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PLP Reply to the 2014 Budget

Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt, delivered the PLP's reply to the 2014/15 Budget in Parliament on Friday, February 28. Read the full response here.

Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt, delivered the PLP's reply to the 2014/15 Budget in Parliament on Friday, February 28. In that response he outlined the PLP's alternate budget proposal that would make signifigant investments in education, training, and alternative energy. He also laid of the PLP's ideas for diversifying the economy, creating addtional jobs in Bermuda, and reforming immigration.

The full document is available for download here. If you have feedback, MP David Burt can be contacted on dburt@plp.bm

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Who Will Decide Your Future?

What will the OBA's Cuts & Pain Commission cut? DayCare? FutureCare? Public education? Public assistance? They won't tell us.

Watch the new ad and share it widely:

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What Will The OBA Cut?

If the Cuts & Pain Commission is no different than what the PLP has already put forward in terms of belt tightening, what's the use in pretending it's something new?

Mr. Richards should instead be giving credit to the PLP for already taking the very action that he recommended!

It is time for Bob Richards to come clean. If they are indeed going to claim that they can increase spending and cut taxes to the tune of $500 million while simultaneously reducing the debt, then, rapid and radical cuts will have to be made.

If the Cuts & Pain Commission is going to be something different than what we've already implemented, then, major cuts will have to be on the table. It is time for the OBA to come clean and tell us exactly what they plan to cut.

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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Yesterday, Minister Patrice Minors and Minister Wayne Furbert outlined several bold ideas for creating jobs and opportunity for all Bermudians.

Minister Furbert:

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs are our number one priority, and we have a Plan that will make this happen...

The Bermuda Economy grew from $3 billion to $6 billion from 1998 – 2008, under the Progressive Labour Party Government. We did it once, and we can do it again, by creating and fostering an environment that has market driven policies, combined with sound regulations and minimal government intervention.

In 2008 the world economy slapped us in the face, and we could have cut jobs, and stopped capital expenditure, but we did not.

We continued some capital works and kept people employed, because we are not a Government that push people in the streets.

We are not standing here today talking about a promise but we are talking about action.

- The Progressive Labor Party Government has been working since mid 2011 to create an entity capable of increasing business for companies in the International Business sector.

- The entity will be empowered to sustain the businesses that are here, and to develop brand new business in areas. In particular we will focus investment and competition within the key sectors of Insurance, banking, fund management, wealth management, telecommunications, information technology and legal services..

- Partnering with stakeholders in the international sector, Business Bermuda and the Bermuda Insurance Development Council are being merged into the new Bermuda Business Development Corporation (BBDC). The BBDC will be the business development engine that will be engineered to drive business into the international sector.

- The Bermuda Government will ensure that the BBDC has the resources needed to accomplish its mission.

- This new entity, with the support of the businesses in the international sector, will succeed.

Minister Minors went on to discuss what she looks forward to accomplishing on job creation in the next term:

Getting Bermudians back to work and keeping those Bermudians with jobs, in jobs are the main priorities of this government. While others have beaten the drum for radical cuts and promoted the failed and discredited philosophy of austerity, The Progressive Labour Party has stood strong on the belief that investment in our people, our infrastructure and our communities are the best ways for our country to move forward together.

We are facing the worst global economic conditions since the Great Depression of the 1930s and while Bermuda is truly another world, we have also been affected with many of our neighbors, friends and family struggling to find work and finding it tougher and tougher to provide for their families. We believe that by investing in our people, protecting social programmes and jobs within the civil service from drastic and radical cuts we have prevented this recession from being even worse.

The PLP has:

• Introduced new Economic Empowerment Zones in the east and west
• Implemented the Payroll Tax Relief Training Scheme for apprentices
• Used the $1.15M Unemployment Fund to re-train and re-skill unemployed Bermudians
• Established an unemployment register allowing government to track and assist Bermuda’s unemployed
• Adjusted immigration policies to protect Bermudian jobs and
• Established the National Training Board skills assessment programme
• Established the Hustle Truck Programme to assist casual workers to become more skilled and active participants in the island workforce
• Created the Economic Round Table – to bring key stakeholders together to determine areas for job growth
• Started the Woodshop Training Programme
• Expanded educational opportunities for civil servants through the expansion of scholarships for mature students

A lot has been done, but as long as one qualified, capable, competent and willing Bermudian is unemployed our work remains unfinished. To get Bermudians back to work we will continue to put measures in place to stimulate the economy, remove barriers to employment, increase opportunities for Bermudians as well as retooling, retraining and re-equipping our people with the skill sets needed to find and maintain employment

Moving Forward Together, The PLP will:

• Launch the “One Stop Career Centre”
• Implement Job Corps
• Increase the lending capacity of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation
• Give more Bermudians the opportunity to seek careers in international business by expanding professional and continuing education options at the Bermuda College
• Develop a New Business Initiative through the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation
• Improve regulations surrounding the debt collection process

Our economic recovery plan is making progress. Our Economic Empowerment Zones in North Hamilton and St. George’s have helped entrepreneurs create new businesses and helped other businesses stay afloat. Times have changed and the challenges are different but we have real, responsible solutions and we understand the problems faced by our people. I ask you to stand strong with as The PLP is standing strong for Bermudians.

