145 web files in a constantly updated Gazetteer on Bermuda's accommodation, activities, airlines, apartments, areas, art, artists, attractions, airport, aviation pioneers, banks, banking, beaches, Bermuda as an international business centre, Bermuda books and publications, Bermuda citizenship by Status, Bermuda Government Customs Duties and taxes, Bermuda Government, Bermuda-incorporated international and local companies, British Army, British Overseas Territory, calypso, Canadian military, causeway, charities, churches, City of Hamilton, commerce, community, corporate entities, credit cards, cruise ships, culture, cuisine, currency, customs, Devonshire Parish, disability accessibility, districts, Dockyard, economy, education and universities abroad, employers, employment, entertainment, environment, executorships and estates, fauna, ferries, flora, food, forts, gardens, geography, getting around, golf, government, guest houses, Hamilton Parish, history, homes, housing, hotels, insurers and reinsurers, internet access, islands, laws, legal system, legislators, local businesses and organizations, location, main roads, media, money, motor vehicles, music, municipalities, open spaces, organizations, Paget Parish, parks, Pembroke Parish, politics and political administration, postage stamps, public holidays, public transportation, quangos, railway trail, religions, Royal Navy, Sandy's Parish, St. David's Island, St. George's Parish, Smith's Parish, Somerset, Southampton Parish, Spanish Point, Spittal Pond, sports, stores, telecommunications, time zone, transportation, Town of St. George, traditions, tribe roads, tourism, Tucker's Town, utilities, villages, vital statistics, water sports, weather, Warwick, wildlife, work permits, etc. For tourists, business visitors, employers, employees, newcomers, researchers, retirees, scholars.
By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( FCO) administers Bermuda internationally but in all other matters Bermuda is a self-governing British Overseas Territory (BOT), one of the 14 BOTS worldwide. (The others are - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_overseas_territories).
Bermuda House of Assembly or Sessions House, different images
UK Statutory Instruments Applicable to Bermuda as a BOT. See http://www.bermudalaws.bm/site_docs/ukstat.aspx
In accordance with the Bermuda Constitution (Amendment) Order 2003 and its Second Schedule, electoral districts changed in March 2003 from 20 dual-seat (2 members of Parliament) constituencies with significant variations in size of each - in 9 Parishes of almost the same size of each Parish - to 36 single-member constituencies. It meant a reduction of 4 Members of Parliament. In the Bermuda General Election held Monday, December 2012, the Progressive Labour Party, in power since 1998, were defeated 17-19 seats by the relatively new political party the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) which was contesting its first General Election. Less than 18 months after it was formed in 2011 as a merger between the United Bermuda Party (UBP) and the Bermuda Democratic Alliance (BDA), the OBA is now the Government.
|Bermuda size & population||20.75 (Twenty point seven five) square miles in total. 65,180 residents|
|Resident population density per square mile||3,141. Third highest in the world|
|Government Code of Conduct for legislators||None. There is a voluntary code, with no legislative teeth. It is ignored by some. No equivalent at all of the UK's Ethical Standards in Public Life Act.|
|Number in Cabinet||13. Same number as USA, equivalent in Bermuda to 0.63 (Point six three) per square mile. They have "The Honorable" before their name.|
|Number of elected legislators in House of Assembly and their salaries||36. Equivalent to 1.93 (One point nine three) per square mile. They have "MP" for Member of Parliament after their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn well in excess of $100,000 a year, plus unlimited expenses.|
|Number of registered voters per Member of Parliament||On December 17, 2012, date of last General Election - the average was one thousand two hundred and ninety seven). Contrast this with no fewer than 72,810 and no more than 80,433 per member of parliament in the UK in 2011 and approximately the same in the USA per congressperson and Canada.|
|Number of appointed politicians in Senate||11. Equivalent to 0.53 (Point five three) per square mile. They have "Senator" before their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn this plus what is shown above under "Number of elected legislators."|
|Number of Government Boards||About 108. All require the approval of the Premier who controls all Public Information. See Bermuda Government Boards separate website shown at the end of this file.|
|Number of Police||About 460, over 20 per square mile. Plus, there are Reserve officers.|
|Number in Bermuda Regiment||600 members, mostly Bermudian men, mostly part time. Some non-Bermudian men and women from British Commonwealth countries and female Bermudians are serving but on a volunteer basis as conscription regulations do not require enrolment by Bermudian females and non-Bermudian males. Only male Bermudians under a certain age resident in Bermuda are liable to be conscripted, on a selective basis.|
|Registered voters who can participate in a General Election||Total number of registered voters in late November 2012 - date of last registration period before the December 17, 2012 General Election - was 46,678 - about 60% of the entire resident population.|
|The Bermuda Society|
A written document 96 pages long, it went into effect on June 8, 1968.
Bermudians, other residents and visitors probably spend more per square mile in taxes than anywhere else in the world, both per capita and in total, despite the absence of income tax. In its place, Bermuda has, in order of impact on individual consumers, huge customs duties; payroll tax payable by all employers and their employees and other taxes shown immediately below. One direct consequence of the Budget is that its taxes impact so hugely on Bermuda that the overall cost of living in Bermuda is at least 380% more expensive than in the USA and 280% more expensive than in the UK and Canada.
For 2015-2016 see http://oba.bm/256381811_Bermuda_2015_2016_Budget.pdf.
For 2014-2015 see http://www.govsubportal.com/dci-documents/item/1632-2014-%e2%80%93-2015-budget-statement. For graphic images from this 2014-2013 file, see below.
The international business sector is Bermuda's biggest and most impactive industry, significantly more important than tourism. It has continued to transfer jobs to more internationally favorable jurisdictions. The tourism industry has downsized for the fewer customers flying to Bermuda. The retail sector has seen shop closures, layoffs and pay cutbacks. The construction industry has shed hundreds of jobs. Thousands of Bermudians are unemployed and that more are “under-employed”, earning less than before. There is evidence that hundreds of mortgages are in arrears, meaning that many people live in fear of losing their homes. The distress these negative economic forces inflict on individuals and families every day is intense and unrelenting.
Bermuda is facing one of the most serious challenges in its long history. The economic foundations of the Island must be strengthened and better protected. The goal is to create an economy that works for everyone; to lay a new foundation for broad-based prosperity. To achieve that, a strategy strike a balance between responsible growth and disciplined financial management. Pro-growth economic policies are needed to stimulate much-needed foreign investment, restore confidence in the Island as a place to do business and create new jobs. There has to be elimination of wasteful government spending, to reduce the national debt. It will take time to implement solutions that work for the greater good, revamp structures that inhibit Bermuda's ability to operate efficiently and effectively and reverse trends and trajectories locked in place by past Government practices. Bermuda's borrowing requirements will reflect the situation inherited on 17 December 2012 from Bermuda’s older government.
The Global Economy. Bermuda’s economy is essentially a trading economy, one that trades with the rest of the world mainly in financial services. Any analysis of Bermuda’s future prospects must take into account the economic environment in which it trades: i.e. the global economy, dominated by the United States, China and the European Union. As Bermuda's principal trading partner, the economic state of the USA is crucial to Bermuda's future.
The Bermuda Economy. It continues to struggle, after a more than four year recession. This conclusion is reinforced by employment data that has shown a steady decline in the workforce, in total, as well as the Bermudian workforce. Bermuda’s prolonged recession was due to structural Bermudian issues Bermuda is compelled to address. But the number of new companies formed in Bermuda has experienced a moderate increase in recent months. The invention of “reinsurance sidecars” has enabled that sector to effectively increase capacity without substantially increasing staffing levels. This is one of the reasons that Bermuda's flagship industry (international business) has continued to return solid results to their shareholders without making a significant impact on job growth in Bermuda. .
Employment Trends. Visitor arrivals continued to be dominated by lower spending cruise travellers and air arrivals. They spent less in 2013 than they did in 2012 and earlier. Government’s intense focus must be to enact policies increase the number of potential employers on the Island, increase the demand for labour and enact policies that will reduce the marginal cost of employing a Bermudian.
Medium Term Economic Dept Glade Path. The Government of Bermuda to be real about debt. Overall deficit spending by the Government started in the year 2003 and this has annually accumulated in an ever rising profile of public debt. The rise in debt, which has been exponential, is unsustainable. To redress this situation the new Government has laid down a debt management plan, or a Medium Term Debt Glide Path. Bermudians should understand that as long as the Government runs an overall deficit (on the modified cash basis used in budgeting) debt will rise. So, in order to reduce public debt Government must first stop running annual operating deficits, and start running cash surpluses which, when applied to the debt, will reduce it. The Government has been running large deficits over the last few years and this upcoming year represents one of the worst years of deficit spending. This Government recognizes that it will take time and changes in policy to actually start paying down the debt.
Bermuda Debt Trajectories. A sobering chart. This debt situation can be solved overnight. However, what it does show is that a growing economy coupled with continuous cost containment on the part of Government will eventually wrestle this debt beast down to more manageable levels. Part of this management programme is to set up debt related targets, or rules, that are appropriate for an economy the size of Bermuda’s. The IMF has a set of criteria of maximum acceptable Debt/GDP levels for small economies: the low target equals 20 per cent, with the high target being 40 per cent. The concept of solvency for a government is not necessarily a matter of rigid rules. Solvency is the measure of an entity, a company or a government, to be able to meet its long term financial obligations. Large countries are given much more latitude than small ones, and developed economies are similarly given more latitude than developing ones. Bermuda is highly developed but is undiversified and very small. All public sector jobs, and some private sector jobs too, depend on the Government remaining solvent.
Dept Ceiling. Last year, the authorized debt ceiling for the Government was $1.45 billion. This authorized ceiling had to be raised. Parliament was asked to raise the authorized debt ceiling to $2.5 billion. In conjunction with the new ceiling the Government commits to keep public debt at such a level that the net debt/GDP ratio does not exceed 38 per cent. Additionally, Government recognizes the desirability of achieving a net debt/revenue ratio that is below 80 per cent and a debt service cost/revenue ratio that is below 10 per cent.
Non Tax Policies to Promote Job Growth. Bermuda had become an uncompetitive player in its trading in services with the rest of the world. Since trading in services with the rest of the world is Bermuda's primary business, this fact represented a huge problem. The lack of competitiveness caused the economy to contract. That contraction caused the loss of jobs, weakness in government revenues and increase in public debt. It was found that employers were not willing to bring non-Bermudian staff to Bermuda if they could only stay for six years. There is a global competition for intellectual capital and that such people will not come here if they have to be arbitrarily uprooted after six years. This intellectual capital either left Bermuda, never to return, or will not come here in the first place. Bermudian employees connected with that non-Bermudian intellectual capital often lost their jobs because of the exodus. The economy was robbed of their consumer spending and government revenue derived from that spending. Term limits turned out to be job killers for Bermudians instead of job savers. The statistical and anecdotal evidence support this assertion 100 per cent. The new government has reversed this and acted decisively, taking one first step to improve job opportunities for Bermudians. The other component of competitiveness is speed of delivery. Government is in the process of speeding up approvals required for a wide range of circumstances: from work permits to planning approvals to company formation to improve Bermuda's competitiveness. Government established a Cabinet Committee called the Economic Development Committee whose mandate is to compress the time taken to obtain the necessary approvals for direct inward investment into our island. To restart economic growth we are in urgent need of major flows of direct inward investment capital. Unwelcoming and bureaucratic procedures reduced the flow of inward direct investment to virtually a trickle. Government through the Ministry of Economic Development, has moved forward on the formation of the Bermuda Business Development Corporation (BBDC). It is a private public partnership that is intended to spearhead the promotion of Bermuda as a preferred domicile for a variety of international business activities, including reinsurance, asset management, trusts and fund administration. This involves organizing all the relevant stakeholders and formulating a coherent mission for the BBDC and strategies to achieve that mission. The Government, through the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation will continue to support Bermudian entrepreneurs in their quest for success and will take any other necessary steps to stimulate economic growth through these non-tax policy driven initiatives.
Tax Policies to Promote Growth and Create Jobs. Government found itself in the difficult position of, on the one hand, needing more revenue to pay for its operations and debt service, while on the other hand, not wanting to cripple the economy further with major tax increases. In the previous budget there were two tax initiatives to stimulate economic activity and employment. The first was the two year payroll tax holiday for new Bermudian hiring. This tax holiday lowers the marginal cost to an employer for a new Bermudian hiring. Only an employer can create a job. The payroll tax cost to the employer for any new Bermudian hire will be zero, although the portion of the tax normally deducted from the employee will take place as usual, like any other worker. This will be an incentive for employers to hire Bermudians. This tax holiday will not be available to employers for their existing Bermudian employees. The Tax Commissioner’s Office watches for the few unscrupulous employers who may wish to try to game the system. Government expects this tax holiday to be, at the very least, revenue neutral as the effect of more Bermudians in the workforce will counteract the revenue lost from the tax holiday itself. The second tax initiative relates to Licence Fees for non-Bermudians’ purchase of Bermuda property. In 2013, the Licence Fee was 25 per cent of the value of the property. It was proposed to cut this fee to 8 per cent for a period of 18 months, rising to 12.5 per cent thereafter. For condominiums, not used for tourism purposes, it was proposed to cut licence fees from 10 per cent to 6 per cent, increasing to 8 per cent in 18 months. For PRC holders it is proposed to reduce licence fees to 4 per cent, increasing to 6 per cent in 18 months. The lowering of licence fees as outlined will stimulate much needed inward direct investment into Bermuda. The purchase of a new house, particularly those at the highest echelons as represented here, is frequently accompanied by renovations or customization of some description. Local construction companies will be required to carry out such modifications, thereby increasing the demand for labour in that depressed sector. As these customizations will be varied in scale and scope it should create opportunities for construction firms both large and small, thus creating a considerable diffusion of opportunity in the sector. Furthermore, the fact that the low licence fees will revert to higher levels after 18 months should have the same psychological effect as the end of a “Sale” in retail: it spurs people to act sooner instead of procrastinating. Government revenues has anticipated this action to have a positive effect, with the reduction in fees to stimulate a more than proportionate increase in transactions. Secondly, there has been no adjustment in stamp duty rates, so revenues from these will increase. Thirdly, if construction activity is stimulated, revenues will accrue to Government via payroll taxes for the jobs that will be created. Customs Duties will also rise due to the increased volume of building materials that will have to be imported. Lastly, the 25 per cent licence fee has acted as a deterrent for many of our resident non-Bermudian job creators to feel “connected” to Bermuda. Encouraging them to own a home in Bermuda can only be a good thing for Bermudians, as it enhances the connection of their Bermudian employing enterprises to our island. This is a win-win proposition for all concerned. This tax incentive will in no way increase the number of properties in Bermuda available for sale to non-Bermudians.
