Opinion: OBA’s Five Decisions For Bermuda

February 26, 2014

[Opinion column written by OBA Senator Lynne Woolridge] By now most Bermudians understand that the road to recovery will be a long one with plenty of potholes on the way to trip us up.

From Day 1, the Government had a strong sense of what lay ahead and it has been busy making decisions to move Bermuda away from a situation that, without change, threatens us all with disaster.

The following is a list of five decisions by the OBA Government that are helping Bermuda get on the road to a brighter future:

1] Getting a grip on the debt

Finance Minister E.T. [Bob] Richards early last year put together a multi-year borrowing strategy to reduce the cost of our national debt and start paying it down. During the summer, he took advantage of historically low interest rates to borrow $800 million on the international and local markets – enough to cover the next three years of anticipated operating deficits. These actions stabilized the situation, reduced borrowing costs by retiring high-cost debt and put the Island on a trajectory to lower the national debt. This year’s Budget will pay down that debt by $120 million.

2] SAGE – Looking under the hood

Perhaps nothing has focused national attention more on the need to change the way we do business as a country than the appointment of the SAGE Commission. Its report concluded thatthe cost of government was “unsustainable and out of control” and, together with the national debt, threatened to “destabilize the financial foundation of the country.” SAGE’s recommendations, along with those by other bodies, will help guide us to decisions that provide us with a government that is accountable, affordable and a positive force in restoring the Island’s competitiveness.

3] Formation of the Economic Development Committee. – Cutting red tape

One of the problems that Bermuda allowed to build over the years was ‘red tape’, which made it difficult for people to invest their money in projects that created jobs. One of the first things Premier Cannonier did was set up ahigh-level Cabinet committee meeting each week to expedite job-growing activities. The idea was to have big project applications reviewed by all relevant ministersat the same time, thus reducing the amount of time taken to get government approvals. One example of the EDC’s work is the Hamilton Princess marina project, which moved from proposal to actual construction in record time.

4] Ending term limits

PLP leaders have been saying for months that the decision to end term limits was a broken promise. But was it? The OBA promised to suspend the term limit policy for two years, giving the government time to draft a better policy. But on taking office, it found analyses held by the previous government that concluded term limits were ineffective and counter-productive; in effect becoming a barrier to jobs for Bermudians. Instead of keeping a bad policy, the Government ended it while enacting provisions “to protect Bermudians jobs while encouraging new job creation” – as promisedin its election platform. The decision has played a critical role in restoring long-battered business confidence, leading to a surge in company incorporations, some of which will lead to jobs.

5] Selling Bermuda abroad

It is the primary mission of the Government to create conditions that grow the economy, grow jobs and paycheques, and end the scourge of unemployment that has been hurting so many in recent years.For more than a year now, Government ministers and public servants, supported by the private sector, have been beating the drum abroad saying “Bermuda wants your business.” Why? Because we need outside investment to grow the jobs we need. This is something we have always done throughout our history, and it has helped our Island grow and prosper. Making people feel welcome and appreciated is critical to this goal and it appears that positive things are happening, as Global Reinsurance magazine reported last week:

“Economic activity is picking up, and with the OBA government taking steps to remove barriers hindering Bermuda’s attractiveness, the atmosphere in Hamilton is decidedly upbeat… Overall, the OBA appears to be moving in the right direction.”

There have been other important decisions, but these are the ones that stand out for me.

- Lynne Woolridge

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Comments (59)

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  1. Bright Side says:

    Yes, very positive in deed!

    • Political says:

      Lordy, she speaks, can she speak?

      • Political says:

        Nah, Greason chronicles’.

      • Failsafe says:

        I thought this was a pretty decent summary. Nice article, and truthful. It’s been tough, it was always going to be after that mess of a prior govt, but it’s been a heck of a lot better than it was.

        Never forget the mess the PLP made of Bermuda.

    • Mazumbo says:

      Five points for O.B.A./ubp
      Transparency
      Honesty
      Accountability
      Openness
      Jet Gate

      • Srsly? says:

        Storm in a teacup

      • jt says:

        Proof will be in the pudding. PLP would still be the government is they had produced, despite everything. If the ONA produces they will likely be re-elected…despite everything..if not it will be back to the other guys.

      • Frederick Smugless says:

        Five for you too dumbo. Your party caused this.

