The Bermuda Government renewed its commitment to economic progress and recovery in its 2016 Speech from the Throne in which plans for the forthcoming parliamentary year 2016-2017 are rolled out.
In this post, I provide a brief summary.
Plans for the forthcoming year include a two-track strategy of growth renewal and job creation coupled with the imposition of discipline on public spending which Government said is already showing signs of having taken root:
- Bermuda's GDP has recorded six consecutive quarters of positive growth;
- Air arrival are up, surging by 18 percent during the third quarter of the current year;
- Retail business has grown in 18 of the last 19 months;
- Planned hotel developments are either underway or about to break ground; and,
- Government revenues exceeded spending during the first half of the year to produce a surplus before debt service and capital expenditure were taken into account, and this for only the second time in seven years.
According to Government this has set the stage for "a far-reaching and energetic recovery in 2017" which the Throne Speech revealed will include:
- A ramping up of hotel development;
- Construction of a new airport terminal; and
- The hosting of the America's Cup.
Some of the other key initiatives that were unveiled were:
- The introduction of progressive payroll tax reform "to ease pressures on lower income earners";
- A legislative review to improve and develop the registration and protection of intellectual property rights in Bermuda;
- A second and final phase of telecommunications regulatory reform;
- Introduction of an electronic registry system for the Registrar of Companies to keep pace with international reporting requirements; and,
- Continued review of the islands' immigration laws and policies to address the issue of granting permanent residence certificates and Bermudian status.
Several other initiatives to improve the quality of life of Bermudians were also touched upon in the Speech, among them:
- A long-term care action plan to assist families and seniors;
- Examination of ways to protect seniors against age discrimination in employment;
- A study of the need for improved parental leave for, maternity, paternity and adoption; and,
- Establishment of a cross-Ministry committee to address the challenge of collecting arrears for child maintenance payments.
On the matter of government reform, the Throne Speech promised:
- The enactment of recommendations for civil service reform to increase accountability for performance at the top;
- A new code of conduct for the procurement of goods and services; and
- A Bribery Act to establish a National Anti-Corruption and Bribery Committee along with amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act to facilitate reporting of suspected tax evasion.
The latter two moves in particular were said to be deigned to safeguard Bermuda's economic integrity as the islands' reputation as an international business destination remains "a Government priority".
The entire Throne Speech may be found here: 2016 Throne Speech
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