Other Tax Adjustments. The duty on cigarettes and tobacco and beer, wines and other spirits were raised in April 2013 to achieve additional Customs revenue of about $2 million. The yield from land tax was improved in 2013/14 by adjusting the rates on ARV bands higher than $90,000. The effect of the adjustment is that 96 per cent of the residential properties will not see any changes in their land tax bill. The amount of additional tax was estimated at $3.4 million. However, it has been noticed by many foreign potential buyers that Bermuda's property taxes are now hugely more than the most expensive properties in London, with even Buckingham Palace, enormous in building size and acreage, paying only BD$2,000 (two thousand) a year in property taxes compared to some properties in Bermuda paying $90,000 a year. Newspapers abroad have commented on this in their summaries of advantages and disadvantages to homeowners in various jurisdictions.
2015. October 14. The members of the Boundaries Commission were announced by Governor George Fergusson. Chairman is Francis Alexis, QC, the former Attorney General of Grenada, who completed his role as chairman of that jurisdiction’s constitutional reform advisory committee. David Jenkins, the Chief Justice of Prince Edward Island in Canada, is the new judicial member. He is also Chief Justice of its Court of Appeal. Mr Jenkins performed the role of Judicial Member on the 2009 Bermuda Parliamentary Boundaries Commission. Government appointees are Sylvan Richards and Mark Pettingill, while Opposition members Wayne Furbert and Walton Brown were also appointed. Mr Fergusson, as Governor, is bound under the constitution to appoint members before the end of 2017. The commission will report to Parliament on whether changes in constituency boundaries are required, and to specify changes if so required.
Each constituency is about 0.58 of a square mile on average, with between 1,031 and 1,143 voters; and has one paid legislator.
The over 108 boards of political appointments acceptable to the Premier include, at the top, a reference to the relevant Act of Parliament and all members of that Board. They advise their respective Ministers - who may use his or her discretion instead of accepting their recommendations.
Summarized in this Bermuda Government website.
Set up by the The Base Lands Development Act 1996 following the end of the US and Canadian Military Bases. One of a number of government quangos.
2012. February 3. Government refused to release a 16-page report on the Bermuda Land Development Company, which cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. The document was produced in 2010 by BLDC’s chairman and deputy chairman at the time, Edward Saunders and Pastor Leroy Bean, after a suggestion by then Works Minister Derrick Burgess that an investigation into the operations of the company was needed. As revealed in the Auditor General’s Special Report on the Misuse of Public Funds, Mr Saunders and Mr Bean were paid $110-an-hour in consultancy fees for their work for the quango during 2010, netting $160,230 in total. Yet the “detailed report” they were tasked with completing by the end of March that year appears never to have been released into the public domain. The Royal Gazette was unable to obtain a copy of the report from the Ministry of Public Works, which is responsible for BLDC, or from BLDC’s then-current chairman Dennis Lister, despite several requests. The clerk at the House of Assembly was asked to check if the report was ever tabled for MPs to read. A Works Ministry spokesman said yesterday: “We are not commenting any further on this. It’s a board matter.” PLP backbencher Mr Lister ignored e-mails and telephone messages. The clerk to the House said the only record of anything being tabled by BLDC since February 2009 was a resolution regarding the lease at Daniel’s Head. She was unable to say when the last annual report from BLDC was tabled in the House. The Base Lands Development Act 1996 requires a report and financial statements to be tabled each year by the Minister responsible. The Auditor’s report, which was released on January 26 2012, reveals that of the fees paid to Mr Saunders and Mr Bean, only $81,840 was formally approved for payment by BLDC’s board, with $78,390 unapproved. Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews stated: “The consultancy arrangement placed both the chairman and deputy chairman in a fundamental conflict of interest given their oversight role in the company. The actions of the chairman and deputy chairman clearly represent a breach of fiduciary duty.” She recommended that the board take appropriate steps to recover the consultancy fees, a view supported by then-Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox.
|** Dame||Dame of the Order of the British Empire, female equivalent of Knight (Sir). In the UK, there are various ranks of Dames|
|**Hon||Honorable, solely for current and former Cabinet Ministers|
|** Sir||Knight of the British Empire. In the UK, there are various ranks of Knights|
|JP||Justice of the Peace, not a magisterial post. In Bermuda, they do not dispense summary justice but they can deal with local administrative applications. They can be called by the Bermuda Police to execute warrants. JPs are appointed solely by the Bermuda Government; are not required to have a formal legal education in order to qualify for the office (the vast majority of them do not); and are usually Cabinet officials|
|MP||Member of Parliament (elected)|
|* OBE||Officer (higher than Member) of the British Empire|
|* MBE||Member of the British Empire, after nomination by Premier|
|Senator||Member of the Bermuda Senate, appointed by Party Leader|
|Wor.||Worshipful, title of Mayors of City of Hamilton and Town of St. George's|
** On recommendation of the Bermuda Government (Premier's Office) to the UK. For government service. Unlike in the UK, in Bermuda there have never been any Bermuda Government-nominated recommendations for a Dame or Knight who is not in government but is instead in international or local private-sector business.
* Also on recommendation of the Bermuda Government ( Premier's Office) to the UK. For government or other service.
Unlike in the USA, UK, Canada, etc. there is no government way to contact MPs via email, nor are their email addresses, if they have them, published routinely.
2013. December 2. A $50 million bond issue was today launched by the Bermuda Government. The senior notes which will yield at least 4.75 percent and are denominated in Bermuda dollars are targeted at Island investors and Government said smaller, individual subscription applications will be given priority if the issue is oversubscribed. The Ministry of Finance will hold special sessions to explain the issue tomorrow at 5.30pm in the Hamilton Princess Princess Victoria Room and on Wednesday at the same time in the hotels Gazebo Room. The Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) said that Butterfield Securities had been appointed as the sole book-running manager for the issue. Applications for the issue are open to Bermuda residents subject to the laws of any applicable jurisdiction and persons with Bermudian status who may be permitted without further action by the Government and under the laws of their respective jurisdiction of residence to subscribe for securities of this nature. The BSX said the interest rate will be dependent on market demand, but will be at least 4.75 percent and that the minimum subscription will be $10,000. Butterfield will accept subscription applications from permitted purchasers until 5pm on Friday. Subscription applications are available at Bank of Butterfield or through personal application at the firm's offices at 65 Front Street, or via a broker. The bonds are expected to be rated at AA-, negative outlook by Standard & Poors and at Aa3, negative outlook by Moody's, while Fitch is expected to give an AA-, negative outlook rating as well.
All Cabinet Ministers are Bermudian by birth or through their parents. They are appointed by and answer to the Premier. She/he can extend or reduce their Cabinet responsibilities, at her/his discretion. They must be either elected Members of Parliament or members of the Senate. They are referred to as Ministers in the British way because they control and administer and set the policy for their portfolios. They are paid a regular and pensionable salary - far more generous than in the private sector - as Members of Parliament or Senators with an additional sum if they are also a Cabinet Minister.
The benefits enjoyed by Cabinet Ministers on top of their six-figure salaries include use of a car, health insurance, a pension, a parking space at Sessions House and a credit card. All Cabinet Ministers and members of the Legislature are entitled to participate in the Government employment health insurance scheme, as well as the Ministers and Members of the Legislature pensions fund. Ministers are afforded cars. Ministers are issued credit cards that are governed according to Government’s Financial Instructions. They are subject to the standard audit process of the Government.
Members of Parliament get $56,023. In contrast, in the UK, Members of Parliament have a basic salary of £65,738 sterling as at 1 April 2011.
2014. September 27. Ministerial travel costs will be made public on a new website as part of a drive to promote transparency within Government. The move comes as Government hit back yesterday at Opposition criticism of a recent trip by the Premier and two Ministers to New York. Shadow Tourism Minister, Zane DeSilva, branded the trip a ‘junket’ claiming the cost of the trip should be made public. But last night Government maintained the US trip was “prudent and fiscally managed” to attract investment and showcase Bermuda. And it revealed plans to put all Ministerial and Government MP travel costs on line in the near future for the public to see. An OBA spokesman said travel to market the island is essential for Bermuda’s economic survival. He added: “Bermudians have every right to know how their tax dollars are spent, and they can have confidence that this Government is making prudent decisions as it works to attract businesses and visitors to our shores. Premier Dunkley has demonstrated the Government’s commitment to transparency by introducing and passing the Public Access to Information (PATI) bill within weeks of his Premiership. The commitment to transparency and accountability will be extended with the imminent launch of a website that will outline all travel expenses for any travel taken by Government Ministers and MPs. Attracting more visitors and more investment dollars means more economic activity, which means more jobs. To get the economy working better for Bermudians, the Government must fish where the fish are, the east coast of America is our primary market for business and visitors. The trip to New York City this week — the world’s business capital — is part of the Government’s work to re-establish Bermuda’s profile in overseas tourism and business markets — a profile diminished in recent years because of the mishandling of Bermuda Tourism marketing and antagonistic government attitudes that alienated investors and stakeholders — key sources for the Island’s income and jobs.” The OBA spokesman accused Mr DeSilva of using falsehood and disparaging language to criticize the New York trip and cheapen Government’s efforts to bring new business to the island. He added: “First, Premier Dunkley doesn’t do “junkets”. Mr DeSilva’s use of that word betrays more about his own government’s approach to ministerial travel than the new reality today. Second, Mr DeSilva’s statement about the Premier’s “refusal to disclose” the cost of the trip is a deliberate falsehood. The Premier has been very clear that all ministerial travel will be made available to the public, starting with the imminent posting on a Cabinet travel website of the cost for this week’s New York trip. Finally, let’s consider the hypocritical shallowness of Mr DeSilva’s opposition to the New York trip. Mr. DeSilva, we recall, was a vigorous defender of PLP Government travel including former Premier Brown’s trip to China, which he said was a trip “to try and build up our relationships with that country.” Right. Premier Dunkley has said he will take every opportunity to promote Bermuda to benefit Bermudians and no amount of misleading criticism from the Opposition will sway those efforts. In conclusion, we want to be clear about one thing: the need and the urgency behind Bermuda’s efforts to restore visitor interest and investor confidence in the Island today is because of the damage done by the previous government.” In his statement earlier this week Mr DeSilva said the public had a right to know why it was necessary for Premier Dunkley, Ministers Grant Gibbons and Shawn Crockwell, and Senator Jeff Baron to travel to New York. He also called for the cost of the trip to be made public. A Government spokeswoman responded: “New York is considered to be the business capital of the world and a critical market for Bermuda’s economy. The public can be assured that the visit was prudent and fiscally managed, with the aim of achieving key national objectives of attracting direct inward investment and showcasing Bermuda as a premier vacation destination. The Premier and Ministers who attended New York were there in key capacities. This resulted in considerable exposure for Bermuda on various levels. As a note, Government is in the process of finalizing a travel website detailing Ministerial travel costs, which can be viewed by the public. The website launch is forthcoming.”
2013. December 2. Two-thirds of voters want to cut Cabinet from 13 to eight Ministers, according to a new poll. Sixty-seven percent of people want Government to take up the SAGE Commissions recommendation to reduce Cabinet by five, with 26 percent preferring the current size. The survey by Mindmaps shows support for a smaller Cabinet is strongest among whites, with 75 percent voting for a reduction, compared with 64 percent of blacks. Its estimated a smaller Cabinet of eight Ministers including the Premier would save taxpayers $750,000 in salaries and benefits. However, people are more divided over the SAGE Commissions proposal to reduce the size of the Civil Service. Fifty-one percent agree with that recommendation, with 42 percent disagreeing and the rest unsure. Whites are more supportive of cutting the Civil Service, with 70 percent in favour and 24 percent against. Among blacks, 42 percent are in favour and 51 percent against. A breakdown by age shows the older generation is more welcoming of a Civil Service reduction. Among over 65s, 65 percent want cuts, compared with 41 percent of the 18 to 34 age group. Cutting both Cabinet and the Civil Service were key recommendations in the 140-page SAGE report, published on November 15 in an attempt to maximise efficiency and get to grips with Bermudas debt crisis. The document claimed the Civil Service suffered from weak leadership, and called for poor performers to be fired. It suggested early retirement schemes and pay cuts, particularly targeting the highest-paid, and farming out many areas of Government to the private sector or turning them into quangos. However, some workers have reacted angrily to the suggestion of Civil Service reductions, with a number of concerns raised at a town-hall meeting called by the Progressive Labour Party last week. Finance Minister Bob Richards, who commissioned the report, has said Government will hold a debate on its recommendations in Parliament. Mindmaps survey of 404 registered voters took place between November 17 and 24, and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
2012. December 18. Cabinet changed following December 17 general election defeat by 17-19 of the PLP Government in power since 1998.
July 2003. Bermuda formally joined the Caribbean Community, as an Associate Member (non-voting member), in certain areas but not in others, despite Bermuda not being part of the Caribbean but 900 miles north of it. This specifically excludes the free movement of Caribbean nationals to Bermuda and any prospect of Bermuda joining CARIFTA or its newest free trade organization - the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) - and its hopes. Membership of the Caribbean Community will cost Bermuda about US$90,000 a year. Direct trade between Bermuda and Caribbean countries is also welcomed and encouraged, especially given the close or extended family links many Bermudians have with Caribbean islands or territories. Because of this, there is a Monday-Friday 10 am and 5:45 pm 5-minute Caribbean news feature on local radio (VSB) produced by the BBC of England and a lively Caribbean-produced feature on certain evenings. But the irony is that there are no scheduled air or sea services at all between Bermuda and the Caribbean, as there were in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Many visitors to Bermuda from the USA and Canada assume - wrongly - that there are air services connecting Bermuda with the Caribbean nearly 1,000 miles to the south. Presently, virtually all imports to Bermuda made in the Caribbean come via the USA or Canada. All visitors to Bermuda who are nationals of and resident in Caribbean islands must come via the USA or Canada or United Kingdom and must have appropriate visas to come via those countries. (Effective January 2003, all Jamaican nationals who are not Bermudian must also have a visa to enter Bermuda on business or vacation).
