Throne Speech live
John Rankin, the Governor, delivered the Throne Speech at Cabinet Office grounds today.
This is a brief summary of the main points:
• Bills to be advanced include: financial assistance reform; creation of a police authority; legislative support for social enterprises; upgrading Bermuda’s child support legislation; Incorporated segregated accounts companies legislation; creation of a Bermuda Event Authority; amendments to the National Pension Scheme act to require equal treatment for Bermudian and expatriate workers.
• The grant to the Bermuda National Gallery will be increased.
• Government buildings will be appointed with a wide variety of Bermudian art.
• A new bill will modernise the process of handing out liquor licences.
• A Unified Family Court and Mediation Centre will be implemented to better help families in crisis.
• A new bill will implement further reforms to the municipalities, and another bill provide the marina in St George’s.
• Single-use plastics will be eliminated by 2022, and more efforts will be made to encourage greater sensitivity to the oceans. A new bill will allow more flexibility in the rezoning of small areas of land.
• Government will introduce Bermuda’s first national cybersecurity strategy to promote a secure electronic infrastructure in public and private sectors.
• Government will advance a regime whereby licensed medical practitioners are permitted to prescribe medical cannabis to help people with chronic medical conditions.
• The legislature will discuss options for revising the mandatory retirement age from the public service, so that people can work beyond the age of 65.
• Interest free loans will be offered to those who would support ageing seniors. Breaks will be given to seniors in most need of assistance.
• Cabinet Office will devise a programme to base young people to shadow government representatives in London, Brussels and Washington, DC.
• A new bill will set out criteria for how abandoned bank accounts can be forfeited to the public purse.
• A revised debt collection bill will be considered this parliamentary session. A consumer protection bill will bring transparency and equitable treatment of bank and insurance consumers.
• Bermuda’s labour relations legislation will be codified into one Act to modernise labour laws.
• Protection for sexual harassment in the workplace will be introduced.
• Government will move from a “one size fits all” approach to work permits to a model where good corporate citizens who hire, train and promote Bermudians will have access to a more streamlined process.
• New bills will simplify issues surrounding Bermudian status, the status of PRC holders and Bermudian status for mixed-status families.
• fintech legislation will be enhanced to provide protection for tokenised assets. New legislation will create a blockchain-based national identity system to streamline government services and remove the need for multiple copies of identity information to local financial institutions.
• The Bermuda Economic Development Act will be modernised to provide on-demand virtual markets for local entrepreneurs.
• Amendments will be made to the Tourism Investment Act to include relief for vacation rental properties equivalent to those available for hotels.
• Two floors of the Allenhurst Building will be used as an arbitration centre, and the building will be named after former union leader and Progressive Labour Party MP Ottiwell Simmons.
• New postal products and services will be developed through amendments to the Post Office Act.
• A Public Procurement Bill will mean local companies must participate when high-value government contracts are handed to foreign companies.
• Government will eliminate most paper forms by 2022 and will link existing IT systems to ensure data is shared between departments. Antiquated paper-based processes will be streamlined.
• Sugar tax funds will help business add nutritional information such as calorie counts and fat content to their menus.
• Government will begin consultation on extending paid maternity leave from eight weeks to 13.
• Government will continue its plan to phase out middle schools and introduce signature schools.
• A merit-based “College Promise” programme will award Bermuda College scholarships to public school graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
• Financial aid grant will be increased so that more young and mature students without financial means can attend Bermuda College.
• A livable wage is intended to be implemented during this parliamentary session.
• The flat rate of tax on fuel imports will be replaced with a progressive tax based on energy consumption to promote energy conservation.
• New legislation will give government greater power to reduce the costs of electricity.
• A national health plan will put everyone into one or two health insurance pools, to reduce the cost of health insurance.
• Government will change the way we pay for healthcare by expanding access to coverage at better rates.
• Stamp duty on any mortgage refinancing will be eliminated for amounts under $750,000, allowing Bermudians to move their mortgages to a bank that may charge a lower rate without paying extra tax.
• New measures on banks will include engaging alternative financing regimes, guarantees to reduce mortgage costs and repayments and legislation.
• The tax system will be reformed to establish a fair system based on a citizen’s ability to pay. Substantive reforms will be announced in the Budget in February.
• Government will tackle healthcare costs, regressive taxation, high mortgage rates and steep energy costs which make Bermuda uncompetitive and hurt families.
• Bills will be tabled this parliamentary session to continue diversification of Bermuda’s economy, grow new sectors of industry and introduce measures to help tourism growth.
• The overarching theme of this session will be devoted to reducing the cost of living for Bermudians and dismantling inequality.
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