Video: Ministers On Immigration, Stimulus, More

January 25, 2021 | 44 Comments

“If we do not use immigration as a means to support economic growth we risk falling off a fiscal cliff which will prevent the Government from providing for Bermuda and her people in the way to which we have become accustomed,” Minister of Labour Jason Hayward said today.

“The current reality is that Bermuda is in serious financial trouble. According to the Minister of Finance, the 2021 deficit of $295 million is unsustainable. The steadily declining population was exacerbated by the exodus of many work permit holders. It is important to note that population levels cannot naturally adjusted in a timely fashion and therefore immigration policy is required,” Minister Hayward said.

Minister Hayward was speaking at a press conference alongside Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch, with Minister Burch speaking about the Short Term Stimulus Programme.

“There is an urgent need to provide stimulus to the local economy in order to retain and boost employment numbers in the wake of the economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Burch said.

“The Ministry of Public Works has compiled a list of “shovel ready” projects that are executable within 3 months. These projects are mostly infrastructure improvements and will not add further burden to government operational expenses. The project’s selection principles are to maximize the employment of the private sector while providing much-needed refreshing of neglected infrastructure.

The 21-minute live video replay is below:

Minister Hayward’s remarks:

Good day to members of the media and the listening public.

I am joined here today by the Minister of Public Works. Lt. Col. David Burch.

In today’s press conference I will share with you the Ministry of Labour’s policy proposals in support of Bermuda’s economic development. I will also provide an update on the Wage Commission’s living and minimum wage initiative as well as the Unemployment Insurance Program to be established for the future.

Immigration

Firstly, let me speak about Immigration.

You should know that Immigration has been used globally as a tool to develop societies by bringing in the right people at the right times. For example, the 1-Year Work from Bermuda policy was brought to the fore as a result of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It attracts persons who don’t take jobs but instead contribute to the island’s economy. The right people at the right time.

While we may not always agree with the way this tool should be used, it is imperative that it be used to stop the bleeding and to help move toward rebuilding an economy that benefits all Bermudians.

The Bermuda Department of Statistics’ report: Bermuda’s Population Projections 2016 – 2026 provides valuable insight as we consider Bermuda’s immigration policy moving forward. This 2018 report made clear the need for Bermuda to ‘take action’ given the projected demographic shifts for 2016 – 2026.

These projected demographic shifts have significant implications for Bermuda’s future. In summary:

  • 1. Bermuda’s population is expected to decline as the number of deaths exceeds births;
  • 2. There will be a continued shift in the island’s age structure as the population ages; and
  • 3. Bermuda’s evolving demographic profile will have fewer children, an older workforce and more seniors.

In order to combat the harsh realities resulting from a population decline we need positive Net immigration; that is less emigration or people leaving the country to live elsewhere, and more immigration or people entering the country to live.

It should also be noted that once a small segment, older residents are now an expanding portion of Bermuda’s population. The implications of this aging population will result in an increased financial burden on the Government further exacerbated by the decrease in the number of working people.

As we know, a high number of skilled and talented workers who contribute to the economy by way of paying taxes, paying rent, purchasing houses etc. benefits the economy. In that vein, the aim of this immigration policy is to increase opportunity for Bermudians and to help improve Government’s current fiscal position.

To put it plainly, the current reality is that Bermuda is in serious financial trouble. According to the Minister of Finance, the 2021 deficit of $295 million is unsustainable. The steadily declining population was exacerbated by the exodus of many work permit holders. It is important to note that population levels cannot naturally adjusted in a timely fashion and therefore immigration policy is required.

Progressive immigration policy will help increase our workforce helping to ensure sustainable economic growth and retention and expansion of the working population thereby supporting economic growth.

If we do not use immigration as a means to support economic growth we risk falling off a fiscal cliff which will prevent the Government from providing for Bermuda and her people in the way to which we have become accustomed.

If Bermuda is going to better her fiscal situation, we must all embrace the bold steps needed to confront this situation.