January 24, 2013. A report revealed a Bermudian brain drain, that young educated Bermudians have been leaving the Island in droves to seek employment in other countries, according to the Department of Statistics. The Island’s political parties, the civil servants union and the business community have all expressed concern at the news — with the Opposition Progressive Labour Party pledging to cooperate with the Government in getting Bermudians to return or stay home to develop their careers. In a first of a kind analytical brief, the Department reported that 1,121 persons emigrated from Bermuda between 2000 and 2010. Seventy percent of the emigrants were Bermudian, while 27 percent were non-Bermudian and employment was the main reason cited as to why they were leaving the Island. Nearly half of the Bermudians (47 percent) leaving left for reasons of employment. But “family” was cited by 25 percent of the emigrants as a reason for leaving, and another 18 percent of respondents indicated that a range of other factors which prompted their departure, including affordability, retirement, “to exercise the right of free establishment”, and crime. With a median age of 28 the emigrants were also a fairly young group. Fifty-three percent of the Bermudian emigrants were degree holders, 83 percent of whom were under the age of 35. The analysis was based on data collected during the 2010 Census. The US and the UK were destinations of choice for the emigrants. About a third of the emigrants were professionals, while another 19 percent were service and sales workers. The data also shows that the emigration, at 41 percent, was highest between 2007 and 2009. But a greater proportion of non-Bermudians (55 percent) left the Island during this period than Bermudians (36 percent). The brief also highlighted the impact of the loss of skilled human resources or ‘the brain drain’, as a result of persons leaving the island to reside overseas. This is the first time a census has collected information on Bermuda’s former residents who have emigrated abroad. The data shows that emigrants 16 years and older were most likely to have degrees, resulting in brain drain. A Government spokesperson said that the statistics “reinforces the Premier’s concerns regarding the amount of people who have left the Island, which is why one of the main objectives of this government is job creation”. And One Bermuda Alliance chairman Thad Hollis said that the party and its leader were well aware that the Island was facing a brain drain. One of the most disturbing statistics was the high percentage of young Bermudian degree holders who had left the Island for opportunities abroad. That one statistic — 83% of emigrant degree holders were under 35 of age — underscores the seriousness of the ‘brain drain’ threat to Bermuda’s long-term well-being. The Bermuda Employers Council also appeared to blame emigration of non Bermudians on the former Government’s term limits policy. “Emigration by non-Bermudians appears to coincide with the setting in of the reality of the former Government’s term limits policy which compounded problems in the recession that came afterwards. It was predicted that persons would not stay in Bermuda with the uncertainty of their future and many moved on with their families,” said BEC president Keith Jensen. He added: "It was very disappointing to see Bermudian professionals move away when employment opportunities were amply available prior to the onslaught of the economic recession. On the other hand, it shows the extent of opportunities and the demand for Bermudians and non-Bermudians professionals in the global workforce. Work experience abroad does place Bermudians in a good position if they return to the Island. The number of non-professional Bermudians leaving for employment shows how some countries welcome our citizens for jobs in their countries. It will be useful in due course to compare this emigration data with the turnover of work permit holders, which we understood was much higher in a six-year period.”
October 16, 2011. The unemployment rate among Bermudians is greater than the national average, it was reported yesterday. And Bermuda continues to experience weak population growth and a graying population, according to the preliminary results of the 2010 Census. In May 2010, the Island’s unemployment rate was six percent, while for Bermudians it was eight percent and is now expected to be higher. Joined by senior officials of the Department of Statistics, then-Premier Paula Cox released selected data to the public at a press conference yesterday afternoon. “The 2010 Census counted 2,581 persons unemployed with our official unemployment rate standing at six percent at May 20th 2010,” the Premier announced. She reminded the assembled press that Government had “implemented a number of initiatives to increase employment opportunities for our people,” including workforce development programme aimed at retraining Bermudians. “The number of jobs in our economy still exceeds the number of Bermudians in our workforce; and certainly we have to continue to be committed to ensuring that Bermudians become qualified to fill these jobs.” The Premier did not mention the unemployment rate for Bermudians in her prepared statement, but the preliminary report which was handed out by officials makes the distinction clear. “The unemployment rate for Bermudians jumped from three percent in 2000 to eight percent in 2010,” the report notes. “This rate outpaced the unemployment rate of six percent measured for the entire population, essentially due to the fact that non-Bermudians are recruited to work in positions not generally filled by Bermudians.” The statement reasoned that non-Bermudian workers were most likely to repatriate or emigrate to another country. Premier Cox also highlighted the fact that the number of new residential units since the last Census ten years earlier exceeds the increase in Bermuda’s population by 38 percent. She touted the statistic as “an excellent indicator of progress” which “reflects the collective efforts in assisting to provide housing for our people”. She noted that, at 64,186 persons, the Island’s resident population, not including the homeless and institutionalized, was three percent higher than it was during the last Census. “From the data it is evident that Bermuda’s population is growing at a very slow rate than that experienced in the past... but definitely in alignment with our expectations, considering Bermuda has a declining birth rate and a below-replacement fertility level.” The Premier added the proportion of seniors has increased to 14 percent from 11 percent, while the number of children under five years old remained at six percent. “The Government is committed to providing for our seniors as we recognize the steady growth of our elderly population,” she continued. “As you recall, earlier this year, the Ministry of Health held a Conference on Ageing, and really that was to help us craft a national strategic plan for the support of our senior population.” The number of homeless people was recorded at 82, while the number of institutionalized people, at 801, was 100 less than in 2000. Data collection for the 2010 Census was delayed by a lack of enumerators. But the Statistics Department reported yesterday that the release of the Preliminary results “has been done in record time,” taking just 18 months since the official launch of Census Day, as compared to two and a half years for the two previous censuses. The response rate, at 92 percent, was also declared respectable when compared to other jurisdictions.
Bermuda has more civil servants per capita than anywhere else in the world. The number of Bermuda Government employees, well over 5,600, make the Bermuda Government the largest single employer in Bermuda by a huge margin.
October 12, 2013. Then-Premier Craig Cannonier has not ruled out future cuts in the Civil Service as the Island struggles to recover from recession. Mr Cannonier said: "As we move forward, we certainly cant make any promises in that area. The realities are out there, but we will always look out for people first." Both parties ruled out Civil Service redundancies in the run-up to last year's General Election. Speaking yesterday Mr Cannonier said: "Certainly, we could have come in and slashed, but there probably would have been unintended and unenviable consequences of that. That was why Government's first priority was to attract new business to Bermuda and boost tourism figures to create more jobs for Bermudians. We need to look first at incentives for job creators to come here. In the end, if someone is made redundant or doesn't have a job, they need somewhere to go. We will have to make tough decisions in 2014, that's why we had a SAGE Commission to look at where we can cut back without losing manpower. The independent SAGE Commission set up to look at reducing the cost of Government will report at the end of the month and may suggest Civil Service cuts. But Mr Cannonier declined to comment on how Government would deal with its recommendations. He said: "We will cross that point when we look at the SAGE report. We certainly cannot have the agreements we have with the unions all over the place. There are some unions, one particular union, that has unlimited paid sick time. One union has negotiated three weeks paid sick time. These are some of the recommendations that will come out of the SAGE Commission we will act on. We will look at the realities of where we are and we will make decisions in the best interests of the country. We need to be making decisions that are right for the people of this country we have got to do what is right for the country as a whole. When you start isolating different sectors and saying its politically dangerous we cant afford that any more. There are too many people suffering because we have made political decisions and not made decisions based on what's best for the country. Mr Cannonier added that Bermuda faced a declining birth rate, while many Bermudians had emigrated and residents had left the Island, which totaled 7000, maybe more people. He said that if 2,000 expatriates who had left spent a conservative figure of $1,500 a week on goods and services, the Island had lost a staggering $3 million a week and more than $150 million a year. "There will be fewer jobs if we don't get more people in the country. We want Bermudians coming back and those job creators coming back and investing and circulating these dollars in the country so we can get the Gross Domestic Product in the right direction. Every time we bring in a job creator, that's two Bermudians who get hired. We needed to stop the bleeding and put in place policies that would restore the country." Mr Cannonier said that when the OBA took power last December, they inherited a situation where no one knew exactly how many Civil Servants were on the payroll, and a huge $1.45 billion in debt. He added that, a few months later, the Governments financial situation was so dire, it came close to being unable to pay the Civil Service. And he said: "Financially, we can't afford to do anything right now we can't even afford to assist those in need because there is no money." Mr Cannonier was speaking after a Parliamentary session extended by four sittings came to an end and he said the next one would likely be extended to fit in new legislation. "Government legislative highlights included ending the controversial term limits policy for work permit holders, giving investors more security through the Job Creators Act and reducing or eliminating taxes on new Bermudian hires. Government had worked with cruise ship lines to hire Bermudians for on-board positions was also an important initiative. These are important objectives we had to embark on to show we are building a better Bermuda and getting people back to work. The new independent Tourism Authority was designed to bring back accountability in how the Island is sold abroad. We spent millions of dollars on tourism, but we have continued to fail year after year. That's unacceptable. I believe that, as the Premier of this country, we have to be accountable to each other. Future priorities included getting a hotel in St Georges and incentives for existing hotels to upgrade their facilities."
2013. December 9. The updated code of conduct for Civil Servants has been released as part of the SAGE Commission’s major report into Government efficiency. The code — amended last year under former Premier Paula Cox — refocused on “values and behaviors that underpin good governance and ethical and accountable public administration” rather than conditions of employment. The document tells Civil Servants: “You should be aware that breaches of Financial Instructions are subject to disciplinary action including possible surcharge (a requirement to re-pay any losses to government from your own resources) and/or dismissal.” And it adds some breaches of Financial Instructions could be classed as criminal offences. The code warns Civil Servants that Ministers should not ask members of the public service to behave in “illegal, improper, immoral or unethical” ways.” It added that Ministers should not expect Civil Servants to follow instructions that breaches the Constitution or professional codes or rules and legislation on good government. The code also tells Civil Servants that they should not “misuse their official position, for example by using information acquired in the course of your official duties to further your private interests or those of others, especially family friends and associates.” And it warns that Civil Servants should not accept gifts which could be seen to compromise their integrity or disclose official information without permission. The code added: “You should exercise particular care to avoid using public money for your personal purposes and moreover to avoid the perception that you are doing so. Government credit cards need to be handled with particular sensitivity, especially when used in connection with official travel, on order to avoid the impression of unwarranted extravagance. You must serve the Government, whatever its political persuasion, to the best of your ability in a way which maintains political impartiality and is in line with the requirements of the code, no matter what your own political beliefs are.” And it warns against ignoring any restrictions placed on political activity outside work and that “public servants should not accept invitations to conferences or meetings convened by, or under the aegis of, party political organisations.” But it added that attendance of officials at party events when required by a Minister on Ministry business was excepted. The code also lays out a complaints procedure if Civil Servants believe they have been asked to break the rules. The document said that managers should be informed or reported to the Assistant Cabinet Secretary. If a complaint is not resolved, public sector staff can appeal to the Secretary of the Cabinet. And the code said that “whistle-blowing” legislation had been passed to protect the public service if they raise problems in the workplace covered by the code or by good governance legislation.
2009. November. A regulatory body, it was empowered by the Energy Act 2009. It does not release its annual reports to the public — nor does it have to. The Energy Act requires only that it provides the relevant Minister with a report on its activities, not taxpayers. Visit website for more information on the Commission and the Department of Energy.
Bermuda is externally a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. It makes all its own laws. UK and European Community laws do not apply in Bermuda.
Newcomers from other countries can come here to work despite the island's small size and exceptionally high population per square mile but, unlike in Britain, are not allowed to gain citizenship or vote or acquire lower-priced real estate unless they they qualify for citizenship in ways no other Western country require.
In the UK, USA, Canada and elsewhere, citizenship comes after 3 (if married to a national) or 5 years, tops. But not in Bermuda, not even if you stay longer than 5 years.
In Bermuda, only with marriage to a Bermudian and living with a spouse for over 10 years can someone not Bermudian apply for citizenship. Even children born in Bermuda are not Bermudian under Bermuda law unless one parent is.
More information about the role of Britain in Bermuda. Her Majesty the Queen is Bermuda's official Head of State. In London, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London, England, is responsible for Bermuda, other territories and agencies including UK visas, British Council and BBC World Service. The Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda is appointed by The Queen (on the advice of the British Government in London) after consultation with the Premier of Bermuda.
The new Governor of Bermuda from May 2012 to 2016 is George Fergusson - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fergusson_(diplomat) - 56 in 2012, who was assaulted in Hammersmith, London, during the evening of April 20, 2012 and was hospitalized. He lost the sight of his left eye resulting from the attack. The married father-of-three was walking in Margravine Cemetery, close to The Queen's Club – the tennis club whose members include the Duchess of Cambridge, when he was attacked. It is understood he was late for a dinner party where his wife Margaret was waiting, when he took a short cut through the cemetery. He was allegedly punched to the ground after getting out his BlackBerry mobile phone to check the address of his hosts. Scotland Yard said a "small quantity" of cash was taken and, at this early stage, officers were satisfied that robbery was the only motive. They have yet to make any arrests and say inquires are continuing. The robber was black, aged between 25 and 35, and around 5ft 10 ins. He was wearing a dark hooded top and dark glasses. Mr Fergusson, who was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford, managed to keep hold of his mobile phone and after the incident, called his wife to tell him he was going to be late before walking to Charing Cross hospital for help. Previously a former British High Commissioner to New Zealand and Samoa, Mr Fergusson, of Lambeth, London until his move to Bermuda, has also worked in the Soviet Department, which became the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office after the collapse of Communist Russia, and in London. Mr Fergusson, whose wife works for the British Council, also spent four years as Consul-General in Boston before being seconded in 2003 to the UK Cabinet Office as head of the foreign policy team. His career as a diplomat has also included time in Northern Ireland, Ireland, South Korea and the Pitcairn Islands. His father, Baron Ballantrae, was the last British-born Governor-General of New Zealand and served in that role between 1962 and 1967. Mr Fergusson was born abroad while his father served abroad as a senior soldier. His grandfather had also been governor-general of New Zealand and two of his great grandfathers were its governors when it was a colony. According to the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK, his family history has been plagued by tragedy: his mother was killed when winds blew a tree onto her car, his father died from a stroke and his 20-year-old son Alexander died after being hit by a taxi while pushing his bicycle across a bus lane. One of his middle names is Raukawa, a Maori word in recognition of the family's long association with the country.