      • Mike Hind says:

        “Five hypocritical talking points for the demagogues to try to spin”, you mean.

        • Mazumbo says:

          The SPIN is avoiding questions about de guy that bummed a ride on Jet Gate and attended de meeting, what’s hypocritical is if this was Dr. Brown and P.L.P de daily would be having a field day with the O.B.A/ubp blind faithful.
          Just an observation.

          • Mike Hind says:

            Nah… Those are just things that you and yours want to make a big deal of, as you are so stuck in election-mode that you think that tearing down the Government to the detriment of the country is going to do positive things for your party.

            It isn’t.

      • Rob says:

        Five points for PLP/OBA

        Accountability
        Honesty
        Honesty
        Honesty
        Honesty

        UighurGate.

  2. jt says:

    Was the use of the $800 million ever explained as above? Makes good sense and certainly disposes of claims that our debt increased by $800 million.

    • jt says:

      How can you dislike this move, seriously? Please explain.

    • Mike Hind says:

      Yes. It was explained at the time, it was explained when the first propagandists tried to pretend that it wasn’t, it’s been explained many, many times.

      As always, facts and reality don’t matter, as long as there’s some way to try to vilify the OBA.

  3. Rhetoric says:

    “Economic activity is picking up” – how does that match with the fact that Bermuda lost 921 jobs last year?

    How exactly is that evidence that the economy is picking up.

    I’m getting tired of the OBA thinking Bermudians are Dumb.

    • Citizen Banned says:

      How do you account Bermudians voting for PLP then. Dumb would be the only possibility.

    • Srsly? says:

      You clearly are dumb. It’s called inertia:

      The economy was rapidly deteriorating. Slowing down the deterioration is the same thing as the economy ‘picking up’. Jobs will still be lost, but at a slower rate.

  4. Jus' Askin' says:

    Nicely put ;-)

    • Suzie Quattro says:

      Oh wait, you’re the genius who thinks everything is fine. We borrowed $750m and, according to you, we can put it in the bank and live off the interest. That’s your “plan”, right?

    • Srsly? says:

      I just picture you winking after everything you say, and it just makes you look even more foolish.

  5. wow says:

    What have you been doing hiding in a closet? This is the same beat that’s been playing since the oba took control of the purse strings. Tell us something new! Something to get us excited.

    • Lois Frederick says:

      What a challenge the OBA has to turn this place around. I like the fact that they expressed and continue to express that they can do it. The alternative seemingly was to just wait it out and come out the other end which would have been suicide for this little island. No the OBA are not perfect, name anyone or any political party that is. They have the hardest job of any Government ever to have governed this island and that is a fact. The more business like and less political they can conduct themselves the better off we will all be. Just get on with the business of running Bermuda.

      • Terry says:

        Guess you weren’t around in the 60′-70′s when the UBP took it all

        • Srsly? says:

          WHO CARES.

          • Frederick Smugless says:

            Exactly, 1960s Bermuda, who TF cares? Another planet.

            Those were the days eh, Terry? Everyone knew their neighbours, you could leave the door open at night, people were so polite, Trimminghams sold everything you ever wanted. I think I just dozed off there.

            Move on old man.

    • Excited says:

      You should be excited that the economy is picking up. Before this, we only heard that the hopes of a recovery looked dim for awhile, at least now we are making some progress. You must be the one who has been hiding in the closet.

  6. LickMyChicken says:

    Where did she come from?

    • Really says:

      What matters is her presence is a good one which brings forth good news for Bermuda. Obviously she is stating facts that all can see including the growth and progress that is being made. Keep your self serving, unnecessary comments to yourself. What have you been doing to help Bermuda???

  7. Common Sense says:

    How refreshing to read a statement made without all of the usual political posturing that we are subjected to these days. I’m sure the usual bloggers will try to cast a negative spin on the points made by Senator Woolridge, but she has made the five points clearly and concisely.

    Kudos to the Senator.

  8. HeyBye says:

    Same rhetoric from the paid PLP web trolls,making illiterate noise trying to ram home propaganda to their kool aid drinkers.
    Any one with a half a brain will realize there has been massive destruction to our economy by 14 years of PLP “rule” and it will take more than 1 1/2 years to make any sort of turn around,let alone a full recovery.

