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Live: The 2021 Speech from the Throne

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The 2021 Throne Speech: David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
The 2021 Throne Speech: Rena Lalgie, the Governor. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Sessions House (File photograph)

The Throne Speech, under the title of “Social Renewal and Economic Recovery”, opened with the Governor’s reflection on the “definitive”, once-in-an-era change brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rena Lalgie told the gathering: “The wounds inflicted by the global pandemic have been felt by every family, and the entire island mourns the loss of life – and prays that those seriously ill will improve.

“The economic havoc wrought by the need to restrict people’s movement and work will stress public and private finances for years to come.”

She added: “Changes that were deferred have now become imperative for survival.”

Ms Lalgie turned to the 31 projects of the Economic Recovery Plan, which she said would buffer the island from the shocks of the pandemic.

The plan covers economic diversification; financial markets; infrastructure investment; expanding the residential population; labour market and social development; healthcare Reform, and regulatory reform.

She cited the Government’s commitment to education reform as pupils return to their classrooms.

Ms Lalgie confirmed the Government would proceed with “the first two signature senior schools at the Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy in September 2022”.

The Berkeley Institute will deliver signature programmes in finance and insurance and health and social care, while the CedarBridge Academy will deliver signature programmes in trades for building construction and maintenance, and science, technology, engineering and maths.

Ms Lalgie turned to the Government’s priority of universal healthcare coverage.

A “national digital health strategy to leverage technology that will streamline administrative expenses” to shift more funds over to the deliver of services.

Ms Lalgie said the Government planned to begin merging healthcare administration, adding that an “integrated patient pathway for essential care” would mark the first step in the pilot health plan to deliver universal coverage.

The Governor turned to climate change and environmental protection.

Ms Lalgie underscored the island’s promising role in global climate risk management, saying the Government planned to bring a Marine Development Act in the session of Parliament ahead.

It which will include “a marine spatial plan identifying the 20 per cent protected area of Bermuda’s exclusive economic zone”, akin to the Bermuda Plan for development on land.

Ms Lalgie said an application process would enable residents to invest in fishing, offshore renewable energy and “blue tourism”.

Legislation will come to enable developers of renewable energy technology to develop their products on the island.

Ms Lalgie added: “Relatedly, regulations will also be introduced to address the cost of the fuel surcharge for electricity and also to better regulate the storage and distribution of fuel, with the aim of reducing energy costs for Bermuda’s residents and businesses.”

The “youth employment strategy” will tackle meet the needs of the unemployed aged between 18 and 26.

The Government also plans to deliver a “digitised immigration application process” in this session to boost the island’s competitive edge.

Ms Lalgie noted the crucial role of churches and charities in supporting needy residents during the pandemic – despite their own pressing financial difficulties.

She added: “Led by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, the Government will work with the island’s lending institutions to provide financial, loan and mortgage assistance to communities of faith and third-sector entities.”

The Government also plans to modernise the BEDC’s legislation.

The corporation was set up more than 40 years ago.

Ms Lalgie said: “In line with Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan, the boundaries of the economic empowerment zone in Hamilton will be extended, and with the North East Hamilton Plan set to come before the legislature during this Session, the BEDC will advance residential developments in Bermuda’s economic empowerment zones.”

The protection of the elderly is to be ramped up with improvements this session to the Senior Abuse Register Act 2008, to protect seniors against “the growing prospect of financial abuse”.

A “formal register of persons with disabilities” is to improve access to services – and the Department of Child and Family Services will be “strengthened in the area of child safeguarding”.

Ms Lalgie also said that MPs in the parliamentary year ahead would examine cutting fees charged to residents with private pensions.

The Tynes Bay Incinerator is to be replaced, she said, to insure that Bermuda does not return to disposing of its waste in landfills.

Ms Lalgie said a “cross-ministry project management team” would action the replacement of Tynes Bay as well as the upgrading of Bermuda’s waste management and water infrastructure.

