Superyachts, Pati legislation approved
Legislation to encourage superyacht visits and block public access to information requests about the Financial Policy Council were approved without opposition in the Senate yesterday.
The Superyachts and Other Vessel (Miscellaneous) Act 2019 received broad support in the Upper Chamber.
The legislation was designed to make Bermuda a more attractive destination by allowing the vessels to charter in Bermuda waters through local agencies and removing departure tax.
The Act will also reduce the time it takes for tour boat operators to receive fuel rebates.
Marcus Jones, an One Bermuda Alliance senator, said he was happy to see the legislation and that he hoped it would spark progress on the St George’s Marina project.
Anthony Richardson, a Government senator, said an increase in yacht visits would create fresh opportunities for entrepreneurs in a range of industries, from catering to marine repair.
But the Public Access to Information Amendment Act 2019 — which removes the FPC from the remit of Pati legislation — caused some debate.
Nick Kempe, the OBA Senate Leader, said: “I can understand the desire to make the exemptions more watertight for fear of disclosure causing economic panic or turmoil.
“My concern is that right now the economy is on everyone’s mind, but in the future, when it’s something else, what would stop the same justification being used to avoid the public interest clauses in Pati being eroded?”
The Pati amendments, tabled in the senate by Mr Richardson, created an exception for the FPC in Pati legislation.
Mr Richardson explained that Government hoped to avoid the release of sensitive, technical discussions which could result to speculation and rumours.
He said clauses in Pati already are intended to prevent sensitive information being released to protect the stability of the country, but they are not absolute and it was possible the Office of the Information Commissioner could order their release on the basis of public interest.
Mr Richardson said: “The Government does support the Office of the Information Commissioner, notwithstanding that there are differences of opinions.
“Government did consult with the Information Commissioner and did review the office’s comments and advice as appropriate.”
The Senate also approved the Health Insurance Amendment (No 2) Act, which will allow the health minister to make any additional benefit “subject to criteria, including means test criteria, and authorise the Health Insurance Committee to determine the criteria”.
He said the Act will allow for the Health Insurance Committee to provide additional benefits outside of the legislated requirements of the plans, including the home-care benefit, while introducing means testing to ensure the help is received by those who need it most.
Mr Richardson said the specifics of the means testing had not been finalised, and research was being undertaken.
The Medical Practitioners Amendment Act also received support from both sides of the Senate.
Mr Richardson said the legislation will streamline the process of handling complaints against medical professionals.
The Act allows the creation of an ancillary Medical Practitioners Professional Conduct Committee to hear complaints if conflicts of interest or time constraints become an issue.
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