Minister praises Border Control Dept’s creation
Efforts to keep drugs and guns out of Bermuda have been given a fighting chance by the formation of the Department of Border Control, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief told Rotarians last night.Mr Perinchief said the Department, officially set up on September 1, brings a more streamlined focus to protecting the Island’s borders.He told Sandys Rotary: “From September 1, we fulfilled the Premier’s mandate of forming a single agency responsible for border control.“Following a broad consultative process, the enforcement and border control sections of HM Customs were combined with like elements within the Department of Immigration to form the Department of Border Control.“In this security conscious world, a single agency with this mission subscribes to international best practice and sharpens the focus on intercepting drugs and firearms before they reach Bermuda’s streets.“The work continues to evolve the organisational structure and the functions of the Department and it is my hope that the sharing of information and the already well established joint operations will continue.”Mr Perinchief also gave an update on the review of Bermuda’s land policy he has been overseeing amid accusations Government has a stance which discriminates against expatriates and spouses of Bermudians.Two months ago, Mr Perinchief set up a working group to explore the idea of relaxing a moratorium on permanent residency certificate holders buying land to protect it for Bermudians.“These policies are complex, labour intensive and emotive in the community,” he said last night.“I am pleased with the response as 42 submissions were made to the Ministry. Many of the issues raised were familiar and ranged from the economic to the personal.“We had intended to complete the review group’s work by August 31.“That was delayed because two very important private sector stakeholders wished to personally share their views with me. It was worth the wait because the perspective shared was unique and informative.“I am not responsible for economic policy for Bermuda but as a Minister of the Government it is my responsibility to examine the area within my remit for how the lives of Bermudians can be improved.“In this season of election talk, commentators may characterise this effort as electioneering and whatever else they care to call it.“I am not bothered by that because election or no election, the economic realities of Bermuda demand that we examine our role as Government and determine what, if anything, we can do to improve the fortunes of our people.“I believe it was Mrs Thatcher who said, ‘If the policy ain’t hurting, it ain’t working.’ My politics are a little different to the Iron Lady’s and so where it is hurting, I believe we, as a Government have a responsibility to bring some relief.“I will be carefully examining this area of land policy to ensure that unintended consequences are not frustrating the aims of the policy and moreover that Bermudians of all walks of life are able to realise the goal of home ownership and able to enjoy the economic benefits that investment in the real estate market can bring.”In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Perinchief said his Ministry’s theme is to build safer and stronger communities, which is partly done by empowering Bermudians of all ages to contribute to society through their chosen professions.He cited the Fire and Rescue Service as a success story of public service, and said despite significant cuts the Regiment continues to provide superior training.But he said the time is now right for a change in the role of the Regiment, to assume a greater maritime, interdictive nature.“This will necessarily require a full time element as well as additional equipment,” he said.“There are cost implications to this but this should not delay the discussion. Offering this career option to Bermudians should be welcomed and will strengthen the call of the Regiment for volunteers and those interested in serving beyond their mandatory time.”He said he would be speaking to the Governor and Commanding Officer about that proposal.