  9. Chan A says:

    Economic indicators move slowly, but these five initiatives are on the right track. Whilst the previous administrations policies were not designed to attract growth, these will… looking forward to prosperity for all.

  10. Unbelievebale says:

    I sense this year is going to be a good one and 2015 will be even better.

    Keep going OBA!!! Just do things by the book will you!

  11. Looking in says:

    The former govt is responsible for our current demise.We are still feeling the affects of 14 yrs.We may never recover!

  12. Vote for Me says:

    Who writes these articles? They are clearly not written by those who they are ascribed to!

    I am all for good information but #1 and #2 are not true. There was no plan associated with borrowing the $800m and the jury is still out on whether it was a good idea. Incidentally it did increase the national debt, contrary to one of the previous posts. Based on recent budget projections, Bermuda is still scheduled to require more borrowing in 2015(16) financial year!! Note also that the repayment of $120m from Sinking Fund would have occurred under any government.

    Do not take any credit for the SAGE impact on the budget. MP Richards has said there has not been enough time to incoroporate SAGE recommendations into the budget. Also, Dupperault has said that Richards has ignored the major SAGE recommendation of Public Pension reform.

    Economic Development Committee – seems to be working well – but the same idea was initiated by PLP

    Ending Term Limits – there are still problems but Kudos to OBA for acting on the knowledge that PLP already had

    Selling Bermuda abroad – we need to be open for business for sure. Advice?? Do not act in desparation and wake up tomorrow to find you have sold the very clothes off your back!!

    Senator Woolridge – we very rarely hear from you and some of your Sister Senators!! SPEAK UP!!

  13. Coffee says:

    A wonderful spin bowler with a new ball is all she is . No mention of the disregards the hotels have for staff even after enjoying the benefits of tax exemptions , people having to march for a piece of bread . Trevor Moniz cut the water supply in Boaz Island , families with babies and young children couldn’t bathe , cook or use the head because you people value pennies over pride , shame on you OBA . After looking under the Bob Richards saw the same thing other finance leaders of many countries saw , a broken starter motor and a empty fuel tank . However , what he won’t acknowledge is that under the same circumstances the OBA would have blamed the worldwide economic malaise for the primary reason for incurring a national debt , as no country has escaped unscathed .

    • Suzie Quattro says:

      Another moron peddling the PLP myth about the “worldwide economic malaise” and how “no country has escaped”. Pure myths made up to fool the masses into believing there was no alternative to the self-dealing and incompetence that led us into this mess.

      • Coffee says:

        As we look to our giant neighbor to the North, America to feed us,cloth us and generate international business trade with . We are depending solely on the American tourist to fill our hotel beds and throw away their money in our casino banks .There were three OBA members of Parliment on a private jet with one ghost rider going to the capital of the United States to deal with a business man(and I use that term loosely) to discuss whatever it was , golf I think . Well that country , to whom we owe all of our prosperity and false sense of superiority to HAD TO BORROW MONEY . Why did America have to raise their debt ceiling ? The clue is in the above paragraph .

  14. Rite? says:

    She noh rite tat.

  15. Robert says:

    Who the hell is this woman, is she really an oba senator, i have never heard her open her mouth in the chamber. Sounds like don is earning his keep, lady please go back to sleep !!

    • Mike Hind says:

      Nothing on the content of the piece?
      Just a baseless personal attack?

      Seriously?

  16. Robert says:

    Lynn, i’ll wake you up when its all over, when you’re wisher and older, all this you finding youself but you didn’t know you was lost. Head down lady !!!

    • Robert says:

      Wiser

    • Respect says:

      Robert, why are you so angry??? Senator Woolridge is giving facts. Economists have also stated that things are looking up for the economy. When Senator Woolridge speaks it is of substance. She should at least be respected for her positivity and the classy way that she goes about conducting her business. You should take a page out of her book and leave your ignorant stupidity at the door along with your sarcastic uncalled for remarks. She has found herself in a honorable role to give back to her community.

      • Mike Hind says:

        As per usual, folks like Robert aren’t afraid that the Government will fail and Bermuda will be worse off, they are afraid that they’ll succeed and their party will have a harder time winning the next election… which is years off, of course.

  17. Citizen Banned says:

    The only thing the PLP will moan about is the term limits which translates into expats which is something PLP voters think they actually understand and are sure to make copious amounts of noise about.

