*File photo
*File photo

Islanders are mixed over the root cause of the island’s economic woes, while just under half are confident the ruling OBA party has what it takes to enact significant change.

Bermuda Omnibus Survey conducted telephone interviews with 400 residents over a two week period late November and early December, found that 43 per cent think Bermuda’s economic recession is a result of the global financial crisis; 35 percent think the country’s crisis is self-made; 20 per cent think it’s a combination of both and 2 per cent either did not know or had no opinion.

Minister of Finance Bob Richards says Bermuda has no one to blame but itself: “My point has been clear all along ; most of our problems have been self inflicted. It’s bad news and good news. It’s bad news that we did it. It’s good news that because we did it, we can undo it,” Mr Richards said yesterday.

Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt disagrees. Mr Burt, a PLP MP, used the poll results to berate the ruling OBA.

“These numbers reflect Bermudians rejecting the OBA blame game and recognizing the truth; that our economic conditions are not homegrown but a direct result of the global financial crisis and transformation of the operating model of our insurance industry which requires less manpower,” Mr Burt said. “Despite the OBA blame game, Bermudians are not stupid and able to see the truth, especially since under the OBA job losses and outsourcing continue.”

In the same poll respondents were questioned about whether or not the OBA has the political fortitude to implement key recommendations of the SAGE Commission. 

Just under half — 49 per cent — thought the ruling party has the political will to straighten the ship.  Twenty-nine per cent said no, OBA will not get the job done, whereas 20 per cent were unsure or did not know. One per cent did not know about the commission, which issued findings of public sector rot and recommendations about how to streamline the government’s operations last month.

Mr Richards said his party is still sifting through the recommendations and trying to determine which are feasible and which are theoretical exercises: “I understand people are sceptical. We haven’t decided what our priorities will be; remember there are over 200 SAGE recommendations. We have got to get our arms around that and prioritize that, in a practical way, not a theoretical way. Because a lot of it is theoretical.”

Mr.Burt called the response to the SAGE report, “interesting in light of the growing mountain of broken OBA promises.” 

“At this stage the PLP is deeply concerned about the damage to Bermudian families and our economy if the OBA throws thousands of Bermudian workers into the street,” he said. 

“There is a clear difference between the OBA and the PLP. We are focused on raising revenue, diversifying our economy and protecting Bermudian jobs while the OBA is only focused on cuts to jobs and programmes that benefit Bermudians.”