Premier Dunkley’s Post-Throne Speech Remarks

November 10, 2014

[Updated with video] “Against the backdrop of renewed investor confidence in Bermuda and an economy finally moving in the right direction, the plan contained in this Throne Speech is a path to stronger recovery,” Premier Michael Dunkley said today [Nov 10].

Speaking at a press conference which followed Friday’s Throne Speech, the Premier outlined some of the measures contained in the Speech, touching on tourism, expenses, gaming, hotel development and  more.

The Premier said, “In tourism, this Government continues to support the work of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and has invested $25m in the mission to grow Bermuda’s tourism.

“I wish to assure the people of Bermuda that there is accountability attached to that investment and the Government remains focused on ensuring that that money is well spent and that this sector sees growth, measured by the single most important metric: heads in beds.

“I look forward to a well-informed and robust debate on gaming for Bermuda. Over several months the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport and his technical team have overseen a detailed drafting process and I am sure that the eventual Bill will comprehensively address all aspects required for the successful introduction of gaming in Bermuda.

“Too often the narrative around this economic period is one of cutting and austerity. This Government is committed to controlling public expenditure and the coming fiscal year will see a further 5% reduction in the operating expenses of the public service.

“Achieving that will not be easy but we are committed to working with our partners in the representative Unions and I am confident that they share our desire to run an efficient public sector.

Speaking on hotel development, the Premier said, “On Wednesday my colleagues and I will proudly participate in the groundbreaking of Ariel Sands’ redevelopment which will support up to 70 jobs during construction; and with Phase 2 of the Princess development coming to completion, and the construction of the Princess Beach Club and its planned opening for summer 2015, more jobs will be created.

“Many of you will recall the debate that surrounded cannabis use in Bermuda. There were strong arguments on all sides of that discussion but in the end, decisions have to be made. The introduction of cannabis containing products for medical use in Bermuda is significant.

“This will preserve the decision making on personal health choices where it belongs; between a patient and their doctor. The Government proposes to provide legal access to these products because they are tested, properly regulated and when used as prescribed, safe.”

Premier Dunkley’s full statement follows below:

Cabinet Colleagues, Civil Service Executive, ladies and gentlemen of the media, good afternoon and thank you for coming.

This Government has set an ambitious agenda for this legislative session. Against the backdrop of renewed investor confidence in Bermuda and an economy finally moving in the right direction, the plan contained in this Throne Speech is a path to stronger recovery.

At the centre of all of the policies that we have outlined is an overriding determination to improve the lives of the people we serve. Like so many economic recoveries around the world, our renewed growth and the evidence supporting the change in policies since the election have been slow to reach into the lives of ordinary, hardworking Bermudians.

Too many families still suffer the effects of unemployment, reduced wages or underemployment in this economy. All our energies are directed to reversing this trend and providing the appropriate safety net to help those in need while growing this economy and creating opportunities for personal economic growth for our citizens.

I believe that this Government’s plan strikes the right balance required to achieve recovery for the Island. There are economic realities of life in Bermuda that must be faced and fixed if we are to see results that mean a return to a successful Bermuda.

The engines of this economy are slowly turning over after sustained periods in distress. There is renewed activity in both tourism and international business. This is important because while the calls for economic diversification may be loud, they ring hollow for the man or woman who needs relief now. These two pillars of this economy require our immediate attention because they are best placed to offer the one thing so many people in Bermuda need: a job.

In tourism, this Government continues to support the work of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and has invested $25m in the mission to grow Bermuda’s tourism. I wish to assure the people of Bermuda that there is accountability attached to that investment and the Government remains focused on ensuring that that money is well spent and that this sector sees growth, measured by the single most important metric: heads in beds.

I look forward to a well-informed and robust debate on gaming for Bermuda.

Over several months the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport and his technical team have overseen a detailed drafting process and I am sure that the eventual Bill will comprehensively address all aspects required for the successful introduction of gaming in Bermuda.

