Column: Bermuda’s Steadily Improving Economy

November 21, 2016

[Opinion column written by Senator Vic Ball]

It is important that we take time to reflect not only on where we are as a country, but also where we were and where we are going. It is easy to forget the past and to be consumed with the present that we cannot see what the future holds.

As a freshman Senator in November, 2014, Bermuda was in economic survival mode. The Government was still trying to arrest the annual deficit and growing debt. The unemployment rate was at nine percent – 3,500 Bermudians were unemployed. Tourist air arrival numbers were at their lowest point in 49 years.

The Government worked with local grocery stores to offer a 10 percent discount because they recognized the plight of Bermudians. Insurance companies offered a 10 percent discount to government employees. In addition, government workers accepted furlough days in an effort to assist with decreasing the cost to run the country.

In 2014, the America’s Cup was still just a dream. The Government was rebuilding the foundation for International Business to return. The Bermuda Tourism Authority was in its infancy and its CEO was being told by the Opposition to resign and go home. This Government was working feverishly trying to attract direct inward investment to help improve our dire economic condition.

Two years ago this was the position we were in as a country. The stress levels were high as Bermudians were suffering from the worst economic storm to blow upon us in recent memory. Our island was in a bleak and precarious position.

Presently in 2016, under the leadership of the OBA, we have managed to steer our economic ship away from disaster and ruin. We are moving Bermuda in the right economic direction. One hundred million dollars of investment by Hamilton Princess is now complete. The former Pink Beach Property will be opening in the spring of 2017 as the Loren. Hiring for 60 new positions available to Bermudians has already commenced.

Further renovations at Surf Side and Coral Beach are ongoing. New hotel construction at Morgan’s Point has commenced with the Marina to be completed in time for the America’s Cup to service some of the expected 85 super yachts to converge on the island. The St George’s hotel is expected to break ground in the New Year. The airport should also be breaking ground in the near future.

More good economic news is our GDP has increased for six consecutive quarters. Retail sales are up 19 of the last 20 months. Tourism is up 18 percent and according to the BTA the future of tourism has never looked brighter.

Mr. Hanbury, the BTA CEO, should be thanked for the excellent work that he has done in a very pressurized environment. A Bermudian, Kevin Dallas will soon replace him once his contract expires. Additionally, the Government is recording a surplus, before debt service, for the second time in 7 years.

Our residents and businesses in St George’s are excited that our partners at NCL will be sending 16 cruise ship calls into St. George’s in 2017. They have committed to send at least 12 calls into St George’s until 2022.

In addition, they will build two fast ferries to transport visitors from Dockyard to St. George’s, which will bring in more revenue and business for the old town that had been long neglected under the former government. This Government did all of this without widening the Town Cut! The port in Hamilton will see 23 calls next year as well.

There is no doubt that the OBA Government is moving our country in the right direction – opportunities and benefits are becoming available to more and more Bermudians who have endured the longest and deepest recession in recent times.

We would have liked to have been able to snap our fingers and have full employment and opportunities for everyone much earlier. However, the challenges that we faced were deep and complex and those challenges have taken longer than we anticipated.

We are aware that good and exciting economic news is difficult to hear especially to persons who are still unemployed or underemployed. We are pushing harder and harder to increase job opportunities and we are even more hopeful that those opportunities are coming.

We ask that our retail sector, restaurants, construction and maintenance sectors provide opportunities to more Bermudians. We ask that our banks open up lines of credit to allow Bermudians to purchase homes. We ask that IB provide training and other opportunities to assist all of us in Bermuda to enjoy the new economy that we see on the horizon.

We must not forget where we were, where we are and where we are going. It is the One Bermuda Alliance that is steadily improving the economy and improving opportunities for all Bermudians so that we can all rise together.

-Vic Ball

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Comments (7)

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  1. Ja says:

    Why is always the 10% of the brothers & sisters in the OBA who write these columns and the “OTHER 90%” in the OBA say nothing. Are you trying to please the people or those in charge? Trumps win didn’t teach you anything about the real people in charge nothing will.

    • REALLY?! says:

      Trump’s win just goes to show that 54 million people confirmed that they are completely blind and the rest that did not vote cannot complain anymore. It is going to be a long and expensive 4 years of Trump. Everything that Obama did to fix what George W. Bush broke, could be undone in a heartbeat. The US was 1.4 TRILLION Dollars in debt when Obama took over… that is alot of zeros.

    • jiggs bda says:

      @ Ja
      This column is generally submitted by Senators & MP’s from both parties. So what is your point exactly, Mr. Ball is a Black Senator, so are you unhappy with the good news or who is presenting it,

  2. wondering says:

    This from the guy who is suspected of giving favour to a company owned by his dad?

    Really takes away from the truths in the piece!

    Come on OBA get your foundation right and at least what is built upon it should stay the course.

    • wondering says:

      ……and I guess it is hard because of our racial divide that anyone who speaks on your behalf will be berated no matter what colour and will be cast as a devil or devil worshipper – EGAD!

  3. What went wrong says:

    Is they the same Senator that was in front of the commission of inquiry?

  4. REALLY?! says:

    This column is great news and the first thing we hear are negative comments. We were in a great deal of trouble Bermuda and the blame can be squarely laid on the shoulders of the PLP ‘Government’. There is still a great to do but does it not feel great to finally seeing some great progress? Yes promises were made before the OBA could actually see the truth about what trouble we were in and it is taking a while to repair the damage done but they just did not know how bad it was broken. WELL DONE OBA and BERMUDA!