Report on ‘full range’ of self-government options for Bermuda completed
The Government has received a report on the full range of self-government options for Bermuda, it was revealed yesterday.
The revelation came during the presentation of the Speech from the Throne by the Deputy Governor, Tom Oppenheim.
“In a display of unrivalled pageantry, the United Kingdom marked the end of its second Elizabethan era. Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II proved a lasting symbol of the monarchy and the mystery of the institution,” Mr Oppenheim said.
“However, the complexity of the legacy of colonialism has been manifested in recent pronouncements by Commonwealth countries now seeking to transcend independence and sever the final ties that bind their nations to the United Kingdom.
“As an Overseas Territory, Bermuda is not among them. Discussions on self-determination do not provoke the same well-trod arguments in London as they do here in Bermuda.
“The UK Government approaches the issue maturely and encourages territories to do likewise. Accordingly, in keeping with that mature approach, the Government commissioned and has now received a report entitled Assessment of Self-Governance Sufficiency in conformity with internationally-recognised standards prepared by Dr Carlyle G Corbin, international adviser on governance.
“This assessment explores the minimum standards and the full range of self-government options for Bermuda. This is a first step and will be the basis of the necessary wide-ranging community discussion and education that must accompany any future action in this area.”
“How could the PLP Government raise the topic of independence at a time like this? Families are trying to figure out how they are going to eat and pay bills and are worrying about their futures.
“To raise independence at this juncture is yet another stark reminder that Premier Burt and his Government has truly lost touch with the people.”
Outlining the Government’s agenda for the coming parliamentary year, Mr Oppenheim also unveiled plans to set up a “corporate entity” to oversee the completion of the Morgan’s Point development.
Mr Oppenheim said: “The complex web of affairs at the site has occupied a team of advisers for the last two years as the Government attempts to realise a return on the costly guarantee called owing to the project’s failure.
A further change to tourism legislation will give ministers greater “discretion” when awarding concessions to resort developers.
In environmental developments, MPs will consider a strategy to phase out the importation and sale of gasoline vehicles by 2035, while legislation to improve air quality and reduce single-use plastics will be introduced.
Mr Oppenheim said: “The world has borne witness to the impact of climate change.
“Much of the biodiversity of the world’s oceans exists within island communities like Bermuda. Small island states must continue to safeguard the environment and adopt measures to mitigate these impacts.”
Efforts to provide relief for struggling families will continue this term. Childcare allowance will be increased while financial assistance regulations will be reformed “to better reflect realistic costs of goods and services for which assistance is provided”.
A shake-up of the public school system will continue under a new Education Authority, while a Bill to establish a History and Legacy Committee responsible for preserving and honouring the history and legacy of education will be brought before the House of Assembly.
Describing education as the Government’s “greatest priority“, Mr Oppenheim added that P7 and P8 classes will be created to support the opening of parish primary schools at Francis Patton Primary School and Purvis Primary School.
Safer driving habits will be encouraged through the creation of a learner’s permit to provide for on-road instructions and examinations for new riders.
Social Insurance contributions are to be made more “progressive” to “conform to ideals of equity“.
Mr Oppenheim said: “The Government will introduce amendments to the Contributory Pensions Act 1970 to make provision for a sliding scale in contributions, based on salary earned and not a uniform contribution irrespective of income.”
Declaring the parliamentary session officially open, he added: “There is no doubting that significant challenges lie ahead. As the cost of living rises, it is critical that, as a society, we support the disadvantaged and those most vulnerable to global economic shocks.
“As the Government delivers its strategies on health and the environment, we will continue to leverage UK resources to support wherever appropriate.
“World events in the last year demonstrate the importance of transparent, legitimate and inclusive governments and institutions.
“The ability of the judiciary, legislature and executive to fulfil their respective constitutional responsibilities will be essential to retaining Bermuda’s hard-earned reputation for good governance, stability, respect for the rule of law and compliance with international standards.”