Big day: The OBA's Finance Minister Bob Richards is seen here arriving at the House of Assembly this morning to deliver his first Budget Speech. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Big day: The OBA's Finance Minister Bob Richards is seen here arriving at the House of Assembly this morning to deliver his first Budget Speech. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
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New Finance Minister Bob Richards today faces his first big test – his inaugural Budget statement.

His OBA won power partly on a promise to deal with Bermuda’s national debt and he will be under pressure to come up with ways to cut the billion dollar-plus deficit.

The OBA has also pledged to make Bermuda more attractive to business and reverse the trend of money-spinning offshore companies moving elsewhere.

But that has to be balanced with creating new jobs for Bermudians – and protecting existing ones in a time of high unemployment.

Massive tax rises – which would boost Government income – would be unpopular as Bermudians struggle with recession and are unlikely to feature in the Budget statement.

Mr Richards will also have to deal with the high cost of governing Bermuda, with 46.8 per cent of Government spending going on staff costs – although the OBA has ruled out compulsory Civil Service redundancies, opting instead for slimming down the island’s bureaucracy through natural wastage and non-replacement of non-essential staff.