Column: Who Do You Want To Manage Money?

July 16, 2017

[Opinion column written by OBA MP Leah Scott]

Bermuda, I know that things have not moved ahead as quickly as any of us would have liked, and the economic changes that we would like to see for all of us, seem to be slow in coming. However, we can all see that things are turning around. The thankless job that fell on the One Bermuda Alliance Government of trying to stimulate this country back to economic recovery was not an easy task and it will require steady effort to make continued progress. However, I am encouraged because the signposts along the highway to economic recovery clearly indicate that we are following the map correctly.

During the entire PLP tenure, there was no hotel development or substantial job creation for Bermudians, and business confidence was at an all time low. Four plus years into its term, the OBA Government has led the way to a new airport development project, the Loren at Pink Beach, the development of Morgan’s Point, the St George’s hotel development project and, of course, the 35th America’s Cup.

How wonderful it would be if the solutions to the challenges we face as a country could be quick and painless. The PLP is working feverishly to convince Bermuda that they have the solutions. The real deal, though, is that every single one of us in this country, is a victim of the bad fiscal management, economic decisions and policies that the PLP Government carried out during its 14-year tenure.

In 2012, following the annual PLP Delegates Conference, then Premier Paula Cox said: “Let us remember that we inherited a country full of division where a forgotten group of people were sidelined by those who put the interests of business first. We changed that equation. Now it is the people first.” [RG, 18 October 2012].

Here is how the equation changed under the PLP:

  • Turned a surplus balance left by the former UBP Government into a $1.5 billion dollar debt,
  • Unemployment increased to the highest level in Bermuda’s history,
  • Job losses increased due to the exodus of international business,
  • Reversal of free education at the Bermuda College,
  • Failure to implement multiple consultant recommendations that would have helped the education system,
  • Created the greatest economic disparity between blacks and whites with similar academic qualifications in 14 years,
  • Created the greatest economic disparity between blacks and whites in years,
  • Financial hardship and ruin reached unprecedented levels.

The reality is that the disenfranchisement of the “forgotten group of people” was created by and under the former PLP Government as they blatantly put their own self interests first.

While the PLP’s job is to make the OBA Government its whipping post in order to deflect responsibility for their own malfeasance, what they should be doing is apologising to Bermudians for the fiscal mismanagement of our country, as evidenced in:

  • The 2007 Report of the Auditor General on the Work of the Office of the Auditor General and on the Accounts of the Government of Bermuda;
  • The 2009 Report of the Auditor General on the Work of the Office of the Auditor General and on the Accounts of the Government of Bermuda;
  • The Report of the Auditor General for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012;
  • The Special Report of the Auditor General on the Misuse of Public Funds [December 2011],
  • The 2009 Special Report of the Auditor General on the Magistrate’s Court and Hamilton Police Station [Dame Lois Browne Evans Building];
  • The 2014 Special Report of the Auditor General on the Port Royal Golf Course Improvements Capital Development Project; and
  • The 2015 Special Report of the Auditor General on the Royal Naval Dockyard Cruise Ship Pier – Heritage Wharf.

The misbehavior, as set out in the various reports prepared by the Auditor General, is the catalyst that contributed to the social erosion and economic deprivation that this country is now experiencing, and not the OBA’s policies and plans for economic recovery for Bermuda, as the Opposition would have us think.

Before you get out to vote on Tuesday, July 18th, I would encourage you to take the time to read the Reports of the Auditor General from 2004 straight through to 2012. You can access them at www.oagbermuda.bm or you can go to the Office of the Auditor General to obtain a copy.

If you take the time to read the reports that talk about how your money was managed by the PLP from 1998 to 2012, then ask yourself two questions:

  • 1. Who is really going to put bermudians first?
  • 2. Who do I want to manage my money?

The OBA Government has a financial record it can stand on and be proud of. We can account for every penny that has been spent during our tenure. The OBA Government has never had to have a qualified audit opinion. There has never been a need to have a special report of the Auditor General in respect of the handling of the public purse, or anything else, for that matter.

The PLP also has a financial record they can stand on, and it is publicly documented. When the PLP were voted out in 2012, the Public Debt was at $1.33 billion. Accumulating debt also accumulates risk. The OBA government, has, over the past 4½ years, managed this country’s money with discipline and integrity, and reduced Bermuda’s overall deficit to the extent that we are on track to balance the budget in just one more year.

We are working to continue to advance the economic momentum that none of us can deny is occurring. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but bricks were being laid every hour. That is what this OBA Government has been doing for the people of this country – laying the bricks for a strong economic foundation that will create a path of social and economic equity for everyone.

- Leah Scott

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