MP Terry Lister: S&P Revision Was “Inevitable”

March 30, 2013

Terry ListerIt is disappointing for Standard & Poor’s [S&P] to state “the outlook on Bermuda is negative” but this was inevitable, Independent MP Terry Lister said.

On Thursday [Mar 28] S&P lowered its outlook on Bermuda from stable to negative and affirmed its ‘AA-/A-1+’ long- and short-term issuer credit ratings on the island.

“The negative outlook reflects our view of the potential of a downgrade over the next two years if the country’s economy fails to show signs of emerging from its contraction since 2009, if the new government’s fiscal consolidation plans prove difficult to implement, or if ongoing bank loan deterioration leads to broader banking system pressure,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Nikola Swann.

Mr Lister said, “The S&P report should come as no surprise to anyone. Many persons who are concerned with Bermuda’s financial state, including myself, have voiced concern for sometime. It is disappointing for S&P to state ‘the outlook on Bermuda is negative’ but this was inevitable.

“The Finance Minister outlined the ery grave state of the Island’s finances in this year’s Budget Speech. And, the subsequent Budget period that has just ended saw the details associated with the worsening financial position.

“If we are to recover and not exceed the very significant debt and deficit projections that the Minister has presented, it is vital that all Bermudian take ownership of the situation and strive to turn the situation around.

“While much of the future discussion will focus on what Government is doing or failing to do, let’s remember that it’s all of us whose future is on the line,” continued Mr Lister.

“As employees we must be as good as we can be at the skill that we offer. As employers there must be a clear plan for our company’s success. Woolly thinking will not get us out of this serious situation.

“The S&P report made reference to the banking sector being challenged. The comment ‘bank loan deterioration leads to broader banking system pressure’ has to worry all of us. The extent of the challenge facing the banking sector has not been shared with Bermudians thus there is considerable negative feeling against the banking sector.

“The banks would do well to communicate with the public in a manner that can be understood by the average man so that we can appreciate what the banks can realistically be expected to do to assist in turning the country around. Furthermore, we must hold the Government responsible for establishing clear lines of communication with the banks to ensure that the moves made by the banks are in Bermuda’s general interest as opposed to that of the banks alone.

“The Finance Minister has spoken of ‘shared sacrifice.’ The private sector has, in response to the economic realities of the day, been forced to engage in shared sacrifice for four years, some organizations even longer. This sector must now look for creative ways to build stability in their businesses and in turn profitability.

“This will provide job security for existing workers and create opportunities to hire additional workers. The tax break given by the Government for new hires should be a stimulus in this regard.

“S&P has warned against Government’s new fiscal consolidation plans being difficult to implement. The Government and its unions are going to have to be successful in negotiating a financial arrangement that will assist Government in improving its financial position.

“This is a time for level heads to prevail and for realism to take front and center in all talks between the parties. While the unions should naturally be concerned about their members well-being in the short term much consideration should be given to the medium and long term impact of Government’s situation on these same members.

“Government has made promises to attract new international business and to improve our tourism numbers. If we are to improve our ratings and the financial health of the Island, Government must turn these promises into reality,” Mr Lister concluded.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday [Mar 28], Premier Craig Cannonier spoke about the island’s finances saying, “I want to be clear here, this March we were close to not being able to pay our bills as a Government.”

The Premier continued, “This should be concerning to the country. This is something we inherited, but this Government will walk us through and will be responsible in bringing us out of the situation we are in. But these are things that we have acquired from our predecessors, but we will not shy away from them, we will go after them with a tenacity.”

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Comments (25)

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  1. Mad Dawg says:

    It’s good to see some people emerging who are being honest with us about the state of things.

    I hope Chris Furbert is listening.

    • Verbal Kint says:

      I agree. Good, common sense, talk from Mr. Lister.

      • Black Soil says:

        Brother Lister: Form a new Opposition and take Bermuda to the next level.

  2. Everett Outerbridge says:

    Mr. Lister,

    Thanks for providing an unbiased and honest opinion in this article. I agree that we all have to be deeply concerned about the state of our economy and its future well being.

    Thanks for reminding us of our responsibility as both employees and employers to act rationally and work together to promote growth and success.

    Let’s put aside politics and work for the good of the country.

  3. James Rego says:

    It’s a shame when Mr. Lister was a part of the problem he was not as forthcoming.

    Maybe his former colleagues can take a page from his book, listen, and work with the government to try to reverse what has taken place over the past 14 years.

    There is absolutely no need to try to bring the government down for the sake of the party, in the end everyone will loose!

    • I totally agree James…had he only :-(
      This is not the time to attempt, “playing the big dog in the yard.” We must cease the bickering and if still possible, “unite” more-so now than ever before!

  4. Luis Suarez says:

    Er, your lot did this Terry! Don’t forget that.

    • Rick Rock says:

      You appear to have forgotten that Terry Lister left the PLP and is now an Independent. I agree he was part of the PLP when they incompetently drove the economy into a ditch, but he is now Independent, which is probably why he can now speak sensibly. It’s a refreshing change from the childish drivel that comes out of the PLP these days.

