An OBA Government would form an Economic Advisory Committee which would include Government Ministers, Opposition members, trade union leaders and business groups to discuss moving the economy forward, OBA Leader Craig Cannonier said this evening.
Mr Cannonier said: “The OBA has presented a number of economic plans that will help turn around our economy while protecting and growing Bermudian jobs.
“The need to implement a turnaround plan is critical. The situation facing thousands of families today is without precedent, and it is unacceptable.
“At least 3,400 Bermudians are unemployed and thousands more are categorized as under-employed, meaning they are earning less or can’t find enough work. Nearly 1 in 4 young Bermudians do not have a job.
“We have outlined a plan that would see employers get a payroll tax exemption for all new Bermudian hires, which would help reduce Bermudian unemployment.
“We have explained how we would direct at least 20% of Government spending on goods and services to small Bermudian business, which will support their bottom lines and their ability to keep their Bermudian workers employed. And we have said that we will crack down on employers who abuse immigration rules.
Mr Cannonier continued: “While we have pledged social and economic equity for all, leaving no one behind, the Government wants you to believe that an OBA Government will be a Government of austerity even though the Premier herself has called for austerity cuts across every Government department.
“Government cuts have strained the Police budget in the midst of crime crisis, budgets for Day Care and support for local charities, including the Sunshine League which closed soon after the Government cut its grant.
“We have gone on record to say that we will only reduce the civil service through natural attrition – not through layoffs and jobs cuts. We believe savings can be made through the creation of a Spending and Government Efficiency Commission.
“We will not say we have all the answers to turn around the economy and create jobs. However, we do know that the private sector, the trade unions and the many organizations that represent interest groups across society have valuable ideas and perspectives that should be heard by government on a regular basis.
“We understand that an approach to bring their valuable ideas and perspectives before the Government was made in this regard some time ago to Government. The current Government may not have wanted that to happen, but we think it should.
“An OBA Government would immediately form an Economic Advisory Committee which would include Government Ministers, Opposition members, trade union leaders and business groups that could meet every few months to discuss moving the economy forward.
“We believe there needs to be a forum in which all of Bermuda’s economic stakeholders have the opportunity to share their insights and to work together, with Government, to get Bermudians working again.
“It’s about working together for the sake of Bermuda. The very future depends on it. We ask the current Government to support such an initiative,” concluded Mr Cannonier.
The Progressive Labour Party dubbed the OBA’s “Spending and Government Efficiency Commission” the “Cuts Commission” and said “this is likely the vehicle that they are going to use to make deep cuts.”
A PLP spokesperson said: “The Both Ways OBA has promised to increase government spending and cut taxes to the tune of $500 million. They have also called for a reduction of government debt. In order to increase spending and cut debt, they will have to engage in deep and radical cuts to existing programmes.
“Today, the OBA acknowledged exactly how they are going to make those cuts – through a Cuts Commission. Bermudians deserve to know who exactly will be on the OBA’s Cuts Commission? Will those people have a heart for the people or will they be looking after their bottom lines?
“We call on the OBA to cast the Cuts Commission to the side and be straight with Bermudians about just what they plan to cut to meet their lofty promises.”
The PLP spokesperson also said: “Craig Cannonier seems to think that we’re going to be able to solve all our problems by form a series of commissions. More commissions and more talking is not the answer. Bermudians need swift action on the economy.
“That’s why we’re proposing that action through the creation of Job Corps Bermuda and the One Stop Career Centre. These are real ideas that help real Bermudians get back to work. We need action, not more commissions.”