Governor from May 2012, George Fergusson, photographed in London before his departure to Bermuda
The Governor of Bermuda from December 2007 to May 2012 was career diplomat Sir Richard Gozney. His perks included the use of a BMW 750Li, the same make of car used by Premier of Bermuda. He was a former British High Commissioner in Nigeria and Her Majesty's Non-Resident Ambassador to the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Sir Richard has worked in Argentina, Indonesia and Swaziland and at the Foreign Commonwealth Office as Head of Section for NATO nuclear arms control, Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary and Head of Security Policy Department. He was awarded the Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 2006. He graduated from St Edmund Hall at the University of Oxford in 1973 with a Bachelors in Geology. His wife is Lady Diana Gozney. They live at Government House, 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke HM 13 phone 441 292-1271, Governor's Office Fax 441 292 2256.
His Excellency the Governor has his own Flag of Office. It is a Union Jack but in its center it has the Bermuda arms on a white disc encircled by a green garland. Uniforms for the Governor are made in London by Davies & Sons. They include a full dress blue and tropical cotton drill. It is based on old British military Field Marshals, with a white pith helmet with dyed scarlet swan's feathers plumage and Mameluke sword by Wilkinson Sword. The price of about $10,000 is met by the British Government. The official car used by the Governor features a crown instead of a license plate, with extra large width, length and horsepower by Bermuda standards and the Governor's Flag.
The main challenge for a Bermuda Governor is to balance two sometimes contradictory functions. First, he is the primary source of information from Bermuda to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the state of affairs in Bermuda. Second, he is the voice of the United Kingdom and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advising Bermudians what they can and cannot do under British/United Kingdom laws. The salaries of the Governor, Deputy Governor and their staff are paid by Bermuda's taxpayers, NOT the British Government. Bermuda, despite its tiny size, is wealthy enough not to need the support from the United Kingdom some other overseas territories get.
The governorship of Bermuda was traditionally one of the most prestigious posts in the gift of the Government. For much of the last century it was given to a senior military officer on retirement, or a politician who had held senior office. The last of the latter type was David Waddington, Baroness Thatcher's last home secretary who as Lord Waddington was governor from 1992 until 1997. Since then the post has been held by career diplomats and usually comes with a knighthood for the holder.
2015. December 23. Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson will be away from Bermuda between February and May of next year as she undertakes a special assignment for the St Helena Government. While Mrs Ferson is in St Helena former Deputy Governor David Arkley will serve as acting Deputy Governor. A statement released by Government House today said: “Government House has announced that Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson has been asked to undertake a special assignment to assist the St Helena Government with implementation of the recommendations of the Wass Inquiry. “She is expected to be in St Helena from February to May 2016. In her absence, former Deputy Governor David Arkley will be Acting Deputy Governor.”
2013. December 13. Bermuda's first female Deputy Governor was sworn in at a ceremony at Government House. A career diplomat, Mrs. Ginny Ferson has previously worked in Mauritius, Luxembourg, South Korea and Pakistan during her more-than 25 years with the Diplomatic Service. She replaces David Arkley. A mother of two, Mrs. Ferson served as Deputy Governor of Pitcairn while she was simultaneously First Secretary at the British High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand and then British Consul-General in Auckland, New Zealand. The duties of the Deputy Governor include being an ex-officio notary public who can perform or notarize anything on behalf of the Bermuda Government but may not receive a fee for this service. Contact details are Deputy Governor's Office, Government House, 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke, Hamilton. Phone 441 292-3600. Fax 441 295-3823.
2015. December 8. This new advisory body set up to help Bermuda safeguard its economy from systemic risks met for the first time yesterday. The Financial Policy Council (FPC) will aim to monitor areas of potential financial systemic risk, recommend moves to strengthen regulation of the financial-services industry and also help devise plans for when things go wrong — such as bank failures. The advisory body is chaired by Bob Richards, the finance minister, and its members include Jeremy Cox, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Monetary Authority and three independent experts. Mr Richards said: “In today’s uncertain global economic environment, it is essential that we remain focused on maintaining the health of the financial sector in Bermuda — and the potential risks to the economy. All countries, including Bermuda, are facing threats to their financial stability and many are responding to them. For us in Bermuda this development represents a vital move further to underpin our own financial stability.” The external members include Sir Andrew Large, former deputy governor of the Bank of England, now an adviser to central banks and governments. Sir Courtney Blackman the former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados and Ambassador for Barbados to the US also sits on the council, as does Michael Butt, a veteran of the insurance industry and chairman of Bermuda-based Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. The FPC will meet three times a year. Mr Cox said: “It is critical that existing customers and those considering doing business in Bermuda see us as a jurisdiction where safety, soundness and fiscal credibility have top priority. Bermudians must continue to feel that their hard-earned assets are safe and secure and that decision-making as it relates to Bermuda’s long-term financial stability is of the highest standard. This work is key to the Authority’s objective of maintaining financial stability and the soundness of financial institutions in Bermuda, as well as being aligned with supporting Bermuda’s role as a leading international financial centre.” Many countries began to take financial stability more seriously after the global financial crisis in 2008, when US investment bank Lehman Brothers folded and many other institutions were kept afloat by government-funded bailouts. Bermuda was not as badly affected as some, as its flagship insurance industry came through largely unscathed. However, Butterfield Bank suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in losses on investments linked to soured US residential mortgages before its future was secured by the combination of a government-guaranteed capital raise and a huge cash injection from a group of private-sector investors. Government stated: “The formation of the council will overarch a strategic project begun five years ago to strengthen the financial stability framework in Bermuda.” The work done in that time includes the formation of a deposit insurance scheme and the implementation of tougher international-standard regulations, which require banks and insurers to maintain larger capital buffers to be able to withstand a severe economic downturn or financial shock. Bermuda’s major banks started this year to report under Basel III banking regulations, while the BMA’s insurance regulation was earlier this month given “third-country equivalence” with the European Union’s new Solvency II regulations by the European Commission. In 2011, the BMA also formed a dedicated systemic monitoring and analysis function to provide early warnings and take necessary actions to enhance its existing regulatory framework. The BMA’s Financial Stability department’s team of six is led by senior adviser George Pickering. More recently, the Financial Stability Committee (FSC), a committee comprising senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and BMA, was established to provide a supporting role to the FPC including in relation to implementing its recommendations. The Ministry of Finance and the BMA, along with the Department of Statistics, will also work closely with the FPC to provide it with data relevant to its work. The FPC’s recommendations will include early warning functions, but will extend to further development of the recovery and resolution regime in accordance with standards laid down by the Financial Stability Board set up in Basel by the G20.
A committee comprising senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and BMA, was established to provide a supporting role to the FPC including in relation to implementing its recommendations.
2015. December 12. Broad-based tax increases were among the key recommendations of an independent report on the Bermuda’s Government’s efforts to stabilize its finances. The Fiscal Responsibility Panel (FRP), made up of three overseas experts, suggested that the Government needed to take a “more aggressive approach” to achieve its debt reduction targets over the next eight years. The report recommended that the Government increase its annual revenues by an amount equivalent to 3 per cent of gross domestic product — about $170 million — through tax increases and the limiting of concessions over the next three years. In its 34-page annual assessment, tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday, the FRP warned that short-term measures to cut spending would not be sustainable and that “fundamental restructuring of government services” would be necessary in the coming years. The FRP is chaired by David Peretz, an independent consultant on international financial issues who has worked in the British Treasury and the World Bank. The other panel members are Jonathan Portes, a former chief economist to the British Cabinet Office, and Peter Heller, who worked as a senior manager during a near 30-year career at the IMF. The Government aims to eliminate its annual budget deficit — this year running at about $220 million — over the next three years. Five years after that, it wants debt servicing costs down to be less than 10 per cent of government revenues — down from this year’s level of about 18 per cent. The panel was formed to run the rule over Government fiscal projections and the credibility of the assumptions underlying them, to point out risks that could affect fiscal progress and to make policy recommendations. The standout suggestion was the need for a roughly 18 per cent increase in revenues over the next three years to achieve the Government’s targets. While the suggested increase may seem hefty, the panel argued that this would bring government revenues as a percentage of GDP — about 16 per cent this year — to about 19 per cent, more in line with other small island economies. It suggested that the phasing out of payroll tax breaks given to the retail and hospitality sectors, worth $40 million annually, could be considered, as well as the termination of concessions on fuel, worth another $30 million. Payroll tax could also be reformed, the panel said, with a “small increase” to the tax rate and an elimination of the cap that allows high earners to pay payroll tax only on their first $750,000 of compensation. An increase in land tax is also suggested, as being likely to impact those who can best afford it, as well as higher international company registration fees and increased efforts to collect unpaid taxes owed. The report said a consumption tax, commonly described as value added tax (VAT), would take years to implement given the need for an extensive consultation period and the bureaucracy to collect it. It suggested that Bermuda could alternatively raise customs duties and bring in a tax on services — with exemptions for education and healthcare. Deficit-reduction efforts so far had been “relatively slow”, the report said, hampered by the failure of the Government and public-sector unions to agree on an extension to the furlough agreement that had previously resulted in workers taking one day of unpaid leave per month. The panel expressed doubts over the Government’s trajectory to achieve a balanced budget by 2018/19, saying that the fiscal squeeze envisaged appeared “implausible without major structural change”. The “serious demographic challenge” created by the Island’s ageing population was also highlighted. The terms of public pension and health insurance plans would need to be adjusted and the retirement age raised. The panel suggested that more immigration of working-age people — and less emigration of young Bermudians — was needed to help the Island to deal with the growing strain on public finances resulting from the larger population of retired people. On the bright side, the panel said the prospects for growth were better than they had been for some years, “providing a window of opportunity to reduce the debt to a safer level”. The Government has targeted some $100 million of further spending cuts by 2017-18. “Achieving these will not be easy and will require making a start on fundamental restructuring of government services, particularly as some of the short-term measures taken to date will not be sustainable in future years,” the report states. “There needs to be a determined and visible effort to reduce waste, strengthen efficiency and direct available resources to the highest priority areas. With Bermuda facing a serious demographic challenge, actions are also needed to address rising health costs and the underfunding of pension schemes that will cause increasing problems over the long term.” The report noted that wages and salaries made up more than half of the Government’s current expenditure, a high level compared with other island jurisdictions. As such, it noted that, “planned further cutbacks in the current expenditure budget will have to be found by achieving greater efficiency in the provision of services and by a reduction in the government workforce”. The FRP will follow up with another assessment next year.
2015. November 27. The three independent experts commissioned to assess the Bermuda Government’s efforts to balance its budget have been on the Island this week conducting research. The FRP trio have had discussions with a number of people in the community to add some perspective to the numbers they have already studied. The panel is due to submit its first annual report next month. The FRP is chaired by David Peretz, an independent consultant on international financial issues who has worked in the UK Treasury and the World Bank. The other panel members are Jonathan Portes, principal research fellow at the UK National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a former chief economist to the British Cabinet Office, and Peter Heller, who worked as a senior manager during a near 30-year career at the IMF and a visiting professor at a number of universities in the US and Europe. The panelists declined to comment on their findings so far when The Royal Gazette caught up with them at the Ministry of Finance yesterday. Mr Portes said the group had “done a lot of homework” in reviewing Government accounts and projections and that meetings with a range of people from inside and outside Government this week were proving “very useful.” Their remit includes reviewing the progress of the Government’s effort to achieve a balanced budget by 2018/19, and goes as far as offering advice on tax and spending policies to achieve the goals. The panel will also consider longer-term issues, reviewing “prospects for further progress towards meeting the aims of reducing debt and debt service to less than 80 per cent and 10 per cent of revenues, and for implementing the rule that net borrowing can only be considered to finance capital spending.” During their work they will consider the impact of the most recent Budget, the credibility of the assumptions underlying Government projections, and the risks that could affect fiscal progress. Bob Richards, the Finance Minister, announced plans to form the FSR in February’s 2015/16 Budget statement. He said at the time: “To increase transparency and international credibility, Government intends to establish an international, independent committee to review, monitor, assess and publicly report on the fiscal progress of the Government. Several other islands have also adopted similar outside assessors and it has helped bolster credibility and confidence. The report prepared by this panel will be an input into the overall work to create a framework for financial stability policy in Bermuda.”
2015. October 2. Three leading international experts in public policy finance have been appointed to serve as members of the newly created Fiscal Responsibility Panel. According to the Bermuda Government, the panel will increase transparency and international credibility by providing an independent, external report of its actual fiscal conduct against the fiscal rules established. Finance minister Bob Richards said in a statement: “I am pleased to announce that we have put in place a Fiscal Responsibility Panel to help tackle our looming fiscal challenges. This group will publish, on an annual basis, an independent report assessing the Island’s fiscal strategy, focusing on progress in meeting our medium term objectives for public spending, taxation, borrowing and debt reduction.” In his 2015-16 Budget, Mr Richards said that the Government aims to balance the budget within three years. He said at that time: “To increase transparency and international credibility, Government intends to establish an international, independent committee to review, monitor, assess and publicly report on the fiscal progress of the Government. Several other islands have also adopted similar outside assessors and it has helped bolster credibility and confidence. The report prepared by this panel will be an input into the overall work to create a framework for financial stability policy in Bermuda.” The Fiscal Responsibility Panel will be chaired by David Peretz, an independent consultant on international financial issues who has worked in the British Treasury, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, with particular experience in advising on strategic and economic issues affecting small countries. He is joined by Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, whose expertise covers economic policy issues including labour markets, skills, migration poverty, and international economic and financial issues. The third member, Peter Heller, is a 30-year veteran of the International Monetary Fund, professor and lecturer on public policy finance. The Government’s press release states that its medium-term target is that, by 2019, Bermuda would be paying for the operations and programmes of the Government and not increasing debt relative to the size of the economy. Mr Richards added: “We look forward to the panel beginning its important work for the Bermudian people and for the first report to be published.” Mr Peretz stated: “We are pleased to be asked to take on this important role for Bermuda and look forward to producing our first report later this year.”
See under Public Access to Information (PATI)
When she became Premier, Paula Cox promised that she would make Government more transparent and would raise the level of governance. Such a promise was needed in the wake of scandals, critical Auditor's reports and perceptions, fair or not, of corruption within Government. She kept her promise.
In mid 2012 Bermuda's House of Assembly and Senate approved legislation aimed at promoting good governance, with both parties calling the bill a step forward. Then-Attorney General Kim Wilson said the Good Governance Act 2012 would discourage financial abuse by Ministers and members of the Civil Service, and protect whistle-blowers. Although the legislation requires Ministers to inform the Premier about conflicts of interest before making a decision, there did not appear to be any direct penalty for failing to do so. However, any decision made by a Minister can be the subject of a judicial review, and the Premier would under such circumstances certainly remove the Minister from their position. The legislation is in addition to the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, with Ministers already required to warn the Premier of conflicts of interest.
