Video: Premier On SSM Appeal, Fintech & More

December 16, 2018

[Updated] The same sex marriage legal appeals, the investigation into Child and Family Services, the fintech industry and the Government’s legislative agenda were among the topics Premier David Burt recently spoke with us about.

Same Sex Marriage Appeal

Asked for comment on the same sex marriage appeal, Premier David Burt told Bernews, ”Certainly. I’m happy to do so. I recognize that this issue is a very difficult issue for a number of Bermudians, and it’s something that is incredibly emotional on both sides of the debate.

“The only thing that I would say to Bermudian people is that we were elected on a particular mandate, and that mandate stated that we would provide same sex couples with legal rights that were equivalent to marriage, and that is what we did with the Domestic Partnership Act, and we’re proud to be the first Caribbean overseas territory to do that.

30-minute audio of the full ‘Premier’s Question Time’ in Parliament on Friday:

“However, that particular action, which was done here in Parliament, was met with challenges in the Courts, and so there are some very important constitutional questions which have been raised regarding the authority of Parliament and different authorities.

“I think that all persons will recognize that for this particular issue to be fully and finally addressed and put to bed, it needs to go into the highest court of the land so that it can be finally decided and settled fully.

“For those particular reasons, the Government has decided that we’ve sought leave to appeal. If we are granted such, we’ll be filing the appeal at a future stage, and we hope that at the settlement of this issue that the Bermudian public can then move on.”

Is Privy Council The End?

Asked if it goes as far as the Privy Council, and the Privy Council rules in favour of the Court of Appeals decision, are we at the end, the Premier replied, “It is my understanding, and I’m not a lawyer, it is my understanding that Privy Council is a final and supreme court of jurisdiction for Bermuda and so from that particular perspective I do believe that’s where this particular issue will head.

“But I think as I said, there is important constitutional issues. The Government was elected with a particular mandate. The Government carried out that mandate in Parliament, and some of those mandates from Parliament had been struck down by the Courts so it is very important that these particular items be deliberated.

“And it can apply to many different things, but I think that when we talk about living and existing inside of a democracy, and making sure the people’s will is carried through, I think that is the question which we’ll test.

Explaining that the Attorney General would be able to speak to the issue better, the Premier added that, “This is a challenging issue, but the only way this issue is going to be resolved, in my view, is if it goes to the highest court in the land. The exact same thing that happened to the United States. The exact same thing that’s happened in many other countries will follow its process here, and at the end of it, it will be settled and then we can move on.”

Investigation Into Child and Family Services

Asked about the investigation into the Department of Child and Family Services, the Premier said, ”During the Premier’s question time today there was a question raised by the Opposition Leader about the status of this particular investigation.

“I updated him that the status of this investigation is ongoing. It is being done under the Public Service Commission regulations. Clearly we’re dealing with internal personnel matters which cannot be shared with externally, they are not even known to me.

“I just know that the investigations are ongoing, and once there is any recommendation which will come from a department, that recommendation will go to the Head of the Public Service Dr Derrick Binns. And if there is any adjudication or any decisions that are made after that, I am sure that they will be announced to the public.”

Fintech Jobs

Asked about fintech jobs, the Premier said, “There was a question that came during Premier’s question time regarding the amount of jobs which are being created in fintech. And when I speak about fintech, I always want to be clear that just like our insurance industry was not built in one year, neither will our fintech industry be built in one year.

“I am not in way, shape, or form holding this out to be a third economic pillar, but what I do believe is that it can serve as an enhancement to what we’re doing in financial services and make sure that we can continue to innovate and lead in the area of being an international financial services jurisdiction.

“All of that notwithstanding, I think many people would have seen and heard the news that there is a particular company called Bitcarbon which has put out advertisements for 16 jobs that they’ll be hiring in the first quarter of 2019.

“And those applications are currently online, and people can find them at So I think that this is something that is a positive step in that direction, and we expect that there will be many more to come.”

