Throne Speech ‘Cliffs Notes’

November 4, 2011

Saying Bermuda is facing “historic challenges”, Governor Sir Richard Gozney said Government’s top priority will be job creation when he delivered the Throne Speech this morning [Nov.4].

Outlining Government’s legislative plans and programmes for the coming Parliamentary year, Sir Richard said at no time in its recent history had there been a greater need to call upon this island’s collective resources.

“Bermuda’s people and the economic fabric of society are being severely tested,” he said. “Tough choices are being forced upon us all. Tough decisions are required to find solutions to the formidable challenges posed by a world in financial turmoil.

“Many of the difficulties that confront Bermuda and its people are due to the fact that the global economy is more interconnected than ever. The simple truth is that there is no escape from the contagious and harmful effects of the economic downturn in those countries with which Bermuda does business.”

Sir Richard said Bermuda’s Government had made clear “it will take decisive action” on the economic front and Bermuda will emerge stronger and more united from the global economic downturn.

“As Nelson Mandela observed: ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’,” he said. “In this Session of Parliament the Government will introduce a cohesive strategy that will address the challenges and find the solutions that will restore harmony and prosperity to Bermuda’s people.”

Highlights of the speech follow below, and the full text is available here

Job Creation:

The Bermuda adaptation of the Job Corps Programme — recommended in the Mincy Report — will provide eligible Bermudians, aged 16 and over, with free education and training designed to equip them to compete for stable, long-term, well-paid careers.

Work Permits:

The Government will table a Bill in the first session of Parliament to provide work permit exemptions and permanent residence to eligible job creators in businesses that, amongst other criteria: have a significant number of Bermudians represented at all levels of the organisation; and provide entry level positions to young Bermudians graduating from high school and college.

Home Ownership:

A Land Policy Review Group has been empanelled to review the various policies on land holding and disposition in Bermuda, with particular emphasis on Permanent Resident’s Certificate holders and the foreign purchaser market. In addition, this year, the Government will focus on outlawing sham marriages and will remove legal barriers denying home ownership to nonBermudian members of Bermudian families.

Hamilton Waterfront:

A key component of the infrastructure strategy is the development of the waterfront in the City of Hamilton. The Government, the Corporation of Hamilton and the private sector under the auspices of Bermuda First have formed a Steering Group to drive forward this exciting project. The development will generate jobs and transform the waterfront in a manner that preserves its stunning beauty while creating a dynamic new hub for business and entertainment.

60/40 Ownership Rule:

A review of the Companies Act 1981 has been undertaken. In particular the 60/40 ownership regulation was examined with the express aim of finding ways to allow local businesses easier access to capital. While the 60/40 provision is generally thought to have served Bermuda well over the years, now there is a strong view that it could be blocking businesses from access to foreign direct investment.

Islamic Finance:

On the international business front, plans are in development to actively market Bermuda as a jurisdiction for Islamic Finance. Interest has been expressed already at the recent Business Bermuda briefing in New York, where details of the work being done by the Islamic Finance Task Force were shared.

Local Entertainment:

A signature entertainment product is being developed that will headline Bermudian entertainers and provide them with work, especially in hotels where hiring Bermudians is a pre-condition for securing concessions from Government.

Human Rights:

In keeping with its track record of dealing with sometimes controversial social issues, your Government will also be tackling discrimination. While the Government is aware of the sensitivities in the community surrounding sexual orientation, it does not condone discrimination in employment and accommodation based on a person’s lifestyle choices. Accordingly, Government will assess whether it is feasible to introduce an Equality Act.

Drunk Driving:

However, there will be less tolerance for impaired driving offences. The Government will table legislation to increase penalties for drunk driving and to expand the use of breathalysers. It also plans to mandate DUI education for all disqualified drivers.

Gaming:

A further option is consideration of a referendum on whether Bermuda should allow gaming.

Middle East Air Links:

Coincident with this exciting development, there is now the possibility of new air links with Emirates Airlines connecting Bermuda to dynamic and wealthy states in the Middle East including Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar. The Government recognises the importance of diversifying the economy as Bermuda must attract new sources of revenue. Islamic Finance, asset management and green initiatives are all part of a new and enhanced model.

