Loan Guarantees, Financial Assistance & More

September 25, 2017

Providing loan guarantees to community and sporting clubs, reforming Financial Assistance, publishing a Green Paper on Bermuda’s drug policies, and amending the Children Act are some of the Throne Speech initiatives discussed by Minister of Social Development & Sports Zane DeSilva at a press conference today [Sept 25].

Saying that the “current expenditure of over $50 million that Government spends on financial assistance is unsustainable,” Minister DeSilva said, “Government will undertake an initiative to reform the Financial Assistance Programme, including both policy and legislation.”

Speaking on loan guarantees, Minister DeSilva said the Government “believes that one of the ways to better utilize the Government’s financial influence is to make an investment in our society by assisting community and sporting clubs to become self-sufficient.”

“I must stress that what the Government intends to do is to provide a loan guarantee, not a loan itself. Government is not a lending institution. We have not yet determined how much money will be made available via loan guarantees; this will depend upon what the needs are,” the Minister added.

Minister DeSilva said, “In the recent Throne Speech, the Ministry of Social Development and Sports outlined a number of areas that we intend to examine in the coming year.

“Today, I want to speak specifically about four Throne Speech initiatives that my Ministry will work on during this legislative session.

Loan Guarantees to Community and Sporting Clubs

2017 Throne Speech: Government will provide loan guarantees to community and sporting clubs to upgrade their facilities, develop programmes to serve our youth, spur entrepreneurship and ensure greater community outreach in their parishes and neighbourhoods.

“As the Throne Speech notes, ‘Former governments have provided financial guarantees for wealthy sports competitions and tax exemptions for restaurants, nightclubs and retailers.”

“They have also provided loan guarantees for hotel construction and at-risk banks. This Government believes that one of the ways to better utilize the Government’s financial influence is to make an investment in our society by assisting community and sporting clubs to become self-sufficient. We are looking at ways to achieve this initiative.

“To this end, an initial meeting was held with several community sports clubs on September 7th at the Warwick Workman’s Club. The purpose of the meeting was to get early feedback from the clubs on what their needs might be in terms of facilities upgrading and youth programming.

“I must stress that what the Government intends to do is to provide a loan guarantee, not a loan itself. Government is not a lending institution. We have not yet determined how much money will be made available via loan guarantees; this will depend upon what the needs are.

“We have asked club representatives to provide information on what their needs are, so that we can assess the range of loan guarantees that may be necessary. The current business model of many clubs does typically allow them to make investments in facilities and in programs for our youth. Clubs can contact the Ministry or me as the Minister directly, with their proposals.

“Some clubs have expressed concerns about their ability to repay loans. We will discuss these concerns, other factors and structure agreements accordingly.

“There will likely be a cap on the size of the loan or loans for which Government will issue a guarantee, but this remains to be determined.

“We believe the community as a whole will benefit from this initiative through the creation of jobs and possibly even new entrepreneurship opportunities. Additionally, this initiative can have a positive impact on youth development since improved facilities may allow for expansion of youth programming at the different clubs, and we will encourage that.

Reform of the Financial Assistance Programme

2017 Throne Speech: The Financial Assistance Programme that serves some of the most vulnerable in our society is in need of reform as the current system does not effectively serve either the clients or the Government.

The Government will undertake a review of the Financial Assistance Programme. This review will require able-bodied unemployed persons who are receiving assistance to upgrade their education and skills to facilitate their return to the workforce.

Financial Assistance should encourage people to find work; therefore, people who take a part-time position will not find themselves penalised. This Government will reform Financial Assistance to reduce abuse, discourage dependency, and ensure that work pays.

“The Financial Assistance Programme began over 15 years ago with the enactment of the Financial Assistance Act 2001,” Minister DeSilva continued.

“It was intended to ensure that individuals with insufficient financial resources have access to services in order to gain, maintain, or regain a minimum standard of living while encouraging personal and economic independence.

“The Programme was also created to encourage the development of personal skills and resources so they didn’t have to rely on Financial Assistance.

“The Financial Assistance Programme has proven to be a lifeline for many in our community.

“Unfortunately, over time, there has developed an overreliance, some say even a culture of entitlement, amongst too many of those who receive financial assistance.

“Some persons remain on financial assistance for long periods of time, and this is certainly not what the Programme was designed for.

“At the same time, there is evidence that the way financial assistance is structured unfairly penalizes persons who have part-time jobs, since they find themselves unable to sustain their progress towards financial independence.

“We will examine that situation carefully and seek to make adjustments to policy and legislation so as to encourage people to wean off financial assistance, not remain on it forever.

“Therefore, Government will undertake an initiative to reform the Financial Assistance Programme, including both policy and legislation.

“For example, we will look at requiring able-bodied unemployed persons who are receiving assistance to upgrade their education and skills to facilitate their return to the workforce.

“We will also reach out to Corporate Bermuda to encourage funding support, together with Government, so that able-bodied persons on financial assistance can get their GED and make themselves more job ready.

“This will require a sincere collaborative effort between business and Government, since it is well recognized that the current expenditure of over $50 million that Government spends on financial assistance is unsustainable. That’s almost 1 million dollars per week.