Immigration Policy Proposal

In this regard, the Minister of Labour has or is embarking on the following:

  • 1. Implementation of the Economic Investment Certificate that entitles a person to reside in Bermuda while contributing to the economic development of the Island.
  • 2. Amending the current policy requiring Bermudian parents to prove domicile for children born overseas. This will make it easier for children born abroad to obtain Bermuda Status enabling them to take up permanent residency at some point.
  • 3. Continuing with the One-year Work from Bermuda policy which has yielded nothing but positive results with over 530 applicants approved and interest from businesses wishing to set up their business in Bermuda on a long-term basis.
  • 4. Increasing visitor stays from 90 to 180 days in an attempt to partially offset the drastic decline in tourism. Already we see visitors wishing to reside in Bermuda longer than the 180 day period.
  • 5. As indicated in the 2020 Speech from the Throne, seeking provisions to support normalized residency of long-term residents who consider Bermuda their home but cannot call Bermuda their home.

Additionally, the Immigration Reform Working Group will be looking to consider issues surrounding Bermuda Status

These initiatives may be considered bold to some; however, maintaining the status quo will undoubtedly bring about an untenable situation for Bermuda and her people.

These proposals provides immediate solutions to addressing Bermuda’s declining financial position whilst other tools, such as increasing the birth rate, diversifying the economy, etc. require significantly more time to reach a sustainable level.

The Wage Commission

Secondly, the Ministry can advise that the Wage Commission continues their work in determining the requirements for a basic standard of living in Bermuda, and will recommend the minimum hourly wage and on the living wage rates to be prescribed by the Minister. The Current Wage Commission is chaired by Mr. Cordell Riley.

A Report pertaining to a minimum wage is expected by the end of February 2021, while a subsequent report on a living wage is expected in the next fiscal period.

Upon receipt of the reports from the Wage Commission, the Government will review the recommendations and considerations with an aim to table in Parliament a wage bill that will establish a statutory minimum wage and a national living wage.

The establishment of minimum and living wage rates will help support families that are struggling because of low wage rates that do not allow them to cover their basic needs such as housing and food. Bermuda’s high cost of living and decades of stagnant wages gives an even greater need for the establishment of a decent wage rate. It is no doubt that the current economic crisis has increased wage disparities leading to greater levels of income inequality. It is time for Bermuda to do away with starvation wages.

Unemployment Insurance Program

Last but not least, in relation to the Unemployment Insurance Program [UIP], the Ministry has invited industry stakeholders to provide feedback through the Labour Advisory Council on the implementation of the Government’s proposed Unemployment Insurance Program by Monday, February 8, 2021.

Pursuant to the Public Treasury [Administration and Payments] Act 1969, the Unemployment Insurance Fund [UIF] was established on 18 March 2002, with the Minister of Finance having the ability to set aside sums of funds from the Consolidated Fund. At this time, only the Bermuda Government makes contributions to the UIF to maintain its existence.

Since March of 2020, the Government has paid out over $58 million in Unemployment Benefits. This level of expenditure by the Government is unsustainable.

An Unemployment Insurance Program supported by additional funding, by employee and employer contributions is being considered, reducing the burden on the Government and ensuring that funds are readily available when needed.

A successfully implemented UIP will provide financial support to individuals following job loss, assuming they have met all predetermined eligibility requirements.

I welcome any questions from the media.

Minister Burch’s remarks:

Good Afternoon – it was December 17th, 2020 when the Executive Director of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, Mrs. Erica Smith and I launched the Short Term Stimulus Programme to a maximum value of BMD $13,385,000 and invited small to medium sized contractors to participate.

There is an urgent need to provide stimulus to the local economy in order to retain and boost employment numbers in the wake of the economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Public Works has compiled a list of “shovel ready” projects that are executable within 3 months. These projects are mostly infrastructure improvements and will not add further burden to government operational expenses. The project’s selection principles are to maximize the employment of the private sector while providing much-needed refreshing of neglected infrastructure.

The Ministry released a Request for Suppliers Qualifications [RFSQ] across multiple disciplines to generate a prequalification list of approved contractors/companies that can participate in the programme. This approach is in line with Pre-Qualification Procedure and Approved Contractor lists of the Code of Practice for Project Management and Procurement. The prequalification criteria will include a scoring of technical competence, local employment benefit, and a schedule of unit rates. Suitable companies will then be added to an approved contractor list.

With the development of the list, the Ministry would then use the restricted procedure [section 16 of Code] to quickly obtain three or more quotations from the various suppliers, grouped by suitability and vocation, to select a contractor for each project. Where works are specialized, or contractors’ availability is limited, either through companies already obtaining a project from the programme or natural scarcity, a Single Source contract will be negotiated based upon the unit rates. The work to be done under this contract and in accordance with these specifications consists of furnishing of equipment, material, supervision, labour, technical knowledge, and skills necessary to satisfactorily and safely complete the job as outlined in the agreement.