The PLP really does care about the people - and, we have real ideas to move this country forward and create jobs.

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PLP Launches Our Vision 2K12: Moving Forward Together

Today, the Progressive Labour Party launched our vision for the next term: Moving Forward Together.

"Fundamentally, this platform is about building a fairer Bermuda," noted Premier Paula Cox. "It is about creating jobs and opportunities and ensuring that all Bermudians benefit. It's time to continue the sure and steady progress toward a fairer Bermuda that benefits all Bermudians - not just a few."

"Our platform continues several initiatives to connect Bermudians with jobs. The One Stop Career Centre and Job Corps Bermuda will provide career counseling, training and placement. The Red Carpet for Returning Graduates will help connect Bermudian talent with opportunities.We'll provide economic growth through infrastructure projects including the causeway redevelopment, the Hamilton Waterfront and airport upgrades. For our small Bermudian owned businesses, we will expand the EEZ and start the New Business Initiative to make it easier for budding entrepreneurs to get loans and mentoring advice."

"Our platform is a realistic document that acknowledges the need to tighten our belts while simultaneously growing the economy. We will pay down the debt through a policy of growth. Growing the economy and the tax base is what it's all about. We will further attract new kinds of international business to Bermuda by establishing the bond market and developing a framework to attract Islamic Investment."

The Premier concluded, "This next election is a choice between a PLP that puts fairness at the cornerstone of it's vision and an OBA that will do anything and say anything to get elected. We have a realistic vision for our country's future. We invite you to read our vision here. Consider it carefully and I hope when you do, that you will vote for the team with the substance and vision to build a fairer Bermuda."

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PLP Encouraged By The Opening of Three Businesses

While bad economic news is often placed front and center in the news, good economic news is relegated to the business sections.

Today, it was reported that three new stores opened in Washington Mall. We congratulate Atlantic Jewelry, Guilty Pleasures and For Now by Sail On for opening their businesses in the mall.

While there's still more work to be done, openings like this are positive signs for the economy and we welcome them.

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Training Dozens of Bermudians & Giving Them Skills

There may be just days left until the General Election, but, the PLP continues to stand strong for Bermudians. We've trained 17 people and provided them with new skills.

Minister Weeks:

Today I wish to commend the management and staff of the Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility in working to implement a very successful overseas training program that is yielding magnificent results for the Ministry of Public of Works and Bermuda in general.

The program was started in 2007 in response to an acute shortage of suitably qualified Bermudian engineers to fill supervisory roles at the Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility. The facility utilizes the Canadian system of Power Engineers to fill its operator ranks and requires a licensed Second Class Power Engineer to perform the leadership role of supervisor.

The plant had been utilizing overseas engineers from Canada as supervisors, but this led to challenges with succession planning and in the retention of key knowledge when individuals would eventually depart. In response, the Government formulated a mandate to have the Tynes Bay work force Bermudianized as much as possible to solve this dilemma.

A joint program was established between the National Training Board and the Ministry of Public Works to send capable Bermudian candidates to Canada to study power engineering at Cambrian College in Sudbury Ontario where they would spend three years in an intensive work study program to obtain their 4th, 3rd and 2nd class power engineering licences.

Each year, through a recruitment drive and selection process, young Bermudians from the public and private school system, with an aptitude and passion for engineering, were given the opportunity for a full scholarship to attend Cambrian College as trainees of the NTB.

Since inception, 17 Bermudians have been sent to Cambrian College for power engineering. Of those, 15 obtained 4th class status, 9 obtained 3rd class status and 8 obtained the ultimate goal of 2nd Class Power Engineer. Given that in Canada, only one in twenty power engineers ever rise to become a 2nd class engineer, the results of the program are outstanding and are a testament to the quality of our Bermudian candidates. As the Minister it gives me great pleasure to know that our engineers are competing with the best in the industry!

Providing Bermudians with job training is exactly what we're about and it's what standing strong for Bermudians means.

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Hundreds Benefit from PLP's Training Programmes

On Friday, Senator Diallo Rabain (Constituency #7) and Minister Patrice Minors (Constituency #10) noted that the PLP isn't just talking the jobs talk - we're walking the walk, training hundreds of Bermudians and helping them secure good paying jobs.

On Friday, Senator Rabain and Minister Minors were joined by just a few of the Bermudians who benefited from our job training initiatives. Senator Rabain:

Currently:

 There have been 67 Apprentice contracts signed with industry partners since 2012. An apprentice contract is a 1 to 5 years agreement between the NTB and an employer to provide the trainee with a structured training program leading to a certification in the chosen field and in most cases, continued employment

 40 Bermudian are enrolled in the National Vocational Training Program, receiving funding to assist their pursuit of a technical degree or qualification.

