Work could start on fishing facility early next year – minister
Ground could be broken on a new fishing facility by the start of next year, the economy minister has revealed.
Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, said during the budget debate on Monday that much progress had been made on the plan for the Fisheries Development Centre.
“The goal for Bermuda Economic Development Corporation is that the draft plan is approved within the next few months and the next action steps progressed steadily, shortly after the approval so that breaking ground on this innovative facility can commence by the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2022/23.”
Mr Hayward said the financials on the draft business plan had been completed and would be refined based on feedback from industry stakeholders and policymakers while fishermen would be engaged in consultation and education.
“Further actions to be realised over the next four months are confirming fishers/members that will produce the tonnage required for the Fisheries Development Centre to be profitable, finalising incentives for members/fishers to further help positively reshape the fishing industry, eliminate impediments to growth of the fishing industry … develop the framework to test profitable export of pelagics to overseas markets, finalise the capital budget for the successful development of the Fisheries Development Centre, and begin costing and contracting the Fisheries Development Centre construction.”
The development of the centre is among 31 projects in the island’s Economic Recovery Plan. Mr Hayward outlined how the Department of Economic Development, which was allocated $7.7m for the fiscal year 2022/23, would be active on several fronts in an effort to create sustainable growth, economic diversification and job creation.
Moving on to the fintech industry, Mr Hayward highlighted that the introduction of the class T licence issued under the Digital Asset Business Act 2020 enabling operation as a digital asset exchange and as a digital asset derivative exchange provider, had resulted in three companies “receiving the proper licensing to test innovative business solutions”.
“In the coming fiscal year, EDD’s fintech office shall continue collaboration between stakeholders to facilitate the adoption of digital asset business activities in Bermuda.”
He said enhancing the Tech and Fintech Education and Training Plan would also be prioritised.
The BEDC received $2,238,752 representing a 193 per cent increase on the capital grant of $764,000 provided in 2021/22 following a 70 per cent decrease in the grant in 2021/22 compared to 2020 to 2021.
Mr Hayward highlighted the support BEDC had provided to small and medium sized businesses and said it would continue to develop new products to support them going forward.
“The demand is just as high as the prior year,” he said.
“Products under development include guarantees for facilitating the purchase of commercial buildings within the Economic Empowerment Zones, increased direct micro lending up to $50k, professional service grants for access to accountancy, legal, website, e-commerce and marketing services and innovation grants to support the development of innovative business concepts.”
Mr Hayward announced that the BEDC has partnered with the Accelerator Centre, a business management consultancy firm in Waterloo, Canada, to offer a one-year curriculum to entrepreneurs commencing this May.
Capital investments for projects and initiatives that align with the Government’s ERP are earmarked to receive $3.2m, Mr Hayward said.
He explained: “Specifically investment in the development of the vertical farm project to facilitate food security, lower food costs, develop farm crops and create jobs in a new, evolved area of the agricultural industry as well as investment in the Approved Residential Scheme project facilitating foreign direct investment in the construction of residential developments and purchases of residential units in the EEZs thereby increasing the residential population in the city and the other zones.”
Jarion Richardson, the One Bermuda Alliance Whip and shadow immigration minister, asked how duplication of services is avoided between the department and other entities with related roles.
He said: “There is a law reform commission that deals with legislation and there are members from the private sector … how does the minister plan to avoid duplication of work?”
Mr Hayward said: “The Project Management Office assesses individual projects … You may have a project that needs a level of expertise, it is not for EDD to provide that expertise, it is for the Project Management Office to source the proper support so that project can be effectively executed.
“As we talk about the law there is a Bermuda Development Agency legal focus group and these agencies do work together but the policy analysts are in EDD so even though those other agencies may discuss and determine that legal changes are required, the EED has the policy resources to draft that particular legislation.”
Mr Richardson questioned the department’s requested spend of $270k for advertising and promotion given other agencies are tasked with promotional responsibilities.
“Given we have the BDA and the BEDC, which have their own budgets, how did we get to $270k? Why do we need it?” Mr Richardson asked.
Business Development Agency was listed at $3,420,000 representing a decrease of 5 per cent of the allocated budget.
Jason Hayward, the economy minister, said the agency, founded in 2013 to encourage inward direct investment and growth in Bermuda, would pursue targeted business development opportunities in key industries that align with future growth potential.
“These include risk and insurance solutions with a particular focus on climate risk finance, high net worth services, trust, private client and family offices, asset management and private equity, technology and financial technology and insurance technology and infrastructure, sub-sea cables, space and satellite, renewable energy and the blue economy,” he said.
He said the BDA would host a series of climate risk events including the Bermuda Climate Summit on May 24 which will focus on how Bermuda is “the perfect platform for climate risk finance”.
Mr Hayward said the costs were associated with local promotion and events including Tech Week for students and a cybersecurity programme for seniors. “We want to have five concrete engagements per year,” he said.
“All of that is not external – outside of Bermuda – but is internal and they do have some funds associated with that.”
Mr Richardson also noted that the spend on rentals had leapt 1,000 per cent to $88,000, adding: “I don’t see what we are renting in the budget book”.
Mr Hayward’ said: “Rental has gone up because the EDD will be moving into a new space and currently the rent of the EDD is being paid by the Cabinet department. The previous fees wouldn’t be reflected in this ministry’s budget.”
Mr Richardson said he hoped to see updated audited financial statements from the BEDC. Mr Hayward said work was under way to bring the statements up to date.