BPSU Response To The 2013/14 Budget

February 27, 2013

The Bermuda Public Services Union responded to the 2013/14 Budget saying that while the Government may want us to believe that this Budget will take us in a new direction, it “takes us further into the hole we are trying to get ourselves out of.”

Highlights of the recently released Budget include raising the debt ceiling from $1.45 billion to $2.5 billion, reducing the fees for non-Bermudians to purchase property, commencing negotiations with the unions about reducing staff compensation, a two year payroll tax break for new Bermudian hiring, a 3% increase in vehicle licence fees, additional funding to increase police manpower and raising the duty on cigarettes & liquor.

“In its simplest form, the 2013/14 Budget supports the current Government’s hypothesis that foreign investment is needed to turn around Bermuda’s economic situation. However, it can be questioned if the Budget does enough to help them achieve the economic turn-around that is needed.

“The assumption that a reduction in licensing fees for non-Bermudians and permanent residents who purchase property will translate into significant economic activity is questionable.

“The probable spin-off effect on employment as a result of this change will only be meaningful if this is done in tandem with the types of construction activity that translates into real economic growth such as the Hamilton waterfront redevelopment project which will require high volumes of labour input.

“The two-year tax holiday for new Bermudian employees is a bold and commendable move which will certainly give Bermudians an advantage when it comes to employment. In addition, the move will also assist businesses as it reduces their operational costs.

“This move should open up employment options for Bermudians, however, it is difficult to agree with the notion that this incentive is revenue neutral as no other tax can compensate for or equate to monies lost from payroll tax revenue for average Bermudians.

“The Union awaits talks with the Government in reference to wages and compensation. We expect to have open and frank dialogue centred around how we can together improve the financial position of Government. We are not alarmed with the idea of shared sacrifice as public services workers have been playing their part and assisting the Government and the Country from the beginning of the recession.

“Five years of consecutive budget cuts have significantly reduced the amount of overtime received, significantly reduced the number of temporary workers, significantly increased the number of vacant posts, and reduced the operating budgets of most departments.

“Most notably, BPSU members have received less than a 3 per cent increase in cost of living adjustments over the last five years while inflation has increased above 10 per cent over the same period of time,” the statement from the BPSU continued.

“What is of concern to the BPSU in reference to Government expenditure is the estimated hundred million dollars paid out by our Government for consultants and professional services annually. These figures need to be reviewed and addressed.

“Two things are clear, Bermuda is in the midst of its worst recession and an overhaul of our current tax structure is needed as the gap between revenue and expenditure is becoming increasingly wider. The estimated $331.6 million budget deficit is alarming, and shows that the Government has a limited strategy to improve the country’s financial position.

“While the Government may want us to believe that this Budget will take us in a new direction, in actual fact, it takes us further into the hole we are trying to get ourselves out of.

“If the Government is serious about improving its financial position it will have to do a critical and comprehensive review of the structure of the current tax system, the structure of the civil service and the liability of the Government workers’ pension plans,” the BPSU concluded.

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Comments (35)

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  1. Bermy Gooner says:

    “While the Government may want us to believe that this Budget will take us in a new direction, in actual fact, it takes us further into the hole we are trying to get ourselves out of.

    They could have stopped the bleeding, but it would have meant the axe for our bloated civil service which consumes GDP, not create or contribute to it.

    Guess this flies in the faces of the PLP pre-election claims that the OBA was all about “deep and radical austere cuts.”

    And while I undertand Mr. Grant’s position, he must recognize that the only sacrifices thus far have been in the private sector, which has been alll but decimated. That is the private sector which funds the public sector employment.

    • Loquatz says:

      “And while I undertand Mr. Grant’s position, he must recognize that the only sacrifices thus far have been in the private sector, which has been alll but decimated. That is the private sector which funds the public sector employment.”

      BINGO!!

    • Standing on Transparency, Inclusiveness and Fairness says says:

      I think that the BPSU have provided a very thoughtful and insightful reply. It is clear they did some reflecting carefully on the Budget.

