Bermudians have been feeling the tightening squeeze of the rising cost of living. As a people we have always had to contend with high prices and so most Bermudians have worked out cost saving measures that help them maintain their standard of living. However, we are witnessing those measures becoming less and less effective causing many to cut back on certain luxuries they enjoy, whether it’s their favourite smoothie or snack, or skipping their annual vacation.
Families have had to pool their resources to hold on to their mortgages, pay for college tuition, or to cover their rent and bills. Across the board many Bermudians have had to sacrifice in one way or another.
But while Bermudians are forced to adapt to these harsher times, our PLP Government does not seem to know how to. Instead, it continues to make the same mistakes as previous PLP administrations.
When facing a global economic downturn which is leading to another potential great recession, we find the Government refusing to curb its spending and continuing to forgo sinking fund contributions. Why is it that the average Bermudian can quickly grasp the concept of budgeting for hard times, yet those tasked to lead us through these tough times cannot? Have they learned nothing from the last crippling recession in 2008?
As usual, an election victory means more to a Progressive Labour Party Government than the longevity of our island. It blocked crucial immigration reform for Bermuda because it presented a political opportunity to seize the Government. Now it has boxed itself into a corner with its own rhetoric and the Burt Administration finds itself, six years later, only passing piece meal changes.
The very person who opposed immigration reform under the One Bermuda Alliance is now a Minister and spends unnecessary time trying to repackage it and present it with a different name.
$19.4 million in back pay for negotiated civil service raises and expansion of financial assistance offerings on the horizon, looks good on the front end. Expanding social protections and good pay for our civil servants is something many of us support. However, we must look at the reality of our current situation.
I do not oppose good wages for civil service. I oppose risking our future generations financial security and access to future opportunities. We cannot continue to reach into the pockets of our future generations to fund short sighted initiatives to secure election victories for the Progressive Labour Party.
Bermuda is short of 9,000 working class people with an ageing population bubble set to burst, tourism, our second pillar still struggling, and health insurance premiums are steadily on the rise. These decisions will come back to haunt us, if the PLP doesn’t start delivering on its economic pledges, most notably increasing the working population.
If not, all of this will lead to an increased burden on the Government. All those increased benefits and pay raises will be taken back through increased taxes/fees as there will not be enough of a workforce to sustain them.
The main factors that attract working age people to a destination are a solid education system, affordable healthcare, amenities/leisure activities, national security, and cost of living.
If we want Bermuda to be successful, the Premier and his Cabinet must produce a cross ministry plan on how we can reform these key areas.
This plan should support economic growth, instead of another economic document stating what we should be doing already. This isn’t just to entice more people into our workforce but for the financial survival of our society. Bermuda has come to a point where it needs a complete overhaul as our current model is outdated and not functioning on par with our competitors.
Bermuda has all the tools to be successful, it just needs an elected government who executes more than just effective election campaigns.
Every Budget that we fail to balance is more debt heaped on to those who come after us. It should be our top priority to work towards unshackling future Bermudians from this national debt.