"Context and culture"

The 2010 Throne Speech is available here.

A quick first impression:

The crutch of blaming Bermuda's financial mess on the global recession was not a good start. This is not the driver of our current economic woes. Mismanagement, over-spending, potential corruption and the resulting debt escalation are. It is intellectually dishonest - but politically expected - to continue to frame the fragility of public sector finances in that manner.

Debt escalation, a squandering of revenue surpluses through the early to mid 2000s, and a disregard for balanced budgets since Paula Cox took over Finance preceded the global recession.

However....I thought the tone was much better than the past and the speech was thankfully devoid of the new Premier's trademark verbosity, reliance on cliches and redundancy.

There's still a lot to be fleshed out, but the extension of the 2016 tax exemption to 2035 is a big positive, as is the commitment to 'overhaul immigration laws'. That can mean anything, but I agree that "the uncertainty, subjectivity and ambiguity created by the law in this area must be addressed."

Now we know why a lawyer was put in charge of Immigration. Bermuda's immigration laws are intricately tied to our economic and social progress, and can either limit or drive our growth. It needs to be modernized to reflect the globalized nature of Bermuda, our Bermuda-based multi-national corporations and the world economy.

We'll see what that holds. It is politically contentious, particularly because of the PLP's use of immigration as a political weapon. This could of course go horribly off track, but I thought the overall tone and direction of the Speech was positive.

The strengthening of the Auditor and Ombudsman is welcome, civil service reforms are needed and a public tendering and contracting process with integrity must be re-instituted.

It's all about execution now, and the PLP have not followed through well on their promises of the past 12 years.

The test will be whether they live up to statements about fiscal responsibility and cost cutting for example, and whether the new Premier will be able to lead from the front versus her 'cog in the wheel' self-characterisation.

How much of that was due to the toxic approach and circus side shows of the prior Premier is, I suppose, one of the things we'll learn over the coming months. But there is no room for mistakes here.

As my previous post said:

...replacing bad policies with good ones leads to dramatic and rapid improvement, with the shift to financial soundness restoring confidence and actually boosting long-term growth...

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