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BLDC and Wedco to merge, minister tells MPs

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The headquarters of the BLDC at Triton House, Southside (File photograph)

Two government quangos will be merged to help to deliver efficiencies and cost savings, the House of Assembly heard.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said that a phased approach will be used to bring together the Bermuda Land Development Company and the West End Development Corporation.

He added that no redundancies are expected as a result.

Colonel Burch said on Friday: “The Cabinet has approved the merging of the West End Development Corporation and the Bermuda Land Development Company into one new entity as these two quangos share similar objectives, mandates, skills, accounting procedures and staffing levels.

“After much consideration, I confirm that the Bermuda Housing Corporation will remain a single entity as it has different mandates, goals and objectives.”

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

He explained: “This government believes in fiscal prudence.

“This move should not come as a shock to anyone as I have said previously on numerous occasions, it makes no sense that on an island of only 21 square miles that we have two organisations — two CEOs and two CFOs — and all the attendant offices, machinery and staffs carrying out very similar functions for the most part, with the full demonstration of unnecessary bureaucracy on display.”

Colonel Burch told the House: “A phased approach to the merging will begin shortly with the establishment of a team of technical officers to design an initial road map for how the merger will occur.

“While the team of technical officers lays out the path forward, it is the Government’s intention during the next session to bring forth legislation to effect the amalgamation.”

He added: “Importantly, the Government does not wish to see redundancies — nor is any anticipated.

“The initial staffing of the new entity will see minimal duplication of roles, but note that reductions will occur overtime through natural attrition through retirement.

“The reasoning behind this direction is the benefit of ensuring that any important institutional knowledge is retained into future operations while avoiding severances.

“As a part of the merger, there will be an ongoing assessment of staffing to determine what positions are required and what the full complement should be over the forthcoming years.”

MPs heard that a review of 17 quangos started in 2002 and a report was presented the next year, with the Sage Commission Report also covering the topic in 2013.

Colonel Burch said that the Government revisited the papers and recommendations after the Progressive Labour Party return to power in 2017.

He told the House: “Both Wedco and BLDC have collective bargaining agreements with the Bermuda Public Services Union and the Bermuda Industrial Union — some with differing provisions.

“An integral part of the ongoing discussions will occur with both unions to agree any amendments to form new combined CBAs.”

The minister added: “This is a move for the future. We view these changes as an opportunity which will effect cost savings by reducing duplication of roles, combining responsibilities and bringing a sharper focus to deliver on the Government’s mandate to control costs and operate more efficiently.

“It is anticipated that this process will take 18 months to finally become one entity — thus allowing sufficient time to resolve the changes needed operationally to effect a smooth transition.”

Highlighting the two decades that have passed since the first quango review was launched, Colonel Burch said that he "shall not rest until this is accomplished“.

The minister added: “We have got to find a better and quicker way to make progress going forward.”

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Published July 18, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated July 18, 2022 at 7:56 am)

BLDC and Wedco to merge, minister tells MPs

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