      • Luis Suarez says:

        The speaking sense might be true, but you have got to be kidding me if you think the last few months suddenly absolves him of blame. He became a PLP senator in 1993 and did stints on Finance and Tourism. Squarely to blame for this mess, along with several others who seem to suddenly find themselves very chirpy considering what they have done to us.

  5. Mad man says where is Lavern and fiends? says:

    Well said. He was part of the government that created the situation and he said nothing about it then. All of sudden he is concerned?

  6. Spineless says:

    Dear MP Lister,

    As a Somerset voter I look forward to voting you OUT in the next General Election

    During the PLPs time in the driving seat creating this mess you and the other PLP backbenchers and Ministers allowed this to happen

    We are also aware that you were offered Minister of Finance on 3 occasions by two different Premiers and that you were spineless and incapable so wimped out

    Please enjoy your final salary payments on our broke public purse and then find a Somerset rock to crawl under

    Cant wait to vote you out mate.

    Your nerve.

    • mpartiality says:

      Ignorance is bliss. It is better to be wise! You by the way could not have chosen a better pen name. There are a number of good law abiding and intelligent people who live in SOMERSET you clearly are not one of them. Mr. Lister if he has any sense should be pleased that he no longer has to tolerate the kind of ignorance you exude. Talking about crawling under a rock – hopefully he will not find you doing the same thing. I cannot believe that you and others like you can be so ignorant. Wake up, smell the coffee, get yourself a renewed and pure heart and then try to become just a tad more positive for the sake of Bermuda. It seems to be that Mr. Lister’s comments re the S & P article is his attempt to encourage ALL of US to acknowledge where we are, digest it and move forward TOGETHER for the sake of our Country and her people which by the way includes you. Unless of course you choose not to crawl out from under YOUR ROCK!!!!

  7. Balanced Facts says:

    Cudos to Lister even if he is speaking out too late!
    Its laughable that the PLP has the nerve to criticize the first 100 days of the new Government well knowing what they have caused. Shameful! Sit quietly and let a group of capable people try and clean up your mess!!!

    • Chuckling says:

      Trust me there are thousands of us sitting quietly and watching.

  8. jt says:

    Inevitable because of where we are at – not in terms of how we got here.

  9. Reality Bites says:

    Good recommendations Mr. Lister however the reality is that the most profitable companies are now in the hands of foreigners. The major concern for them is value for shareholders (i.e.themselves)as opposed to what is best for the country which has welcomed them with open arms. I believe government has to get tough with subsidising people who can take a lot of the service industry positions as the foreign workers are there in the most part because we Bermudians do not want to work for so little money. I would rather government do more to encourage people to
    take these positions as the money would stay in this island. Half a loaf is better then none. Government can provide the subsidy for the shortfall.

    • Mad Dawg says:

      “Government can provide subsidies…”

      You haven’t been listening, have you.

    • Chuckling says:

      Then run and grab that half a loaf. So you can pay half your utility bills, half your rent, half your groceries, half your mortgage, and live half the hope of ever educating half your children.

  10. street wise says:

    Terry, IMHO, you should have put your foot down a little more firmly back when it counted! If true, I was disappointed to hear that you were offered the Finance Minister’s portfolio, when you were with the plp, but turned it down. What does that say?

    • mpartiality says:

      It says you should not believe everything you hear!!! Unless of course you hear it from the horse’s mouth.

  11. swing voter says:

    he turned it down because he would have been just like ms. cox. wen u got 10 cabinet ministers that can’t think for themselves and the central committee members all fighting a 70s revolution, what chance did he have wen a few tricksters were screwing us all, and at the same time telling us its our turn to get whitey. everybody who believed in the party got screwed

  12. We Dont Care What You Think says:

    Cousin Terry we dont care what you think especially as we did our home work and know you were offerred finance at least twice and rejected it

    you were a scared little fella and still are

  13. Common Sense says:

    What a great shame that folks like “We Dont Care What You Think” really believe that he or she reflects the view of all of us, or even some of us. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Terry Lister’s views have always been respected by many Bermudians I know from both sides of the political divide, and never more so than now because he is speaking frankly and honestly about a subject about which he is far more knowledgeable that most of us.

    To make sarcastic comments about Mr. Lister which have nothing whatever to do with his actual comments is both childish and immature. I note that WDCWYT doesn’t offer even the least alternate point of view about the S&P Revision.

    On the subject of Mr. Lister twice being offered the position of Finance Minister in the former Government, I suspect that he would have been very concerned about the amount of autonomy he would have had under the then Premier, and that if offered the position he would have wanted assurances that he would at least have been listened to!

    As a general rule of thumb, when a person can only feel big by trying to knock someone else down it is best to send them a clear message – “We don’t care what you think”!!

  14. Dear Terry says:

    Dear Terry

    stop getting your _____ to write comments to support you

    your career is winding down to a close

    goodbye

  15. Common Sense says:

    @Dear Terry – Please do not include me in your sarcastic comments about Terry Lister. I’m certainly not a friend or associate of his, and I hardly even know him, but I’m very impressed that he displays a great deal of common sense in talking about the state of our economy.

    I know this will be hard for some folks to swallow, but there are thousands of Bermudians who do not care what a person’s politics are if they are sincere, honest, and intelligent. Mr. Lister just displayed all those qualities. Hats off to him.