Budget: pandemic costs more than double the budgeted $15m for the last financial year
The Government has spent more than $100 million to help the public and businesses weather the Covid-19 storm, the Premier said.
David Burt said that, because the pandemic went on longer than expected, the cost of Covid-19 expenditure during the 2021-22 fiscal year was expected to be $35.1 million – more than double the $15 million originally budgeted.
The bulk of the cash was spent on unemployment benefits, Covid-19 testing and lab operations, quarantine centres and the vaccination programme, as well as a $16 million airport minimum revenue guarantee payout.
But Mr Burt said no more cash was expected to be spent on Covid-19 contingencies in the next financial year and Covid-19 related spending would be wrapped in normal Ministry budgets.
Mr Burt added that about 80 per cent of the $100 million spent over the last two years went direct to individuals.
He said the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation also offered “a significant number” of tax rebates and concessions and cash support to keep businesses afloat.
Hotels, bars and restaurants also received $6.7 million in payroll and land tax relief.
Mr Burt added: “The narrative that this government has not helped its people is simply not true.”
Government operating expenses were increased in the last by financial year by almost two per cent more than at first predicted because of pandemic costs at the hospital.
Mr Burt said $11.1 million was given to the Bermuda Hospitals Board to make up for funding shortfalls.
This caused the Government’s operating expenses for the year to hit $904.3 million, excluding the cost of debt service and guarantee management – 1.8 per cent more than the $888 million predicted.
But Mr Burt explained that, to offset the extra costs, the Government “realised savings in salaries, wages, and employee overheads, materials and supplies”.