      I am concern as the OBA promised me on the doorstep they would lower the debt, but instead have did just the opposite. I think Mr Grant is correct in saying that “While the Government may want us to believe that this Budget will take us in a new direction, in actual fact, it takes us further into the hole we are trying to get ourselves out of”. This is my real concern, as Mr Richards promised me he would not increase the debt.

      The other concern is that I believed Mr Richards, as the OBA did a great job of calling the PLP names and beating them up for spenting, by singing out things such as “”We would never allow Bermuda to slide into the debt trap that has engulfed other countries. We would control spending, grow the economy and put Bermuda’s fiscal house in proper order. That is our promise.” Now I am forced to question, did Mr Richards really mean this or was this merely his attempt to win my vote and other folks as well. Now it looks more like it was only an election ploy.

      • Sugra says:

        Rome was not (re-)built in a day.

        I’m confident that in the long term, the fiscal prudence promised by the OBA will materialize and the tide will indeed rise again. The minister’s analogy of a ship underway, slow to answer the helm, is appropriate and must be understood. Patience.

  2. Argosy says:

    The BPSU cannot be expected to support any Government that seeks to deal with the fiscal consequences of carrying a bloated, incompetent and largely ineffective public sector workforce.

  3. sonoso says:

    lol since when did the unions respond to government budgets? forgive my memory lapse, but i dont recall any “BPSU Response” for any other budget within the last 14 years?

    • Loquatz says:

      LOL, that’s for sure. But here’s the reason, under the PLoP money was hurled with abandon into growing the civil service. It was unsustainable and now we’ve hit the brick wall. The costs of the civil service must shrink, there is no escaping it. So the union is obviously feeling vulnerable.
      But I am offended by the way they use the term “share the sacrifices”. As a business owner and an individual, I have been paying my fair share for years. The civil service has been insulated from much of the pain. So yes, now they need to share the sacrifice.

  4. openmind says:

    Stop referring to our current economic climate as a recession… face the facts it is a DEPRESSION.

    Can someone shed light as to why every time there is a W&E crew doing something (not sure if it is actual work), 1 guy is working while the other 9 are texting and sitting off? Overtime for that?

    • Eye For an Eye - Tooth For A Tooth says:

      I thought it was just me that noticed that. Its the largest waste of manpower and taxpayers money.

      One guy doing physical work, two guys maybe doing traffic control , three white hats looking into hole, five or six others sitting off. Poor management of people and resources. If these guys ran their own construction companies they would be bankrupt after the first job.

      I don’t blame the guys sitting off at all because if I could collect a check and sit around and wait to do nothing I probably would as well. I blame the management, who either do not care, or have no clue who to manage people, time and resources effectively.

    • Um Um Like says:

      W&E = Waiting & Earning

  5. solution says:

    Well if the Government is looking to spend less money on paying their staff, they could start with drug testing ALL government workers across the board with hair follicle tests. Any found in violation can be let go or paycut due to a breach of that employees employment contract. If enough money is saved from paycuts for those employees not in breach may possibly be averted.

    • Local says:

      I couldn’t agree more! You want a job with the Govt? Stay off the weed. Easy as that. Guaranteed, this will drastically reduce the size of the bloated Govt. Those that lose their jobs have NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THEMSELVES. Keep smoking people!

      I am dead serious with this. Brilliant idea, one that is employed around the world.

  6. They need little funding! says:

    Cops in Bermuda are the highest paid in the world. BPSU you neeed to release some income records.

    Digging in a bigger hole. Why is it a 3 year cop with a GED making almost more money than some people in the IB, qulaified with papers?

    Something fishy going on in their payroll. I say overpaid COPS.

    • Loquatz says:

      Historically they’ve had difficulty attracting people to become Bermuda cops – thus they raised the pay levels to try and make it more attractive.

