“I warned people about this”, Bob Richards told reporters, in reference to rising Government debt. 

The Shadow Finance Minister voiced his opinions almost with glee at the prospect — as he saw it —  of the imminent economic collapse of Bermuda.

He said that had he and the UBP been in power, things would have quite different and we would not have had a billion dollar deficit — for he would have said ‘no’.

He is right. The UBP has always been the party of ‘no’ — no social programmes of any significance; no development of the country’s infrastructure.

The greatest monument to the ‘party of no’ is the incomplete, would-be National Stadium at Prospect. It reminds me of the famous incomplete church on the top of the hill overlooking St. George’s. At least at the stadium site there is a field — which has always been existence and for which the UBP can take no credit — which could be of some use to the people of Bermuda.

Unemployment insurance

The UBP recently took the PLP to task for not having proper statistics on the state of unemployment for Bermudians. They have a short memory as before the economic downturn really took hold, the PLP government mooted the idea of unemployment insurance.

Had the government stood firm and allowed that to become part of the billion dollar deficit, it would have meant less pain for the three thousand-plus Bermudians who find themselves unemployed —and we would know just how many Bermudians are out of work.

But as I recall there was such a loud howl of protest from the opposition that the government got cold feet and withdrew the idea and we heard no more about it.

I do not object to Bermuda’s billion dollar deficit when I know most of that money went into social programmes for Bermudians: The building of new housing projects; the development of infrastructure such as the new cruise ship terminals; the government policy of free Bermuda college tuitions (which is a prime motivation of a growing number of Bermudians who now find it is to their advantage to attend the college).

The proposed building of a new hospital is another example of the strengthening of Bermuda’s infrastructure. Most Bermudians are aware of where this money is being spent.

Bermuda is not Iceland; it is not Ireland or even Portugal; I do not expect Premier and Finance Minster Paula Cox to announce during her Budget speech that Bermuda has defaulted on its loans or any other financial obligations. The reality, in my view, is a far cry from the dire prognostications of the Shadow Minister of Finance.