    Empty vessels and all that.

  18. Unbelievebale says:

    I don’t understand many of you people. Whether she wrote this in its entirety is not important. If she wrote the entire thing, great. If she wrote some of it and had help with other parts of it, that’s fine too.
    It’s nothing new for a politician – any politician – to either write parts of their speech or the whole thing! Whether they be OBA, PLP, Democrat, Republican, Tory or Labour, it’s pretty common.

    See why Bermuda is always finishing last? It’s because Bermudians don’t have faith in other Bermudians. You people want this car to go forward or backwards? Huh? What do you want?

    The point is that you aren’t even debating this opinion piece at all. AND she’s been a senator since the beginning of the OBA’s tenure. Just goes to show who is asleep.

    Come on OBA – build that hotel and open up that casino so people can see what a real Govt can do.

  19. Birdie says:

    OBA one hit wonder!! hehe.

  20. Gotham says:

    As Deng Xiaoping remarked, who cares what colour the cat is as long as it catches mice. Evidently, we are not yet poor enough for those diehard loyalists of the failed Cox/Brown administration to set aside their wounded pride and put their best efforts towards the reconstruction of the country.

  21. truth says:

    Why are we as blacks always so fast to bring down the next brother or sister. We Bermudians( black and white) must come together to fix this island. We must learn respect for others and peace . Too much hate on this little island. Come on Bermuda lets promote peace and love.not hate and war. We can expect government to create jobs we must use these hard times to find a way to create jobs for ones self.

  22. I wish you well and offer support in my own small way of making every effort to be more productive in my area of expertise.I would ask OBA for one itsy bitsy teeny weeney request……would you please produce regulatory legislation controlling the use of debt collectors, firstly ,as a person over 55 it is not easy finding the work.I for instance have a hospital bill that …while makeing payments on (I can produce paperwork to prove it),and did in court, any sensible magistrate would have thrown it out of court right there and had hospital pay court fees.Then as if that wasn’t bad enough ,the debt. collector ,interjects with their fees over and over to the point I have paid over the amount owed to hospital and they keep adding fees….but not applying them to the bill.I see this as unlawful,I don’t owe money to these bozos!At this point I have probably paid more to the collector than the hospital……..this I feel is unethical and unlawful ,and ther harrassing seniors ,any one over 50 knows how difficult it is being out of work and all…..please for Gods’s sake regulate these vultures also make it a little more reasonable to people with proof of making effort and proof of payment to not be summoned to court in the first place,that innitself needs regulation to avoid abuse and clogging up courts with rubbish….then if wrongfully summoned makes court fees payable by oppressor.Please …whom ever signs summons…don’t just sign the summons,or rubber stamp it…read it …look at it ethically…please oppress the criminal…not those law obiding constituent, kind regards and thank you in advance for any consideration in this matter of import.

  23. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    @Robert…I did not take too kindly to your remark, “Who the hell is this woman…”, it sounds subjective not objective, in other words, it sounds like a personal attack, not a critique of her commentary.

    But then on second reflection, who is Senator Woolridge? Is she an economist, teacher, accountant? And, I have checked the Senate’s website yet none of the Senators have their biographies listed, even though it would be very user friendly to be able to click on their picture then a brief bio appears so that anyone can understand from what professional background any Senator (OBA/PLP) comes into politics.

    Why? Well, as I read her commentary I noted that it very carefully pointed out that the OBA has embarked upon 5 decisions to recovery, yet it ends with the utmost optimism that economic activity is picking up.

    But where is both the argument and the collaborating data to substantiate your claim that economic activity is picking up, Senator? Is there a surge in homeownership? Are more homes being purchased by Bermudians or Non- Bermudians? Is consumer spending on the rise? And, if yes, by what percentage point over last year? That’s real growth, Senator because an increase in spending power comes from more disposable income and job growth across all business sectors. And job growth is a direct responsibility of your fellow Government Senate leader across the table, so why not highlight the achievement on this front on his behalf? How many new jobs have materialised from the Jobmakers initiative?

    Furthermore, beyond the Hamilton Marina, where are the other developments in terms of construction, investments,etc., from outside Bermuda? And what are the developments waiting in the wings on this front, Senator?

