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BERMUDA | Premier unveils “ambitious plan” ahead of elections

Featured Premier Michael Dunkley an “ambitious plan” for “more opportunity, more jobs, economic stability, and shared prosperity” ahead of this month’s general election. Premier Michael Dunkley an “ambitious plan” for “more opportunity, more jobs, economic stability, and shared prosperity” ahead of this month’s general election.
HAMILTON, Bermuda, Jul 3, CMC  – Premier Michael Dunkley has unveiled what he termed an “ambitious plan” for “more opportunity, more jobs, economic stability, and shared prosperity” ahead of this month’s general election in this British Overseas Territory.

Accompanied by a handful of party members, Dunkley delivered the One Bermuda Alliance’s (OBA) blueprint for the next five years, saying – “It is a plan that reflects the confidence and the promise of Bermuda.”

The OBA and opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) have unveiled candidates in all 36 single-seat constituencies for the July 18 election.

Several independent candidates, including former PLP Premier Paula Cox who has resigned from the party, may also join the fray.

The OBA inherited a national debt of US$1.4 billion when it won the December 2012 election, ending 14 years of PLP rule.

The OBA document, entitled “Our Mission, Our Plans to Move Bermuda Forward Together”, breaks down priorities into supporting families, education, protecting Bermudians, environment, enriching community life, health and safety, public safety, good governance and the economy.

It pledges to “leverage the recovery in our public finances to launch new infrastructure projects generating opportunity and jobs”.

Dunkley said the plan “will deepen the principles of fairness in Bermuda”, and would include ending discrepancies between Bermudian and foreign workers in housing and compensation, passing hate crime and cannabis forgiveness legislation, lowering taxes for lower income workers, appointing a seniors’ advocate, and balancing the budget.

“This is a plan to progress Bermudian life,” he said.

Nick Kempe described rectifying the financial situation inherited by the OBA four and a half years ago as a “monumental task”.

“It’s very hard to set up a system that protects the most vulnerable in society when debt is crowding out your ability to fund those services,” the candidate for Pembroke West Central said.

OBA chairwoman Lynne Woolridge likened the state of affairs when the party took power to that of an injured patient.

“We’ve spent the last four-plus years stopping the bleeding and getting this island back on a strong financial, economic footing,” she said.

“This is the time when we will now touch the lives of each and every Bermudian – young and old and everyone in between, the middle class that contributes to this economy — and help move Bermuda forward.”

Asked about the party’s promise from the last election to create 2,000 new jobs,  Woolridge said that the failure of the pledge to materialise was due to “pushback” from people who “didn’t want those jobs to be created”.

Bob Richards, the Deputy Premier and Minster of Finance, echoed Woolridge’s comments on the difficulties in bringing promised jobs to fruition.

“Every initiative that we have put forward for job creation has been opposed or criticised by the opposition,” he said.

Praised by the Premier as the man who saved the country from the “economic abyss”,  Richards said the government spent its first two years “staunching the haemorrhaging” from the previous administration.

This month’s election, Richards said, was about shoring up the support of Bermudians to “finish the job”.

Nandi Outerbridge, the OBA’s St George’s West MP, described the day as a great one for the country.

She outlined the party’s plan for a so-called jump start savings account of US$2,500 that will be given to each newborn Bermudian child.

  • Countries: Bermuda