Terry Lister *File photo
Terry Lister *File photo
Statement by Independent MP Terry Lister

The Minister of Finance has seen fit to have a Budget that has put the country in a holding pattern by having a Budget that projects small increases in revenues without any new taxes or tax rate increases of any significance while reducing expenditures by some $70M.

These figures are a long way away from what is needed to reach a balanced Budget and to stop annual increases in Bermuda's debt load. In fact, the Budget Statement indicated that there is a projection of $216M increase in debt for the coming year while the overall Budget deficit is some $260M.

There are those who will see this as a responsible Budget in light of Bermuda's economic state, which the Minister described as fragile.  However, others will be disappointed  that the Budget did not go far enough towards reducing deficits and the elimination of new borrowing. For me the concern is "the devil is in the details".

Rather than bringing a post-SAGE implementation Budget, the Minister is still yet to  tell the country which SAGE recommendations he will take on though he did explicitly tell us which departments are now on a hit list for some form of privatisation. The financial impact of these decisions has not been factored into the Budget and the actual Budget could be strangely different from predicted depending on what measures of privatisation takes place.

So instead of marches around Parliament next Friday we will now engage in a cat and mouse game of which department goes along with the accompanying charges of whose friends and family are benefiting by the sale of the entities being sold. Stay tuned!