Senator David Burt. *File photo
Senator David Burt. *File photo
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16: Government has handled the recession correctly, according to Senator David Burt.

And borrowing money to improve the island’s infrastructure was important, he said.

Mr. Burt, speaking in the Senate this morning, said Government’s’ response to the economic downturn was “correct”, despite what the Opposition might say.

“A standard response to economic recession is to ensure that demand remains inside of an economy,” he said.

“Countries with central banks lower interest rates to stimulate demand. This has been noted as interest rates worldwide have been at historic lows for the last few years.

“Additionally, governments use fiscal policy to stimulate demand by spending and investing, often funded via central government borrowing.

“This is exactly what was done in Bermuda.

“I state today that our response to the crisis was correct and softened the blow of the Great Recession for the people of Bermuda.”

He continued: “The Premier is often quoted as saying ‘debt is neither inherently bad or good. It’s how you use it that matters’.

“It is no secret that over the past three years, Bermuda has seen a significant increase in its debt.

“Countries around the world have seen their budgets impacted greatly as they continue to deal with the repercussions of the Great Recession, which was a once-in-a-lifetime financial event.

“As I said earlier, budgets aren’t about numbers. They are about people.”

Mr. Burt said the Opposition often criticized Government for borrowing money but said they had “neglected” the island’s infrastructure.

He also said their way of thinking was to save before buying something which was not practical.

“To put that into context, that home that you’ve always wanted, if you followed the thinking of the Opposition, you should save the $700,000 to pay for it in cash before you start building, as opposed to borrowing the money from the bank and pay a monthly mortgage.

“Sounds great if you can do it, but it is completely unrealistic in the way the world works.”

Speaking on the cruise ship pier in Dockyard, Mr. Burt said: “The cruise industry needed a new piece to keep up with the global trend of mega-ships.

“If you follow the Opposition’s thinking, you would agree that we should have saved the budgeted $59 million dollars before we started building the pier.

“Meanwhile, in the time it took to save the money, Bermuda would not have had the benefit of these cruise visitors, who spend money in our stores and pay $16 million a year in taxes to the Government.

“Does this make sense? Of course it doesn’t.”

Mr. Burt said the pier would be there longer than the four years it would take to pay the money back.

“The only persons complaining about this investment in our country are the constant Government critics, who will find something to criticise no matter the case.

“They complain about the overabundance of tourists on cruise ships, and complain about the money that was borrowed to build the pier.

“Our taxi drivers are not complaining. Our entrepreneurs renting watercraft and catering to our guests are not complaining, our West End restaurateurs are not complaining.

“We took advantage of the strong economy and invested in Bermuda and its future.

“We borrowed to build, and we are justifiably proud of our record.”