    Yes Senator, the Government is laying the foundation of economic recovery and redevelopment, but the Government also has the ability to trip over its own feet, and make very costly errors that can stem economic recovery in its attempts to navigates its way forward.

    Wouldn’t it have prudent to offer at least one objective criticism to balance out your very optimistic commentary of economic recovery but no data to back it up? A comment such as, ‘Once economic growth and consumer confidence return to the markets in terms of real spending, real savings and new mortgage approvals at an all time high, then Bermuda has taken real economic steps forward.’

    But right now Senator Woolridge, your economic recovery is a political myth.

    London, England

    • Here's a few says:

      @ Akinstall, here are a few things that show that the economy is starting to move in the right direction.
      1. The number of start up companies that have now registered in Bermuda to create business and will possibly lead to jobs for Bermudians but would definitely put money into our economy.

      2. The Global Reinsurance article which states that they now see that Bermuda is open for business and is heading in the right direction.

      3. The percentage of debt that government had brought down although small will actually start to be brought down more with 15 percent spread over the next 3 years.

      4. I also read that houses are finally starting to be sold and the real estate market is starting to look up.

      5. Yes, the mariner will create jobs for Bermudians, so will the casinos if passed in the house as three licenses may be given to three hotels.

      All these things take time and will not happen over night give them time to materialize as it took time for the economy to slump where we are finally starting to rise from now.

      Why not be optimistic, things can’t get touch worst as people have been suffering got years. Also, with all due fairness, the government is trying to improve things this can’t happen without some change and tome form of risk. We cannot just leave things as is and hope for a miracle. Senator Woolridge keep up the good work and continue to be optimistic.

      • Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

        @Here’s A Few…

        So, you are projecting optimism based upon the OBA Government planting the seeds, NOT based upon actually identifying where the ‘green sprouts’ of ‘economic activity’ has picked up.

        But what you are noting are projections, NOT hard data results.

        Go back and read my comments and compare them to your answer, where is you data to back up all this ‘economic activity’, heresy? All you are doing is merely sidestepping my call for data to reiterate Senator Woolridge’s initial false premise.

        And I find nothing wrong with the planting the seeds, just do not attempt to sell it as economic activity is picking up, it’s premature.

        Right here and right now this is optimism NOT REALTY; it is a rally call of hope for prosperity. And in that context optimism is only positive.

        London, England

  24. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Junk Yard Dog is just a name Ok ! which choose, may be next week it will be some thing different, but the message will still be the same , what small part can I play to take Bermuda to the next level.

    Don’t any of you dare to take pot shots at me. I know the Game and I know how to play it.

    One of these days I am going to run out of ideas and surgestions to improve our way of life. May be I have topics that will deal with Banks, insurance companies ,taxation , retail, and many more items . I told you about a central casino in the city hall car park. B.H.C. and Bermuda cottages beds for visitors.

    WIND GENERATORS

    How about this one, as you know a wind power generator stands over 200 feet high the three fan blades are 100 feet long.

    Hey B.E.L.Co. or Mr Investor can we get our hands on Quart sized generators. you would not want one of those big things going fulish in a hurricane.

    Did you just hear that Quantis Air line of Australia let go 5,000 people, this recession is very very serious and all because some one made a poor or unwise judgement call.

    The German chancellor is having tea with the Queen, I wonder why ?

    Russia puts on the Olympics, these people do not do these things just for fun, it is about Business.

    The debt that we are all facing is enormous, got to fix that.

    May be we should dig up a golf course and plant to export BERMUDA ONIONS we did that once before we sold perfume also, but best of all we sell “FUN IN THE SUN “.

    Bermuda is all about Business we are in the business of selling hospitality to every one who get off the ship or plane and comes knocking on our door.

    “Smile you are on candid camera ”

    Ok ! So what is dragging this little island home of ours down, or better still what is stopping this paradise of our from going forward, is it negativity ?

    Is Bermuda the island of “NO” ?

    It is our *** COST OF LIVING*** not only hurts us but it also effects our visitors.

    We have to welcome here every one we can not solely rely on Mr and Mrs Megabucks.

    What is stopping some them from coming here in the winter that’s simple its SNOW piling up in their drive ways and on their roofs. you know they want to come to sit in the sun.

    How many have passports can they get a passport here from their consulate and how easy is it to get a ticket to fly, how easy is it to find the right room here?

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