Column: What Has Been Achieved In 3 Years?

December 31, 2015

[Opinion column written by Larry Burchall]

Three years ago, all Bermuda was waiting to see what the newly elected Government would do, and how it would perform.

Three years later, we have a record.

The standout fact for that 2012 election of the OBA was that it was one more step in the maturing of Bermuda’s electorate.

For 34 years, until November 1998, Bermuda’s adult franchise electorate had stayed with one political party – the UBP. In November 1998, the electorate chose a new political party – the PLP. That was one stage in national growing up.

In December 2012, the electorate matured some more. It ejected the PLP and elected a new third party, the OBA.

Over time, voters in the UK have run the gamut of Liberals, Conservatives, Labour, and ‘new’ Labour. The UK, like the Canadians, regularly changes parties-in-power. That’s true democracy.

Aside from that party change, what has been achieved in the past three years and how do people think and feel now?

Bermudian Employment? – The promise of 2,000 jobs is unmet. The Department of Statistics reports the number of Bermudians filling jobs in 2014 was 23,833. There were 25,132 Bermudians filling jobs in 2012; so 1,299 fewer filled jobs. Importantly, at 23,833 in 2014, there were fewer Bermudians filling jobs than thirty-four years ago in 1980, when 24,191 Bermudians were recorded as filling jobs.

Employment generally – There were 33,475 filled jobs in Bermuda in 2014. There were 35,443 filled jobs in 2012. In those two years, 1,968 filled jobs were lost. Additionally, at 33,475 in 2014, there were fewer people filling jobs than in 1994, when there were 34,143 persons filling jobs [of whom 26,930 were Bermudian]. National employment has been set back 21 years.

Unemployment – It is said that there are 3,000 to 4,000 unemployed Bermudians. Certainly there is unemployment. It must be higher than in 2012. However, no one has a reliable number on Bermudian unemployment. Also, there seems to be some kind of national consensus to ignore the 3,400 guest workers whose jobs have disappeared, and who themselves have left these shores. We seem to have a silent national agreement – a conspiracy? – to ignore these 3,400 job losses. It’s a stupid thing to do but nationally, that’s exactly what we are doing.

Gross National Debt – $1,574 million in December 2012. Just three years later, in 2015, gross National Debt sits at $2,454 million [taking the $200m Loan Facility as fully committed funds]. That’s $880 million higher.

The Economy generally – Full blown recession in 2012, but in 2015 there seems to be a flattening-out.

Investor confidence – Lots of talk about incoming new investment, but only the Pink Beach re-build and Hamilton Princess renovations have actually occurred. Promises, but still no real action at St George’s, Morgan’s Point, Ariel Sands, the ‘Hamilton hotel’, Elbow Beach, or Lantana. Much talk of a confidence ‘bounce’ from the America’s Cup.

Airport – Government seems poised to make a huge error by surrendering 30 years of desperately needed revenue to Aecon and consequently creating and accepting a larger ongoing deficit that this and successive Governments will have to finance by additional borrowing. This unbalanced situation will maintain for the 30/35 year life of the Aecon/Airport plan as currently proposed. This Aecon/Airport imbalance caught the eye of the Three Wise Men of the Fiscal Responsibility Panel; and they commented negatively on the funding plan as proposed.

America’s Cup – A PR ‘coup de main’. But will ACBDA deliver all or most of the promised $275 million gross revenue that was promised in those heady early days? With the October 2015 America’s Cup race series found to attract fewer than 2,000 ‘America’s Cup’ visitors, this event seems well on the way to significant under-delivering.

Residential Population – Was declining in 2012. Still declining in 2015, with the loss of Bermudians a serious but still un-measured reality.

Crime – Crime is down. There seem to be far fewer people traipsing through Magistrate’s Plea Court on criminal charges than in 2012.

General feelings for some Bermudians – Some frustration.

In the last hours of an old year, awaiting the arrival of a new year, not all Bermudians are not in a happy place.

What is it that needs changing now?

- Larry Burchall

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Comments (18)

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  1. aceboy says:

    So Larry, would you expect more to have been done under the PLP?

    • Zaob Yob says:

      Excellent Point.

      This is column space for the sake of column space, from a contributor of (usually) much higher standards. Liken the progress of the OBA to trying to halt a tanker on the high seas – it takes a long time to stop before it can turned around. Under the PLP, the tanker was accelerating, at least the OBA are trying to stop it and alter it’s course.

      It would be interesting to calculate where we would be if we used the last 3 years performance of the PLP and projected it forward 3 years.

      If I may borrow from another quote – “We’re going to need a bigger calculator”.

  2. Jeremy Deacon says:

    I totally agree with this part “Also, there seems to be some kind of national consensus to ignore the 3,400 guest workers whose jobs have disappeared, and who themselves have left these shores. We seem to have a silent national agreement – a conspiracy? – to ignore these 3,400 job losses. It’s a stupid thing to do but nationally, that’s exactly what we are doing.”

    • Guest workers?? Bermudians to be employed FIRST!! 3,500….okay.Once Bermudians are taken care of first, then and only then should we even look at the unemployment of foreign workers.
      If it is a stupid thing to do, so be it!!
      Most Bermudians are extremely hard-working. They MUST be considered for jobs FIRST. THE REST WILL FOLLOW!!!!!!!!

      • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

        Is that backbone connected to a fully operational brain??

        It is true that bermudian employees are very expensive…They refuse to work for the amount foreign workers work for…Therefore if you raise the wages for bermudians…The cost of services or products will undoubtably rise and are we not paying through our teeth now for commodities..?

        Why aren’t the masses marching to the Insurance companies about the cost of health care because they dictate this area…NOT the GOVT.

