Column: Most Important Statements In Budget

February 25, 2016

[Opinion column written by MP Jeff Sousa]

The Government’s 2016/17 Budget, presented by Finance Minister ET Bob Richards last week, commits the Island to a plan to restore Bermuda’s financial health, with a target to eliminate the government deficit in three years. In reading through the 38-page Budget document, I highlighted what I consider to be the Minister’s most important statements on the challenges behind the Budget and the historic opportunity before us. Here they are:

The Biggest Threat to Our Future

There is no doubt that the biggest threat to the future prospects of the way of life we enjoy in Bermuda today is… the Government deficit and public debt. If left unchecked, it threatens… the job security of Bermudians in both the public and the private sectors. It threatens seniors… It threatens the quality of healthcare received by Bermuda residents… It threatens those on Financial Assistance… it threatens our children, who depend on public education.

Debt Service – projected to cost us $187 million in 2016/17 – has become the second largest ‘ministry’ in Government. It is stealing from the future of our children and their children. It is constricting our ability to respond to people’s needs. It is weakening our ability to maintain the infrastructure that supports everyday life. It is threatening our solvency and, with that, our financial independence.

And a Serious Underlying Weakness

Two demographic changes – the decreasing birth rate and the aging population –are having profound effects on economic growth and on demands for Government resources.

We need to encourage people to come here to live, to grow the population, grow consumer spending, grow earnings… grow the tax base, live in our vacant houses, thereby growing opportunities for Bermudians.

We need more young, well-educated people in our Island to not only help grow the economy, but to re-balance the current imbalance between retired seniors, who are major users of the health care system, and the younger healthier working population who are supplying the funds… to pay for the care of our seniors.

The Time to Act Is Now

The economy is growing once again after six years of contraction. The major parts of the economy… are much stronger than when we first took the reins of Government.

Our progress, and the prospects for further economic growth that it signals, has created a window of opportunity enabling us to confront more vigorously the fiscal challenges that cloud the future of every Bermudian.

Our first order of business in this regard is to eliminate the deficit, which… has been driving our debt, and the huge costs to service that debt, to levels that threaten Bermuda’s solvency. This situation undermines our ability to support the needs of the Bermudian people. We are going to fix it.

This Budget… represents the first year of a three-year plan to eliminate the deficit, after which we will be in a position to begin paying down the public debt. We will make this happen by broadening the tax base, and doing so through progressive measures that require more from those who earn more.

We do this fully aware that economic recovery is never even, coming to some before others. But our over-riding mission remains, which is to extend the recovery into every household across the Island.

- Jeff Sousa

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Comments (7)

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  1. San George says:

    It also assume OPM is going to stay here. You need to cut the civil service and stop vote buying like them other byes did. Take the medicine now – surgery will be worse. Civil service owns you byes.

    Quo Fata Ferunt

  2. archy says:

    The most important statements were the rise in payroll tax, the rise in duties, Govt’s missed spending reduction targets, the role the oil price crash has had and increased burden on business. Sorry jeff, not a great budget for business and job creation, this one.

  3. clearasmud says:

    “We need to encourage people to come here to live, to grow the population, grow consumer spending, grow earnings… grow the tax base, live in our vacant houses, thereby growing opportunities for Bermudians.”

    Please Jeff tell me what these people will come here to do? If there were jobs available you would not need to “encourage” people to come! With thousands of unemployed already here why is anyone else going to be interested in coming. Also where is the plan to “encourage” Bermudians to stay here or one that would attract those who left to come back?

  4. Informed Bermudian says:

    Jeff, please stop trying to defend this poor budget that your colleague has brought forward. The fact that you OBA lot are unwilling to make the hard decisions that will really get this country back on track makes me regret even casting my vote in your direction. Tell your Premier to call the election already!

  5. UmJustSaying says:

    MAKE THOSE HARD DECISIONS
    we can deal with the…..&^%&^ this party, that party bull later.

  6. PR says:

    For 14 years the OBA watched and did nothing ecept give themselves a pay increase. Now you want to clean it up at the expense of small Bussiness. Target our inefficient civil administration. I.e. Renting building space with no one ocuping the space because no want cancels the automatic renewal on the lease. The 1/2 million spent to rent a ferry and we have 6 “new ferrys”. And in and on…………stop blaming us when you didn’t do your job!!!

  7. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    NINE TO FIVE IS OVER.

    I wrote to BERNEWS the other day about 4 people trading in a locked room going no where.
    I told you that Bermuda was that locked room.

    Again, I find my self making the same point.

    There is not enough money here to bail out the Government even if they recalled every last two dollar bill.

    How the people to day make ends meet beats me.

    Money has to come from out side this island, Government has to promote and encourage and make every attempt to make that happen.

    One way to do that is via THE INTERNET which is the way of yesterday today and tomorrow.

    We can no longer “Sit on the Wall “.

    We need to become more efficient.

    Every where performance is below standard.

    We need to re brand our selves.

    Failure can be blamed on poor management.

    TIME is every persons enemy , why waist it ?

    The trivial day to day matters need to go on the back burner and the dissenters need to ” ZIPP IT” .

    Bermuda is not a charity, nobody will give us a dime, we have to earn our money.

    We have to give value for money.

    Government needs revisit many of our antique laws to give our business people more flexibility.

    There is not one thing on this island that could not do with a shot in the arm.

    Frankly I don’t know why this island does not go on FLEX TIME, 7 days a week, these 9 to 5 days are over.

    Are we the island that always sleeps ? New York never sleeps !