    • Sign Up says:

      Oddly enough though, for all that pay you claim Police officers make, there has always been difficulty getting recruits to sign up. Hence the reason for having to recruit so many foreign officers over the years.

      Cops are being paid well, IB workers are losing their jobs and taking pay cuts, yet people are still hesitant to sign up. Probably has something to do with having to work long unsociable hours, being despised by members of the public, having their families targeted and threatened, putting their own lives at risk with little to no thanks etc…

      Do some research before you spout off. Most jobs that are high risk and considered undesirable, the worker gets compensated well, regardless of “papers”.

      I put it to you that if it was as simple as just signing up and receiving that fat pay check, there wouldn’t be a single foreign officer on island. But in the meantime, invite your friends and family to sign up and start raking in that doe! I hear Police are having a recruitment push soon.

  7. Hobby says:

    I don’t recall the BPSU being so outspoken when the PLP were in power therefore I have a difficult time acknowledging their opinion as one based on facts and not emotion/bitterness.

  8. No Change says:

    not only highest paid, but 3rd in the world per capita population – check it out

    • Sign Up says:

      Yet they still have difficulty recruiting locally. You would think that with such a sweet deal, persons would be lining up out the gate. Especially those IB workers who lost their jobs or took significant pay cuts.

      Perhaps those white collar workers, who for many years enjoyed all of those perks and six figure salaries, can’t bare the thought of working those unsociable hours, public holiday’s, being spat on, verbal abuse, physical harm etc. Even if it does mean a bit of job security and attractive pay.

      As it stands the service is roughly half foreign officers. Plenty room for fresh local talent. Time to bring over that hot shot college degree and start getting paid! Never heard of an applicant being turned down because they were over qualified.

  9. Brown Sugar says:

    The Bermuda Police Services is not represented by the BPSU. The police have their own union.

  10. I'm just sayin... says:

    Ok help me out here please, I’m all for the new broom thingy with the OBA and want to at least give them a chance fix the mess we are in but tell me how if it’s been proven that trickle down economics DOESN’T work and HASN’T worked in both the US and UK, why are the OBA putting all their (and mine) eggs in the basket of trickle down economics/immigration?

  11. Who wrote the report? says:

    “Five years of consecutive budget cuts have significantly reduced the amount of overtime received, significantly reduced the number of temporary workers, significantly increased the number of vacant posts, and reduced the operating budgets of most departments.”

    Sorry Mr. Grant, but loss of overtime is better than having NO TIME at work, as is the case for two of my immediate family members who lost their jobs in the private sector.

    • 32n64w says:

      Furthermore the civil service has exploded in size over the last 14 years so what significant vacancies really exist?

    • Mad Dawg says:

      I notice he complains about the 3% increase they got. For most of us incomes have gone down. He complains that their increases “haven’t kept pace with inflation”, while the rest of us are taking home less than we used to. It’s like he lives on another planet. It’s about time these people faced the same reality that the rest of us have been dealing with for years. This is why so many if them have been walking around denying that Bermuda was in trouble….they thought they were a protected species.

      • Loquatz says:

        BINGO. Many private sector workers have had no increases for five years or more.

  12. jt says:

    Not much choice – it’s what the PLP has left us. We will be paying the piper for a very long time and a reversal is years away. Get used it.

  13. Standing on Transparency, Inclusiveness and Fairness says says:

    I think that the BPSU have provided a very thoughtful and insightful reply. It is clear they did some reflecting carefully on the Budget.

    I am concern as the OBA promised me on the doorstep they would lower the debt, but instead have did just the opposite. I think Mr Grant is correct in saying that “While the Government may want us to believe that this Budget will take us in a new direction, in actual fact, it takes us further into the hole we are trying to get ourselves out of”. This is my real concern, as Mr Richards promised me he would not increase the debt.

