor General.”
The PLP issued a statement last night saying, “Bob Richards and the OBA have spent hundreds of hours complaining, but, they have yet to tell the Bermudians what they would do to address Bermuda’s debt.”
Junior Finance Minister David Burt addresses the downgrade and debt:
“Our plan is clear,” said Premier Paula Cox last night. “We believe in investing in Bermudians during difficult economic times. That investment will help turn our economy around and get people back to work.
“It’s the same model embraced by Barack Obama. The idea is to invest during the worst of the recession to soften the blow and then continue to invest in to get people back to work.
“When our economy returns to growth, tax revenues will increase and we’ll close the deficit and start paying down the debt,” concluded the Premier.
“Where’s the OBA’s plan?” asked PLP Candidate Neville Tyrrell. “The PLP has already frozen the size of the civil service and we’re already shrinking it through attrition. That will not get Bob Richards the deep cuts he claims we need.”
“Bob Richards has spent hours talking about this issue, but has yet to explain fully how he woulddeal with it. Does he plan on reducing government salaries? Does he plan on cutting funding for education? Does he plan on ending FutureCare and DayCare? Does he plan on reducing health care benefits for our youth and seniors?
“Does he plan on cutting funding for the police? If not, how does he plan to cut spending? The OBA promises rapid and radical change, but, they fail to tell us what that actually means for everyday Bermudians,” concluded Mr Tyrrell.
A PLP spokesperson said, “Turn off the OBA’s ranting and raving and have a look at the steady progress that has been made since 1998. Since that time, contrary to the claims by the OBA, we’ve made $1.38 Billion of Capital Investment in Bermuda and Bermudians.
“Investments in our schools and students, investments in care for our seniors, investments in tourism, investments in transportation and investments in health care facilities; investments in a better future for Bermudians.
“Bermudians prefer steady progress. The PLP will continue to provide the steady progress that will benefit Bermudians,” concluded the PLP statement.
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