Column: OBA’s Dwayne Robinson On Economy

January 16, 2020 | 1 Comment

Dwayne Robinson Bermuda Feb 14 2019[Opinion column written by OBA Senator Dwayne Robinson]

The first step towards solving a problem is to admit that there is a problem.

That is the attitude we should take with our economy because far too often issues are glossed over by propaganda, double speak, and deception.

We have seen far too many statements like MP Jason Hayward’s recent opinion article which sought to condemn the nay-sayers and to put lipstick on a pig.

We have serious internal and external threats to our economic prosperity – an ageing population, declining tourist arrivals, external pressures on our international business sector, an ever-increasing cost of living, Bermudians looking elsewhere to live and no sight of badly needed immigration reform.

There are also some major facts that Mr Hayward wants people to ignore. For instance:

  • Government’s own economic reports have clearly stated that construction projects such as the St. Regis hotel and the Airport are the main drivers of an increase in GDP;
  • Those same reports have also stated that increased Government salaries and wages have also helped to buoy GDP growth;
  • The collapse of the retail sector and the loss of 200 jobs – although his omission of that is not surprising since Mr Hayward does not consider an industry which employs around 3,000 Bermudians as significant;
  • House prices that have clearly fallen sharply, probably leaving many Bermudians in the horrible state of negative equity, and
  • The lack of success to date of Fintech – the Premier’s flagship policy.

What will happen when St. Regis and the airport construction end? Will work at the Bermudiana Hotel make up the difference? The renovation of the Southampton Princess is welcome but that was not Government inspired.

In short, the PLP has no construction projects in the pipeline so what will happen to GDP then? Will we have to rely on more Government hires to keep GDP positive?

Mr Hayward said, “It is misleading at best for individuals to use the performance of retail establishments as a measure for the country’s overall economic performance”.

Of course, online shopping is a factor, but I would wager that Bermudians are spending less across the board due to uncertainty about the future and because with all the new and increased taxes and charges they have less disposable income.

Mr Hayward chooses to ignore underlying issues like these. Why is that?

This Government needs to be open and honest about the state we are currently in and make the tough decisions that are needed – regardless of popularity or internal PLP politics.

It is time to stop dragging their feet on immigration reform. Bermuda needs more than just mixed status reforms. We need to start the conversation on comprehensive immigration reform with protections put in place to assure Bermudians benefit first and foremost.

Our immigration can be catered to sourcing job creators/investors who can empower Bermudians to gain employment for themselves and create it for others. This is not ‘opening the floodgates to foreigners’, it is creating a framework for the expansion of the economy for everyone’s benefit.

It is time to start a gradual scaling down of the civil service, so that Bermudians are not subject to increased taxes in order to prop up a bloated Government.

In my opinion, these changes should start at the top with a smaller cabinet, and a merger of constituencies to reduce the number of MPs.

Again, in my opinion, we should open the conversation about whether it is feasible to nationalize Belco to have more control over fluctuating rates, and the best energy framework for Bermuda. If not, we need to encourage more competition.

And open the conversation about the legalization of Marijuana.

These changes will take time; however, nothing starts without a first step.

Mr Hayward’s article failed to admit that there are underlying problems with the economy. Hopefully the Finance Minister will not have such a head in the sand attitude when he delivers his Budget next month.

- Dwayne Robinson

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  1. Truth says:

    The obaubp name change was lipstick on a pig…

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