To ensure allocation of the stimulus funding across all the participating businesses, the Ministry will maintain a register of approved contractor lists and awarded contracts to ensure that no one company monopolizes the project list. Once a company obtains a project, they will be rotated to the bottom of the list to allow other companies an opportunity for work. The guiding principle would be to prioritize all companies that provide the most employment benefit per dollar spent and spread the work among Bermudian owned and operated businesses.

The plan is to utilise medium to small contractors for the work that will be done at dock and building refurbishments, new construction, Canal clearance, roadside fencing and health & safety improvements.

A consultant Project Manager, Mr. Robert Richardson has been assigned by the Ministry to this project to coordinate the efforts of all those involved as well as liaise with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.

The Ministry is working in consultation with the Office of Project Management and Procurement [OPMP] as well as the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC]. The intention is for BEDC to provide assistance to small and medium sized Contractors to complete the required submission documents for the RFSQ.

We recognize that some small to medium sized Companies may not have the administrative support to respond to government solicitations and the associated procurement requirements and so assistance is being provided by BEDC.

As of January 20th -

  • 175 companies have been emailed to raise awareness about the program.
  • Email to the professional organizations

BEDC –

  • 81 Virtual Session Registrations
  • 35 Virtual sessions actual attendance
  • BEDC have advertised via numerous platforms [ social media, radio interviews, FB, Website, Email Blast]
  • Planned sessions totaled 20 but have been reduced to 13 as no one registered for 7 slots
  • One more Virtual session planned for Feb 2nd

Up to this morning we have received 36 official individual submissions with 8 being fully completed to stimulus@gov.bm:

During early discussions some small contractors have highlighted impediments to participating such as mobilisation costs & the delayed payment schedule. As this programme is operating under specific financial instructions that allow for flexibility – I have asked the team to explore ways that we can address both of these impediments.

Let me encourage those who would not normally apply to do so.

We are determined to involve as many small and medium sized contractors as possible and are providing every opportunity for them to become involved. I invite all those who view this announcement and know a small or medium sized contractor to inform them of this initiative. They can gain more information by signing on to the government website here or emailing stimulus@gov.bm.

We can pay people to sit at home or we can pay them to repair our infrastructure – we choose the latter.

Thank you.

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Comments (44)

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  1. Vortex says:

    Is this a big joke?

    So now you think Pathways to Status is a good idea, when 5 years ago you wanted civil unrest?

    • Hmm says:

      Let’s be honest the voters dont want a UBPoba government. That’s what it came down which is crystal clear from every election. Close the party down and allow both FDM and PLP to fight it out. If not the OBA will continue to lose. I hear through the grape vine you want to give it another election try lol.

      • Double S says:

        How’s it feel that the PLP has now just about fully morphed into the OBA?

        As I said below:

        “Ha ha.”

        • LOL says:

          What’s more funny is that you have a 30 – 6 win that in the end you can’t come back from. Changing the name from UBP to OBA to run away from your racist past didn’t work and your out of touch with the voters as your leaders stated at every lost.

          “HA ha”

          • Double S says:

            Hahahahahahahahahaha.

            PLP is now the OBA and UBP on steroids.

            I know it hurts but:

            Hahahahahaha.

          • trufth says:

            Why are you guys even talking about the OBA – they aren’t the ones in power right now, they don’t matter right now. Let it go. Focus on what “this government” is doing / trying to do.

          • Jones says:

            FACTS and this is why the oba is seeking more black voters. They know that the party is dead. How can they expect us to return with so much hate coming from their own supporters.

            • Toodle-oo says:

              “How can they expect us to return with so much hate coming from their own supporters.”

              LOL , you obviously aren’t too familiar with the local ‘blogosphere’

              Please get up to speed and stop posting fake news.

            • sandgrownan says:

              I think there needs to be a little bit of a throat clearing here.

              Don’t misunderstand the commentary. What has happened is that the Minister has finally admitted what many of us knew was the case, and have known was the case for 20 years. My posting is born out of sheer frustration of the PLP’s inability to admit what is wrong. It has nothing to do with race or the OBA. The OBA have been hugely disappointing as a political force, and Bermuda deserves better.

              But, and this is important, they understood the simple math of the problem and attempted, badly, to do something about it.

              20 years of failure.