2011. July 23. Legislation to take effect in 2012 designed to stamp out any unethical behaviour in Government was passed by the House of Assembly; but the Opposition complained it does not go far enough. Premier Paula Cox’s Good Governance Act was designed to improve transparency and accountability. The bill gives extra powers for the Director of Internal Audit to seize documents, introduces whistle-blower protection, and creates new offences for failing to disclose interests when awarding Government contracts. Among other measures, it will formally set up the Office of Project Management and Procurement; a facility under Ms Cox’s personal watch designed to ensure contracts are handed out fairly. It also defines and outlines the role and responsibilities of Government financial officers under the financial instructions governing them. Ms Cox has pledged the legislation will enhance oversight and control, ensuring best practice across Government. Tabling the act in the House, she said: “It’s another step to assure the public of our commitment to promoting consistency, transparency and accountability.” She said Bermuda has already taken “great steps” in that direction, and cited existing laws designed to combat corruption such as the taking of bribes by judges, jurors, internal auditors and politicians. She praised the Progressive Labour Party for having instituted legislation establishing an Ombudsman, an internal audit department and a financial intelligence agency. She also heralded moves to bring in public access to information, make the Bermuda Monetary Authority independent, and allow for proceeds of crime proceedings to seize ill-gotten gains. Ms Cox took the Opposition to task for suggesting the Office of Project Management and Procurement should be independent of Government and under the auspices of the Auditor General rather than under her watch. She said the US, UK and Canada all keep their procurement offices under the umbrella of Government. The new legislation has already been welcomed by Governor Sir Richard Gozney and Opposition Leader John Barritt, a long-time advocate for good governance and legislative reform, said the step was encouraging. However, he said: “We need to go further. The procurement office is “exactly what the Country wants and what the Country deserves.” However, he said people need to be able to follow, through the legislature, exactly how monies are being spent. He referred to a “litany of reports from Auditors General” that all condemn deviations from established practices and financial instructions, and questioned why the rules have not been enforced in the past. “If you’re going to have transparency, we have to enhance the independent, objective review that needs to go on with respect to the operation of Government,” Mr Barritt said. “We need to beef up those powers so the members of Legislature are able to stay on top of these things as they happen,” he said, adding: “The ultimate aim is to follow the money.” Mr Barritt added that the Cayman Islands had passed and implemented public access to information legislation in the space of two years, but such laws were not yet operational in Bermuda. “They also passed an anti-corruption law in 2008 which drew all these things together into one codified piece of legislation. If we are going to have the reputation that we want to have, we must not be left behind.” A further call was made for the passage of a Whistle-Blower Act, as seen in Canadian legislation. He said: “We do support this legislation. Let’s go further and bring about not just good governance, but better governance.” MP and former Premier Alex Scott voiced his support for Mr Barritt. “Let’s begin with the obvious,” Mr Scott said. “The longest journey begins with one step. Good governance requires the trust of the people. If the Premier tried to move too fast, she would end up like me a past Premier. I want the House to make it an offence for any one of us to trespass on the wrong side of good government. It’s not a reflection on anyone who holds office. It speaks to the notion of trust. If the people lose, for any reason, their trust in us, then we have lost our way. Offences of aggravated fraud and aggravated breach of trust should be put in place for political figures. We are a mature democracy and a proud people, and we must protect that.” Attorney General Michael Scott then praised the piloting of the Act as “a proud and happy moment, because of what it indicates the continuing pattern of good governance in Bermuda.” Mr Scott complained that the Opposition sought to “broad-brush the entire canvas”, and that the discussion took an undue focus on the concept that the Government engaged in bad practices. One Bermuda Alliance MP Shawn Crockwell then said: “It would have been appropriate if the debate had ended after (Alex) Scott and Mr Barritt. We believe that more needs to be done. Let’s accept that there have been some lapses and bring about some remedial action.” Environment Minister Walter Roban commended the Premier for bringing forward the legislation. “It’s very interesting to hear that it needs to go further,” Mr Roban said. “Those are good suggestions, and perhaps Madam Premier will consider them. However, this government has had a history of bringing legislation that advances good governance.” Ms Cox thanked the former Premier for voicing his support. She said: “Honourable members, remember that this is the first in a raft of legislation. One thing you don’t want to do is mess it up by rushing it so that you get a dog’s breakfast.” The Premier said she was glad that “on this piece of legislation, the Honourable Opposition is prepared to walk hand in hand with the Government.”
On February 22, 2010 it was reported Government has 101 GP cars in its fleet which has cost taxpayers $374,649 in repairs and maintenance and $83,838 in gas since July 2008.Minister of Works and Engineering Derrick Burgess confirmed this, with the fleet managed by the Ministry of Works and Engineering. He noted the Ministry of Works and Engineering assigns GP cars to the various ministries on as 'as needed' basis but the vehicles remain within the remit of the Ministry of Works and Engineering. Since July 2008, the Ministry has bought nine new GP cars with the total cost of $493,515. One car was a BMW which cost $188,000 and there were three Toyota Camry's which cost $69,500 each and five Kia's at $19,403 each.
2013. August 19. A financial guarantee to the developers of the proposed $2 billion resort at Morgan’s Point will be limited to $125 million, Government said yesterday. Government had an earlier previous portfolio of about $500 million worth of guarantees on its books. Of the latter, the largest is for repaying the construction financing for the new hospital, estimated at $260 million over a term of 30 years. Government has also guaranteed $200 million in aggregate liquidation preference of preference shares issued on June 12, 2009 by Butterfield Bank for a period of ten years from the date of the issuance of the preference shares. The West End Development Corporation benefited from two sovereign guarantees — $25 million for construction financing for affordable housing and a $5.9 million loan to complete a new sewage treatment plant at Royal Naval Dockyard. Another $36 million in construction financing was guaranteed by the Government for the Grand Atlantic housing scheme.
2014. November 17. Bermuda continues to spend more than it earns, the Ministry of Finance reported today. Government took in $443.5 million and spent $459.4 million during the first half of the fiscal year. Spending was said to be $28.5 million, or 5.8 per cent lower than the same period for the previous fiscal year. The figures did not include debt service costs, which added up to $80.5 million for the six months ending in September: $56.7 million in interest payments, plus a $23.8 million contribution to the Sinking Fund for government borrowing. The debt service to date was $19.1 million more than the same period for last year, owing to higher debt levels. According to a Ministry spokesman, the interest payments on Bermuda's debt consumed 12.8 per cent of Government's revenues. He said the average was 4.1 per cent of revenue for comparable countries. Under the existing Budget, Bermuda has a revenue target of $902 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, with an expenditure of $1.1 billion, including debt service. With a capital expenditure of $61.9 million for this fiscal year, the Island will have a projected deficit of $267.3 million. The spending is $14 million less than it was by September of last year. Financial Assistance is above budget because of increased demand and the cost of damages inflicted by Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gonzalo have yet to be accounted for. Customs duty is down by nearly 8 per cent, or $7.6 million, but the reduction has been offset by increased collections in payroll tax of $3.1 million and other revenues totalling $2.8 million. In a review of the Island's economic performance, the Ministry also released figures said to be consistent with the forecasts in the 2014 National Economic Report of Bermuda. Difficult economic conditions continued through the year, but the spokesman reported some positive indicators that show certain sectors of the economy are improving. The consumer price index for the year until September was 2.4 per cent, while the 12-month average rate was 1.9 per cent. Imports decreased by 2.3 per cent in the first two quarters, registering $476 million. The bulk of the drop was attributed to a decline in fuel imports. Air arrivals as of September had fallen by 3.6 per cent, while cruise arrivals rose 8.3 per cent, adding up to a rise of almost 4 per cent for visitor arrivals over last year. The Island saw 535 new international companies and partnerships registered in the first six months of this year, up 13.4 per cent on last year's figure of 472.The total value of new construction projects begun in the first half of 2014 rose by almost one half, to $26.1 million. There was also a modest rise in retail sales during the first nine months of the year. Retail was up 0.24 per cent, or $5.7 million.
Minister of Finance, November 2014
See Bermuda Human Rights Act 1981.
Bermuda laws apply, not UK laws, even though Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory. Unlike in the UK, Canada, USA, etc. the local Human Rights Act and Amendment Act relate only to Bermudians, not non-Bermudian retirees or guest workers. For example, where the Constitution says no discrimination by way of race or country of origin, etc, in practice non-Bermudians are regulated heavily in Work Permits regulations, exclusions, number of jobs they can have; property they may and may not buy; becoming Bermudian only by marriage and living together with a spouse - and eligible only after 10 years of such marriage.
Established in July 2011 by the House of Assembly as an independent but Government-appointed tribunal on immigration matters. In July 2012 it began to schedule its first appeals, more than a year after it was established. It will make the final decisions on grievances relating to issues such as Bermudian status, permanent residency and work permits. It replaces a Cabinet committee that previously heard appeals of Ministerial decisions. This committee ran the risk of being seen as biased, so the independent tribunal was established instead. There are 12 members of the panel. The tribunal has sought guidance from Government lawyers in drafting rules for the tribunal’s use and the guidance of appellants and lawyers.
March 6, 2014. Parliament and the Senate should be put together under the same roof as soon as possible, according to a report on Bermuda's governance tabled in the House of Assembly. The Joint Select Committee also recommended that a new, independent body known as the Management Commission be established with oversight for the administration of the Island's legislature. Committee chairman Cole Simons told the House that our legislature doesn't measure up in the areas of organizational effectiveness and accountability, and said the Committee called for a commission from across the political spectrum to manage it. Such a Commission would be chaired by the Speaker of the House and would consist of both the Premier and Opposition Leader, the Senate President, four MPs appointed by the House none of whom would be either Ministers or Junior Ministers plus a member of the Senate, and the Clerk of the House of Assembly. According to the report, this body would then handle the staffing, budgeting and support services for Parliament delegating day to day management to the Clerk of the House. The Management Council would also have the authority to constitute other committees as required. The report calls for a comprehensive code of conduct, enforced by an ethics committee. On situating Parliament and the Senate under one roof, the report calls the present situation inefficient and costly, and calls for putting the two together as a matter of urgency. The lower house of Bermuda's Parliament, The House of Assembly sits in the Sessions House on Parliament Hill while the upper chamber, The Senate, sits in the Cabinet Building, a short distance away on Front Street.
|Members are appointed, not elected, and paid for by the Bermuda Government. Courts are the Supreme Court and Magistrates Courts. These are headed by the Chief Justice, appointed by the Governor. The Judiciary administers the Bermuda legal system which passes its own laws. For some matters, they are based on English law but are modified - sometimes hugely - by Bermuda laws endorsed and approved by the Legislative branch. See the Bermuda Government's Bermuda Laws.|
In February 2010 Members of Parliament passed amendments widening the jury pool.Junior Minister of Justice Michael Scott said increasing the number of people eligible to serve on the jury would strengthen the judicial process. The amendments to the Jurors Act see the age of eligibility rise from 65 to 70. Justices of the Peace will also be eligible for jury. Bermuda currently has 523 JPs. Vets and dentists are no longer be exempt from jury service, nor are spouses of MPs, barristers and prison officers. Religious ministers and attorneys who do not actively engage in criminal law are now be eligible to be jurors. Former Police, reserve Police and prison officers are also eligible five years after they have completed their service. Minister Scott said it was necessary to widen the pool: "Recent challenges have arisen in the Supreme Court with respect to jury selection as a result of the disqualification and exemption of large numbers of persons from jury service. In particular, there appears to be a reduction in the number of persons who actually qualify for jury service. In these circumstances, trials have been delayed until sufficient persons are identified for jury selection, thereby compromising the effective administration of justice."
Including Cabinet Ministers who are automatically JPs, Bermuda has, in its 21 square miles, 523 JPs.
2015. March 14. Members of Parliament are to debate their salaries for the coming year on Monday. Legislators are likely to be closely watched during the talks, held on the last day of the exhaustive post-Budget committee of supply meetings. The earnings of Cabinet Ministers and MPs have been a politically sensitive topic in recent years, and with the latest Budget dominated by spending cuts, the scrutiny continues. There will be no changes to the Ministers and Members of the Legislature (Salaries and Pensions) Act, under which Michael Dunkley as Premier is paid $151,181 a year. Bob Richards as Deputy Premier earns $112,942. For Members of the House of Assembly, a year’s wage is $56,023. For Senators, it is $30,367. Ministers in the House or Senate both take the same annual wage of $100,841. Neither Mr Dunkley nor Mr Richards takes extra pay for their other jobs as Minister of National Security and Minister of Finance respectively. However, Mr Richards receives the higher of the two salaries: the Minister of Finance’s yearly wage is $121,010. After telling Parliament that he would move the salaries resolution at the next meeting of the House, Mr Dunkley pointed out that the salaries for the Premier, Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance, Attorney General and other ministers had been higher in 2012: $168,069, $125.491, $134,455, $163,358 and $112,046 respectively. That was true up until April 1, 2012: under the former Progressive Labour Party Government, those wages were reduced by 5 per cent, effective for one year. They had also been reduced a year earlier. In 2011, then Premier Paula Cox was earning $224,000 annually. The then-Opposition MPs under the United Bermuda Party had been calling for wage cuts since 2010, and in that year the Bermuda Industrial Union’s members took up the call, as civil service workers began to feel the squeeze. Ms Cox initially turned down union requests for pay cuts, but later said she would take a reduction if other senior civil servants followed her example. Meanwhile, with the formation of the One Bermuda Alliance, Mr Dunkley — then an Opposition Senator — said he would support pay cuts of up to 20 per cent. Ultimately, a 5 per cent cut went before the House and was passed. Those cuts only remained in effect until the general election that December, as stipulated in legislation. Wages went back up, but were cut once more, this time by 10 per cent, under OBA legislation approved in March 2013. They have remained at this level and are set to stay until March 31, 2016.
Who earns what in Parliament.