Banking Issues For Fintech

The Premier added, “But as I said today in Parliament, that yes we have had some issues with advancing Bermuda’s fintech ambitions, and that is around the area and provision of banking.

“I was speaking to someone who set up a fintech company in Bermuda, and it took them six months to get a bank account. And they were not able to get a bank account in Bermuda, so they had to get a bank account in Bahamas. We must recognize that the banking issue is something that is holding us back.

“This is because Bermuda has, in history, has not ever been a banking jurisdiction, so we do not have a wide cross section of banks. So we’re looking at how we can attract more banks here.

“That’s the reason why we passed the changes to the banking act to allow for fintech banks. There have been some applications which have gone through the Bermuda Monetary Authority for these banks, and we’re working through that process.

“Once we get additional banking options that are comfortable with the risk and understand what digital assets are, and how they can be banked, I think that you will see an uptick in this particular industry, but it is a work in progress.

“We’ve been at it for 11 months, the jobs are now beginning to bear fruit, and we expect that there will be more jobs that will bear fruit in the future. But in order to accelerate this, we have to deal with a banking issue and we’re working with a number of partners. And we are hopeful that shortly we’ll have some positive news to announce in that area.”

Premier Burt speaks with Bernews at the House on Friday:

How Has Government Done So Far

Asked for a ‘report card’ on how the Government has done this past legislative session and what will be happening moving forward, the Premier told Bernews, “There’s a number of bills that we passed in this particular session which are continuing to carry out the promises of which we had stated inside of our election manifesto.

“If you look with what we’ve managed to accomplish in our first 17 months, I think that we have done a relatively good job, but the challenge really is that there are people who do not feel that the Government is taking care of their particular needs.

“And I can understand the reason why, and that is because when you’re leading an international financial center, there are a lot of pieces of legislation of which have to be tackled in order to maintain the ratings which we had.

“We spoke in the Throne Speech that a full third of the legislation that we did in the last sitting of Parliament was to make sure that Bermuda got excellent marks in its AML assessment. That has now passed.

“We’ve managed to deal with the challenge of EU tax reform. We will soon be considering the Economic Substance bill, which is a deal with the issue of the EU Code of Conduct group, and we’ve gone past the issue of our AML assessment.

“Now it’s time, and as you see when we’re talking about the things which were laid out in our Throne Speech, such as tax reform, such as healthcare reform, such as a living wage, such as making sure there’s fairness in equity when it comes to energy taxes.

“These are things that matter, these are things that people want us to deliver on, and those are the agendas of which we’re going to be focused on in the upcoming sessions of Parliament.

“If you look at all of what we’ve managed to do to make sure that Bermuda remains a solid financial center, that is what we’ve done and now it is an important time after the research of what we’ve done, and the consultation that we do, it’s now time to turn to the execution for the agenda for Mr. And Mrs. Smith.”

Plans For The Christmas Holiday

Finishing on a lighter note, the Premier said, “As we go into the Christmas holiday, the thing that I’ll say is to make sure that you’re safe. Think about those less fortunate than you, and enjoy time with family.

“It is my hope that everyone takes time with family. Take time to share. Takes time to love and enjoy the family and celebrate those that you have that are with you, because they may not be here forever.”

Premier Responds During Second Premier’s Question Period

Update December 17, 8.43am: A Government spokesperson said, “Bermuda’s second Premier’s Question Period took place on Friday, 14 December 2018, in the House of Assembly. This new addition to the Order of Business, happens every second Friday that the House is in session. According to Standing Orders, the Leader of the Opposition can ask three questions. Other Members may ask one question. Supplemental questions can only be asked by Members who have asked a question.

“During Friday’s sitting of the House, Premier and Minister of Finance, the Hon. David Burt, JP, MP, fielded questions from Members of Parliament on both sides of the House.

