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Cost-of-living crisis and Covid to dominate Assembly session

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Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister, when he was in Cabinet with David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The cost-of-living crisis and Covid-19 are set to dominate the return of the House of Assembly.

David Burt, the Premier, will give a financial statement as MPs return for the first session since July.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, will set out details regarding bringing the health emergency triggered by the coronavirus outbreak to a close at the end of November.

Ms Wilson is set to be pressed by the Opposition on why she extended emergency measures for a further two months without consulting Parliament, and what is going to happen to entry requirements when the controversial Travel Authorisation Form and its $40 charge end.

The session will see the contenders for the PLP leadership races in the same place for the first time since the deadline closed on Wednesday to declare for the top posts in the party.

Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister, has declared he intends to try and oust Mr Burt as party leader and premier at the October 20 PLP conference showdown.

Renée Ming, the former national security minister, is set to go head-to-head with Walter Roban for the No 2 position in the party, and the role of deputy premier.

Mr Dickinson dramatically quit the Cabinet days before he was due to deliver the Budget in February after a top-level clash with the Premier over financial sweeteners for the Fairmont Southampton revamp which he considered too generous.

Renée Ming, former minister of national security (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Despite repeated claims that a deal with developers Gencom was imminent, no final agreement has yet emerged.

The deal is not mentioned on the House of Assembly order paper, even though Mr Burt has said the revamp would be a major boost to the island’s economy.

The Premier is expected to be questioned by the Opposition over the Government’s $15 million package aimed at easing the cost-of-living situation, which was announced in July, but has so far largely failed to materialise.

Pledges to have applications for a payroll tax rebate up and running by September did not go through.

Neither did promises for Financial Assistance for certain food stuffs, and a $500,000 LED bulb drive aimed at lowering energy costs.

The $150 one-off “back to school” payment was delayed, and only came in after pupils had returned to classrooms this month.

Despite repeated requests from The Royal Gazette for explanations of the delays, the Government has remained silent.

The House of Assembly was due to return this month, but a session was cancelled to allow for tributes to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The aftermath of Hurricane Fiona prevented MPs from meeting as planned last week.

An extra session of the House of Assembly will be held on October 7 before MPs return for the Throne Speech on November 4.

Mr Burt will also lay before the House regulations and orders regarding investment business.

The Premier will make a statement on his recent trips to Brussels and Prague.

Ms Wilson will also present the Bermuda Hospitals Board Annual Report 2016-2017 to MPs.

The health minister will give written responses to questions from the Opposition on the Government’s contract with ResQuest in relation to goods or services provided through the Covid pandemic, and the cost of engaging the firm.

Ms Wilson will also reply to calls to state how much travellers paid for the TA between April and August this year.

After a spate of recent controversies, Michael Weeks, minister of national security, will make a statement on airport fire and rescue services.

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, will make a statement on the “back to school” payment.

Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors and spokeswoman for Youth, Culture and Sports, will lay the Bermuda Sport Anti-Doping Authority Annual Report 2022 before the House.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the minister of public works, will make a statement on the Tynes Bay waste-to-energy facility stabilisation programme.

Jason Hayward, the minister of economy and labour, will talk to MPs about “initiatives to promote and support youth employment“.

Wayne Furbert, the Cabinet Office minister, is to provide written answers to questions calling for a list of individuals employed by the Government as consultants and how much they are paid.

He will also respond to a question asking for a list of any positions any MPs might hold within government or quangos, and the payment for that position.

Government bills on the order paper include Payroll the Tax Amendment and Validation (No 2) Act 2022, Stamp Duties Amendment Act 2022, Customs Tariff Amendment (No 3) Act 2022, Fuels Bill 2022, West End Development Corporation Amendment Act 2022, Parish Councils Amendment Act 2022 and Garages Licensing Act 2022.

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Published September 29, 2022 at 7:54 pm (Updated September 29, 2022 at 11:30 pm)

Cost-of-living crisis and Covid to dominate Assembly session

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