• President of the Senate: $15,181
• Speaker of House of Assembly: $26,569
• Vice President of Senate: $3,308
• Deputy Speaker of House of Assembly: $13,285
• Premier: $151,262
• Deputy Premier: $112,942
• Minister of Finance: $121,010 (as part-time minister): $60,505
• Attorney General: $147,022
• Other ministers in the House of Assembly: $100,841
• Other ministers in the Senate: $100,841 (as a part-time minister): $50,421
• Opposition Leader: $30,367
• Junior ministers in the House of Assembly: $11,387
• Junior ministers in Senate: $11,425
• Party whips: $7,593
Elected local legislators are required by law to be both Bermudian and British men and women who are Government or Opposition backbenchers. Their salaries are more than in many places far bigger than Bermuda. They are popularly elected to terms of up to five years by the registered voters of Bermuda - mostly Bermudian. (Some non-Bermudians who were Commonwealth citizens in 1979 were given the vote but are not Bermudian. Since 1979 there have not been any further voting concessions to non-Bermudians, nor have any non-Bermudians been allowed to become Bermudians unless they have qualified to do so by (a) marriage, (b) a wait of 10 years after marriage and (c) have remained both married and living/cohabiting with the same spouse at the time of their marriage at least 10 years earlier).
A Constituency Boundaries Commission, appointed in late 2001, recommended reduction of members from 40 to 36. It was approved and was in place for the July 2003 General Election.
The House celebrated its 385th anniversary in 2005. It first convened on August 1, 1620, in the town of St. George, Bermuda's first capital. Only the legislative assemblies of the United Kingdom and Iceland pre date it.
The dress code for all Bermuda legislators was relaxed in July 2000. Now men may wear Bermuda Shorts or safari or Nehru suits and women trouser suits.
There is an Annual (except in 2007 due to an election) Speaker's Dinner, every November, hosted by the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Bermuda has more politicians per voter than anywhere else in the world, by a very wide margin. Here, we have 36 Members of Parliament in 21 square miles for a total of 43,000 voters, or 1 legislator for every 1,194 voters. In comparison, in the European Union, there are 736 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) for 350 million voters throughout the EU, equivalent to 1 MEP for every 470,000 voters. In the United Kingdom there are 647 MPs for 40 million voters, equivalent to 1 MP for every 64,000 voters. Other examples include St. Lucia, with 14 parliamentarians in its 240 square miles; Barbados, also in the Caribbean, with 28 elected members in its parliament and 12 senators, in its 166 square miles and with a population of 266,000.
The Bermuda Government has 9 appointed Parish Councils, 2 elected municipal Corporations each with their full slate of aldermen and councilors like much larger cities and towns abroad and 108 Government Boards in which there are 800 part time members (none of them full time civil servants, all reporting to a Member of Parliament).
House of Assembly recently
House of Assembly about 1985.
There are a total of 36 Members of Parliament.
2013. March 14. A five percent pay cut agreed by parliamentarians a year ago to appease angry unions has been ditched by the One Bermuda Alliance. Premier Craig Cannonier insisted last night Government was “prohibited from opting to keep the reduced salaries” in place when it came into power — but he did not explain why he didn’t simply table the pay cut in Parliament again. Mr Cannonier has cut ministerial salaries by ten percent but, come April 1, many MPs and senators will enjoy a bigger pay packet than a year ago. The five percent reduction tabled in the House of Assembly by former Premier Paula Cox, after pressure from union chiefs and the public, saw parliamentary pay for MPs and senators drop to $53,222 and $28,848, respectively, last April. The resolution which brought the pay cut into effect was valid until either a general election or March 31, 2013, so ceased to be in effect on December 17. Annual pay for MPs then reverted to $56,023 and pay for senators to $30,367. Although Mr Cannonier has since tabled a new resolution on salaries, which was approved in the House last week, he opted to leave parliamentary pay as $56,023 or $30,367 — giving MPs and senators back the five percent cut they had accepted.
Asked why by The Royal Gazette, the Premier said in an e-mailed answer from his spokeswoman: “The Government was prohibited from opting to keep the reduced salaries because the March 2012 resolution which had been passed by the Legislature made provision for the salaries to revert to the former level, prior to the five percent reduction, in April 2013 or at the time of a general election, whichever was sooner. The salaries therefore reverted automatically at the time of the election. However, the new Government introduced a new resolution at the earliest opportunity and went further and ensured that the new resolution made provision for a ten percent reduction in salaries for the Premier and his Ministers.” The salaries of Cabinet Ministers are comprised of two elements: ministerial pay and parliamentary pay. Mr Cannonier and his 12-strong team will take a ten percent cut in their ministerial pay from April 1, but their parliamentary pay will remain at the higher level of either $56,023 or $30,367, depending on if they sit in the Lower or Upper Chamber. So the Premier, for example, will actually take a 7.5 percent pay cut, earning $207,285 a year, instead of $224,092. On average, the new resolution means a 6.3 percent pay cut for Cabinet Ministers. Most backbench MPs and senators without any other responsibilities, whose salaries are comprised purely of parliamentary pay, will continue to pick up $56,023 or $30,367 from April 1 — five percent more than their April 1, 2012 salaries. Mr Cannonier told the House last week that the ministerial pay cut was “more symbolic than substantive.” But last night, he said: “In this economy, a pay cut of any percentage can be seen as meaningful. Therefore, a pay cut of ten percent is substantive. The Government … wanted to demonstrate that they are serious about social and economic equity for everyone, aptly demonstrating our commitment to managing the government purse and that we as a government are willing to sacrifice. I am absolutely satisfied that the taxpayers are getting value for money for the Cabinet and parliamentary salaries. In fact, Bermuda is getting more than its money’s worth for the amount of work that is being conducted. There is no real ‘time-off’ for the Ministers, as their lives are committed to the public day in, day out.” Mr Cannonier did not respond when asked why he didn’t include the five percent pay cut for parliamentarians in his resolution. His spokeswoman said he’d be willing to answer further questions today. Meanwhile, the Premier revealed in written parliamentary answers to the House yesterday that five Ministers in his new Cabinet are part-time. They are Health and Seniors Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons, Environment Minister Sylvan Richards, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy and Leah Scott, Minister without Portfolio. Each will earn half a full-time ministerial salary, along with their parliamentary pay of either $56,023 (for the four MPs) or $30,367 (for Senator Fahy). Mr Cannonier claimed having five part-time Ministers would save taxpayers $280,000 a year. His spokeswoman later explained that the figure was based on each of them earning half the former ministerial salary of $112,046 i.e. five x $56,023. In fact, they will earn $50,421 a year in ministerial pay, after the ten percent pay cut comes into effect on April 1. The information on part-time Ministers was given in response to questions by Opposition leader Marc Bean. He said last night: “The answers to the questions tabled today by the Premier only raise more questions. On January 4, the Premier sent out a statement saying the move would save $228,000 per year, while today the Premier has now increased that figure to $280,000. Further, these ‘savings’ are mainly derived from the fact that very important ministries will only receive part-time attention in the new Cabinet. During these times of challenge, we do not believe that the Ministries of Economic Development, Health and Seniors, Home Affairs, and Environment and Planning deserve part-time attention.” A year ago, Premier Paula Cox’s Cabinet was all full-time. One Minister — Patrice Minors — was previously part-time, keeping her job as assistant vice-president at Butterfield Bank. But the decision sparked criticism from the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, which was then in Opposition. MP Trevor Moniz, who is now full-time Public Works Minister, questioned whether Ms Minors could properly carry out her duties as Business Development and Tourism Minister on a part-time basis. It is understand Ms Minors left the bank at the request of Ms Cox, who required all her Ministers to be full-time. Mr Cannonier said last night: “It’s about their level of commitment. While they may be part-time Ministers, the quantity and the quality of work they provide for the country has not been compromised.”
2013, March 7. MPs last night passed a resolution to give Cabinet Ministers a ten percent pay cut, effective April 1. “It’s more symbolic than substantive,” conceded Premier Craig Cannonier, noting that the overall saving was relatively small. “But in our present economic and fiscal circumstances, it’s the right thing moving forward.” The Premier’s salary will decrease from $168,069 to $151,262 a year, for example, while the Deputy Premier’s pay goes from $125,491 to $112,942. Other Ministers in the House will drop from $112,046 to $100,841. The same pay is set for Ministers serving in the Senate. However, the Resolution stipulates that Ministers serving full-time in the Senate shall be granted a salary of $112,046 from January 1, 2013 until March 31, 2013. Part-time Ministers are entitled to $50,421 as of April 1. In the House of Assembly last night, Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert questioned how Mr Cannonier could set the date for April 1 when, at the December swearing-in of his new Cabinet, the Premier had promised to cut ministerial salaries “effective immediately.” Mr Cannonier called back that the resolution had to be brought before the House first. Shadow Finance Minister David Burt commended Mr Cannonier as “a very nice guy”. But the MP for Pembroke West Central added that as of November, 2012, Cabinet cost Bermuda taxpayers $114,941 a month, and it cost $133,316 a month as of January. Come April, he said, it would stand at $119,983 a month. Mr Burt added: “I have a challenge with the Premier getting up saying that Cabinet members will take a ten percent pay cut, effective immediately — and then backdating Ministers in the Senate and not backdating the pay cut.” Telling the Lower House that no political games were being played, Mr Cannonier said: “I move this Resolution though. We have taken our ten percent.” The Motion was passed.
2013, February 11. Then-Premier Craig Cannonier tabled proposed pay cuts for Cabinet Ministers, as promised by the victorious political party in the December 2012 General Election. The changes included pay cuts for many posts, but Cabinet Ministers who sit in the Senate would receive a boost in pay to set them at the same level as Cabinet Ministers in the House of Assembly. A resolution to revise the captioned Act was tabled on Friday. According to the resolution, the base annual salary for Ministers and Senators will remain unchanged, with Ministers earning $56,023 and Senators $30,367. However the additional salary for most Cabinet posts would drop by around ten percent as of April 1 should the resolution be approved.
The annual salary for the Premier will fall from $168,069 to $151,262.
The annual salary for the Deputy Premier will fall from $125,491 to $112,942.
The annual salary for the Minister of Finance will fall from $134,455 to $121,010.
The annual salary for the Attorney General will fall from $163,358 to $147,022.
All other Cabinet Members will receive an annual salary of $100,841.
While this is a ten percent pay cut for those who sit in the House of Assembly who previously had an annual salary of $112,046, it marks an 80 percent increase for those who sit in the Senate, who had received $56,023 per annum. Ministers in the Senate will also have their annual pay increased to $112,046 between January 1, 2013 and March 31, 2013, bringing them in line with those in the House of Assembly for the period. The increase will directly affect two senators, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy and Education Minister Nalton Brangman. The legislation also sets pay scales for part-time Cabinet Ministers, who will receive half the salary of their full-time counterparts — $60,505 for the Minister of Finance and $50,421 for other Cabinet Ministers.
Other salaries will remain unchanged. These include:
Opposition Leader — $30,367.
Speaker of the House — $26,569.
Senate President — $15,181.
Deputy Speaker of the House — $13,285.
Junior Minister in the Senate — $11,425.
Junior Minister in the House — $11,387.
Party Whips — $7,593.
Senate Vice President — $3,308.
Ministers and Members of Parliament pay 12.5 per cent of their gross salaries into their pension fund by this name. Government matches contributions, to make a total of 25%. Pensions are paid out based on a formula pertaining to the number of years in which contributions were made.
2015. December 19. Retired Cabinet ministers are set to have their pension pots restored, after a resolution proposed by the Premier passed at the House of Assembly. Michael Dunkley explained on Wednesday night that ministers’ salaries were reduced by 10 per cent in March 2013 to help cut costs, a move which remains in effect today. However, any minister who retired after that point has seen their pension from the Ministers of the Legislature Pension Fund (MMLPF) similarly docked. “This was an unintended consequence of the resolution, and is also unfair to the members who, for the most part, would have paid into the MMLPF at the higher salary,” said Mr Dunkley. The Premier suggested the introduction of a retroactive resolution to fix the issue, which went through uncontested. “For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this resolution shall be taken to modify the annual salaries actually payable to members of the legislature,” Mr Dunkley added.
2013, February 12. The pension fund set up for Bermuda’s legislators is worth well over $8 million. According to the latest audited financial statement of the Ministers and Members of the Legislature Pensions Fund, a total of $8,528,514 was available for benefits payable by the Fund on March 31, 2009. Assets increased by $1,449,348 during fiscal 2009 — $446,060 of that increase came from members’ contributions, a matching amount was contributed by Government and the fund earned $557,228 in interest. Assets decreased by about $690,000, the largest share of that being $490,000 paid out in benefits. But the year started with net assets of $7.7 million. The Fund receives 25 percent of salaries paid to parliamentarians, senators and staff of the legislature, split equally between the Government and the contributors. Pensions are paid to contributors from age 60 if they have served at least eight years or at age 55 if they have served for 20 years or more. The pensions fund financial statements were tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday.
2015. September 30. This office, set up in 2011 to strengthen financial accountability in government has only half the staff it needs, it has been revealed. And a suitable candidate to lead the Office of Project Management and Procurement (OPMP) has yet to be found, despite the job being advertised twice and having a salary of more than $100,000 a year. A statement released by the unit under new public access to information requirements shows that it should have eight employees but lacks a director and is understaffed. Asked about the situation, a government spokesman told The Royal Gazette: “There are eight positions in the Office of Project Management and Procurement, of which four are filled. They are the contracts and compliance manager, the senior project manager, the procurement manager and an administrative assistant. The position of director is currently vacant and has been advertised twice. We are looking for the right person who will work to ensure the OPMP fulfils its mission to provide oversight and guidance to public authorities and implement the soon-to-be released code of practice on procurement and project management. The contracts and compliance manager is acting as director while the position is being recruited.” The spokesman said the director, once recruited, would assess the skills needed to “assist the department and the managers to perform their oversight and audit functions. As a result, the recruitment of the procurement operations analyst, the procurement systems officer and the contracts and compliance officer will be completed after a director has been appointed.” The OPMP was created under former Premier Paula Cox under the Good Governance Act 2011 and falls within the remit of the Cabinet Office. Michael Dunkley told parliament earlier this year, in reference to the office being set up under the Progressive Labour Party, that Ms Cox “had to do something … because those guys on that side were pilfering.” The Premier withdrew the word “pilfering” but questioned what had happened to “missing assets.” The office’s website says it “provides oversight and guidance to government departments and ministries regarding project management and procurement activities to ensure fairness, transparency and consistency in awards of contracts and adherence to applicable rules and industry best practices.”
