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Civil aviation authority legislation passes

Legislation paving the way for the creation of a Civil Aviation Authority and a Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority was passed by MPs on Friday afternoon.

The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority Act 2016 provides the new CAA with quango status in a bid to boost revenue from the Bermuda Registry of Aircraft.

Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, told the House of Assembly that the new Act would make Bermuda more competitive in the global aviation market.

However, Lawrence Scott, shadow Minister of Transport, expressed a string of concerns about the creation of the CAA, claiming the Bermuda Government was making the CAA answer to the minister.

He also questioned why the Minister of Finance should be involved in appointing members of the board.

“Government should not have any say over civil aviation,” Mr Scott said. “They are trying to go outside their jurisdiction.

“This Bill falls short of doing what it is intended to do because the Government is too involved compared to other jurisdictions.”

However, One Bermuda Alliance MP Shawn Crockwell explained that Bermuda's CAA would be based on the UK's CAA model, in which the authority answered to the Ministry of Transport.

Mr Crockwell described Mr Scott's assertions as “erroneous” adding: “We must put in the proper infrastructure so the authority and the register can grow.

“The register must operate like a business and Government must be prudent to make sure we do not lose this revenue.”

Finance minister Bob Richards told the House that the new legislation was designed to boost revenue to the consolidated fund.

Meanwhile, the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority Act 2016 will see the Department of Maritime Administration also given quango status.

Dr Gibbons said the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority will help the island compete more effectively in the growing shipping sector.

“This Bill is intended to create an efficient, competitive and economically viable shipping registry that can meet the modern-day customer demands as well as the relevant national and international standards,” he added.

According to Dr Gibbons, Bermuda presently commands a fleet of 170 ships with more than 13 million gross tonnes.

“The revenue earned by the DMA as fees from the registration of ships and other services provides is approximately $5 million annually with a net surplus of nearly $3 million annually.”

But compared with other international registries, Dr Gibbons said Bermuda's tonnage “is rather small, which provides the DMA great opportunity for expansion”.

“With the proposed amendments in this bill, the DMA believes they should be able to compete more effectively and enhance Bermuda's shipping opportunities.

“After a number of difficult years, the global economy is now slowly growing and the shipping sector is expected to grow at a rate of 5 per cent per annum. Bermuda needs to be ready to compete and get a fair share of this tonnage.”

New Act: Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development (File photograph)

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Published June 28, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 28, 2016 at 7:37 am)

Civil aviation authority legislation passes

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