Education:

The amendments to the Bermuda Educators Council Act 2002 will require that persons who instruct, support and guide students in Bermuda — whether public or private — are fully qualified to do so, in Bermuda and around the world. The amendments will ensure that teachers are certified by subject or specialisation, and by teaching and education level.
The planned amendments will mean that educators at all levels, in the classroom, in administration, or both, will be required to be registered under the Act. Educators will have to meet the requirements relevant to the role that they are performing in schools in order to obtain and maintain educator certification.

The Arts:

Despite the financial challenges, the Government will take a new approach to find other ways to inject additional financial support devoted to cultivating the Arts. During this Parliamentary Session the Government will establish an Artists’ Registry to recognise the level of experience and work history of our Bermudian artists.
Further, the Government will explore incentives for artists to showcase their talent and promote Bermuda as a place where artists of all genres can work.

Incarceration:

To mitigate the risk that an inmate granted parole will re-offend, legislation will be tabled to ensure that there is a more structured collaboration between Court Services and the Bermuda Police Service, mindful of the independence of the Parole Board. Reforms are also pending for the Criminal Code Act 1907 with the aim of: ensuring that a person sentenced for a period of less than two years serves a minimum of twelve months before being eligible for parole; revising the minimum time served for life sentences before parole; and, permitting judicial discretion to be applied to reflect the circumstances of a crime.

Regiment/Conscription:

Also, the Government is formulating changes to the Defence Act 1965 which established the Bermuda Regiment and conscription. First, the Government will review a recent decision by the Privy Council to take account of any inconsistencies in any discrimination provisions. Second, the Government will table legislation that makes provision for new alternatives to conscription, including the introduction of a National Youth Service.

Good Governance:

The Government has commenced work on the next phase of good governance legislation. As with any ambitious transformation, your Government had to learn lessons and acknowledge that sometimes mistakes have been made and things have gone wrong. The Government regrets those mistakes.

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Comments (12)

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  1. I gotta be me says:

    The PLP Govt and cowards. They just do not get Human Rights. They still think sexual orientation is “a person’s lifestyle choice”. Get the PLP out now!

  2. Al Bundy says:

    Islamic Finance?????

    • MinorMatters says:

      …WTH??? Not only will we be viewed by the US as aiding Tax Evaders now we aiding the Bankrollers of Terroism…I cannot fathom who is whispering these LSD ideas in the Premier’s ear. Sad.

  3. glance reader says:

    thanks Bernews for the cliff notes, helpful to this quick lunchtime reader!

    • Terry says:

      “Cliff notes”.

      Irony.

      I suggest two steps backwards ….were about to fall off the ……..

  4. Pastor Syl says:

    They are going to “assess whether it is feasible to introduce and Equality Act??!?!?!
    They promised to amend the Act years ago! What is the problem with saying that ALL people deserve the right to strive for employment, housing and basic services without fear of discrimination? People are not looking for special rights. They just want the ordinary protections that everybody should have.

    I’m not even going to bother with the “lifestyle choice” comment. I don’t remember choosing to be heterosexual. Does anybody remember that? Then why the assumption that those who are not attracted to the opposite sex made a choice?

  5. Enquiring says:

    Dangerous time to be encouraging business from the Middle East considering the social turmoil. Lots of dirty cash looking for a home – who is going to check the backgrounds?

    Don’t see much hope for College Weeks. $700 for a week in Cancun or $mega for a week in Bermuda with the added thrill of having the storm troopers with their dogs taking an interest in relieving another several thousand $ off you.

  6. 32n64w says:

    adaptation … will provide
    has been empanelled
    formed a Steering Group
    a review … has been undertaken
    in development
    is being developed
    will assess
    consideration of
    there is now the possibility
    will take a new approach
    will explore incentives
    is formulating changes
    has commenced work

    This is not the language of doing … its just more verbiage from a failed political party bankrupt of ideas, intelligence and integrity.

    • 32n64w says:
      Hit the nail on the head. No action words. All Smoke & mirrors designed to entice the electorate into thinking that they are actually going to do something.

  7. Eh eh says:

    So since they are considering Permanent Residency for key workers, how about speeding up the process for spouses of Bermudians? Aren’t they contributing to Bermuda economy as well?? Just asking!!