Video: Premier Hosts Press Conference

March 1, 2022 | 12 Comments

[Updated] Premier and Minister of Finance David Burt will be holding a press conference at 12.30pm this afternoon [March 1], and we will have additional coverage once it concludes, and in the meantime the live video will begin this afternoon.

The press conference is a ‘post budget’ press conference and it was originally scheduled to be an ‘in person’ press conference yesterday, however the Premier tested positive for the coronavirus, so it will now be a ‘virtual’ press conference.

Update 12.31pm: The Government tweeted, “Thank you for your patience, there will be a slight delay to the Premier’s Post Budget press conference we will keep you informed.”

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 1-hour replay is below:

Update March 2, 9.38am: Premier Burt’s remarks:

Good afternoon,

Thank you for joining me today for this rescheduled post-Budget press conference, which I’m conducting remotely.

I wish to assure the public that I am feeling fine, and I intend to conduct most of my engagements this week remotely, including the rescheduled Chamber of Commerce Budget Breakfast and the House of Assembly on Friday. I look forward to returning to the office next week to continue progressing the Government’s Agenda.

For the last two years, the Government has been focused on the parallel tasks of keeping people safe and laying the foundation for Bermuda’s Economic Recovery.

In record time, we stood up the unemployment benefit scheme to provide the safety net for those who could not work and in addition introduced the policy that allowed for foreign nationals to work from Bermuda and invest in this country. Each of these endeavours yielded positive results within our community and within our economy.

The 2022/23 Budget moves Bermuda from the closed, restricted approaches brought about by the pandemic and promotes an openness that signals a return of tourists by both air and on cruise ships. The reigniting of our tourism industry will support the return of jobs for Bermudians, and positively impact local businesses with increased economic activity and will also greatly benefit government tax revenues.

The Budget also represents a clear intention on the part of the Government to strengthen Bermuda’s prospects for economic recovery by extending relief across the board for hardworking families, employees, employers and charities who played such a vital role over the past two years.

This relief includes a further reduction in taxes for those making under $96,000 a year and this is the 3rd such reduction time since this party was elected in 2017 and in this Budget, there is no increase in taxes for those making over $96,000. This means that a person making $48,000 a year, would have seen a 68% reduction in their annual payroll tax compared to 2017. They will pay just $720 this year, compared to $2,280 in 2017, which is a reduction of $1,560. Those persons would have seen their total tax burden decrease by $4,920 since 2017 when the Progressive Labour Party Government came into office.

This relief does not extend only to payroll tax. The Government will also reduce private car licensing fees by 10%, we will continue payroll concessions for hotel, restaurant, bar and nightclub employees and employers for at least the next six months.

We will provide land tax relief for our nursing homes and charities through amendments to the Land Valuation and Tax Act, we will extend the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit until 31 August 2022, and there will be a further extension of the voluntary pension withdrawal for a further year so that individuals who may need to withdraw an additional $6,000 may be able to do so this year.

This relief highlights our commitment to reducing the tax burden on Bermudian families and businesses as we continue our economic recovery.

The Government has been able to provide this relief because we maintained disciplined public sector spending and due to the fact that our revenues are $31 million higher than projected this current fiscal year. As we continue our disciplined practices, we will also look at ways in which we can continue to support Bermudians across the board.

One of the concepts raised in the Budget Statement is that as there is relief now, there will be more relief later. If our budget picture continues to improve, we will return 50% of excess revenue to the taxpayers in this country by reducing duty on fuel, which will impact energy prices. Fuel duty was raised by the former Government by 110% – and we will not wait until the next budget cycle to start providing relief in this space. If more tax dollars are coming in than expected, we will save some of that to reduce the deficit, and we will return half of it to the taxpayers of this country who need relief, especially in the area of high energy bills. This relief will reduce energy costs for consumers at home and businesses.

The goal of a balanced budget is an important one and one to which we as a Government have committed to seeing through, just as the PLP was the first government in 20 years to deliver a balanced budget projection in 2019.

Though the budget balancing target has been pushed back for one year, it is important to recognise that achieving a balanced budget on paper would have meant severe cuts to critical services to the public and an unacceptable level of job losses within the Public Service.

Within the Budget Statement I spoke about the cuts that would have been required to police, fire, prisons and many other agencies to meet an artificial balanced budget timeline. We have therefore extended the balanced budget timeline by one year but the Government remains ahead of its debt projections due to strong revenue growth and disciplined spending constraints. This means that the debt we forecasted to accumulate last year is the exact same as the debt that we expect to accumulate going forward.

