Anthony Richardson. *File photo
Anthony Richardson. *File photo

Actions speak louder than words.

Last week’s column had a simple message — without drastic changes in the budget process, Bermuda will have to borrow more money before March 31, 2017.  

The new debt will be more expensive and put us in the danger zone of a debt to GDP ratio of 50 per cent.

This week I propose a framework for developing solutions that will garner support from all residents.

I recommend Premier Craig Cannonier and PLP leader Marc Bean jointly chair the recently announced Tripartite Economic Committee (The ‘TEC’), arising from public employees’ salary negotiations.

The TEC should develop solutions to Bermuda’s economic challenges. The recommendations should be announced by our leaders in a joint statement from the environs of the House of Assembly or the Cabinet grounds, on or before December 31, 2013.  

The implementation deadline for the recommendations should be no later than February 2014, to coincide with the next budget.

Why the two leaders and the joint address? Two leaders because they each represent about 50 per cent of the electorate, based on the 2012 election results.  

Their support will be critical to public support for any recommendations.  

The joint address is necessary for the substance that the message will convey and for the optics of seeing our leaders standing together and ‘singing from the same hymn book’. Simply put, joint address equals joint commitment.

The TEC should use any information it deems necessary to formulate the recommendations, including mutually-agreed upon recommendations of the pending SAGE report. They should include objectives, specific actions and associated individual deadlines.

The framework is both simple and complex.

Simple, because it ultimately involves two people.  Our leaders need to make a decision about whether the personal risk is worth the potential reward of Bermuda’s success. The financial maxim ‘the greater the risk, the greater the reward’ might be applicable to their personal dilemma.

Complex, because of politics. Given Bermuda’s current and historic political, social, economic and racial landscape, each leader will have to tread the fine line of working together for Bermuda’s greater good, without alienating their voter base.  

Treading the fine line is a tall order under Bermuda’s Westminster style of government, with its base of confrontation and a ‘winner takes all’ mentality.  

Each leader will have to be inventive. In this regard I am reminded of the adage that ‘necessity is the mother of invention!’

The unions, employers and others on the TEC will have a wealth of information to draw from. One source of data will be the SAGE Commission report, which will represent the most current and comprehensive collection of Bermuda’s financial and economic data.  

One limitation of the report will be the inherent political bias but at least it will be available as a common public reference for everyone.

Many will comment that this article is too simplistic and demonstrates that I am politically naïve.  

‘Au contraire’ — this column is not a clarion call for our leaders to ‘sing from the same hymn book’ for everything. 

There are many other issues for the PLP and OBA to ‘criticize and fight about’ and I expect that to continue — education, immigration, crime, municipalities, social issues… do I need to name anymore?

Actions speak louder than words. We need bold leaders to do what needs to be done.  

Premier Cannonier has repeatedly commented that “Bermuda must make our time together an era of collaboration” and PLP leader Marc Bean has repeatedly pledged that the “PLP will not oppose good ideas or legislation just for the sake of opposing”.  

Bermuda has heard their words. Now is the time for action — a concerted, cooperative and courageous effort by our leaders.

There are probably a myriad of other suggestions and permutations about my recommendation — let the critique and additional suggestions begin…

Next week — from SAGE to RAGE… a recommendation for a Revenue And Government Earnings commission.