Roban on Throne Speech: ‘we need to grow and strengthen the economy’
The cost of living crisis is set to dominate as the Government outlines its legislative agenda for the coming year in the Throne Speech today.
David Burt, who was recently re-elected leader of the Progressive Labour Party, will outline key objectives for the 12 months ahead.
Tom Oppenheim, the Deputy Governor, will read out the address because Rena Lalgie, the Governor, has tested positive for Covid.
The event, in front of the legislature on the Cabinet Office lawn, marks the start of the new parliamentary session.
With the Covid-19 crisis dominating life since early 2020, this Throne Speech presents more scope for a wider agenda as the disease appears to be less rampant.
Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, said the thrust of the programme would be to rebuild after the pandemic.
Mr Roban told The Royal Gazette: “We need to grow and strengthen the economy – that is what we will be doing.”
However, a senior PLP insider said: “I wouldn’t expect many surprises.
“It will be focused on getting David Burt over the line at the next election.”
As in last year’s Throne Speech, bringing forward universal healthcare is set to be a major aspect.
The Government stated last year that it intended to help with energy costs – before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February sent prices spiralling.
Mr Burt has trumpeted a $15 million package of cost-of-living assistance since then, but delivery has been slow as the Premier insisted the process first had to have approval from the Auditor-General.
A $150 “back to school” allowance was delayed as the autumn term started in September and a promised $500,000 LED cheap lighting scheme has been slow to emerge.
The Government is expected to stress its commitment to making Bermuda a leader in renewable “blue energy”, as it did last year.
But there appears to have been little movement on pledges to reform the immigration process centred on a new digitised application system.
An island-wide CCTV system, which was meant to include newer features to “assist the police in tackling road traffic offences and violent crime” was trailed last year, but little has been heard of it since the spring when the Government said it was in “development”.
There also appears to have been limited progress on pledges at the last Throne Speech to bring in new measures protecting seniors from “financial abuse”.
The Government has taken some steps to address the waste management situation at Tynes Bay it highlighted last year with its refurbishment flagged as one of the four main initiatives designed to aid economic recovery.
But there appears to have been little progress on a promised new cybersecurity Act, but there was some activity with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
The Throne Speech is taking place on the Cabinet lawn for the first time since 2018.