Premier of Bermuda since May 20, 2014 is Hon Michael Dunkley, JP, MP
Premier Michael Dunkley, JP. MP. See www.premier.gov.bm, which details his ministerial statements, press releases and statements, national addresses, special messages and meetings. There are also links to other departments within the Bermuda Government. The government-built webpage also connects to the Premier's social-media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Bermuda Cabinet from December 19, 2012 with then-Premier Cannonier in the centre and then-Attorney General Mark Pettingill behind him on right. Royal Gazette photo
The Premier of Bermuda is the political leader and head of government. The post of Premier in Bermuda is the equivalent to Chief Minister in other British Overseas Territories or Prime Minister in politically independent British Commonwealth of Nations. It is the highest political level that can be attained within the British colonial system. The Premier and Cabinet (consisting of all the most senior ministers) are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to the Legislative Assembly, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate. Phone (441) 295-4623. Email email@example.com. Highest paid Cabinet member, on an annual salary of $224,092 in 2011/2012. Has use of a Bermuda Government car, GP1, a BMW 750Li. Also gets health insurance, a pension, a parking space at Sessions House and a credit card. Appoints other Cabinet Ministers each of whom earns in excess of $171,000 a year plus expenses, gets use of a Bermuda Government car, a Toyota Camry, health insurance, a pension, a parking space at Sessions House and a credit card.
Premier's staff. In December 2013 then-Premier Craig Cannonier disclosed the salaries of his personal staff in response to questions from the Opposition. Questioned by Shadow Finance Minister David Burt, Mr Cannonier told the House of Assembly that a total of six people are employed under the Premier and Opposition Leader Personal Staff Act 1983. Mr Cannonier said chief of staff Dale Jackson receives $122,064 per year, while the Premier's secretary and administrative assistant, Judy Benevides, is paid $77,254. The Premier's press secretary, Charmaine Burgess, receives $113,480 per year while special advisor Don Grearson is paid $105,765 annually. Mr Cannonier also told the House that a housekeeper for Clifton, the official residence of the Premier, is included under the act and an hourly fee of $35. One person is employed by the Opposition under the act, receiving $33 per hour. Asked for the difference in the roles of Ms Burgess and Mr Grearson, Mr Cannonier said: "The special advisor is just that, a special advisor on many issues concerning politics, the history and the past. It is important to me to ensure that I look at trends of the past so I can continue to make good decisions today and for the future. The press secretary does all of my press releases on a day-to-day basis and handles the media." Mr Jackson and Ms Burgess were announced as the Premier's chief of staff and press secretary respectively in February 2013, while Mr Grearson was reportedly hired by the Premier in July 2013.
Made up of Members of Parliament. It is authorized by the House of Assembly to look at public expenditure. The committee also investigates findings reported by the Auditor General in the annual and other special reports. Often meets in the Senate Chamber, Cabinet Building on Front Street.
Government House has direct responsibility for the operational side of Policing with the Police Commissioner reporting directly to the Governor, while costs, budgeting and manpower are Government’s responsibility. There have been a number of disputes, with some members of parliament stating that as the Bermuda Government foots the entire bill, it - not the Governor, representing the UK but not Bermuda directly - should have final jurisdiction.
As of December 18, 2012 they are:
2013. October 1. The Price Control Commission has yet to meet six months after being appointed. The Commission was established to protect consumers from unwarranted rate increases on essential goods and services, but Finance Minister Bob Richards said Government was using other committees and commissions to tackle the high cost of living. He said the cost of electricity is under the remit of the Energy Commission, the issue of healthcare is being dealt with by the Ministry of Health and a separate Committee under the Ministry of Home Affairs is looking into the cost of food. “Those are the three basic elements. They are not being dealt with under the Price Control Commission, but they are certainly being dealt with in broader government,” he said. “This Government is a firm believer that free markets are the most efficient and cost effective way of delivering goods and services. Government doesn’t fix prices. Government price fixing doesn’t work. There’s an old saying in economics that you can fix the price of something and you can fix the supply of something, but you can’t fix both at the same time. If the government wants to fix the price of a loaf of bread they can do so, but they can’t force someone to bring it in and sell it at that price.” He said the best the Government could do is ensure there is a competitive market, and in cases where there may be a monopoly, ensure that there is a regulatory system in place to monitor them. Shadow Finance Minister David Burt said the Opposition does not support price fixing, but the Government had promised to meet with retailers when cutting the salaries of public sector workers, asking what success Government has had. Mr Richards responded that it was a “work in progress.” Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley, speaking for the Ministry of Home Affairs, said that both he and Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy have been involved in talks with the Island’s grocers, but due to the sensitive nature of talks he was not able to make a statement to the House. “The leading grocers are meeting among themselves, and once they look at the potential options, they will revert to the Government." Asked by Shadow Minister of Economic Development Glenn Blakeney about it there had been talks with the Island’s wholesalers, Mr Dunkley said it was up to the grocers to get the wholesalers involved in the conversation. The Minister noted that the previous administration had attempted to work with the wholesalers in 2011, but nothing came of it. Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons meanwhile said Government has had several meetings with Belco about energy costs. “Earlier this year, under this administration, the Ministry of Economic Development authorized the Energy Commission to undertake a review of the fuel adjustment rate being applied by Belco,” Dr Gibbons said. “We are in the process of analyzing the findings of that review and are discussing them with Belco.” Dr Gibbons said the Government has formed a consultation committee, the Bermuda Energy Working Group, which is collaborating with Belco and Government on several projects, including equitable interconnection agreements in order to reduce reliance on the energy company and lower prices. “There are several other initiatives we are working on, each with an aim to lower the average fuel bill, and I will make a statement when I am ready to report,” he said. Mr Burt however said that Dr Gibbons’ statement brought little comfort, saying his constituents had seen their fuel adjustment rates increase by 15 percent between January and September, and Government has announced a new tax that would further increase costs. Dr Gibbons said the last base rate was set under the previous administration, the fuel adjustment rate is based on the cost of fuel purchased by Belco.
Marc Bean, JP, MP. Leader, PLP. Warwick South Central. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn Blakeney, JP. MP. Devonshire North. Email email@example.com.
Walton Brown, JP, MP. Pembroke Central. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Derrick V. Burgess, JP, MP. Deputy Leader, PLP. Hamilton East. Email email@example.com.
David Burt, JP, MP. Pembroke West Central. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rolfe Commissiong, JP, MP. Pembroke South East. Email email@example.com.
Zane DeSilva, JP, MP. Southampton East. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lovitta Foggo, JP, MP. St. David's. Email email@example.com.
Wayne Furbert, JP. MP. Hamilton West. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
K. H. Randolph Horton, JP. MP. Southampton West. Email email@example.com. Became Speaker of the House February 2013. First elected to Parliament in 1998, the Southampton West MP is the most qualified by experience to run the House. In July 2010 he became Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on the Causes of Violent Crime and Gun Violence in Bermuda, and in May 2011 was elected Deputy Speaker of the House.
Dennis Lister, JP. MP. Sandys North Central. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Lister, JP, MP. Sandys South. Email email@example.com.
Walter Roban, JP, MP. Pembroke East. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lawrence Scott, JP, MP. Warwick South East. Email email@example.com.
Michael Scott, JP, MP. Sandys North. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Weeks, JP, MP. Pembroke East Central. Email email@example.com.
Kim Wilson, JP, MP. Sandys South Central. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shadow (Opposition) Cabinet
Shadow Attorney General & Legal Affairs — Kim Wilson
Shadow Minister of Finance — David Burt
Shadow Minister of Education — Walton Brown
Shadow Minister of Home Affairs — Walter Roban
Shadow Minister of Public Safety — Michael Scott
Shadow Minister of Public Works — Derrick Burgess
Shadow Minister of Economic & Social Development — Glenn Blakeney
Shadow Minister of Health & Seniors — Zane DeSilva
Shadow Minister of Community & Cultural Development — Michael Weeks
Shadow Minister of Tourism — Wayne Furbert
Shadow Minister of Transport — Lawrence Scott
Shadow Minister of Environment & Planning — Senator Diallo Rabain
Shadow Minister of Municipalities — Senator Renee Ming
A government committee whose remit includes misuse of public funds.
Enacted in 2010. Similar to the UK's Freedom of Information (FOI), which legally requires most public bodies to release information when requested except for a series of exemptions such as the request being outside the public interest. In late 2015, the UK's FOI Independent Commission proposed dropping rules that allow asking the government to release information for free. A fee of up to £20 for each request may be likely in the future. In Bermuda, requests for information are free but at this time only Bermudians or local residents may request information, not overseas-based individuals whether Bermudian or not.
2015. November 27. The public will hear updates in today’s sitting of the House of Assembly on how the Public Access to Information Act has fared in its first months in effect. Michael Dunkley will offer details, along with the Public Access to Information Amendment Act 2015. “The Act simply deals with amendments which we believe are appropriate for after Pati was put in place,” the Premier said. “So far, we believe it has been implemented quite successfully. There are some clauses we have to amend. It’s nothing people will disagree with. It’s something we have worked closely on throughout this process.” Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, will bring amendments to the Bermuda Public Accountability Board before MPs. Legislators will also consider the Corporate Services Provider Business Exemption Order, and health insurance amendments brought by Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health.
2015. November 27. Updates to Public Access to Information Act have gone before Parliament. It includes a cutting down of the response time for public authorities to give information. Michael Dunkley told MPs there had been 75 Pati requests so far: 15 have been directed at the Bermuda Police Service. Six have been made to the Department of Child and Family Services; five have gone to the Cabinet Office. The numbers do not include requests made to quangos, the Premier said. Opposition MP Walton Brown voiced support from the Progressive Labour Party but said more amendments were needed. "Information that would only be released anyway should simply be automatically released, and the right to make Pati requests should be extended to people or organisations outside Bermuda. The Island has been a secretive society for centuries", Mr Brown said, with a culture of withholding information. Mr Dunkley agreed that as the Government “irons out the kinks”, Pati could be extended to queries from abroad. “That is certainly an option that we will consider,” he said. Mr Brown also suggested stronger penalties for persons who broke the rules of the Act, noting that “there was a breach of confidentiality” not long after Pati had been enacted. “What’s disturbing is it came after an extensive period of training and an extensive debate,” Mr Brown said. “We would like to see stiffer penalties for those who engage in willful violations of legislation.”
1914. June 13. Public bodies will be forced to provide full details of financial transactions under proposed new laws. Speaking in the House of Assembly this morning, Premier Michael Dunkley said Government was “committed to keeping its financial affairs and those of public bodies and authorities, open and transparent”, but that current legislation meant some public bodies did not have to be fully accountable. While expenditure data for Government Departments is readily disclosed and information inclusive of salaries, grants, and contributions is available to the public, the same level of disclosure does not apply to all public bodies and authorities,” Mr Dunkley told MPs. "A preliminary review of the legislation that governs the operation of different public bodies and authorities highlights significant inconsistencies as it relates to the requirement for disclosure. While most public bodies and authorities are required to provide annual reports, the level of detail is not always as useful as the public requires in order to be fully informed.” Mr Dunkley said that, in certain cases, Government Ministers did not have the authority to demand specific details relating to the financial accounts of some groups. As a result, some bodies are only required to submit annual accounts “which does not itemize the specifics of the expenditure. The Government will amend the Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Act 1969 to require all Government Departments and public authorities to provide very specific aspects of information relating to the accounts of these bodies. Under these provisions, information such as the salaries for senior executive officers of the public authorities will be made available as a part of the consolidated financial statements. In other instances, the Government will implement policies that mandate, via contractual agreement, the public disclosure of similar financial information as a requirement for grant funding. Such policies will ensure that where public funds are being used to underwrite the cost of operations, information regarding salaries, sponsorships, and other contributions is publicly available. This Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy to disclose information so that the public is informed. The same principle will apply to public bodies and authorities.”
August 1, 2011. then-Premier Paula Cox promised that Bermuda’s long-awaited public access to information (PATI) law would become operational “in the second half of 2012.” The legislation was passed in Parliament on July 23, 2010, when then-Premier Ewart Brown told the public to expect implementation within two to three years. He said an Information Commissioner would be appointed before the end of 2010 though the role has not yet been filled. Ms Cox said: “The timing, as stated in the debate in the House at that time, was to allow for the necessary preparation and a proper rollout. This Act represents a seismic shift in the way that public authorities disseminate information. In order for this legislation to achieve its goal, much preparation is required to ensure that public authorities meet the requirements and stringent deadlines set out in this Act.” The-then Premier noted an implementation taskforce, led by permanent secretary Wayne Carey, was formed as soon as the Public Access to Information Act 2010 was approved. “In August 2010, Mr Carey visited Cayman Islands to learn from the challenges that they experienced when implementing their legislation.” One of the lessons learned from their experiences highlighted for us early on that this would be a lengthy implementation process. The taskforce also undertook a comprehensive review of the record management systems already in place in Government to determine what was required to be in place before the enactment date. This core team produced a draft implementation plan in September 2010. All public authorities, other than those exempted, including government departments, quangos, statutory boards and committees and the Corporations of Hamilton and St George, are subject to the PATI Act.”
Then-Finance Minister Ms Cox said each authority had to prepare for the Act to become operational by producing an information statement explaining, among other things, its structure, legislation, functions and services provided, types of records held, policies and procedures, rules and guidelines; and developing internal processes for handling requests for information, in line with the Act. Other tasks to be completed before the enactment date are developing regulations for application procedures and management of records; setting minimum records management standards which are consistent across Government; establishing an Information Commissioner’s Office and recruiting an Information Commissioner; preparing and publishing a PATI guidance document and code of practice for use by the public and public service; and training public officers to receive and process requests. Ms Cox said public sessions to education citizens on how to make freedom of information requests would begin early next year. “While PATI is not as yet operational, this Government considers PATI as another key element that evidences this administration’s continuing commitment to transparency,” she said. The Premier said the legislation was part of a wider mission to improve accountability, adding that public meetings were held this year on the Budget, as well as on good governance and public treasury legislation and initiatives on the Mincy Report on young black males. There are more meetings to come. Very shortly, you will be hearing about the open budget process. The public would soon be able to view new procurement regulations on the Government website, as well as the rules of engagement for tendering. Once PATI is fully operational, it will be reflective of the continuing transparency and accountability that I consider characteristic of this administration.” Opposition leader John Barritt said as far as he was aware there had been “nothing but silence” from Government on PATI since it was passed. He said the Island would do well to follow in Cayman’s footsteps and implement the law as soon as possible. “Between promise, passage [through parliament] and action, was about a year in the Cayman Islands. “They moved smoothly and quickly on that. They did the same with their anti-corruption law. If Bermuda wanted to enhance its reputation and strength of governance it needed to act swiftly too." Former Premier Alex Scott, who first promised PATI in 2003, said he didn’t know “how far along the machinery has moved” on implementing the Act, but added: “I would think that the Premier would be putting all of the energy necessary and possible into implementing it. Until I hear otherwise, I’m making the assumption that it’s going ahead expeditiously.”
