Video: Minister Ming & Minister Scott

March 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

[Updated] Minister of National Security Renee Ming and Minister of Transport Lawrence Scott are holding a Budget overview press conference this morning [March 4]. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 32-minute replay is below

Update 2.00pm: Minister Scott’s remarks:

Good Afternoon to the Bermuda Public and members of the media.

I am here today to provide you with an overview of the Ministry of Transport’s plans for the Budget year, 2021-2022, and to demonstrate how the Ministry of Transport seeks to fulfill its mission of transporting people and goods efficiently and safely, during these challenging times.

I want to first of all thank the Department heads, the Ministry of Transport staff, and all those who worked tirelessly to ensure that we were able to come up with an outcome that best supports our community.

2020 was a challenging year for many of us, and at the Ministry of Transport, we were not exempt from the impact of Covid-19. Not only did we have to shift the way we approached transportation issues facing the public, but we had to adjust how we solved these problems. I am proud to say that we have endured and look to build a foundation that will provide a consistent, reliable, and sustainable service.

For fiscal year 2021-2022, the Ministry of Transport has received a budget allocation of $59,104,000. [Last year’s budget was a total of $101,806,000].

The Ministry’s budget for the following Departments is as follows:

2021-20222020-2021Difference
Ministry of Transport Headquarters$15,504,000$59,531,000-$23,324,000
Transport Control Department [TCD]$4,496,000$5,451,000-$955,000
Department of Public Transportation [DPT]$19,532,000$22,368,000-$2,836,00
Marine and Ports$19,572,000$21,662,000-$2,090,000

The total savings/reductions for the new fiscal year is $6.7 million from the defunding of vacant posts and operating costs. During this challenging financial year, the Ministry has done its part to provide funding to support other government initiatives and programmes such as seniors and young people, continued scholarships etc.

Ministry of Transport Headquarters

Taking a look first at the Ministry of Transport Headquarters, the Ministry anticipated a reduction in the Headquarters budget of $22.8 million as the Ministry of Transport is no longer responsible for any tourism-related expenses. As such, this year’s budget does not include funding for the Bermuda Tourism Authority Grant and the Regulatory & Policy and Hotel Administration which have been transferred to the Cabinet Office. The remaining $824,000 decrease was achieved by reducing professional services, travel and training, and the Bermuda Airport Authority’s grant. However, we still have a focus on land and air opportunities. There will be an increase in air service development, with the Bermuda Airport Authority’s joint initiative with the Bermuda Tourism Authority. This will see us engaging more with jet setters and providing new opportunities via air service.

As part of the Air Service Development Committee, we will explore opportunities for air service with Caribbean Air to tap into the Caribbean region. We will also work with SATA [Azores Airlines] to transition the current charter flight between Bermuda and the Azores to seasonally scheduled weekly service. This flight will not only serve the underserved but will also provide residents with additional options for travelling to European destinations.

For a long time, we as a country have struggled to find a balance between cruise ship arrivals and air visitors. The Ministry of Transport will create an environment which will promote harmonization between our cruise and air industries. This will require us to work with our cruise line partners for opportunities to establish Bermuda as a homeport in the interest of revitalizing tourism activity and the economy.

Transport Control Department

Despite the $900,000 decrease in this department via defunding funded vacant posts, overtime, and miscellaneous projects that have been pushed back to the next budget year, I am pleased to announce that the Transport Control Department will be able to maintain the current level of service delivery standards.

Department of Public Transportation

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff of DPT as well as the public for their support and understanding while we work to procure new buses and continue with the recent recruitment drive. Utilising the impact of Covid-19 on our department to lay the work for a stable foundation and service, our aim is that by next year, our commuters can be certain that all of our scheduled buses will arrive on time.

It might be helpful to note that DPT currently operates with the lowest inventory and bus operators since the ‘60s.

The Department of Public Transportation will see a $2.8 million decrease achieved by defunding funded vacant posts, overtime, and reducing administration operating costs.

Taking a page out of the Covid-19 handbook, we want to be operating in real-time, with real-world data. This includes implementing real-time, digital fare media, add-ons, and Wi-Fi to the buses and ferries which will help to modernize the day-to-day experience for our commuting public.

To say this past year has been tough is an understatement and the impact on our day-to-day commuters has been unprecedented. Through it all, we were able to find $1.3 million from vacant posts as well as other operational savings resulting from curfew and lockdown periods to contract minibuses for dedicated school runs.

This year we will develop a schedule that is not only budget friendly but one that is sustainable, consistent and reliable.

Marine and Ports

Marine and Ports will see a two million dollar decrease achieved by defunding funded vacant posts, overtime, and the reduction of operating costs. The reduced budget will not impact the upcoming Triple I Code Audit.

It is important to note, that it is as a result of defunded posts that we can meet the budget cash limits, but it also means that we can’t do that without reducing some services. There will be a modified ferry schedule that is achievable within the budget allocation.

I am pleased to advise that the Ministry will continue its commitment to invest in its people and infrastructure to enhance the work lives of both Marine and Ports and DPT staff.

DPT will see $2.6 million in refurbishment and upgrade of the staff cafeteria, the spray paint booth, and bus washer at the Palmetto Road depot and a new operators’ facility at the St. George’s depot and renovation of the garage staff facilities at the Ft. Langton depot, which are over 30 years old.

There is also $6.6 million allocated for new electric buses which will improve the passenger experience and lower the amount of harmful emissions entering our atmosphere.

