Jarion Richardson: Key Parts ‘Not Completed’

May 22, 2024 | 1 Comment

[Updated] The Opposition asked Parliamentary Questions about the Economic Development Strategy and “were shocked to learn that key parts of the plan, promised nearly a year ago, still have not been completed,” Opposition Leader Jarion Richardson said.

Mr Richardson said, “It’s hard to say the Economic Development Strategy is falling apart when it was never put together.

“During the House of Assembly on Friday, 17 May, the Opposition asked Parliamentary Questions about the Economic Development Strategy [see attached]. We were shocked to learn that key parts of the plan, promised nearly a year ago, still have not been completed.

“The Government assured Parliament and the public that it would take economic recovery seriously, and published the Economic Development Strategy in June 2023. Nearly a year into the Strategy, the Government hasn’t even pretended to do any more than what departments do on a day-to-day basis.

“The Government promised to manage the Strategy, setting up measurable goals such as Key Performance Indicators. Not a single one has been developed.

“The Government promised a panel to guide the Strategy. It’s the same people already involved long before the Strategy was published.

“It begs further questions. Has the panel even met? Where are the minutes? Who is tracking this work? What is being reported to the Minister? How can the Government state it’s working, if it doesn’t know what it’s doing?

“The Action Items as outlined in the Strategy fall apart once scrutinized; how will you do them, by when, how much will it cost, who will do them and what will be the benefit?

“This Government has made multiple statements about how its policies are positively effecting the economy. And yet, it never takes the time to specify how or why. It sees any green shoots or positive developments as consequences of its polices, which are little more than flowery intentions without meaningful accountability.

“There’s nothing that says our economic green shoots had anything to do with them or their work. Correlation is not the same as causation.

“This Government yet again demonstrates it cannot manage technical, complex and lengthy public projects, making it long on promises and short on performances.”

Update | A Government spokesperson said, “The public will recall that the Economic Development Strategy [EDS], launched in June 2023, is a roadmap for Bermuda’s sustainable economic growth and development. The EDS has five strategic priorities, which include 26 action areas and 112 action items, with responsibility for each action item assigned to government departments and partner agencies.

“The five strategic priorities are Local and International Business Expansion and Retention, Attracting Businesses and Promoting Investments into Bermuda, Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, Continued Execution of the Economic Recovery Plan, and Investing in People.

“The EDS is overseen by the Economic Development Advisory Board [EDAB], chaired by the Minister of Economy and Labour, the Hon Minister Jason Hayward. It comprises all major partner agencies and is managed by the Economic Development Department [EDD]. Since its launch, EDAB has held four meetings, with the next meeting scheduled for August.

“Outside of the board meetings, the Ministry has had ongoing and additional meetings with government departments and partnering agencies to discuss the Economic Development Strategy initiatives. During the budget process, engagement occurred to ensure the budget allocations prioritised Economic Development Strategy initiatives.

“With that in mind, ownership of the 112 action items was assigned to the relevant government department or partner agency, and a spreadsheet was developed to monitor and catalogue all 112 actions, including timeframes and key performance indicators.

“The following initiatives, which directly align with the Economic Development Strategy, are already in the public domain, and work on them is completed or well underway.

“Regarding real estate activities and growing our Economic Empowerment Zones, the following action items were progressed in 2023/2024:

Supporting residential dwellings in the Economic Empowerment Zone
Expanding approved residential schemes to the entire City of Hamilton
Increasing the inventory of affordable housing
Supporting and facilitating schemes that promote new home ownership.
“To help accomplish these initiatives, the Government passed legislation to expand the eligibility for Approved Residential Schemes from solely the Economic Empowerment Zones to the entire of the City of Hamilton. At the same time, EDD, working with the Bermuda Economic Development Agency, Bermuda Business Development Agency [BD], and the Ministry of Finance, is preparing guidance to assist persons who want to develop within the City.

“Recognising the need to evolve and innovate Bermuda’s farming and fishing sectors, the Ministry of Home Affairs has brought on board an agronomist who is providing assessment, monitoring, and valuable outreach to the farmers primarily in the area of crop production. This valuable work will help inform the crop strategy that is being developed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. And leading the Blue Economy Strategy, the Ministry of Home Affairs is completing the multi-phase Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme public consultation process and has completed the development process of the blue investment facilities needed to drive investment and growth of Bermuda’s Blue Economy Strategy.

“Also essential to Bermuda’s economic growth and development is ensuring the island is attractive to High-Net-Worth Individuals, which has involved revising Bermuda’s Family Office Framework. In March 2024, Minister Hayward introduced the Bermuda Family Office Solutions Framework in the House of Assembly to empower legacies. Executing this Framework will require amendments to Private Trust Companies under the Trusts [Regulation of Business Trust Business] Exemption Order 2002, to the Residential Leases Amendments under the Companies Act 1981, and to the Limited Liability Company Act 2016 and the Limited Partnerships Act 1883 – all of which is well underway.

“It is also important to note that Bermuda’s Fintech sector continues progressing. Working together, EDD and the BDA are raising awareness of Bermuda’s digital asset framework. Just recently, as part of the tech outreach programme, Minister Hayward provided a keynote address at the International Tech Summit, and ongoing marketing and promotion efforts include local and international editorial and advertising outputs.

“Ensuring Bermuda is business friendly is a primary motivator for the EDS action item ‘Reducing outdated regulations that may hamper business expansion’. In fact, just this week, the Premier announced the results of the Red Tape Reduction Consultation, launched on 16 March. The consultation closed on 10 May after 95 submissions were received. Of those submissions, the Ministry of Economy and Labour was assigned 20 for action.

“The Economic Recovery Plan has been folded into the EDS and the Ministry is pleased to advise that 81% of the Plan’s initiatives are completed or they are ongoing initiatives that continue to be executed.

“The fifth Strategic Priority, Investment in People, highlights the Government’s commitment to our community. The Ministry of Economy and Labour can advise that, to date, it has established the National Workforce Development Advisory Board, which meets quarterly. Additionally, the coordinated efforts of the Department of Financial Assistance and the Department of Workforce Development have strengthened clients’ ability to succeed with their Personal Employment Plan.

“The public will also be aware of the critical need for the Government to work towards increasing Bermuda’s working population. To this end, the Ministry developed and released the Consultation on Retaining the Local Workforce Position Paper 2024 for public review and comment on forum.gov.bm. As part of the consultation process, the Minister held several meetings with business leaders, unions, and other stakeholders to discuss the policies and legislative proposals. The results of the meetings and public consultations will inform the work programme’s next steps.

“In summary, the EDS is a comprehensive plan for Bermuda’s economic growth and development, with clear strategic priorities, action areas, and action items. It is evident that a significant body of work has commenced – and several action items are completed – to ensure the successful execution of EDS strategic priorities.

“As many of the prioritised action items for 2023/24 are being completed, the departments and partner agencies have turned their attention to priorities and KPIs for 2024/25.

“The Ministry of Economy and Labour takes this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the commitment of the many stakeholders who have willingly participated in discussions so far. The accomplishments made to date were only possible with their dedication to collaboration and working together for the betterment of all.”

The Parliamentary Questions about the Economic Development Strategy follows below [PDF here]:

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  1. Yep says:

    Yes, this incarnation of the PLP are absolutely useless.

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