Responses to the SAGE Commission’s Survey

The Survey

A couple of days ago I gave a very brief, initial thoughts on the release of the SAGE Commission’s online survey.

In response to some of the issues that were raised on Facebook threads relating to that initial post I am considering doing a more detailed analysis of the survey results, however that is time-dependent and I’m not sure when, or if, I will get to do that.

In the mean time though, I thought I’d post my own responses to the survey questions.

Now, I can’t remember how I voted on different questions, but I am able to go through the published written responses and identify the ones I submitted.

I can try to expand on any of them if people are interested.

Do you think Bermuda needs a SAGE Commission?

No – I feel that its services are redundant and should be covered by parliament.

How confident are you that the SAGE Commission is going to make a difference in addressing the cost of running the Bermuda Government?  Please give a reason for you answer.

I’m pretty sure I answered ‘somewhat confident’.

I think its going to lead to some savings, but these savings would likely have occurred nonetheless.  But due to the political capital invested in the SAGE project, it will have to succeed, even minimally.

Please rank the following according to their importance in resolving the issues facing Bermuda – and please provide a reason for your ranking.  Unfunded pension liabilities; Increasing health care costs; Debt and deficit; Size of civil/public service; Culture of civil/public service; Social issues; Unemployment.

I cannot remember how I ranked things, but I’m fairly certain it went something like:

(1) Unemployment;

(2) Social Issues;

(3) Increasing health care costs;

(4) Culture of civil/public service;

(5) Unfunded pension liabilities;

(6) Size of civil/public service;

(7) Debt and deficit.

I feel the focus on government debt is ideologically motivated, same with the focus on the size and culture of the civil service.  Our reliance on an overly privatised healthcare system is also a concern, while the trend to shift pensions from DB to DC, and towards financialisation of pension funds is worrying to me.  Naturally, increasing unemployment will benefit our people, and help [to] reduce many of our social issues.

Do you feel you have the information you need to understand the issues facing Bermuda?  Please give a reason for your answer.

No – Everything.  PATI is needed ASAP.

Please rank the recommendations listed in the SAGE Commission’s interim report.  Please provide a reason for your ranking.  Immediate hiring freeze; Formation of a SAGE-like Commission to review health-care cost; Immediate implementation of Government’s mandatory retirement policy; Formation of a SAGE-like Commission to review economic growth and current lack of liquidity; Formation of a cross-Ministry committee to collect taxes, fees, fines and social insurance contributions; No new spending on capital/development projects, and no new leases until a cross-Ministry committee is formed to produce an asset management plan.

I recall finding this one particularly hard to rank as I really didn’t like many of the recommendations.  I’m pretty sure I ranked it something like:

(1) Formation of a cross-Ministry committee to collect taxes, fees, fines and social insurance contributions;

(2) Formation of a SAGE-like Commission to review health-care cost;

(3) Formation of a SAGE-like Commission to review economic growth and current lack of liquidity;

(4) No new spending on capital/development projects, and no new leases until a cross-Ministry committee is formed to produce an asset management plan;

(5) Immediate implementation of Government’s mandatory retirement policy;

(6) Immediate hiring freeze.

I only agree with the first two.  The rest I would rank equally as unnecessary and/or counterproductive.

[In hindsight I would have extended this to the first three, as per my rankings.]

What do you expect will be required of you personally in order to address the financial issues facing Bermuda?

Access to PATI 😉 [As in the agitation for, and in the use of, it] – I don’t mind paying income tax, or something similar, in a progressive manner so that the rich pay more than the poor.

What do you think will happen if the SAGE Commission’s interim and final recommendations aren’t implemented?

Depends on the final recommendations.  As already stated, I think that the majority of the interim recommendations will be counter-productive.  So, if implemented, I would be concerned.  I cannot speak on the final recommendations right now.

Demographic questions…  I am Bermudian, within the ages of 25 and 54.

Any other comments, questions or observations you might want to give the SAGE Commission?

A focus on austerity will be counterproductive.  While efficiencies can, and should, be sought within the public sector, there needs to be a greater focus on revenue generation and reducing socio-economic inequalities in our society.

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