Senators debate and pass six pieces of legislation
Senators have passed a raft of legislation including laws dealing with staffing numbers for the airport fire service.
The Fire Safety Amendment Act 2023, passed with no objection, will see Bermuda’s fire protection codes switched with British regulations for airport operations. The amendment seeks to address the minimum duty strength required at the airport.
The changes came after extra firefighters were brought to the island from Canada to keep in line with minimum requirements.
Under the new legislation, Bermuda’s National Fire Protection Agency Codes currently in force at the airport will be replaced with the UK Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Orders along with Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements.
Until last year, the accepted minimum duty strength at LF Wade International Airport required three crews of five firefighters, enabling it to provide a response category rating of 9.
A later audit increased the minimum required duty strength from five firefighters per crew to 14 to maintain the category 9 rating.
Emily Gail Dill, the Junior Minister for National Security, said that under OTAR the required number of firefighters per shift will be 12.
Senators also passed The Customs Tariff Amendment Act 2023 which will reduce the sugar tax on selected goods.
Arianna Hodgson, the Junior Minister for Labour, Finance and Health, said the legislation will ensure that the 75 per cent tax is focused on sodas and drinks with “significant amounts of added sugar, and candy made primarily from sugar and chocolate”.
“In keeping with that promise, this Bill proposes to reduce the duty rate applicable to selected items that have a relatively low amount of added sugar,” Ms Hodgson said.
The amendments will also see duty relief on certain items including school uniforms and uniforms for international-level sports teams, aggregate and goods imported for capital investment schemes.
Douglas De Couto, senator and the Shadow Minister for Economic Development, and spokesman for tourism, said it was disappointing not to hear how revenues from the sugar tax would be used to educate the public and improve the health of the population.
Ms Hodgson said the Government would be providing information on health promotion initiatives in the future.
Senators passed the The Municipalities Amendment Act 2023 which reduces the time between an ordinary municipal election for the mayor and councillors of the corporations of Hamilton and St George’s from three years to two years.
Leslie Robinson, the Junior Minister for Public Works, said ongoing legal proceedings around the move have delayed its platform promise of municipal reform.
The Corporation of Hamilton last year lodged an appeal with the UK’s Privy Council in a last-ditch attempt to block government plans to dissolve the island’s two municipalities and turn them into unelected quangos.
Ms Robinson said: “We elected to reduce the length of time for a municipal election because number one, it allows the opportunity for any serving officials to step down without triggering an extraordinary election at the taxpayers expense, two it gives outside individuals the opportunity to serve and the third, and most important, if the judgment is received from the Privy Council within 2024, and supports the decision of the Bermuda courts [enabling abolition of the corporations] this method allows for a quicker fulfilment of this country’s duly elected government’s goal of municipality reform.”
Dr De Couto said that municipal reform should not be a priority for the Government given the many other challenges being faced by the country including in education, tourism, violent crime, debt and road safety.
He said: “We need more jobs and a better economy – that is the reform we need in this country. This so called municipal reform does none of those things – in my mind it is about a power struggle.”
Senators also passed amendments to legislation requiring the proclamation of public holidays. The Public Holiday (Amendment and Validation) Act 2023 will see the practice of setting public holidays come under parliamentary scrutiny.
Previously the Governor could issue proclamations and the process had to go through negative resolution which allow an order to come into effect provided no one objects to it in Parliament.
The Land Tax Amendment Act 2023 was also passed in the Senate increasing the applicable rates of land tax for the two highest bands.
The legislation will affect 4 per cent of the island’s properties and generate $2.4 million in additional revenue.
The Police (Amendment and Validation) Act 2023 was passed by senators which clarifies the scope of information that may be supplied by the Bermuda Police Service and will validate the information provided, and fees charged for information provided under the Supply of Information for Civil Proceedings Regulations 1968.
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service