Premier: Budget Supports, Addresses Challenges

February 27, 2017

“We have worked hard to ensure this year’s Budget addressed our serious external challenges, while making sure that the people we serve here at home – our fellow Bermudians – are properly supported and cared for,” Premier Michael Dunkley said today.

Speaking on the 2017 Budget, the Premier said, “I am particularly proud of our work to reform the payroll tax structure because it will introduce fairness into a system that has been unfair to people who earn less and because it will provide cash relief to the people who could use a break.

“There are those who have a differing view regarding our economic strategy, but I believe it’s important to point out that everything we are doing to generate economic activity is being done to generate jobs and opportunity for Bermudians, period.

11-minute live video replay of the full press conference

“It’s about securing an economic future for one and all – something that we came perilously close to losing in recent years. We’re not yet out of the woods, but we’re on our way, and this Budget is going to help us get there.

“As the Minister responsible for the Public Service, I think it’s important to offer some clarity regarding recent comments about Civil Service employment numbers,” the Premier continued.

“We have worked very hard in recent years to reduce the overall cost of government while making operations more efficient.

“We instituted a hiring freeze for all but a few critical positions and introduced a voluntary retirement programme. We continue to implement SAGE Commission recommendations for greater efficiencies and performance accountability.

“The results to date are promising. As the Minister of Finance stated this morning since becoming government, the number of government employees has decreased by 649. That compares to an increase of more than a thousand jobs added to the Civil Service during the years of the former administration.

“To illustrate this in another way, the former administration increased the size of the civil service by 20% and we’ve reduced it by 12% – a record achieved across four years with no layoffs or redundancies!

“Ultimately, this year’s Budget and its proposed policies have sought to responsibly manage our finances while maintaining our ability to provide vital services to people and to support revenue-generating programmes.

“It is never an easy balance to achieve, especially given the extreme debt burdens we face, but we feel confident we’ve been able to strike that balance, and to do so in ways that eases cost-of-living pressures on people.”

The Premier’s full statement follows below:

By now many have had a chance to review the 2017/18 Budget.

As you’ve seen, it’s a comprehensive continuation of the two-track plan to stimulate economic growth and make Government more efficient.

We have worked hard to ensure this year’s Budget addressed our serious external challenges, while making sure that the people we serve here at home – our fellow Bermudians – are properly supported and cared for.

It is a Budget that deals with the realities we face today, and in that regard it puts forward measures and steps to safeguard people and diminish the internal and external threats to the Island.

My colleagues and I are optimistic that the programmes and initiatives contained in the Budget will support people who need support while providing a framework and plan to safeguard Bermuda’s future.

I am particularly proud of our work to reform the payroll tax structure because it will introduce fairness into a system that has been unfair to people who earn less and because it will provide cash relief to the people who could use a break.

Making Bermuda fair to all is a fundamental goal of this Government, and reform of the payroll tax system is a big step in that direction.

The Minister of Finance has and will continue to provide more information regarding our proposed payroll tax reform strategy.

But more importantly, to those Bermudians who continue to struggle, my colleagues and I are saying with this Budget: “We hear you”.

Here’s just a snapshot provided by the MOF of what an individual’s yearly savings would be based on each wage level:

  • A person earning $45,000 per year will see a savings that equals – $526.50
  • A person earning $75,000 per year will see a savings that equals – $667.50
  • A person earning $95,000 per year will see a savings that equals – $717.50
  • A person earning $120,000 per year will see a savings that equals – $300
  • A person earning less than $137,143, as 75% of Bermudians do, will see an increase in take home pay.

As we indicated in the Budget, the current structure has always been unfair to lower income employees and we have worked hard to construct a workable, tiered system to address the disparities.

Other important aspects of the 2017/18 Budget include our commitments to education, public safety and economic growth.

In the first instance, it is essential that we provide our children with a first-class education. To that end, we have increased funding for the Ministry of Education to provide a safe, supportive and nurturing school environment for our young people.

Safeguarding and protecting our citizens is another priority.

The Ministry of National Security will receive additional funding to boost Police numbers and invest in programmes to support our young people.