    The other concern is that I believed Mr Richards, as the OBA did a great job of calling the PLP names and beating them up for spenting, by singing out things such as “”We would never allow Bermuda to slide into the debt trap that has engulfed other countries. We would control spending, grow the economy and put Bermuda’s fiscal house in proper order. That is our promise.” Now I am forced to question, did Mr Richards really mean this or was this merely his attempt to win my vote and other folks as well. Now it looks more like it was only an election ploy.

    • Who wrote the report? says:

      Mr. Richards is probably right in his assertion that he wouldn’t have ever allowed Bermudas finances end up in the shape they as they are now.

      But guess what, he didn’t create the debt we find ourselves in now, but he as to deal with it.

      And Betty, (or whatever you want to call yourself today) I thought you would be pleased with the budget as it was you, before the election, warning anyone that would listen to you that the OBA would impose severe cuts and layoff half the civil service. Your doom and gloom predictions did not come true, but unfortunately for Mr. Richards his did, and now he has one hell of a job to fix the mess he inherited.

      So, Betty, stop the pathetic daily propaganda postings and start being constructive as a means to assist in fixing the problems we face today. As it stands now, you are simply dedicated to a Party as opposed to wanting the best for Bermuda, which is a real shame.

  14. OMG says:

    If the BPSU were to remove some of the huge benefits and take a reduction in salary (like the rest of have) that they receive via employment by the Government we would go a long way to reducing the debt that we have.

    Most of them are sitting up there “fat and happy” in the employment of the Government.

    Lets see where this goes in the mandate of the OBA – I can hardly wait to see what happens.

  15. swing voter says:

    8000 government workforce….bloated bureaucracy created to buy votes and lessen the unemployment situation. How many of them actually work a full 40hr work week. how many have been bull shyting for years, collecting salary and benefits for no reason. How do their supervisors sign off on their annual performance report.

  16. Seriously??11? says:

    “If the Government is serious about improving its financial position it will have to do a critical and comprehensive review of the structure of the current tax system, the structure of the civil service and the liability of the Government workers’ pension plans,” the BPSU concluded.”

    Is the BPSU suggesting that the Government cut the civil Service [BPSU members] and take away those fat pensions their members earn?

  17. knowthyself says:

    Yes It was most certainly an election ploy.

    It appears we are continuing on a path which closely resembles our closest neighbors.

    The truth is as we mimick our friends to the west we lose sight of our own goals and incentives which this Government and our last both seem unfit to actualize. The misallocation of the tax payer dollars came to a head by the end of PLP last term and now with the OBA assuming control I see no end to this incompetent and ill-guided travesty. The direction of our politics should reflect the social, cultural and economic landscape of Bermuda as it pertains to the needs of our people…That is the only way to move this country forward. Neither the PLP or the OBA have there finger on the pulse. Perhaps someone less privileged with a genuine concern for Bermuda should steer this country forward.

    • openmind says:

      as your name suggests, you are probably too wrapped up in yourself to actually understand and conceptualize the actions of the OBA. sorry to say, but no sense in walking through the mess which was created by the PLP, might as well attempt to clean it up (which will come at an expense).
      have you not noticed the W&E workers sitting off at job sites while they get paid with those tax payer dollars you are talking about?

      • knowthyself says:

        That was a cute insult :)

        I’ll share this quote with you -

        “If you max out credit cards, part of the conversation about paying back what you owe is designing a strategy for not maxing them out again.” Charles Cooke

        Does OBA have a clear-cut strategy to ensure this doesn’t happen going forward.

        Or will they simply create an even deeper sink-hole than already exists. Open your mind and riddle me that.

  18. Standing on Transparency, Inclusiveness and Fairness says says:

    @Thanks knowthyself for your comments. It is without a doubt the OBA will cut the Civil Servants, it will be just a matter of time, based upon their actions today. I guess within a few months this next step will take place. The OBA has raised our debt levels so high, that it is almost scary, and they promised me they would not. This suggest they had no great plans to lower our debt levels or ideas as to how !!

  19. knowthyself says:

    No worries my lady. I understand your frustration.

    Hold the faith.