Larry Burchall
Larry Burchall

Tomorrow, the OBA will have been in power for 100 days. So what’s happened in those 100 days?

First, in a national political sense, Bermuda’s general population has grown another few inches; and matured another few years. For 378 years (1620 – 1998), Bermudians were sucklings who depended on others, and who left most matters to others.

In 1998, Bermudians, for the first time ever, changed their governing group. The white oligarchy, grown too comfortable in their role and losing touch with a changed population, was kicked to the sidelines by a new black group.

The new black group, with the odd white Bermudian sticking out in their midst, took over, and ran things. Then, they too got comfortable and began to grow complacent.

On December 17, 2012, the now too comfortable black group was replaced by a fresh and new melange of ‘sassy upstarts’ and ‘chastened old guards’ styling themselves the OBA.

But above all that, the biggest change was that Bermuda’s electorate reached a brand new level of political maturity. Teat-sucking babes for 378 years, toddlers for fourteen years, have now become adolescents.     

So there is more growth to come. Teens and adulthood still ahead.

The second thing that has happened is that this spunkier and more confident electorate has thrown its first wobbly by reacting strongly to a decision taken by the new-boy OBA. This action, coming within 75 days of taking power, was a reminder that the jubilation of the night of  December 17, 2012 could so easily be turned into tears and despondency.

On March 1, 2013,the new-boy OBA got a short sharp shock.

The third thing that has definitely happened is that the new-boy OBA stood up, walked into the garage, opened the hood, looked under the hood — then blinked and quickly slammed the hood down again.

Looking under the hood and seeing two issues, new Finance Minister Bob blinked. He decided to stick with realistic figures regarding revenue and went for a feet-on-the-ground realistic figure of $869 million as revenue for 20123/14.  However, he then blinked and double-blinked and accepted that high pie-in-the-sky figure of $1,202.8 million spending.

Those two actions, the look and the blink, saddled him — and all the rest of us lot with an added $330.8 million in debt. This big chunk of fresh new debt will cost us about $26.5 million a year to service. That’s an added $500,000 a week of new debt service costs coming at us!

The fourth thing is that the OBA raised the debt ceiling to $2,500,000,000. Now that doesn’t really worry or bother me. It is, after all, just two digits and a pack of zeroes.

What does bother me, though, is that Debt Service Costs will now float up to 15c out of every $1.00 of revenue. That causes me to toss and turn at night and break out in cold sweats and have nightmares where a Gummint man is chasing me down a dark tunnel demanding: “More! More! More!” I can’t quite see the Gummint man chasing me and waving that bloody axe but he seems to have a shiny, bald head.

The fifth and perhaps best thing of all that has happened within the past 100 days is that there is an air of greater honesty and openness. A large part of this new feeling of openness and candour does come from the new OBA Ministers who are speaking openly and honestly about the present, the immediate past, and the near future. But it doesn’t all go with the new boys though.

Though not an OBA man, Shadow Minister David Burt also plays and played a great part in this fresh new feeling. He has admitted mistakes of the past. He has done so without vituperation and blaming it on some long dead ‘white ghosts’. In acting with such strength and maturity, this new Shadow Minister is pointing, and pointing strongly, to a new day dawning.

So, for me, happiness that Bermuda’s electorate ‘growed up’. Disappointment that Bob blinked. A quiet pleasure in candour and new openness.

What about you? n