Our work to provide Bermuda’s tourism industry with the support needed to keep it growing is another big focus in the coming year. This is about using our resources to grow jobs and opportunity for Bermudians.

We are already seeing new life in Bermuda tourism. This is something that even the most hardened and cynical critic cannot deny.

The fact is, 2017 has the potential to be a good year for Bermuda in terms of hotel development, increased airlift to the island, the return of dedicated cruise ships to St. George’s and Hamilton and, of course, the America’s Cup – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is generating unprecedented exposure for Bermuda.

There are those who have a differing view regarding our economic strategy, but I believe it’s important to point out that everything we are doing to generate economic activity is being done to generate jobs and opportunity for Bermudians, period.

It’s about securing an economic future for one and all – something that we came perilously close to losing in recent years. We’re not yet out of the woods, but we’re on our way, and this Budget is going to help us get there.

In recent days, we have heard from organizations and advocacy groups who have offered their interpretation of this year’s Budget. We welcome these conversations and want them to continue, because we have to do all we can to understand the needs and to work together.

Finally, as the Minister responsible for the Public Service, I think it’s important to offer some clarity regarding recent comments about Civil Service employment numbers.

We have worked very hard in recent years to reduce the overall cost of government while making operations more efficient.

We instituted a hiring freeze for all but a few critical positions and introduced a voluntary retirement programme.

We continue to implement SAGE Commission recommendations for greater efficiencies and performance accountability.

The results to date are promising. As the Minister of Finance stated this morning since becoming government, the number of government employees has decreased by 649.

That compares to an increase of more than a thousand jobs added to the Civil Service during the years of the former administration.

To illustrate this in another way, the former administration increased the size of the civil service by 20% and we’ve reduced it by 12% – a record achieved across four years with no layoffs or redundancies!

Ultimately, this year’s Budget and its proposed policies have sought to responsibly manage our finances while maintaining our ability to provide vital services to people and to support revenue-generating programmes.

It is never an easy balance to achieve, especially given the extreme debt burdens we face, but we feel confident we’ve been able to strike that balance, and to do so in ways that eases cost-of-living pressures on people.

As I indicated last Friday, this week Ministers will be providing a general overview of their respective Budgets and their proposed programmes and initiatives, and at this time, I am happy to take a few questions on the 2017/18 Budget.

click here Bermuda 2017 Budget

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Comments (24)

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  1. Average Bermudian says:

    while making sure that the people we serve here at home – our fellow Bermudians – are properly supported and cared for,” Premier Michael Dunkley said today.

    hmmm

    • Tired of the Milkman says:

      Yeah – meanwhile they cut education – AGAIN!

      • I wish he would hurry up and call de election.
        Man up or shut up.

        • The Original Truth™ says:

          WHY! We don’t have any contenders. Who needs to be called is the UK government and it needs to be explained to them that there is no one of their own words available to be elected and they should take over until we have stability.

          • mixitup says:

            this sounds like someone who knows they will lose the next election and is scared…lol

          • mixitup says:

            ‘Take over until we have stability’…who’s we and who’s unstable? you sound like Donald Trump.

      • NCM says:

        @tiredofthemilkman. You’re stating a falsehood, and blatantly! You said ‘they cut education again’ but the Premier explicitly stated that the Education Budget is to be increased. You can’t be interested in truth, and then you say the statement says ’nothing’ when it also explains government progress in reducing the size and cost of the civil service. A big issue that’s at the heart of our deficit problem. That’s not ’nothing’, and you’d like people to think that. People like you are seeds of destruction.

        • The Original Truth™ says:

          They had 4 years to fix the education system and are only now in a election year promising an increase in funding. Jamaica has 15 institutions that provide a university education and Bermuda has ZIP-ZERO-NADA.

          OBA has wasted time and money with the America’s Cup and now they want to act like they really care. At least PLP provided us with an extra high school so that our children were not all jammed into one. PLP may have dropped the ball big time but OBA promised to pick it up and hasn’t. What we need is either another political party that really cares for it’s people or give rule back over to the UK until one comes along.

  2. Tired of the Milkman says:

    This guy loves a Camera, but rarely has anything to say!

