Premier: Budget Supports, Addresses Challenges

February 27, 2017 | 3 Comments

“We have worked hard to ensure this year’s Budget addressed our serious external challenges, while making sure that the people we serve here at home – our fellow Bermudians – are properly supported and cared for,” Premier Michael Dunkley said today.

Speaking on the 2017 Budget, the Premier said, “I am particularly proud of our work to reform the payroll tax structure because it will introduce fairness into a system that has been unfair to people who earn less and because it will provide cash relief to the people who could use a break.

“There are those who have a differing view regarding our economic strategy, but I believe it’s important to point out that everything we are doing to generate economic activity is being done to generate jobs and opportunity for Bermudians, period.

11-minute live video replay of the full press conference

“It’s about securing an economic future for one and all – something that we came perilously close to losing in recent years. We’re not yet out of the woods, but we’re on our way, and this Budget is going to help us get there.

“As the Minister responsible for the Public Service, I think it’s important to offer some clarity regarding recent comments about Civil Service employment numbers,” the Premier continued.

“We have worked very hard in recent years to reduce the overall cost of government while making operations more efficient.

“We instituted a hiring freeze for all but a few critical positions and introduced a voluntary retirement programme. We continue to implement SAGE Commission recommendations for greater efficiencies and performance accountability.

“The results to date are promising. As the Minister of Finance stated this morning since becoming government, the number of government employees has decreased by 649. That compares to an increase of more than a thousand jobs added to the Civil Service during the years of the former administration.

“To illustrate this in another way, the former administration increased the size of the civil service by 20% and we’ve reduced it by 12% – a record achieved across four years with no layoffs or redundancies!

“Ultimately, this year’s Budget and its proposed policies have sought to responsibly manage our finances while maintaining our ability to provide vital services to people and to support revenue-generating programmes.

“It is never an easy balance to achieve, especially given the extreme debt burdens we face, but we feel confident we’ve been able to strike that balance, and to do so in ways that eases cost-of-living pressures on people.”

The Premier’s full statement follows below:

By now many have had a chance to review the 2017/18 Budget.

As you’ve seen, it’s a comprehensive continuation of the two-track plan to stimulate economic growth and make Government more efficient.

We have worked hard to ensure this year’s Budget addressed our serious external challenges, while making sure that the people we serve here at home – our fellow Bermudians – are properly supported and cared for.

It is a Budget that deals with the realities we face today, and in that regard it puts forward measures and steps to safeguard people and diminish the internal and external threats to the Island.

My colleagues and I are optimistic that the programmes and initiatives contained in the Budget will support people who need support while providing a framework and plan to safeguard Bermuda’s future.

I am particularly proud of our work to reform the payroll tax structure because it will introduce fairness into a system that has been unfair to people who earn less and because it will provide cash relief to the people who could use a break.

Making Bermuda fair to all is a fundamental goal of this Government, and reform of the payroll tax system is a big step in that direction.

The Minister of Finance has and will continue to provide more information regarding our proposed payroll tax reform strategy.

But more importantly, to those Bermudians who continue to struggle, my colleagues and I are saying with this Budget: “We hear you”.

Here’s just a snapshot provided by the MOF of what an individual’s yearly savings would be based on each wage level:

  • A person earning $45,000 per year will see a savings that equals – $526.50
  • A person earning $75,000 per year will see a savings that equals – $667.50
  • A person earning $95,000 per year will see a savings that equals – $717.50
  • A person earning $120,000 per year will see a savings that equals – $300
  • A person earning less than $137,143, as 75% of Bermudians do, will see an increase in take home pay.

As we indicated in the Budget, the current structure has always been unfair to lower income employees and we have worked hard to construct a workable, tiered system to address the disparities.

Other important aspects of the 2017/18 Budget include our commitments to education, public safety and economic growth.

In the first instance, it is essential that we provide our children with a first-class education. To that end, we have increased funding for the Ministry of Education to provide a safe, supportive and nurturing school environment for our young people.

Safeguarding and protecting our citizens is another priority.

The Ministry of National Security will receive additional funding to boost Police numbers and invest in programmes to support our young people.

Our work to provide Bermuda’s tourism industry with the support needed to keep it growing is another big focus in the coming year. This is about using our resources to grow jobs and opportunity for Bermudians.

We are already seeing new life in Bermuda tourism. This is something that even the most hardened and cynical critic cannot deny.

The fact is, 2017 has the potential to be a good year for Bermuda in terms of hotel development, increased airlift to the island, the return of dedicated cruise ships to St. George’s and Hamilton and, of course, the America’s Cup – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is generating unprecedented exposure for Bermuda.

There are those who have a differing view regarding our economic strategy, but I believe it’s important to point out that everything we are doing to generate economic activity is being done to generate jobs and opportunity for Bermudians, period.

It’s about securing an economic future for one and all – something that we came perilously close to losing in recent years. We’re not yet out of the woods, but we’re on our way, and this Budget is going to help us get there.

In recent days, we have heard from organizations and advocacy groups who have offered their interpretation of this year’s Budget. We welcome these conversations and want them to continue, because we have to do all we can to understand the needs and to work together.

Finally, as the Minister responsible for the Public Service, I think it’s important to offer some clarity regarding recent comments about Civil Service employment numbers.

We have worked very hard in recent years to reduce the overall cost of government while making operations more efficient.

We instituted a hiring freeze for all but a few critical positions and introduced a voluntary retirement programme.

We continue to implement SAGE Commission recommendations for greater efficiencies and performance accountability.

The results to date are promising. As the Minister of Finance stated this morning since becoming government, the number of government employees has decreased by 649.

That compares to an increase of more than a thousand jobs added to the Civil Service during the years of the former administration.

To illustrate this in another way, the former administration increased the size of the civil service by 20% and we’ve reduced it by 12% – a record achieved across four years with no layoffs or redundancies!

Ultimately, this year’s Budget and its proposed policies have sought to responsibly manage our finances while maintaining our ability to provide vital services to people and to support revenue-generating programmes.

It is never an easy balance to achieve, especially given the extreme debt burdens we face, but we feel confident we’ve been able to strike that balance, and to do so in ways that eases cost-of-living pressures on people.

As I indicated last Friday, this week Ministers will be providing a general overview of their respective Budgets and their proposed programmes and initiatives, and at this time, I am happy to take a few questions on the 2017/18 Budget.

click here Bermuda 2017 Budget

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Comments (3)

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  1. Average Bermudian says:

    while making sure that the people we serve here at home – our fellow Bermudians – are properly supported and cared for,” Premier Michael Dunkley said today.

    hmmm

    Like(35)
    Dislike(4)
  2. Tired of the Milkman says:

    This guy loves a Camera, but rarely has anything to say!

    Just wanted some more face time to say exactly what was said last week.

    Like(87)
    Dislike(3)

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