        Food stuffs should be duty free to allow some leeway to the consumers…as well as the vendors…

        Bureaucratic jargon such as “luxuries” being taxed unrealistically…ie: cigarettes in some countries are $10 a carton…why are they almost $100 here..? This will happen as long as some people without hesitation will purchase a $90.000 car which is $30.000 in other countries…
        Basic bottom line is how can Joe public sustain a viable life when EVERYTHING rises every year except Joe’s wages…personally my wage froze solid 5 years ago…making less and paying more just doesn’t seem right or fair…but who has control over this epidemic…trust me when I say it’s not a Bermudian…things happen because of a handful of elitist families that own every major Industry on this planet…Joe public is considered to be useless “eaters”or”consumers”…

        Sweden at this moment is 95% a cashless society which will become global very soon with everyone purchasing items with a scan of your iris…so if you become beligerent or out spoken about certain subjects ie: speaking about corruption in high places…your access to these purchases can and will be cut short with a flip of a switch…what happens next??

        New Millenia…New World Order…I know the majority is oblivious to the facts…I’ve researched therefore I see what has come to fruition…and as Jack Nicholson once said…”YOU can’t handle the Truth!!” Couldn’t have been truer!

        Happy New Year everyone!

      • hmmm says:

        We are considered first for jobs. Do you live in Bermuda?

        • NOT REALLY. IN TRUTH, BERMUDIANS ARE CONSIDERED AN ADDITIONAL TAX TO EVERY EMPLOYER. This is one reason way so few of us can find jobs. We are talked about badly behind our backs, until just recently , it’s in our face. This is our island home, but the benefits of it are not working in our favor. Something needs to change before the entire system breaks down. I like every other Bermudian, just can’t wait till the next holiday. Oh, until then, we have Fridays. It’s not until this attitude changes, will we see change in our country.

      • Hoolieh says:

        Obviously, you have limited business background. Most of Bermuda’s economic growth comes from foreign investment; which has a foreign employment component.

        There are too many people in politics with DEFICIENT understanding of how the economy works and business in general. This should be a pre-requisite (disqualifier). Perhaps before joining Parliament MP’s must take a course on “The Bermuda Economy”.

        Non-business know-it-alls, that it’s!

        That’s why we are in the mess we are now!

        Smiths

      • thetruth says:

        You just have to apply. If you’re in any way near good enough you get the job.
        You probably don’t know that, living overseas. What do they pay you, $5 a post?

      • Kathy says:

        Agreed, but most Bermudian jobs come when there is employment by international firms who also need expat expertise. Therefore, as expat jobs increase, generally, Bermudian jobs increase. If no one is eating at restaurants, no one is waiting on tables. If no one is renting houses, no one is calling for electrical, plumbing, and other needed services. If there is no insurance company, no accountants, secretaries, maids, taxi drivers are needed….GET IT???

  3. Jeremy Deacon says:

    Some of the employment/unemployment stats here are quite remarkable – much of it down to IT/outsourcing I suspect. So, the question continues to be: how can bermuda make use of IT to increase employment? I really wish there was a working group on this, oh, wait a minute … that would mean another report on top of all the other reports that are making the shelf sag ….

  4. stunned... says:

    sobering

    the promise of 2,000 jobs in retrospect was optimistic and naive when the creation and retention of jobs in the non-governmental sector are outside of the government’s control.

    on a happy note, im glad that the promise of 2,000 new jobs in the civil service was not met and i hope it remains unmet until the ecoonomy improves, significantly.

    Happy New Year all…

  5. Frank says:

    3,400 people less Guest workers now and there family’s not renting homes/not in need of office space/spending money everywhere in Bermuda. Creating jobs!! Lots of reasons why they are not here. Hurry up all ready and sort licenses for the 3 casinos and start building them and staffing them and bringing in more tourists. HURRY UP!

    • Straight talk says:

      Dunkley, save what you have.

      Allow senior staff who employ multiple Bermudians to stay.

      All I see is Senior Brits and Americans leaving, taking jobs and wealth creation with them.

      Surely you get it? This isn’t about “Bermudians first’, whatever that means.

  6. Hoolieh says:

    The to Author:

    Great start to an good piece; however, I don’t think this article is 100% accurate as it’s deficient in terms of the analysis presented. Many important financial statistics are seemly missing,

    I’d be interest to read this article again once updated to include for just a few addition statistic and related commentary:

    1. Retirees versus new entrants into the employment market? Surely the pool of Bermudian workers has shrunk. All statistic suggest this, but this is not addressed above.

    2. GDP as of 2012 versus 2015? Surely this is available. Is this positive or negative?

    3. Balance of payment in 2012 versus 2015? Improved or not?

    4. GDP to Debt ratio? Improved or not?

    5. Annual deficit in 2012 versus 2015.

    6. Foreign inward investment in 2012 versus 2015

    To be honest, I’d rather see statistical match up of 2012 and 2015 to understand what, if anything, was achieved.

    However, it key to point out that it took 14 years to destroy Bermuda’s robust economy; and, to be frank, it will take us just as long, if not more, to recover.

    Smith’s

    • Hoolieh says:

      Apology for typos. Mistakenly pressed submit before editing.

  7. Coffee says:

    The only thing that this government have done well , really well , with the charitable help of KPMG is to process ….

  8. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    During WW 11 the British Navy build several Light Cruisers.

    The Germans launched the Bismark and by the time they were finished they were non functional, in other words, out of date ,same goes for the Titanic.

    That being said, don’t expect your new Airport to be there in thirty years.

    I will give you say three years and you will all discover all the shortfalls, then after 30 years and three more economic recessions,it will be to late.

    This will be “The straw that broke the Camel’s back .”