    Just wanted some more face time to say exactly what was said last week.

  3. Justin says:

    People are vexed for good reason because they are taking a hit on payroll tax, cost of goods and services are going up, insurance and banks are being taxed which ultimately means we are being taxed AND the banks are set to increase mortgage rates very soon so that’s another tax added. Meanwhile wages are flat at best. Not to mention that next year there will be a new service tax. Doesn’t the future look rosy?

    I just wish there was a way to tax people for their past sins of voting PLP! Remember, nothing in life is free – not Bermuda College, not daycare, not busses!!

    • Truth says:

      Agree. And what are we going to do when a lot of our jobs leave when IB leaves after this? This combined with Trump’s possible plans could be the final straw with some IB companies that were already contemplating a move. And if the PLP get back in, cue ANOTHER mass exodus.

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        Trump’s possible plans look after his country’s best interest while our governments have been like the Obama administration looking after foreigners first despite the impact on the country’s citizens. This is something both PLP and OBA have done just that PLP had a way of making people think they weren’t.

    • Well de airport is FREE according to SpongeBob.
      LMFAO

      • Justin says:

        When did Bob Richards ever say the airport was free? I believe he’s been saying, as well as others, that the airport deal is the best deal for Bermuda at this time. You seem to have a hard time comprehending that NOTHING in life is free.

        It is frightening that people with your intelligence actually have an equal vote…..

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        According to Bob money doesn’t grow on trees. Now from what I know about money it’s made from cotton and cotton does grow on trees. What I know doesn’t in any way, shape or form grow on trees is jobs but bob seems to think different from the fact.

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      PLP did mess up but OBA has done little to pick up the pieces. You say wages are flat but no employer is going to give a raise when they can bring in someone that will work for less or outsource. Even with a permit fee if someone works for $100 less a month that fee is subsidized. PLP’s term limits were proven not to work but no one ever looked at why they didn’t work. If one actually did look at why they didn’t work it would be plain to see that term limits were only implemented on those who did not fit the PLP agenda. Key people were forced to leave while others were allowed to stay. Instead of trying to properly implement term limits OBA scraped it as their first action once in government. If people are to be taxed for voting PLP I only feel it fair to tax me and all others who voted OBA since they are just as self serving.

    • mixitup says:

      If we had to TAX people for their past sins? Lets do Just THAT! Maybe then the playing field would really be leveled..

      • mixitup says:

        And then the GALL in the next sentence to say that nothing in life is free! I just can’t with these people…. I’ll tell you this Justin, what do you think that 400 years worth of free Labour could buy you today?
        And where in the world is it ok to dump 77 million into a Billionare’s sailboat race and justify this with some pie in the sky return on investment, But when a Gov’t invest in it’s students, it’s future with free college tuition they are sreamed down and chastized, there is really something wrong with this picture..but I won’t expect you to see it.

  4. N Bishop says:

    Actually, no more than the new airport, this budget is an absolute reflection of arrogant, shallow feeling. The additional taxes on business, especially local business, are in no way job creating and simply tax already over taxed, marginalized businesses even more.

    One more thing, I don’t trust the stats that are being presented, especially the visitor arrivals and spending ones. Being on the front line in tourism, I get a real sense of something being cooked from these figures.

    By the way, Tired, you are correct. Even his own people think the Milkman is a not especially bright egotist – no more than Ewart, with him, it will always be a out him.

  5. Kiskadee says:

    We need to get rid of all the useless civil servants with all their benefits . And get rid of Nandi Outerbridge . She is the most useless politician we have . I have yet to see her do anything useful. Use the money saved to help seniors in need or to put into education .

    • Benefits were fought for and given to those who were being exploited by greedy employers.
      Dont forget it came from an era when people worked for FREE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      While at it let’s get rid of Fahy since he’s just as useless and has also caused disrupt in society through his anti-Bermudian actions.

      • Yea ok says:

        Fahy’s trickery did set the nasty tone for all this division among both cross sections of the people. Was it worth the election? hmmm we shall see.

      • N Bishop says:

        Fahy is not anti Bermudian, he’s simply not very bright.