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Throne Speech live

David Burt, the Premier, arrives at Cabinet Grounds for the Throne Speech today (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

John Rankin, the Governor, delivered the Throne Speech at Cabinet Office grounds today.

This is a brief summary of the main points:

• Bills to be advanced include: financial assistance reform; creation of a police authority; legislative support for social enterprises; upgrading Bermuda’s child support legislation; Incorporated segregated accounts companies legislation; creation of a Bermuda Event Authority; amendments to the National Pension Scheme act to require equal treatment for Bermudian and expatriate workers.

• The grant to the Bermuda National Gallery will be increased.

• Government buildings will be appointed with a wide variety of Bermudian art.

• A new bill will modernise the process of handing out liquor licences.

• A Unified Family Court and Mediation Centre will be implemented to better help families in crisis.

• A new bill will implement further reforms to the municipalities, and another bill provide the marina in St George’s.

• Single-use plastics will be eliminated by 2022, and more efforts will be made to encourage greater sensitivity to the oceans. A new bill will allow more flexibility in the rezoning of small areas of land.

• Government will introduce Bermuda’s first national cybersecurity strategy to promote a secure electronic infrastructure in public and private sectors.

• Government will advance a regime whereby licensed medical practitioners are permitted to prescribe medical cannabis to help people with chronic medical conditions.

• The legislature will discuss options for revising the mandatory retirement age from the public service, so that people can work beyond the age of 65.

• Interest free loans will be offered to those who would support ageing seniors. Breaks will be given to seniors in most need of assistance.

• Cabinet Office will devise a programme to base young people to shadow government representatives in London, Brussels and Washington, DC.

• A new bill will set out criteria for how abandoned bank accounts can be forfeited to the public purse.

• A revised debt collection bill will be considered this parliamentary session. A consumer protection bill will bring transparency and equitable treatment of bank and insurance consumers.

• Bermuda’s labour relations legislation will be codified into one Act to modernise labour laws.

• Protection for sexual harassment in the workplace will be introduced.

• Government will move from a “one size fits all” approach to work permits to a model where good corporate citizens who hire, train and promote Bermudians will have access to a more streamlined process.

• New bills will simplify issues surrounding Bermudian status, the status of PRC holders and Bermudian status for mixed-status families.

• fintech legislation will be enhanced to provide protection for tokenised assets. New legislation will create a blockchain-based national identity system to streamline government services and remove the need for multiple copies of identity information to local financial institutions.

• The Bermuda Economic Development Act will be modernised to provide on-demand virtual markets for local entrepreneurs.

• Amendments will be made to the Tourism Investment Act to include relief for vacation rental properties equivalent to those available for hotels.

• Two floors of the Allenhurst Building will be used as an arbitration centre, and the building will be named after former union leader and Progressive Labour Party MP Ottiwell Simmons.

• New postal products and services will be developed through amendments to the Post Office Act.

• A Public Procurement Bill will mean local companies must participate when high-value government contracts are handed to foreign companies.

• Government will eliminate most paper forms by 2022 and will link existing IT systems to ensure data is shared between departments. Antiquated paper-based processes will be streamlined.

• Sugar tax funds will help business add nutritional information such as calorie counts and fat content to their menus.

• Government will begin consultation on extending paid maternity leave from eight weeks to 13.

• Government will continue its plan to phase out middle schools and introduce signature schools.

• A merit-based “College Promise” programme will award Bermuda College scholarships to public school graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

• Financial aid grant will be increased so that more young and mature students without financial means can attend Bermuda College.

• A livable wage is intended to be implemented during this parliamentary session.

• The flat rate of tax on fuel imports will be replaced with a progressive tax based on energy consumption to promote energy conservation.

• New legislation will give government greater power to reduce the costs of electricity.

• A national health plan will put everyone into one or two health insurance pools, to reduce the cost of health insurance.

• Government will change the way we pay for healthcare by expanding access to coverage at better rates.

• Stamp duty on any mortgage refinancing will be eliminated for amounts under $750,000, allowing Bermudians to move their mortgages to a bank that may charge a lower rate without paying extra tax.

• New measures on banks will include engaging alternative financing regimes, guarantees to reduce mortgage costs and repayments and legislation.

• The tax system will be reformed to establish a fair system based on a citizen’s ability to pay. Substantive reforms will be announced in the Budget in February.

• Government will tackle healthcare costs, regressive taxation, high mortgage rates and steep energy costs which make Bermuda uncompetitive and hurt families.

• Bills will be tabled this parliamentary session to continue diversification of Bermuda’s economy, grow new sectors of industry and introduce measures to help tourism growth.

• The overarching theme of this session will be devoted to reducing the cost of living for Bermudians and dismantling inequality.