Published January 20, 2016

Scared of debt? Don’t be, says Progressive Labour Party MP Zane DeSilva.

“Good debt” can help people attain the dream of home ownership, he added.

His comments came yesterday evening as he coached the community in matters of personal finance.

More than 30 people attended the public meeting at the Heron Bay Primary School to discuss the topic “Personal Finances and Home Ownership”.

Mr DeSilva said in his invitation: “Many Bermudians consider home ownership to be an unobtainable goal but with commitment and careful management of personal finances it’s possible to achieve their dreams.”

After an interview on the Sherri J show on Magic 102.7FM, Mr DeSilva said this was something he had wanted to do for a long time and that he regularly speaks to people on the matter.

He told The Royal Gazette: “Sometimes it’s not an easy conversation because I have to lay it on the line about what one must do if they have goals in life.”

Dispelling any perceptions of himself as a “silver spoon guy”, he offered his personal success story and attempted to give step- by-step advice to those hoping to meet their goals, whatever their economic circumstance.

“Unless you have an inheritance, you’re going to have to make some decisions early,” he said.

“Not everybody wants to hear about the sacrifices you have to make.

“We know that for some people that may not be possible at this point in time. But I’m ever the optimist. I came from nothing and had to work five jobs just to pay my electricity. One has to be very determined and do jobs they may not like and make sacrifices that others don’t have to make.

“But if you have a goal in life, it can still be done.”

Mr DeSilva said to his audience: “I’ve never been afraid of debt. I say this in the house all the time. I’m not afraid of debt. I’m not afraid of debt at all. Good debt.”

The business owner maintained there was a difference between the two.

He said: “We spent $95 million building Dame Lois Browne Evans building. But you know what that saves the Government a year? $10 million. In nine years it’s paid for.

“After that, Government’s going to save $10 million a year,” he added.

He stressed that he did not advocate purchases made by credit card when you continually find yourself at a deficit at the end of each month.

An audience member asked him to apply his experience to “today’s standards”, saying that when hopeful homeowners begin negotiations they are often met with “impossible” rates imposed by the bank. She asked: “How can we manage ourselves accordingly?”

Mr DeSilva said banks needed to “ease up”. Referring to the bank bailout of 2008, he said that the Bermudian people should not have to suffer for the banks’ mistakes.

“When we get back in the House in February, this issue is coming up,” he said.

“I’m going to put a little pressure on. I don’t want to get too political but Bob Richards, the finance minister, has said several times that he’s going to be talking to the banks about helping people.

“Well, let’s get on with it because we have too many of our Bermudian people that are right on the cusp of buying their own place but can’t get it.

“The banks have got to be a little more flexible.”

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