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Possible changes to prices and fuel surcharge as Government looks to reduce hardships

Government plans to implement changes put forward by the Price Commission in order to reduce the cost of food.

And the Energy Commission is looking into the fuel surcharge in an effort to further reduce strain on homes and businesses.

During Friday’s Throne Speech, Government noted that the public is concerned by the effect of rising prices in the already challenging economy.

“Government has listened attentively to the views of the community it serves and the challenges facing those who are struggling to cope with rising prices,” said the Throne Speech.

“Accordingly, the Government aims to implement the findings of the Price Control Commission, including the relevant legislation, if this is considered necessary, to alleviate some of the hardships endured by Bermuda’s consumers.

“This exercise has begun, and is intended to be a collaborative effort between suppliers, retailers and consumers.”

Premier Paula Cox tasked the Commission in July with the responsibility of finding a way of lowering food costs following calls by the Bermuda Public Services Union for a freeze on food costs.

Government also promised to modernise the Contributory Pensions Act, saying changes will ensure that those who are in the most need can receive the greatest benefit by limiting those who can receive a non-contributory pension.

“The proposed amendments are two-fold. First, the legislation will be amended to implement means testing with respect to payment of non-contributory benefits as opposed to entitlement as a right.

“Second, the Act is to be amended to mandate that self-employed persons who constantly neglect paying their pension contributions without presenting a valid reason will be denied a non-contributory pension.

“Everyone who is gainfully employed must contribute their fair share.”

During the speech, Government also announced changes to the Public Service Superannuation Act 1981 to allow Government employees to tap into their pension early to meet certain financial obligations.

The National Pension Scheme Amendment Act currently allows some Bermudians to access a portion of their private pension prior to retirement if they have been unemployed for more than a year and struggling to pay for homes, medical treatment or children’s education.

The maximum refund amount according to that amendment is 20 percent of the balance, with only one application allowed in a five-year period and two successful application allowed in a lifetime.

Listening: Invited guests look on as the Speech from the Throne is read during the Re-Convening of the Legislature on Friday.
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Published November 07, 2011 at 8:14 am (Updated November 07, 2011 at 8:14 am)

Possible changes to prices and fuel surcharge as Government looks to reduce hardships

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