            • saud says:

              Isn’t the PLP begging the Privy council to help them discriminate against a small section of Bermudian society?

              Why do you hate gay people so much?

  2. Dah……..Are they just now realizing we need more people here………I guess because these two are saying it it’s okay. If it was the OBA in power the March would be on tomorrow. Where is the great reverend in all of this????

  3. Usually calm says:

    Wow, just wow. You spend years demonising expats and now they are the answer. Incredible.

    Honestly Hayward, you should resign and ask Fahy to show you how its done.

    • Bermudian says:

      I don’t totally agree here. Whether genuine or not, at least this is a step in the right direction. He could have acted like all the others and keep preaching the same rhetoric. Maybe now that he’s on that side of the table and sees first hand what employers are working with he understands that Bermuda DOES need foreign workers. And maybe it is all a bunch of kaka but for now I’ll take it. This just proves that the PLP has dug us in such a hole that they are pushing for the same agenda that they so loudly opposed for decades. PLP voters wake up!

      • sandgrownan says:

        If he didn’t understand business before had, he has no business being the Minister.

  4. Unbelievable says:

    “If we do not use immigration as a means to support economic growth we risk falling off a fiscal cliff which will prevent the Government from providing for Bermuda and her people in the way to which we have become accustomed,” Minister of Labour Jason Hayward said today.

    This is not something a regular PLP Minister EVER says. Sadly it’s much too late for this type of rhetoric; the cliff is here.

  5. Ringmaster says:

    Bermuda is off the cliff thanks to 20 years of the PLP. These comments from a Minister who was in the forefront of objecting to exactly the same proposals by the OBA shows how inept and incompetent they are. Even if the tooth fairy came by and by some magic Bermuda could run a balanced budget, let alone a surplus, debt would not be paid down. Government has to reduce its costs, and real costs, not a mirrors exercise by having staff take early retirement and then rehiring them as consultants.

  6. Joe Bloggs says:

    “The current reality is that Bermuda is in serious financial trouble.”

    No, that has been our reality for a decade or more.

    “The steadily declining population was exacerbated by the exodus of many work permit holders.”

    Yes, Michael Fahey told us the same thing some years ago.

    “The Ministry of Public Works has compiled a list of “shovel ready” projects that are executable within 3 months. These projects are mostly infrastructure improvements and will not add further burden to government operational expenses.”

    Correct, they will add to the budgeted infrastructure financial burden.

    There is no free lunch.

  7. Chris says:

    Actions please.
    My company are still experiencing unimaginable and unnecessary delays in work permit applications.
    Why? This isn’t helping IB.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      We have been told by the PLP Government that no work permits for local companies would be approved until all unemployed Bermudians were employed again.

      Why does this surprise you?

  8. Sandgrownan says:

    So, they’ve finally admitted what the rest of us already knew, 12 years too late.

    Will we see Genevieve leading a blockade of the house? Where is poorly spelled sign lady?

    These Idiots couldn’t run a lemonade stand.

  9. wahoo says:

    Quick you lot get Tweed and the No, No, No girls!

  10. Question says:

    What hypocrites. These are the two worst people on the planet to talk about this. The PLP own this mess we’re in. They got us here.

  11. Let's Keep It Real says:

    WHERE IS THE PEOPLES’S CAMPAIGN!!!!!!! OOPS A FEW IS IN CABINET!!!

  12. Double S says:

    In the brilliant words of Nelson from the Simpsons:

    “Ha ha.”

  13. Londoner says:

    Let British citizens work and live in Bermuda the same way Bermudians are allowed to live and work here in the UK. I never see any posts open to uk citizens. Bermuda is way too expensive too £3000 for a week at a hotel ridiculous no wonder why tourism has dropped

    • Bermudian says:

      Agreed! Open this beautiful country to whomever wants to to live here. Live here doesn’t mean status, but so what if does? Really, so what if it does?? For some reason we Bermudians are so scared of the big bad foreigner. Bermuda was built on foreign labour. All the different cultures were woven together to create our beautiful culture and traditions. Instead of embracing our differences we are always criticizing and ostracizing. More people equates to more money. Don’t expect a hand out. Get an education, work hard, invest in yourself so others can invest in you.

    • Facts says:

      That will never happen under either party. Now while we wait let’s sit around and blame COVID and everything that’s happening in the World on the PLP. Clearly you ubpoba fools didn’t learn anything from the last 4 years. As a black Bda that voted for you in the past your bloggers are your worst enemies.

