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Covid economic stimulus plan could be wound down: Burch

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A winding-down of a short-term economic stimulus programme put in place to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is being looked at by the Government.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said more than $6 million of the $13 million allocated for the initiative in December 2020 had now been spent.

The minister said: “With the effects of the pandemic now waning, and I pray it continues to head in that direction, we will need to evaluate the impetus for the programme to continue.

“However, the framework it has created, providing a register of small companies to bid on government work, is something that will remain and even be improved upon in the future more easily. This will ensure that all business, especially small business, will have access to opportunity.“

The minister, who was speaking during the Budget debate on his ministry on Monday, insisted that the initiative had promoted Bermuda-based businesses.

He said: “The aim of the programme was to provide economic stimulus to the private sector in order to retain and boost employment within the community.

“The Ministry of Public Works compiled a list of ‘shovel-ready’ projects that were able to be executed almost immediately.

“The project selection criteria were projects that would maximise the employment of the private sector while also providing much-needed refreshing to some of the island’s neglected infrastructure.

“Some 94 companies signed up to take part. The companies that participated ranged in services from landscaping to architectural design, project management, construction, etc.”

Of the 94 businesses that signed up, 51 were defined as small-sized companies, while 21 were defined as medium-sized, and 22 as large-sized.

Colonel Burch added: “A total of 43 projects made up the $13 million of approved spending under the programme. Some of these projects were further broken down into various subcontracts to maximise the spreading of funds.

“For example, the roadside vegetation-clearing programme accounts for only three projects on the list but provided for at least 30 or more individual contracts of opportunity for the private sector to bid on.

“I must note that this was not new money, but money already budgeted in the Ministry of Public Works that was being redirected to achieve the aim of the programme.

“I’m pleased to report that to date, 29 of the 43 projects are either started or completed representing a spend of $6,028,912.75 or 45 per cent of the total allocated programme budget.

“Through the programme we have been able to determine that 92 new jobs were created — with 74 being Bermudians, or 82 per cent.”

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Published March 17, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated March 17, 2022 at 7:50 am)

Covid economic stimulus plan could be wound down: Burch

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