Vere did that wascally wabbit go? 

Today, Shadow Finance MP David Burt will deliver the PLP Reply to the Budget in the House of Assembly. I would strongly suggest that Bermuda tunes in to the HOA via radio 105.1 FM or via streaming www.parliament.bm

Here are some issues that Finance Minister Bob Richards needs to answer:

In the Budget Statement, Minister Bob Richards stated: “To allow the Bermuda economy to grow, immigration policy must be liberalized to allow easier entry of persons with financial and or intellectual capital to fuel the recovery of our economy.”  

Does this speak to the OBA support of Commercial Immigration?

Analysis of current account expenditure reveals that Rentals surpassed the original budget by $1.3m and that estimates for 2014/15 still have Rentals expenditure above the 2012/13 actuals. What is Government doing in an effort to reduce the amount spent on rents by moving Government offices into Government-owned property?

In the Budget Statement, Minister Bob Richards indicated that the expected boost to the construction industry resulting from the reduction of taxes for the non-Bermudian purchase of property never materialized due to “obstructions and red tape in the Department of Immigration”.  

What are these obstacles, and how does the OBA plan to implement initiatives to rectify this situation?

Two major importers are the retail sector and the construction industry. The value of construction projects for the first three quarters of 2013 fell to $29.1m from $84m in the same period in 2012. Retail sales in 2013 show eight months of declines. Based on this, can Minister Richards explain how estimated revenues from customs duties for 2014/15 are projected to increase by 15 per cent?

The Budget included $8m in cuts for education.  Additionally, Education no longer has its own Minister or Permanent Secretary, due to its recent merging with Economic Development. 

So exactly how does the OBA plan to keep their campaign promise of education reform?  

Speaking of “wascally wabbits”, earlier this month Junior Home Affairs Minister Sylvan Richards made a few bold statements regarding the OBA’s position on commercial immigration:  “…these people will NOT be allowed to vote in Bermuda elections.  

“Let me say once again, this is not about people becoming Bermudian. Commercial immigration is about these people becoming residents of Bermuda. ” Royal Gazette Feb. 5th, 2014

Some may rightfully think that Sylvan Richards was shooting from the hip as he was subsequently thrown under the bus by Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy who stated: “I’m not being evasive and I’m not going to pre-empt Cabinet.  I’m not going to say this is what my preferred option is... I haven’t shared any of that with my own colleagues.” Royal Gazette Feb 11th, 2014

Additionally, Minister Gordon-Pamplin stated in the HOA on Februay 14, that as Minister Sylvan Richards does not sit in Cabinet, he wouldn’t know what is going on.

I doubt MP Richards can repeat that the OBA will not allow persons to buy property or vote.

As they say on the streets, MP Sylvan Richards needs to know his role and stick to it. Obviously, he has zero idea about what Minister Fahy and the Cabinet have planned.  He is effectively a “toothless tiger” who attempted to roar. Silly Wabbit, “Trix are for kids.” 

Christopher Famous may be reached via e-mail at carib_pro@yahoo.com