Amendment of the Children Act 1998

2017 Throne Speech: Government will amend the Children Act 1998 to enhance the existing protocol that assigns a Litigation Guardian to children whose custody, care, or control is before the Courts. The guardian will ensure the interests of the child are fairly represented in the Courts, and that any subsequent orders or findings are respected by all parties.

In addition, the Government will expand the duty to investigate under the Children Act 1998, giving the Director of Child and Family Services the ability to enter public or private schools rather than only the Department of Education. The Act will also be amended to indicate that case reporters are not required to receive consent from a parent or guardian to investigate, especially when the allegation involves a parent or guardian.

“Under the Children Act 1998, the Court has the power to appoint a litigation guardian if it deems it necessary to do so in order to safeguard the interest of children.

“Further, the Act provides the Minister the ability to establish panels of persons from whom litigation guardians may be appointed. Government will review and enhance the use of litigation guardians in Bermuda.

“In a recent meeting with various charities that administer services to children hosted by the Attorney-General, it was indicated that a framework for a panel of litigations will be developed, and participants were encouraged to submit briefs to the Ministry expressing their views on how such a scheme should work in their view.

“The Government will also consider the approach to administration of litigation guardians in other jurisdictions before determining a way forward.

Government will also expand the duty of the Director of Child and Family Services to investigate cases of child abuse and neglect under the Act, since such cases can sometimes be masked or ignored, resulting in unnecessary harm to children.

Green Paper on Bermuda’s Drug Policies

2017 Throne Speech: Despite the severity of Bermuda’s penalties for illicit drug use, they apparently fail to deter criminal behaviour. Given that the behaviour is driven by addiction, punishments tend to be ineffective. Consequently, the Government has a duty to seek ways to reduce drug abuse and increase rehabilitation. The Government will publish a Green Paper for consultation to review Bermuda’s drug policies to discuss options to reduce drug abuse.

Minister DeSilva continued, “Drug abuse remains a significant issue in today’s society.

“The recent concern expressed over the possible arrival of fentanyl into Bermuda is but one example of why it is important to reformulate Government policy on drug prevention, abuse and treatment.

“The Government believes that by preparing and publishing a Green Paper on Bermuda’s drug policies, the public will be encouraged to provide feedback on a range of topics.

“The Department for National Drug Control will spearhead preparation of the Green Paper and will seek input from across Government and the public at large.”

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Comments (44)

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  1. dick francis says:

    Mr DeSilva: corporate Bermuda has been laying people off for ages? Have you not noticed?

    • dick francis says:

      “Corporate Bermuda is going to help pay for it’ Wow, is this Sven and Jonny Mark II?

      • steve says:

        “were going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it”

  2. Onion Juice says:

    De Party for de People.

    • nerema says:

      Oh yeah, for the people. As long as you don’t need financial assistance.

    • Reuben says:

      And if they default on the loan what happens then??

      • Vote For Me and Your Loan is Free says:

        LOL, InZane, did you have someone read your speech before? I quote, “Former governments have provided financial guarantees for wealthy sports competitions and tax exemptions for restaurants, nightclubs and retailers” When talking about wealthy sports we know you were taking a cheap shot at AC. Childish. The problem is that the PLP was in power for 14 years and NEVER EVER had a single event of any kind that was as popular with tourists and locals. No event or tourism campaign that they endorsed came close to getting the media coverage, and attention that AC got especially considering it was a 5+ week even broadcast in every market. And we all know where every penny went.

        the funny part is that you go on to talk about tax exemptions for restaurants, nightclubs and retailers” . The PLP did all of these things themselves! WTF! In fact, because the economy was so bad the PLP removed payroll tax for retailer altogether!
        So, I ask did you forget about this? Were you not paying attention? Are you just being deceptive and devisive or do you think the public are stupid?

        How about you do a comparison. Lets look at AC35 and costs. Show us where the money was spent. (construction, telecommunications transport, infrastructure, advertising etc)and show us our return on investment and even how much was overspent or “unaccounted for”. Now lets look at two other projects that you are personally familiar with, Port Royal GC and Cruise ship pier and do the same!

        The people wait! Something tells me you will pretend you didn’t read this.

      • Spit Bouy says:

        Simple, the tax payer is on the hook, again.
        Though the details haven’t been worked out yet the threat of this being a cash free for all which will cost the taxpayers dearly (again) is surely the eventual outcome of this. One things for sure though, the plp are not short of bad ideas.

    • Wahoo says:

      De people all bought a membership at port royal and grand atlantic a few years ago but we don’t get to go there for free.

  3. It's only just begun says:

    Wonder which one will get renovated first..

  4. Wahoo says:

    Drug testing for all MPs every Friday and a lie detector test once a month please.

  5. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    What a joke lmfao! Loans that will never be repaid back and asking Corporate to help support people that can’t be bother to go back work. Kiss IB goodbye!

    • Wahoo says:

      Why don’t we get biu to chip in they gotta be flush with cash after all these years…has anyone got those financials?

  6. Real Onion says:

    Dejoka Silva.

  7. Wahoo says:

    The one thing I love about plp is that they are real easy to make fun of. The scary thing is that they are our government…..

