Full Text & Highlights: 2018 Throne Speech

November 9, 2018 | 14 Comments

Social insurance contribution reform, eliminating most paper forms and single-use plastics by 2022, transforming existing post offices into customer service centres, a blockchain-based national identity system and establishing a licensing regime to regulate domestic production of medical-grade cannabis products were some of the initiatives unveiled in this morning’s Throne Speech, along with initiatives dealing with immigration, housing, banking and more.

Governor John Rankin delivered the 2018 Throne Speech today [Nov 9], which lays out the Government’s plans for the upcoming year, with the speech revealing a number of initiatives planned for the coming year. The full speech is posted below along with some extracts, and you can view our live blog of the Throne Speech here, and all our coverage of the 2018 Throne Speech here.

Social Insurance Contributions Reform.

Bermuda’s tax system will be reformed to establish a fair system based on a citizen’s ability to pay. The substantive reforms will be announced in February’s Budget Statement, but immediate action is required. In this vein, the reform will begin with social insurance contributions. During this session, the historic and unfair system that sees a CEO making $4,000 a day pay the same amount in contributions as a worker making $4,000 a month will be modernised. Bermuda’s social insurance system will be changed from a fixed-rate contribution to one based on a percentage of income; a change that was made in the UK forty-two years ago will finally happen in Bermuda this year.

Stamp Duty on Mortgage Refinancing

To boost competition between existing banks, stamp duty on any mortgage refinancing will be eliminated for amounts under $750,000, allowing Bermudians to move their mortgages to a bank that may charge a lower rate without having to pay taxes on that transaction

Health Insurance

The needs of Bermudians must finally take precedence over insurers’ profits. Therefore, upon conclusion of the necessary consultation, the Ministry of Health will advance a national health plan that will put all persons in Bermuda into either one or two health insurance pools, which will reduce the cost of health insurance. This fundamental reform will be the subject of legislation during this session.

Energy Costs

During this session, legislation will be advanced that provides greater powers to the Government to reduce the costs of electricity for the people of Bermuda.

’College Promise’ Programme

Also, during this session, a merit-based “College Promise” programme will be introduced which will award scholarships to the Bermuda College to public school graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Consultation On Paid Maternity Leave Extension

the Government will commence consultation on the extension of paid maternity leave from the current eight weeks to thirteen weeks

Eliminate Most Paper Forms By 2022

The Government will eliminate most paper forms by 2022 and will link existing IT systems to ensure that data is shared between government departments. Part of government reform is simplifying overly bureaucratic processes enshrined in old legislation by reducing regulations. Antiquated paperbased processes, such as applications for truck permits, will be streamlined to reduce processing times and create a better experience for citizens.

Transform Existing Post Offices Into Customer Service Centres

Amendments will be made to the Post Office Act 1900 and the Regulations of 1933 to permit the development of new postal products and services, applying a shared services model that will transform existing post offices into customer service centres for all government licensing, payments and other public services.

Housing

The need for affordable housing remains, and through the recently begun amalgamation of quangos, the Ministry of Public Works will now have the ability to accelerate plans to address the continuing issue of access to and the availability of affordable housing for Bermudians. One specific project being advanced by the Bermuda Housing Corporation is the construction of residences in the City of Hamilton, which will provide affordable studio and one-bedroom apartments for rent or purchase. This will meet the Government’s mandate of putting independent living in reach of many of Bermuda’s young people who want to own their own place and move out of their family homestead.

Arbitration Centre Named After Ottiwell Simmons

Local and international parties have long called for a centre for this purpose and so the Government will devote two floors of the Allenhurst Building [the old Hamilton Police Station] as an arbitration centre, with the remainder of the building to be used for complimentary amenities. 10 To recognise his unrivalled sacrifice in the service of the labour movement in Bermuda, the building will be named in honour of Mr. Ottiwell Simmons, the former Member of the Legislature and President of the Bermuda Industrial Union

Blockchain-Based National Identity System

The Government will enact legislation to create a blockchain-based national identity system which will streamline access to government services and eliminate the need to provide multiple copies of identity information to local financial institutions.

Immigration

During this session, the Legislature will be invited to consider bills that simplify issues surrounding Bermudian status, the status of PRC holders and Bermudian status for mixed-status families.

Work Permit Processing

the Government will move from a ‘one size fits all’ model of work permit processing to a model where good corporate citizens who hire, train and promote Bermudians will have access to a more streamlined process. The scrutiny needed for bad employers should not subject good corporate citizens to delays.

Retirement Age

During this session, the Legislature will be invited to discuss options for such revisions to the age of mandatory retirement from the Public Service, which will preserve the right to retire at sixty-five but permit a post holder to work beyond that age without the requirement for permission to do so.