At the East End, a strategic plan is to come for the Town of St George, in the wake of “renewal opportunity presented by the new St Regis Hotel, renovated St George’s Club and the construction of the new marina”.

Ms Lalgie said the Government planned to centralise information requests under the Public Access to Information Act, as well as a “harmonised” personal information privacy regime for online services, in keeping with international best practice, to attract technology investors.

She added: “During this Session, legislation will be advanced and amended as appropriate to mandate fiduciary training as part of service on boards or committees, and to require that the members of certain boards include persons professionally qualified in either law or accounting.”

On public safety, Ms Lalgie said the island’s new network of crime-spotting security cameras would get upgraded with new features to assist police.

Continuing on security, the Governor said a Cybersecurity Act would set minimum standards for critical assets such as “energy supply, telecommunications, water infrastructure and government data”.

Ms Lalgie highlighted the crucial role in tourism for economic recovery, saying the Government would have to take the lead.

The island has dormant hotel sites that “must be redeveloped and reopened”, she said.

She said the Bermuda Tourism Authority had received “tens of millions of taxpayer funds”, demanding a “far greater return” than that realised since its creation.

Ms Lalgie said the Ministry of Transport would pursue an air service development policy to secure increased airlift to the island.

She said the needs of modern governance entailed a new relationship between non-sovereign territories and administering powers.

She added: “During this Session, and in keeping with the UK Government’s request for recommendations, the Government will advance proposed amendments to the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968.”

Noting Flora’s Duffy’s Olympic gold medal triumph, Ms Lalgie said a national sports strategy lay ahead for the island.

“The Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport will weave together the elements of sporting success that will harness the talent of young people.

“The world stage can no longer be said to elude Bermudian athletes, who will find their desire and effort matched by the Government’s commitment to their success.”

The Governor listed a string of legislation slated for Parliament in the session ahead:

• Banks and Deposit Companies Amendment Act

• Bermuda National Trust Amendment Act

• Cannabis Licensing Act

• Children Amendment Act

• Cruise Ships (Casinos) Amendment Act

• Distilled Spirits (Licensing) Act

• Economic Development (Investment Incentives) Act 10

• Financial Assistance Amendment Act

• Fisheries (Aquaculture) Amendment Act

• Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act

• Motor Car (Digital Fare Media) Amendment Act

Ms Lalgie said moving beyond the pandemic entailed dealing with priorities that had stalled under the pandemic.

Ms Lalgie said the new tax commission would have to tackle the coming global minimum corporate tax.

She highlighted the sacrifices and challenges endured by the community and its frontline workers across 20 gruelling months under a pandemic.

She cited unsung achievements:

“Joseph Weeks, a technical education instructor at the Bermuda College, was awarded the National Energy Globe Award from the Energy Globe Foundation, an international forum, for a project at the Bermuda College that utilised STEM to address food security using an aquaponics system powered by solar panels.

“Cyana Burgess earned a $30,000 scholarship from Biltir and is set to continue studying actuarial science and data analytics at the University of Leicester.

“Andira Crichlow, Aaron Crichlow and the Bermuda is Love team led their fourth free school clothing drive to support the island’s children as they returned for the new school year.”

Moving to close her speech, Ms Lalgie told the ceremony: “The unconventional nature of the 11 months which I have spent in office means the reading this Throne Speech is the first time that I make a traditional address of any nature in the Governor’s ceremonial uniform.”

She highlighted unanticipated challenges faced by Bermuda, and said she would continue as she had started as Governor, “ensuring that those appointed to serve are afforded the operational independence they need”.

Ms Lalgie said: “My family and I remain in awe of the beauty of these islands, but my children challenge me on a daily basis about some of the environmental issues raised in this Throne Speech,” she said.

“These issues are not unique to Bermuda and responsibility does not solely rest with Government leaders.

“I look forward to working with the Government and the wider community to support these efforts in whatever way that I can.”


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Published November 05, 2021 at 12:47 pm (Updated November 05, 2021 at 12:47 pm)

Live: The 2021 Speech from the Throne

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