SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25: The Budget will not create jobs or stabilize Bermuda’s struggling economy, according to OBA finance spokesman Bob Richards.

Mr Richards said: “The Premier described her Budget as a ‘bridge to stability’ – we see it as a bridge to nowhere.”

The UBP’s Kim Swan, however, said the Budget struck “a good tone” – but added it had failed to keep spending in line with income.

Mr Richards said the Opposition OBA would deliver its formal reply to the Budget, unveiled by Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox, next week.

But he added: “Before then, we want to express our concern that the Budget will do little to create jobs and nothing to stabilize our precarious financial situation.

“The Budget needed to be focused on growing the economy in ways that generate jobs and economic security for the people of this island.

“Only through growth can we create new streams of income to support families, broaden opportunity, sustain local businesses and start moving the island back from the edge of a debt problem that threatens to cripple the future.

“The Budget, in short, needed to present a plan to get the island on the road to recovery. It did not. Instead, it adds tens of millions of dollars to our debt burden.

“It raids workers’ pensions and debt-clearance funds to cover shortfalls. For the fifth year in a row, it spends more than it earns, continuing us on a path that takes us closer to meltdown.”

Mr Richards added that the Budget just shifted problems further down the road, and on to the shoulders of young Bermudians who would have to deal with the financial burden later.

He said: “This is a Budget that avoids the hard decisions. This is a Budget that puts the political needs of the Government before the needs of the country.”

Mr Swan said: “The net effect is the Budget differential – or deficit – is $139 million out of line because Government underperformed raising revenue and continued to overspend with its expenditure budgets. This trend has been continued over a number of years and must stop.”

He added that the private sector needed to be boosted to stimulate the economy.

He said: “Government must pledge to live within its means and do all it can to rejuvenate private enterprise to enable them to become Bermuda’s largest employer by far.”