There has not been an increase to our debt projections, and we believe we can extend the balanced budget out for one year, for a smoother trajectory, without significant disruptions to our public services and to ensure we can support economic recovery by investing in things that will bring future growth to our economy.

Our disciplined spending and human-centred approach to economic recovery means that relief for the people we serve is provided where it can help. Behind the numbers within the 2022/23 Budget are real people, and the impact of the slightest reduction in the tax burden is something that we recognize, something that we are committed to doing and will continue to do.

Families are budgeting down to the last dollar, and it is the Government’s responsibility to always have an eye to what will positively impact the working Bermudian’s household. Beyond tax relief, this extends to funding for education reform, healthcare reform and getting on with the work of the Tax Reform Commission.

Over the next few weeks, Ministers in the House of Assembly and Junior Ministers in the Senate will delve into the details of individual Ministry budgets, there will also be press conferences with Ministers so they can speak to the finer points in ministry budgets.

The Government team will have the opportunity to set out how each area will play a role in social renewal and economic recovery. I am confident that the people of Bermuda will see the hope represented by the 2022/23 Budget and the potential for growth and economic recovery that it provides.

Before I close, I would like to say a brief word regarding the situation in Ukraine and any potential impact on Bermuda as it pertains to the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority and Bermuda Shipping & Maritime Authority.

In response to the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, many countries including the United Kingdom, have introduced a wide range of sanctions against the Russian Federation. Once implemented, UK sanctions are applicable in Bermuda as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.

The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority is responsible for the safety and oversight of aviation in Bermuda, and all aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry. There are approximately 900 aircraft on the Registry of which approximately 740 are utilized by Russian air operators.

The majority of these aircraft are owned by leasing companies based in Ireland. The leasing companies require a jurisdiction with unquestionable rule of law and a judicial system to enable collections in the event of default, and that is why Bermuda is their jurisdiction of choice.

The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority is carefully reviewing sanctions in coordination with other stakeholders to ensure that they and relevant entities which it regulates are in full compliance with the applicable sanctions whilst maintaining its safety oversight obligations.While the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority continues to review sanctions, there is no question that the number of aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry utilized by Russian air operators will be greatly impacted.

I am not able to provide any specifics at this time, however, updates will be provided as the actualities of the sanctions come to light, and the Minister of Transport will be making a further statement to the House of Assembly on Friday March 4th or Monday March 7th.

Thank you.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Hax says:

    Will the government allow a third pension withdrawal?

  2. unknown800k says:

    More hot air by bitcoin burtie, all self praise and no recommendations!
    30-6 get what you ask for,
    Anyone hear the emperor talk about SAVVY ENTERTAINMENT! Hypocrites if the opposition done this the island would be shut down.

    • Eyes wide open says:

      Are you talking about the same opposition who put us on the hook for $185 mill plus or the UBP who change their name to sway black voters to return? Never mind it’s the same party!

      • JahQ says:

        It’s people like you why this island is so close minded. Dunkley gave me a job when I most needed. I then listened to my brothers and sisters, cousins and uncles. Guess what? Now I’m unemployed because I listened to close minded people like you and I bit the hand that fed me.

        #OBA #AllDeWay

      • Unknown800k says:

        You really wont to get into who put who on the hook for debt..
        Tell me one thing the plp has done that hast been an over run.go

      • sandgrownan says:

        So, you do know that none of that is true don’t you. You are just a bitter, twisted xenophobic PLP troll, probably upset because your life is turning to dogsh*t under the PLP.

        And the worse it gets for you, the more bitter you get, but you are too dumb to admit who is at fault.

        You’re flailing around at everyone, blaming everyone else for your worthless existence.

      • John E. Thorne says:

        I am still wondering what the PLP did with the $800 million unaccounted for during their reign of terror? Do you know what they did with it? Of course not but you still vote for them don’t you!

      • D DeSilva says:

        At least we all had jobs. And maybe you should look at how much your PLP have wasted.the UBP has been gone for 24 years, how much longer you going to blame them for your mistakes.

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        “the UBP who change their name to sway black voters to return”

        The UBP did not change its name, but I do not expect the PLP supporters to stop trying to perpetuate that lie after 20 years.

        Kim Swan, now the PLP MP for Constituency 2, was the last leader of the UBP. Why didn’t black voters support him then?

  3. Triangle Drifter says:

    The nice thing about not bothering to attempting to listen to these PLP political announcements, that never start ontime, is that, at your own convenience later on, you can skip all of the infomercial blah blah blah get right to the questions.

  4. itisimportant says:

    Can this guy expand his vocabulary some!
    Worst premier ever, and most egotistical

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