Skip to main content
Media

Borrowing From Our Future – an OpEd from Sophia Tessitore, OBA adopted candidate for Constituency 21, Pembroke South East

“What better way could we service future generations in this country than unshackling them from debt?” – OBA Senator Dwayne Robinson on the Government Loans Amendment Act 2024.

Echoing the statements of my colleagues in the House of Assembly and the Senate, I would like to share my disappointment and frustration with the Government’s recent legislation allowing monies from the Sinking Fund to be transferred and used for any purpose.

This decision is irresponsible and will only harm future generations, as the repayment of our debt should be one of our top priorities and is, in my opinion, essential to creating a prosperous and stable financial future for Bermuda.

Our debt is at an all time high at $3.3 billion, or roughly $51k per Bermudian. Instead of taking proactive measures to reduce this, the government is instead claiming the balanced budget as reasoning to take more and more from the public purse, while cloaking it as a benefit for Bermudians – particularly our most vulnerable. It is important to note that this most recent legislation is being disguised as a “cost-of-living” bill despite no wording in the legislation mandating that funds taken from the Sinking Fund be put towards these cost of living initiatives such as affordable housing. Instead, this legislation is allowing the Minister of Finance – currently, Premier David Burt – to take and use the “excess” funds as they see fit, instead of putting it towards our debt as it is intended for. Now, previously protected funds can be redirected towards shortfalls to avoid further borrowing and to continue to prop up the claim of a balanced budget.

Let the record show that the One Bermuda Alliance has supported various measures to make life easier for Bermudians, especially post-COVID where the economy has taken a sharp downturn. We are not dismissing this bill because we don’t want Bermudians to have access to affordable housing or lower healthcare premiums. Rather, we recognise the need to preserve resources to benefit Bermuda’s future generations and work aggressively to reduce the debt which is a huge burden on all of Bermuda. By not codifying these measures and the exact direction of funds that will be taken from the Sinking Fund, it raises many questions about the true intentions of this amendment.

As a young Bermudian, I am incredibly concerned with how the PLP Administration has been handling our tax payer’s dollars. Along with their previous measures which included rejecting the One Bermuda Alliance’s amendment to the Corporate Income Tax bill that would have ensured a portion of tax revenue set aside for our Sinking Fund and Infrastructure Fund, this government has proven time and time again that they would rather make empty promises to the public than actually do the work to create the prosperous island that they have been campaigning for. These measures would have put Bermuda in a much stronger financial position, benefiting future generations and allowing us to inherit a Bermuda that would be significantly less burdened by our national debt. Instead, members of the government would rather launch personal attacks against my colleagues than accept our work to protect Bermudians.

It is not arrogant to ask for the public’s money to be responsibly handled. It is not insulting or a dog whistle to demand that every Bermudians’ taxpayer dollars are handled in a way that is beneficial to our current reality and future generations. It is not okay to continually lie to and deceive the public with promises that are not fulfilled or answered within our legislation, but instead left up to temporary politicians to make permanent decisions with our limited dollars.

I implore the younger generation and my peers to pay attention to this issue. While the topic of the Budget, the Sinking Fund, National Debt etc. may be complicated and intimidating, it is essential for us to understand how these decisions will impact us going forward. As the youngest active politician in Bermuda and a representative of the One Bermuda Alliance, it is incredibly important to me that I advocate for issues affecting our island and especially our youth. This is absolutely one of them and I will continue to lobby the government to do better.