Medical Cannabis

During this session, the Government will advance a regime whereby licensed medical practitioners are permitted to prescribe medical cannabis to aid in the treatment of such conditions. This will be implemented concurrently with the establishment of a licensing regime to regulate domestic production of medical-grade cannabis products.

Single Use Plastics

In the era of the manifested impact of climate change, Bermuda must consistently act to preserve its oceans. To this end, single-use plastics will be eliminated by 2022 and the intervening years will be spent educating the community about recycling and re-usable items and encouraging greater sensitivity to the ocean and its importance to our lives.

By 2020 a charge on single-use plastics will be instituted as we move to the point of elimination.

The full Throne Speech is below [PDF here]:

click here Bermuda 2018 Throne Speech

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Comments (14)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Bermuda’s tax system will be reformed to establish a fair system based on a citizen’s ability to pay.” Read income tax

    “the Ministry of Health will advance a national health plan that will put all persons in Bermuda into either one or two health insurance pools, which will reduce the cost of health insurance.” Ok, so Government is going to introduce universal health care and the insurance companies can get out of the business.

    “One specific project being advanced by the Bermuda Housing Corporation is the construction of residences in the City of Hamilton, which will provide affordable studio and one-bedroom apartments for rent or purchase.” Government is getting into the property development business again, like it did with Grand Atlantic.

    “The Government will enact legislation to create a blockchain-based national identity system which will streamline access to government services and eliminate the need to provide multiple copies of identity information to local financial institutions.” Which I will not be submitting to. If you want my DNA then bring the Regiment to capture me and contain me when you try to take my DNA against my will.

    “During this session, the Legislature will be invited to consider bills that simplify issues surrounding Bermudian status, the status of PRC holders and Bermudian status for mixed-status families” and then do nothing about it for fear of The People’s Campaign

  2. gustav says:

    yeah that’s the right approach
    “Bermuda’s social insurance system will be changed from a fixed-rate contribution to one based on a percentage of income”
    in other words : let the evil foreigners pay the social insurance
    although they are not entitled to any benefits.
    just let them pay in and please the real born Bermudians.
    a further step to force them to leave the island .
    and if they are gone : the system will collapse , but that’s only in 2 years…….

  3. Truthertz says:

    That Social Insurance contribution change is pure theft IMO.

    If i pay X amount into a pension program I expect to get that much back at least when I retire.

    PLP is going to kill the middle class of completely in the February 2019 budget.

  4. Politricks says:

    “CEO making $4,000 a day pay the same amount in contributions as a worker making $4,000 a month”

    Nonsense. They might pay the same in % terms but the CEO will pay much more nominally.

    This is literally a form of income tax.

    This Government and their persistent tax increases will simply make Bermuda that much more expensive. You guys keep this up and only very few will have disposable income to put into the real economy as well as the fact that businesses will have to seek cost savings via less labor payouts (ie the largest source of expenses for all local businesses).

    The depressing part is that nowhere in the speech did the Government allude to any form of cost reductions related to the public sector. No instead it is renewed attacks on the private sector who keeps this economy afloat.

    • What?? says:

      FYI. If you earn $4000/month you pay $35.92/week and your employer pays $35.92/week for SI. If you earn $4000/day you pay $35.92/week and your employer pays $35.92/week for SI.

  5. just IMO says:

    This feels empty. A list of descent ideas but not really a plan or proper agenda.

  6. kevin says:

    Just a side note to the reformed tax and how it is collected ….you earn more you pay more would only be fair if they also received more when it became time. How can you claim fairness when those not paying into the system take home the same as an individual who has contributed a lot. I believe that you reduce the salaries of these so called full time ministers by 50% and put them on a performance based pay scale for a bonus that if they did an outstanding job they would earn what they are getting today. I bet we would save a lot of money that could go into the pension bucket Do the Politicians pay payroll tax and healthcare out of their $150,000 pay .

  7. John Does says:

    Remember when the expat leaves they can collect their social security, hence I am unsure what this will fix.

    • WarrenB says:

      Government also promise a contributory pension scheme, and then when you sign the contract they tell you that you have to be here for 10 years before the Government’s contribution kicks in. In other words, you never get it, so not contributory at all.

    • Family Man says:

      Expats have to wait until they turn 65 then apply to receive a refund of their contributions, which are returned without interest. The right to receive a refund can (and likely will) be revoked at the stroke a pen.

  8. Adrienne says:

    BLAH BLAH only saying this because they think this is what they think THEIR people want to hear THEY (PLP ) ARE for themselves and NOT THE PEOPLE and about their POCKETS AND BANK ACCOUNTS

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