“In providing responses to questions on FinTech companies, the appeals cost of the Bermuda Government of the Appeal in the ‘Attorney-General v Ferguson and Others’ case, and the cost of consultants that assisted in the new bus schedule, Premier Burt stated the following:

“There are now 52 FinTech companies now incorporated in Bermudaand jobs are being created inside of this industry. However, there are complications of banking within this particular sector and the Government and our stakeholders are pushing forward with banking solutions so that this industry can flourish. Also FinTech companyBitCarbon is looking to fill and has advertised 16 jobs in Bermuda. The efforts that the Government are making to diversify our economy and create jobs are bearing fruit. BitCargon has confirmed that 29 jobs are going to be located in Bermuda in total.

“With regards to ‘Attorney-General v Ferguson and Others’ case, the cost of the original appeal to the court of appeal, the cost born to the public purse was £41,750 pounds which equates to about $52,000 or $53,000 depending on the exchange rate. 

“With regards to the drafting of the grounds of appeal and provisional advice to the Privy Council that stands to date at £11,250 pounds.

“The Premier confirmed that after 17 years of effort and to move forward changes to the bus schedule to modernize it, the amount paid to the consultants for the new bus schedule totaled $25,156.00 in 2017 & 2018.

“The Premier reiterated Government’s commitment to building a better and fairer Bermuda.”

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Comments (17)

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  1. Gustav says:

    16 Jobs of the entire Finten industry
    That will Save Bermuda
    A very strong third pillar

    • Law says:

      Better than the 2,000 jobs Disney world promises from the OBA who then decided to help their cronies pockets using America’s Cup as the vehicle!

  2. Imjustsaying says:

    Fintech is bad for your financial health.

  3. Onion says:

    Meanwhile he is torching Bermuda’s reputation by defending Arbitrade.

  4. J Austen says:

    Back in 1986, two guys – both American mathematicians – started a small reinsurer. Their third employee was a Bermudian. What they invented was Catasprophe Insurance and that company’s name was CenterRe… Fin Tech, Block Chain, why not? My only word of caution is tell the BMA not to choke it before it even starts… because that’s exactly what that self perpetuating, commerce destroying monolith will do.

    • Question says:

      They did not invent catastrophe reinsurance and Centre Re no longer exists.

      • J Austen says:

        Yes, it was sold to a Swiss outfit for a few hundred million. The legacy as does the industry continues and so do many jobs here.

  5. Question says:

    “….so there are some very important constitutional questions which have been raised regarding the authority of Parliament…”
    Parliament is subserviant to the Constitution. That’s what a Constitution IS. Everybody has to follow the rule of law. That is why we have a Constitution. Nobody is above it, even the government.
    The is what the rule of law is about.
    Some first year law student could perhaps explain it to the Premier.

    • Sandgrownan says:

      It’s also there to protect minorities if the majority are disckwads.

      To frame it as some sort of argument about democracy, and the “popular mandate” is disingenuous at best and you can see where the PLP are going with this – they are framing an argument about self determination for a push for independence. And using a vulnerable group to do so.


  6. E. Gamble says:

    For the record Bermuda is Not a Caribbean Overseas Territory!

    • PBanks says:

      Was wondering who was going to nitpick on this minor topic. Nothing gets certain Bermudians’ hackles up by being grouped within the Caribbean region.

  7. As Predicted says:

    So looking forward to the “living wage” being legislated. Can’t wait to get a load of that.

  8. Timothy J says:

    Burt….the SSM issue doesn’t need to go to the higher court. What are you doing?! Just wasting MY tax payer dollars!

  9. Me says:

    Too inexperienced and naive his legacy will be for fighting equality bad move by world standards Mr Burt

  10. Vote no more says:

    Still nothing on our increasing debt.

  11. aceboy says:

    “I am not in way, shape, or form holding this out to be a third economic pillar, but what I do believe is that it can serve as an enhancement to what we’re doing in financial services and make sure that we can continue to innovate and lead in the area of being an international financial services jurisdiction.”

    This is a very different narrative from a few months ago.

  12. gustav says:

    bitcoin is at almost USD 3000
    minus 90 percent in one year
    just digest