 6 fully sponsored trainees currently overseas receiving training.

 52 Bermudians currently being assisted with their studies at the Bermuda College

 18 Bermudians are currently being sponsored for studies at PACE at the Bermuda College

 9 Bermudians are currently enrolled in the Nail Tech Programs

 11 Bermudians are currently in the Waiter/Server Program with 40 applications received for the January course.

 10 young men are enrolled in a joint program between NTB and Belco called the Sigma Corporate Program. This program has these NTB sponsored trainees being trained by Belco to be able to sit internationally accredited Power Engineering certification exams.

These are a sampling of the many programs this Government has put in place to help our citizens expand and enhance their employability. As I said earlier, this Government is not perfect and we all are a work in progress. However, fear of making a mistake need not be the reason not to try and this Government will always try when it comes to training our people as we continue to Stand Strong for All Bermudians.

Minister Minors noted that while we're standing strong with our fellow Bermudians now through training in DryWall, accounting, IT, hospitality, landscaping and much more - we have even more planned for the future. Minister Minors:

We have a vision. We have concrete plans to put more young Bermudians to work.

We are spearheading Job Corps Bermuda which will be hopefully established next year. Job Corps Bermuda aims to reduce barriers to employment for young people. It provides ongoing assessment and individualized service plans to assist with the transition to employment by offering workplace essential skills, safe work practices and exposure to occupations in the labor market.

But, that's not all. We are also rolling out the One Stop Career Centre that will occupy the old magistrate court building. This should be complete by Spring 2013. This center will house Career Development, National Training Board, Labour Relations and collectively it will administer career and educational development programs; maintain databases applicable to the clientele; solve problems; encourage the establishment of relationships with employers; help with job placement and overall do what is necessary to ensure their ultimate success.

While some in the community harp on the negative, the PLP has taken action training countless young people inclusive of those that benefited form the expanded summer internship programs. We've offered a real vision for the future that includes the introduction of Job Corps Bermuda and the One Stop Career Center.

The PLP have a record of standing strong for our young people and giving them the training they need. And, we have a plan for the future that includes Job Corps Bermuda, the One Stop Career Center and more!

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When Will the OBA Be Honest with Us?

The OBA's fairy tale is one that many of us want to believe. They say that they can increase spending and cut taxes to the tune of $500 million while simultaneously reducing the debt. They say they can do all of this, but, they have yet to tell us what they are going to cut.

The media and all Bermudians need to clearly ask the OBA: How do you plan on increasing spending and reducing the debt? It's time for the both ways OBA to be honest about the deep and radical cuts they have planned.

The PLP has a realistic ten point plan for growth. It includes diversifying our international business investors by attracting Middle Eastern and Asian investment. It includes revitalising the Hamilton Waterfront. It includes introducing Job Corps Bermuda and the One Stop Career Centre. It includes investing in our people, growing our economy and reducing our debt.

The choice in this next election is clear. The choice is between an OBA that will say anything to gain power and a PLP that has stood strong for Bermudians during the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression.

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We're Not Just Complaining, We Are Taking Action

We are not just complaining and talking Bermuda down, we are taking action to provide jobs for our Bermudian young people. Just today, we announced the extension of the Waiter/Server programme.

Those Bermudians that are interested in getting training and a job in hospitality are encouraged to call 297-7714 or 292-3700 to sign up for the programme.

It's not just waiters and servers. We have also trained or are training hundreds of Bermudians in accounting, IT, landscaping, Construction Trades, Telecommunications, and Nail Techs. Further, we are the party that more than doubled the number of college and graduate school scholarships available to Bermudians.

Bermuda's debt remains among the lowest in the developed world. Even when adjusted for population, our debt is substantially lower than that of the United States, the United Kingdom and virtually every other country in the region or the world The investments that this debt has paid for better the lives of all Bermudians; old Bermudians, young Bermudians, and unborn Bermudians.

Consider what Bermuda might look like without these investments. We would not have a new Lamb Foggo Clinic or a vehicle testing facility in the East End. We wouldn't have a new wharf thats brings cruise passengers to our shores and provides jobs for our young people. We would not have modern schools for our students to learn in. We would not have affordable housing at places like Perimeter Lane and Harbour View Village. These investments matter to the people of Bermuda and the PLP remains proud of its record.

What Bermuda cannot afford is an OBA government who has not clearly defined any position on any issue. Bermuda cannot afford to be caught up in soundbites over substance. The Progressive Labour Party has clearly outlined our plan for recovery and growth that includes Job Corps Bermuda and the One Stop Career Centre. We're not complainers - we're taking action to place real Bermudians in real jobs.

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