Too often the narrative around this economic period is one of cutting and austerity. This Government is committed to controlling public expenditure and the coming fiscal year will see a further 5% reduction in the operating expenses of the public service.

Achieving that will not be easy but we are committed to working with our partners in the representative Unions and I am confident that they share our desire to run an efficient public sector.

But there are new revenue opportunities on the horizon and as the Throne Speech signaled on Friday, this Government will lay the groundwork for their success in this coming session.

They include:

  • The America’s Cup – this iconic sporting event represents a potentially significant boost to our economic fortunes and the Legislature will be asked to do its part by passing an Act specific to the event.
  • Hotel development – On Wednesday my colleagues and I will proudly participate in the groundbreaking of Ariel Sands’ redevelopment which will support up to 70 jobs during construction; and with Phase 2 of the Princess development coming to completion, and the construction of the Princess Beach Club and its planned opening for summer 2015, more jobs will be created.
  • The Bermuda Limited Liability Company (LLC) – this new corporate vehicle will be another feature available to those who seek to do business in Bermuda potentially increasing the number of fund and asset management companies and insurance linked securities operating as part of our international business sector.
  • Radio Spectrum Fees – a new fee structure designed to encourage greater competition to the benefit of customers and to generate revenue in support of Government services

These are only a few highlights of the ways in which the Government is going about the task of increasing economic activity; there are others and we will continue to be open for further opportunities.

Many of you will recall the debate that surrounded cannabis use in Bermuda. There were strong arguments on all sides of that discussion but in the end, decisions have to be made. The introduction of cannabis containing products for medical use in Bermuda is significant.

This will preserve the decision making on personal health choices where it belongs; between a patient and their doctor. The Government proposes to provide legal access to these products because they are tested, properly regulated and when used as prescribed, safe.

The Government’s plan recognizes the importance of safeguarding the welfare of the most vulnerable among us. This Session will feature legislation dealing with the exploitation of children, protection for the victims of domestic abuse, financial relief for seniors through reverse mortgages, preventative health measures to reduce the risk of young people smoking, as well as consolidated and improved programmes for the students of Orange Valley and Opportunity Workshop.

A recent article in the UK’s Telegraph outlined the importance of preparing today’s students for the changing employment requirements of tomorrow. Bermuda must heed this advice also and so the Government is determined to begin career preparation with our Middle School students through the expanded Career Pathways Programme.

We must equip our children with the tools to succeed in the jobs this economy creates. Bermudians can be first in employment opportunities in their own country and this Government will continue to build an education system that makes that a reality.

There is no monopoly on good ideas. We promised to be an open and inclusive Government and so there is a genuine desire and need to broaden the pool of people willing to serve on boards and committees.

We look forward to fresh faces, innovative individuals and people committed to doing the best for Bermuda as we open the opportunities for more of our citizens to become involved in public service.

In the midst of all of the activities in which we as Bermudians are involved, Friday’s Throne Speech deliberately contained a call to action.

I believe in the responsibility of governments to create conditions for economic success. I know the responsibility of governments to promote social cohesion and to improve the lives of the people. I am convinced that governments must lead by example and demonstrate through their actions and policies the kind of country the majority of people desire.

This Government issues a call to action across every sector of this community because our work on behalf of the people must be complimented by a community that is engaged equally, committed and likewise determined to see the recovery we say we want for Bermuda.

I share the sentiments of Rev. Smith when he prayed on Friday, that we as a community should recognize that Bermuda’s best days are not in the past but that working together, they are yet to come.

Thank you.

-

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All, News, Politics

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. sage says:

    Personal health choices should never be solely contingent upon a “doctors” endorsement, since they are in some cases paid drug marketers for Big Pharma. In fact this proposed policy reads like it came straight from Andrea Barthwell, GW Pharmas, mouthpiece who the DNDC also pays to fight any legalization of the whole plant in its natural state.

  2. Puma says:

    medical marijuanna=heads in beds!