    • Mother Theresa says:

      Yes it is….

    • Spit Bouy says:

      Yup, Wahoo. It’s like groundhog day, fasten your seat belt, it’s about to get really bumpy again.

      The sad part is the same taxpayers that these jokers claim this is designed (coughs) to help will be the ones who are negatively impacted as they and their children will bear the brunt of paying back any loans that fail to be repaid. Sighs

  8. the real Terry says:

    Yes Minister, your former government also guaranteed the $200 million note for the Bank of Butt. and if the Canadian Bank and Investment Co. hadn’t stepped in they would have defaulted and we would have been $200 million further in debt. Have grave concerns about any loans you might back. I think you can count on Corporate Bda. passing on this Bigly LOL

    • Onion says:

      It’s bizarre. It’s like the PLP have completely forgotten what they did.

      • Mother Theresa says:

        They never owned what they did. Blamed it on the “world recession”.

  9. Portia says:

    The majority of people on FA are actually seniors. We have baby boomers retiring and getting older, that’s why the expense has grown to 50 million. That isn’t really something you can legislate to fix. It’s the cost of living in Bermuda that’s the problem.

    • Onion says:

      It’s also to do with the aftermath of the PLP economy. Jobs are only now improving after the massive declines under the later PLP years.

    • Mother Theresa says:

      I love the idea of making individuals get more educated or further developing their skill set so that they are more employable. You can’t make this s#!? up!

  10. jt says:

    Will there be full disclosure as to how loans each loan is utilized and repaid as well related job creation and financial accounting?

  11. Stevie says:

    Desilva & the rest of the Plp suffer from short term memory loss.

  12. aceboy says:

    How does providing loans for facilities upgrades and youth programs become an investment?

    If you gift the money to them THEN you can claim you are investing in the community.

    Loaning money to them, or providing guarantees that government will HAVE to pay out on because unless the upgraded facilities create additional income there will be no additional funds to service the loans, is going to end up bankrupting the clubs.

    Is someone eyeing up some land that will be for sale in a few years?

  13. spider says:

    The fact that Government is spending $50 million on financial assistance is not necessarily a fault of those on assistance. Blaming the victims when Government has had failed employment policies for years, look at the numbers of Jamaicans and Canadians and Phillippino’s working. Do you think Bermudians on assistance wouldn’t take a cleaning job,or a landscaping job or a housekeeping job. Why do you need 3 years experience to be a cleaner or push a lawnmower you only need one supervisor on site and a two day training class should enable a Bermudian to be competent enough to get by. Why are there foreign waiters in hotels and restaurants? Aren’t Bermudians good enough? Why not train Bermudians for these positions it’s not like training someone to be a doctor, how difficult could it be. Has there been a survey of those on assistance to find out what patterns are predominant. Seeing a number and assuming it must be those on assistance’s fault is backwards. It also reflects a negative attitude towards those who need help. If Government fixed their policies we wouldnt have a few hundred foreigners here doing low skilled jobs.

    • Guy Smiley says:

      Don’t kid yourself. Bermudians show twice and realise how much work it is and they don’t show again. Businesses can’t operate like that. Companies would LOVE not to have to go through immigration and the added expense and bs it takes to get work permits approved. If you are willing and able to work and put in effort you will always have a job on this island.

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      BERMUDIANS CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO TAKE CLEANING JOBS OR OTHER MENIAL JOBS SUCH AS WAITERS ETC OTHERWISE THEY WOULD BE THERE! Don’t get paid enough and hours are crap hence why foreigners do it lmfao…it’s not rocket science bra

      • Sickofantz says:

        Also it is much cheaper to pay a foreigner because they don’t have to pay their pensions.

        • Zevon says:

          Non issue. Most expats have company pensions. But if it makes the government feel useful, why not.

    • steve says:

      why locals dont take these jobs? We all been over this a thousand times, The PLP know why and they are hoping to change it while never publicly admitting it. Every business owner black,white,expat and local has told them strait up.

      • Sickofantz says:

        I presume you are talking about the pension contribution that companies have to pay to Bermudians.

    • Spit Bouy says:

      Spider, do you run a business in any of the fields that you mentioned??? I doubt it. If you did you wouldn’t
      have wasted time writing what you did.

  14. spider says:

    $50 million per year is a drop in the bucket compared to the $500,000 per day on debt service. Zane find someone else to pick on!!!

  15. Jose says:

    That’s it spend spend spend yihhaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  16. Cremated the Economy First Time - Second time lucky says:

    Half mill every day on interest only. Promised and provided by this Government. Who trusts them to get this right? Can we take a chance? Doesn’t matter anyway, they can pass anything in the House. People will tune out of the process, Goverment will overstep again and Bermudians will leave on the same planes as the expats, as they have since 2006.

  17. Guy Smiley says:

    People on FA have cell phones and a paid cell phone bill. Say what?!

  18. Dunn Juice says:

    Doesn’t look like one PLP supporter has remarked on this topic, good nor bad.

    Come again Zane!

  19. Infidelguy says:

    Excuse me, but this seem like Deja Vu…..again!