Jobs and the economy are key issues for voters. *File photo
Jobs and the economy are key issues for voters. *File photo

FRIDAY, NOV. 9: Jobs and the economy will be the key issues that determine which way islanders vote.

But the state of Bermuda’s education system will also be a hot topic for voters as they go to the polls in December.

Political pundits and business experts told the Bermuda Sun the party that provides the best solutions to the economic woes gripping the island would come out on top.

Peter Everson, chairman of the Economics Committee of the Chamber of Commerce said: “The Bermuda economy is in structural decline which has been ongoing for some time and we see daily the impact of that through business closures and job losses.

“The crucial question for voters is who do they believe will be able to lead Bermuda back to a position of economic growth.

“Jobs are essentially the biggest thing to people at the moment and behind that comes education and housing.”

PLP candidate and political pundit, Walton Brown, told the Bermuda Sun jobs would ultimately be the main keystone to victory.

He added: “From being out canvassing it seems people are most concerned about jobs and that there will be opportunities ahead.

“They want to see there are real opportunities for progress in Bermuda. They want to see a vision for Bermuda to reposition it in terms of tourism and development.”

Another political source added: “It’s all going to be about the economy. The biggest question people are asking is how can we repay this debt and how are we going to create more jobs.

“They want an answer to how our economy is going to move forward.

“There is also a lot of concern about the education system and that is sure to be a big issue with the voters.”

Thad Hollis, chairman of the OBA, told the Bermuda Sun: “The key issues for the voters will be jobs, making Bermuda safer and more affordable and a first-class education system for our children and their future.

“The people of Bermuda will vote for whomever they believe is best suited to deliver on each of the above points.

“They will vote for the best team, and that team is the OBA — a team that has depth, fresh ideas, experience and energy; ready to put the people of Bermuda first, for a change.”

Kevin Grant, president of the BPSU, said the biggest issues at the forthcoming election would be education followed by pensions.

He said: “Education will be at the top of the agenda for many.

“We need to improve the system and if there is any way the BPSU can help do this, we will.

“There needs to be more emphasis on education to combat this wave of recession.

“Another big issue for voters is sure to be pensions.

“Some of the pension plans adopted by organizations and Government are simply not sustainable. And as people live longer and work passed retirement age, pensions will come to more to the forefront.”



Progressive Labour Party

 

One Bermuda Alliance

• We’ve started the Drywall, Waiter/Server, Nail Tech, CISCO Academy, Landscaping, Accounting programmes and helped local businesses via the Economic Empowerment Zones (EEZ). We’ve also introduced the Incentives for Job Makers Act tying incentives for international business to job creation for Bermudians. Next term we’ll introduce Jobs Corps Bermuda and the One Stop Career Centres. Internationally, we will continue to build ties the Middle East and Africa.

 

JOBS

• We will: give employers a two-year payroll tax exemption for all new Bermudians hired; direct  small businesses to 20 per cent of Government goods and services spending – about $80 million a year; expand the North Hamilton EEZ and develop the Marsh Folly area; speed up planning projects to kick-start the construction industry.

• There are two approaches to dealing with debt: investment for the future or austerity, which means deep and damaging cuts. We choose investment. We believe that in difficult times, it is important to invest in protecting jobs, improving infrastructure and strengthening the social safety net.

DEBT

• We will: establish an independent Contractor General to oversee Government construction projects to eliminate wasteful cost overruns; create a Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission to eliminate wasteful spending; freeze the size of the civil service, allowing it to shrink by attrition; use revenues to reduce debt and restore and strengthen social programmes.

 

• Investment in the above puts money in people’s pockets. Money in the pockets of working and middle-class Bermudians is spent at our shops and businesses.
This spending encourages companies to grow and growth means more jobs and a
larger tax base, without increasing taxes. Over time, this growth will result in more tax revenues which enable us to pay down a debt that is already among the lowest in the developed world.



ECONOMY

• Our Economic Recovery and Jobs Plan contains specific measures to grow jobs, stimulate investment, create opportunity and restore confidence that is so essential for economic revival. We will pursue initiatives to reduce the cost of living through proper regulation of the energy sector, promotion of combined heat and power generation (co-generation) and in health care through a focus on Bermuda Hospitals Board, which accounts for 40 per cent of all health care spending.

 

• We have strengthened penalties on gang offenders and made it easier for the police to apprehend gang members and break up anti-social behaviour. We have also strengthened preventative programmes and programmes to rehabilitate offenders. We’ve also approved extra funds for the police to bring in additional investigators. We will continue to strengthen programmes like MIRRORS and implement Job Corps to promote better life choices for our young people.

CRIME

• We will: Disrupt and dismantle gang violence by funding and implementing focused crime reduction strategies such as Operation Ceasefire; inform citizens about the latest incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour by posting Police community crime maps on the Internet; support neighbourhoods by implementing a ‘Cash Back for Communities’ programme using monies confiscated from criminals; provide young Bermudians with more recreational activities.

 

• We believe in a balanced approach to immigration that ensures that Bermudians come first and that local and international businesses have access to the workers and expertise that they need. Term limits and our new immigration policies represent that balanced approach.

IMMIGRATION

• We will: suspend term limits for a period of two years, while the matter is thoroughly reviewed for a policy that works better for Bermuda; protect Bermudian jobs by cracking down on employers who abuse immigration rules; streamline the work permit process to reduce the hassle factor and increase speed.