This year we will also move the Marine and Ports workshops from the current locations in Hamilton and Dockyard, under one roof at a new location in Dockyard. This project will allow adequate physical workspace for a safer work environment for the workshop teams at the cost of $3.3 million.

In closing, this budget allows the Ministry to lay the foundation on which we can provide consistent, reliable and sustainable service that will be outlined in the soon to be released 2021 Mobility Strategy. The Strategy will highlight top level priorities within the Ministry and the action plans to achieve them over the next three years.

Thank you.

Minister Ming’s remarks:

Good morning,

I wish to provide a brief overview of some of the key focuses of the Ministry of National Security this upcoming fiscal year. Along with the Ministries of Health and Education, the Ministry of National Security received one of largest budget allocations for fiscal year 2021-22.

However, our Ministry budget has been prudently scaled back, as we recognize the fiscal challenges that have been caused by the pandemic. Like other Ministries this will be a particularly challenging year for us. But I can assure the public:

  • that we are committed to ensuring that our residents are protected;
  • that we are unwavering in our pledge in keeping our neighborhoods safe from violence; and
  • that we are focused on ensuring that we have the right support in place to safeguard our community during times of national crises.

The total budget for the Ministry of National Security is around $122.6 million. This represents a five [5] percent decrease from the previous year.

It’s important to note that our Budget allocations are designed to help facilitate the promises we made in the Government’s Throne Speech.

While our budget and our Ministry is intricate, complex, and encompasses some critical areas such as Police, the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service, Customs and Corrections – today I wish to highlight:

  • The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation [DRRM] Unit
  • The Royal Bermuda Regiment; and
  • The Gang Violence Reduction Team [GVRT], as the Ministry of National Security has earmarked funds to support these sections in the upcoming fiscal year.

As the public is aware the DRRM Team have worked tirelessly to assess the national risks and effectively coordinate targeted and tiered emergency responses.

This year, the public can expect to see a formalization of the DRRM unit.

This will entail the introduction of Disaster Management Legislation and the establishment of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Section within the Ministry of National Security.

The legislation will set out the framework and lay the foundation for how disasters and national emergencies are declared and responded to in Bermuda.

It will also codify the Emergency Measures Organization and establish the DRRM Section as the coordinators for the emergency planning, training, exercising and response for all facets of the legislation.

Additionally, this will enable the DRRM Team to broaden its scope and mandate and work with our private and public sector partners to assess, advise and mitigate against threats and risks.
This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Working with our partners at the L. F. Wade International Airport to update the contingency plans that are required at all commercial airports;
  • Working with the Departments of Health, Marine and Ports, the Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA] and the Ports Authorities to review the safest way to implement the return of cruise calls to Bermuda; and
  • Reviewing and updating our cybersecurity protocols and best practices.

Turning to the RBR, as the public is aware, the regiment is an all voluntary service, so we are very appreciative of the individuals who have chosen to serve.

This year, for our most recent recruitment camp, we had 48 men and women answer the call of duty.

Our current recruit numbers are up and retention remains high.

Regarding the Bermuda Coast Guard, despite the overall budget reductions, this budget funds our promise to establish a full time coast guard unit which was created to provide enhanced safety and security on and in Bermuda’s waters.

We are seeking to hire an additional five [5] full time soldiers into the Coast Guard.

This added contingent in conjunction with more reserve personnel, ensures that the Unit can provide the coverage required to meet its international obligations and support other agencies who operate in our surrounding maritime area. Personnel working in the Coast Guard Unit are drawn from serving soldiers and those who are new to the military.

They are all skilled Bermudians who are mandated to pass rigorous tests examining their physical, mental, and nautical suitability.

Although the ultimate goal is to secure our Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] with 24 full time Coast Guard personnel, the Unit will now have the resources to effectively manage inshore waters out to 12-plus nautical miles, which is where a number of safety and security concerns have been identified.

Finally, the Coast Guard Unit is in the process of seeking international accreditation, and has been working on strengthening its capabilities in conjunction with the Royal Navy and other external partners.

The ultimate goal is to work in collaboration in regional initiatives with our Overseas Territories partners.

Turning to the GVRT, our funding will go towards supporting those initiatives to help in reducing violence in our community.

This includes such initiatives such as:

  • The GREAT Programme in our public schools which provides youth with education and awareness that teaches life-skills aimed at addressing anti-social behavior and crime;
  • Hype Kings Programme, which has a goal to reduce risk factors, enhance protective factors, increase academic motivation and increase developmental factors in the young people participating;
  • The Redemption Programme, which provides job placement as well as vocational skills training; and finally
  • Work Placement and Mentoring Initiative which is a paid work experience providing selected at-risk young people with opportunities for career exploration and skills development

The GVRT continues to be an important force in tackling gang violence. The Team’s goal is not only to bring peace and harmony within the various communities, but to assist with helping our vulnerable young people, individuals and families become thriving members of society.

Additionally, the Ministry of National Security continues to work to complete a Police Authority, which is in line with our Throne Speech initiatives.

As a final note, while we are disappointed that the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service and the Prison Officers Association did not accept the Government Austerity Measures, the Government has allocated funding for capital commitments such as:

  • The BF&RS will see the purchase of a new Ambulance; and
  • The Department of Corrections’ phased approach to repair the long standing maintenance issues will be addressed with this year’s budget.

Despite the reductions this budget keeps our promises and will deliver on our promises to the people of Bermuda.

Thank you.

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