“It is clear to the OBA and Bermudians everywhere that Government finances are in deep trouble,” Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards said.
“We know Government is borrowing to pay the interest on the money it has already borrowed. We know it is borrowing to pay the salaries of civil servants and keep the lights on where they work. We know local vendors will only do business with Government on a cash basis because it pays its bills so late.
“It was reported that a local businessman was threatening to pull the plug on Hamilton docks’ power supply because the Government had not paid him for four months.
“We also know the cost of Government’s massive $1.5 billion debt is forcing it to cut back funds for vital community services. And we know for the fifth straight year the Government is spending more than it is taking in – some $200 million more.
“The Government financial situation is desperate, and Bermudians need only to recall its attempt earlier this year to tap into the civil servant pension fund to understand what I mean.
“Despite the situation, the Government has not been transparent. The Premier pledged last year to be more open about Government budgeting but nothing has happened.
“While we know enough to know Government finances are in trouble, we are very concerned that things could be a lot worse than it has let on.
“At this point, we cannot make a blanket commitment on what the legislated debt ceiling should be set at. That would be irresponsible, and Bermudians have had enough of that with the current Government. For one, the Government’s habit of setting a debt ceiling one year and then raising it the next year makes a mockery of the word “commitment”.
“When we become the Government, we will conduct a thorough review of the situation. Only then would we make a commitment to a debt ceiling. Not before.
“What I can make a commitment to is that an OBA Government will reduce the debt and the huge burden it is placing on Bermuda.” Mr Richards concluded.
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