Furbert makes pledge over cost of living

New legislation to allow the sharing of data on food prices will help the Progressive Labour Party deliver on its pledge to lower the cost of living, the Minister for the Cabinet Office claimed.

Wayne Furbert said the Government would be able to provide people with more information on purchasing decisions thanks to an amendment to the Statistics Act, which passed in the House of Assembly on Friday.

Mr Furbert told MPs the Statistics Act previously did not allow for data collected by the Department of Statistics to be disclosed by the minister that identifies “any individual person, business or organisation, to any person”.

He said: “This restriction impedes the decision-making process pertaining to policies.”

Mr Furbert said that the amendment passed on Friday, which allows data to be shared, was “specifically talking about grocery stores”.

He explained: “In order to implement policies, the minister responsible for the Department of Statistics should be able to share with Cabinet colleagues information in the public domain that was collected by the department.

“For this important task to be properly undertaken, and ultimately achieved, Government ministers must have access to pertinent public information and data.”

Leah Scott, the deputy Opposition leader, said that the definition of public information in the Bill was “very broad”. She asked: “What information are they specifically looking for? And how will the data that is obtained be utilised?”

Ms Scott also asked what, if any, limits would be put on who had access to the data.

She asked whether the Government was interested in entering the grocery business.

Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, said he was “left at a loss” about the purpose of the Bill.

He added: “It’s still not clear where the minister is attempting to go here, and how the public are going to benefit.”

Mr Furbert said the Bill allowed the Government to provide the public with more information that could be used to inform purchasing decisions.

He added: “We cannot access that information right now from the Department of Statistics.”

Two other Bills were passed by MPs on Friday.

Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, said that the Motor Car and Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2020 updated “antiquated” legislation.

The Bill will mean one motorbike is not allowed to tow another, and will prevent two motorcycles carrying loads between them.

It also increases the amount that could be collected from the owner of an abandoned vehicle from $250 to $1,500.

Mr DeSilva added that the Bill also allowed for an increase to the size and power output of minicars “albeit by small increments, in both categories”.

He said that the Bill was “the first of a series of changes to the Acts and Regulations that govern the operation of motor vehicles on Bermuda’s roads with the intent of making the legislation consistent with current trends and practices”.

Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, said the Mortgage Registration Amendment Act 2020 clarified that only the function and recording and registering of mortgages and other conditional conveyances of land under the Mortgage Registration Act 1786 was transferred from the Registrar-General to the Land Title Registrar by the Land Title Registrar (Recording of Documents) Act 2017.

He added: “The function of recording and registering mortgages and other conditional conveyances of property other than land under the Mortgage Registration Act 1786 remains with the Registrar-General.”

Mr Roban said that the Bill was a “clarification amendment”.

He added: “It’s not changing anything ... It’s making it clear where those responsibilities lie.”

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Published Feb 3, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 3, 2020 at 8:00 am)

Furbert makes pledge over cost of living

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