      • Bermudian says:

        And that’s your problem. I never mentioned race, in fact I was talking about unity. Noone has blamed the PLP for covid, however blame lies with them when they have been in power for years and we are sinking.

        • VIP says:

          Obviously your race is a white and the other is black. It’s also obvious that they never mentioned race Bermudian. They simply pointed out that some of the OBA bloggers do their party no good. This may appear trivial to you, but as a person of a darker completion it’s as clear as night and day.

          I get what the individual is saying! Some of your bloggers just don’t like a black government and this is why we are so divided on serious issues moving forward. This is also why the once mighty UBP that had money and jobs everywhere had to change their name.

          It was all about politics to apply to a certain base, but in reality the UBP was not a racist party. They were the party of wealth and power. They just had a few bad apples in the party that were racist in many voters minds. Now these same bad apples are in the OBA unfortunately. Hopefully Opposition Leader Cole can address this issue fast.

  14. Shabooh Shoobah says:

    If the Bermuda government were a business it would be dead and gone by now… only borrowing is keeping the Government alive. Devaluation of the local currency is almost a guarantee in the next few years as the annual deficits continue to add to the massive deficit and balloon payments become due. Austerity needs to happen now… without an immediate 25% cut in civil service payroll then all public services should be immediately outsourced to the private sector. Prices in the food industry should be immediately capped and rents capped to the ARV values of each property and payroll tax needs to be significantly raised on salaries over K$80/ year. Only the PLP has the power to take drastic required steps as the OBA would have riots on their hands if they tried to do what is necessary to save the country. Good luck!

    • hibiscus says:

      I agree with your opening statement, but… suddenly cutting the civil service will create a lot of unemployed people in addition to all those currently; you are ignoring the market forces on both food and rent; capping rents will additionally hurt those who have to rent in order to survive including seniors who have moved into a smaller rented homes to live off their family home rent; increasing payroll tax for higher earners will decrease voluntary spending and decrease the number of senior execs based in Bermuda and therefore government revenue… All of which is to say that if it was that easy, PLP would have done it by now.

  15. saud says:

    ” no wonder why tourism has dropped”

    When your government continually disparages foreigners, what do you expect?
    What does Bermuda have to offer anyone?

    • Retired says:

      As a retired/former Government worker that was around during this time stop preaching fake news. Everyone knows that the PLP gave away more work permits than the UBP and OBA. It was not until the recession did they stop offering so many work permits to look out for unemployed Bermudians.

      • trufth says:

        Shhh!!!!! Don’t talk about that! You were all supposed to forget that we did that.

      • saud says:

        “stop preaching fake news.”

        Please, take your own advice.

        Learn about nested quotes.

  16. Jack Archer says:

    On December 17 2020 Burch announced this initiative – on January 26 2021 nothing has happened and issues are still being sorted out. Just do it FFS!

    • sandgrownan says:

      The biggest political myth perpetrated on the Bermudian population is that Burch is the guy “who gets things done.”

      • Come Correct says:

        I assume it’s also a myth that got you a 30 – 6 beat down the last election. What’s real funny is that your very own supporters are tire of the OBA. That’s not a myth!!!!!!!

        • sandgrownan says:

          Well, explain just how 20+ years of PLP rule is working out for Bermuda.

        • sandgrownan says:

          Bermuda got the beat down. Not me. Buses don’t run, trash doesn’t get collected, Bermuda is broke.

  17. OMJ says:

    As a Former Expat who fell in love with Bermuda when I worked there for 5 and half years serving the community I would jump at the chance to return to serve the community once again.
    The only reason I left was because I was told I could only have a 1 year extension and that would be it as my wife was expected our child I had to go for security.
    Bermuda is a special place and the people are what make it special place, we would come on holiday but it’s way to expensive and Limited with only 1 airline that flys direct from the UK .

    • saud says:

      You must be straight…otherwise you’re not welcome in Bermuda.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      *Bermuda is a special place and the people are what make it special place*

      You said a mouthful there .

  18. stormin says:

    The PLP is a “one card trick” pony.
    That card is the race card.
    They have no other cards.
    They have no clue what to do about the deficit……no idea.
    Guns, crime…….not a clue.
    Immigration is required? How funny is that.
    What about all the people that have left because of them?
    Talented , innovative and ultimately tired of listening to these guys …they depart.

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