The Act represents a monumental change in how information held by the Bermuda public authorities can be accessed and obtained. The purposes of the Act are to place more information in the public domain, to increase the transparency and accountability of public authorities, to keep the public informed of activities of public authorities, and to give a right of access to information held by public authorities. However, extensive carve outs and procedural requirements may make it difficult for the Act to effect its bold promise. The benefits of having this type of legislation in Bermuda outweigh the arguments against having it. The Act allows both Bermudian citizens and residents alike to ask prudent questions of their Government with the expectation that forthright and equally prudent answers will be given. In this vein I would encourage everyone to read the Act, to become familiar with it and to form an opinion of it. Although it is law the Act will not come into operation until a future date appointed by the Minister. The appointed date is not yet known, although recent press reports indicate that it might be up to three years before the law is in force. Under the Act a Bermudian or a resident of Bermuda, upon paying a fee, may request and be given access to any record held by a public authority. No reason is required for a request and the public authority should assist with any request completely, accurately and in a timely manner. In addition the identity of the person making the request should be kept confidential unless the requester agrees otherwise. A request must be in writing and addressed to the public authority most likely to be holding the relevant record. Accordingly, the request should clearly identify the record so as to enable the public authority to find it. Upon receiving a request, the public authority should decide within 28 days whether to grant or refuse the request in whole or in part and if granted, specify the manner in which the right of access to the record concerned is to be given. A public authority may decide to refuse a request if the record does not exist or cannot be found after reasonable steps have been taken to find it; the request does not enable the public authority to identify the record; the request would, due to the size and nature of the records involved, require an examination of such number of records as to cause substantial disruption to the other work of that authority; the law requires publication of the record within three months of the request; the request is frivolous or vexatious (as determined by the head of the public authority); the information is already in the public domain or is reasonably available to the public; or the fee has not been paid.
Every record held by a public authority is to be available unless it is an "exempt record". Exempt records are those which would adversely affect the health and safety of an individual; with personal information relating to someone other than the requester where that person has not given consent for the information to be disclosed; containing sensitive commercial information unrelated to the requester where the original information provider has not consented to disclosure; received in confidence; containing Cabinet documents; that undermine Ministerial responsibility; that undermine deliberations of public authorities; that undermine or affect operations of public authorities; are reasonably expected to have a serious adverse effect on the financial interest of Bermuda or of Government to manage the national economy; prejudice or undermine national security, defence and international relations; contain information relating to the Governor's responsibilities and communications with the United Kingdom; are reasonably expected to prejudice law enforcement; are subject to legal professional privilege; or are prohibited from being disclosed by any other legislation
Although these are wide ranging carve outs there are two ways by which an exempt record can be accessed. First, with the exception of (b) and (n) above, a record will not be exempt after 30 years from the date of its creation. Second, the Act provides that certain records are subject to a "public interest test" which determines if on balance the public would be better served by the disclosure rather than the non-disclosure of that record.
If a request for access to a record is refused there is a right of appeal, in writing, to the Information Commissioner. The Commissioner may attempt to have the matter resolved through mediation or, alternatively, may make a decision to affirm or vary the decision of the public authority or make such an order as he deems appropriate.
The decision of the Commissioner is binding on all persons affected by it. Any person aggrieved by the Commissioner's decision may apply to the Supreme Court for a final review of that decision.
Despite the wide ranging and extensive carve outs and exemptions within the Act, it is hoped that officials and the Information Commissioner will embrace the bold aspirations of the Act and carefully consider in each case if the public would be better served by disclosure rather than the non-disclosure of the information requested in each instance.
Bermuda's pension plan for civil servants. Government employees pay 8 percent of their gross salaries into their pension fund called by this name. Government matches contributions of employees. Pensions are paid out based on a formula pertaining to the number of years in which contributions were made
2015. Late August. It was reported this is significantly underfunded and is under the diligent review of the Bermuda Government. The PSSF’s cost-of-living adjustments were suspended in 2014, and Government is considering an amendment to the PSSF’s definition of final average earnings, from the salary payable just prior to retirement, to an average of earnings over the final five years of employment prior to retirement.
2015. March. The Royal Gazette reported that a working group looking into pensions and benefits had been established. According to those reports, the working group has recommended, and is considering, the following PSSF changes:
There are more than 100 in Bermuda, including the Bermuda Land Development Corporation (BLDC). None of these taxpayer-funded entities hold their meetings in public and publish regular minutes, despite the passing of public access to information and good governance legislation in Parliament and a commitment from former Premier Paula Cox to ensure transparency and accountability in Government.
Enacted June 2012 by Bermuda's House of Assembly. Established procedures for national referendums, including the promised one on gaming. Two previous referenda held in Bermuda required separate legislation to be passed for them. The first was on capital punishment in 1990, when 78.4 percent favored retention of the death penalty. The second was on Independence in 1995, and saw a 73 percent vote against breaking ties with Britain. The new law means legislators will no longer have to pass a separate law each time a referendum is decided upon. It sets out the general parameters for them to be held in each case and is based on tried and true electoral processes. Only registered voters can participate in a referendum. A ‘yes’ vote will have happened if 50 percent or more of Bermuda’s registered voters vote in the referendum, and more than 50 percent of them mark their ballot ‘yes.’ A ‘no’ vote will have happened if 50 percent or more of Bermuda’s registered voters take part and more than 50 percent of them mark their ballot ‘no.’ A referendum question will be taken to be unanswered if less than 50 percent of registered voters vote, or if the voting patterns are such that the requirements for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ result are not met. The principle behind the new legislation is “informed choice” and Government is committed to fairness, transparency and propriety in the conduct of referendums. The bill allows the Premier to set up an “ad hoc committee” if she wishes to advise on any matter relating to a particular referendum. Premier Ms Cox indicated that the national debate on gaming may be the first issue put to a referendum under the new act. Attorney General Kim Wilson said in a speech to a United Nations seminar on decolonisation in May 2012 that the legislation will also help pave the way for a fresh referendum on Independence. Leader of the Opposition Craig Cannonier welcomed the legislation. However, he said his party wishes to go one step further, and have “citizen’s initiative” referendums. Those are brought forward by the people rather than by the Government. Mr Cannonier said this would increase faith and participation in the political process. His party colleague Grant Gibbons noted that under the new bill, power to decide the referendum question and the timing of the vote remains in the hands of government, not the people. He also expressed concern that just one-quarter of the electorate could decide an issue as weighty as Independence. “It certainly is not adequate when it comes to an issue such as Independence. The British Government says it has to be a clearly expressed majority of the people. Most of us believe we need some sort of super majority in order to carry an issue like that.” Charles Swan of the United Bermuda Party welcomed the bill. However, he also sounded a note of caution that a referendum could be decided if just 26 percent of the electorate voted for or against something. “That’s maybe something we want to reconsider or look at,” he suggested. Later in the debate, Ms Cox indicated that the rules can be customized for individual referendums, “including even with the percentage of the participation.” The bill was passed as amended.
2015. June 30. Inquiries into the fate of the dormant Salaries Review Board have gone unanswered, despite MPs continuing to debate the issue each year. The independent board, required by law to review the parliamentarians’ pay every two years, is last known to have issued a report nearly seven years ago — even though MPs approved their own pay scales this March. Legislators’ salaries were pegged at the same level for this fiscal year, but have had two cuts since April 2012. The Royal Gazette began questioning the status of the Salaries Review Board in April this year, beginning with Cabinet — only to be referred to the House of Assembly.
Bermuda has a bicameral legislative body, an appointed Upper House (Senate) and an elected Lower House. All 11 Senators are paid, but less than Members of Parliament. Despite its name as the Senate, and its description as the Upper House, it is a junior legislative forum. The Upper House, named the Senate since 1980, is appointed by the Governor. He also appoints three independent Senators. They represent neither the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) now in government, nor the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) formerly in government until December 17, 2012 or the former United Bermuda Party (UBP) now totally extinct nor any other independent or political entity. Like all Members of Parliament, all Senators are required by law to be Bermudian. The five representing the OBA are Lynn Woolridge, Alexis Swan and Jeff Baron. They were also sworn in as junior ministers with Senator Woolridge assisting with the portfolios of Health and Seniors, and Public Works; Senator Swan Environment and Planning and Community Development; and Senator Baron assisting the Ministers of Public Safety and Legal Affairs. Senator Woolridge heads up the international life and annuity division at Argus Insurance Group and worked behind the scenes on the One Bermuda Alliance’s election campaign. She also served as secretary of the party’s women’s caucus and as a member of its shadow health board. Senator Swan was the OBA’s election candidate for Warwick South East but lost the contest to the Progressive Labour Party’s Lawrence Scott. Senator Baron, a former police officer, was the OBS's general election candidate for Pembroke South East. He lost the seat to the PLP’s Rolfe Commissiong. Senators Michael Fahy and Nalton Brangman are OBA Cabinet Ministers. The Opposition PLP’s Senators are lawyer Marc Daniels, Diallo Rabain and Renee Anderson-Ming. In January 2013 the Governor appointed the three independent Senators. They are Carol Ann Bassett, Joan Dillas-Wright and James Jardine. All three Independent Senators served in the last session — Senator Bassett as President of the Senate, and Senator Dillas-Wright as Vice President.
Cabinet Office, home of the Senate. Photograph by the author
2013. November 27. Finance Minister Bob Richards has said there will be extensive consultation before Government carries out any cost-cutting recommendations made by the SAGE Commission. But in a statement issued this morning, he appeared not to rule out future redundancies in the Civil Service one of the central recommendations put forward by the Savings And Government Efficiency Commission. Government had initially pledged that there would be no job cuts in the Civil Service, although last month Premier Craig Cannonier suggested a shift in Governments position when he said he cant make any promises on jobs. And Mr Richards made no reference to the guarantee, saying only that consultation will anchor the SAGE process going forward. "The Government is sensitive to the concerns raised by the unions and, by extension, members of the Civil Service. I can assure civil servants and the public that consultation will anchor the SAGE process going forward. We will consult all stakeholders before recommendations are implemented. The process will also see the Government assess what recommendations can be implemented in the first year and the formulation of a timetable for recommendations that can be implemented in the following years. I have made a Take Note motion on the report, which will be debated in the House of Assembly on December 13. I look forward to a full and frank debate in the House as we continue to work to revive our economy through policies and actions that grow the economy and jobs on the one hand and government efficiencies on the other. "
2013. November 19. Some civil servants are being awarded exorbitant benefits packages with overtime pay that is significantly higher than the norm in the private sector, according to the SAGE Commission. And Government employees have been able to secure generous deals through their unions because bosses negotiating contracts on behalf of the Government are often members of the union themselves, the commission revealed. In its 140-page final report, which was submitted to Government on Friday, the commission pointed out that six separate unions represented around 5,300 Government workers employed in a slew of ministries, departments and quangos which were not necessarily linked to Governments Human Resources Department. Agreements are reached based upon whatever each union can negotiate at the time, the report noted, adding that each union had attempted to negotiate to the highest standard of benefits available across Government. There is no strategic framework for contract negotiations with unions, and there is no standard across the Public Service for negotiating union contracts. Civil and Public Service employees representing Government, as an employer, in negotiations with the unions, are union members themselves. Negotiating with the very union of which they are a member is viewed by many as a conflict of interest. Government employees who are members of a union should not be negotiating on behalf of Government with the union of which they are members. According to the findings, managers find it difficult to manage employees with multiple agreements and provisions, while under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, BIU workers are not subjected to performance appraisals. "In numerous interviews, the SAGE Commission was told that Heads of Departments and managers were not consulted before agreements were reached and that the resulting agreements were difficult to implement," the report stated. The commissioners concluded: "Some of the negotiated provisions with respect to benefits are significantly out of alignment with best practices. The scale of benefits under the current Collective Bargaining Agreements are financially unsustainable. both wage rate increases and benefits. All Collective Bargaining Agreements must be reviewed and amended to be financially sustainable. Where appropriate, standardized benefits should be agreed which reflect best practices. Negotiations should avoid pattern bargaining, a practice by which unions use a particular agreement as a model on which agreement for other employees are based. Union contract negotiations should be aligned with Governments stated strategic objectives." The commission recommended that an independent body conduct any future pay and benefit negotiations with the Bermuda Public Services Union, that some benefits should be harmonized, and that heads of departments and managers must be consulted prior to union negotiations. The report also claimed that staff were retained and promoted even if they were regarded as low performers, while high performers were not always rewarded. "Government employees are often not recognised for their performance good or bad," the report said. "There are examples of serious infractions for which there have been no consequences. Performance appraisals are not taken seriously and not utilized effectively to develop the Government workforces talents and career objectives. Discipline is not applied consistently or as often as required by the CECC [Conditions of Employment and Code of Conduct] as read with the Public Service Commission regulations." The Bermuda Trades Union Congress is expected to deliver its response to the commissions findings tomorrow.
2013. June 26. A cultural revolution is needed in the Civil Service, says SAGE Commission chairman Brian Duperreault. He told Hamilton Rotary members yesterday that SAGE was surprised to find that creativity and innovation are not encouraged in the Civil Service. “One of the biggest challenges we have to face is the culture of the Bermuda Civil Service,” Mr Duperreault said. “It’s been a surprise to private sector members of the Commission to learn of the number of reports produced by civil servants that outline plans for progressive change, and the number of people who have worked hard to try to implement the recommendations in those reports. But this is not a culture that supports, encourages and rewards creativity and innovation. This is not a culture that promotes brave leadership. What we have is a lumbering organization with cumbersome bureaucracy, a vestige of a colonial mindset that can’t adapt to the 21st century because it hasn’t been given the tools to do so. In most organizations, there’s what I’d call a natural cleansing process in the way personnel are managed. You do your job well, you’re rewarded and possibly promoted. You don’t do your job well, you get some assistance for professional development, you get some coaching, and if that doesn’t work, you leave the organization to make way for someone else. But this isn’t how it works in the Civil Service. The performance process doesn’t seem to produce reasonable outcomes that support healthy, well-managed growth and development. Staff who enter the Civil Service with a zeal to make a difference are worn down by a system that thwarts progress. Their ideas are ignored. If they’re not ignored, they drift for years before they’re implemented. There is little accountability for those who do not perform to expectations. Staff who violate Public Service regulations might face a mild slap on the wrist. The chances of them being dismissed are slim to none. At the SAGE Commission, we’re beginning to believe that if we can find a way to help effect real systemic change in the Civil Service, to infuse it with a “can do” culture, we will be well on our way to creating the government Bermuda needs and can afford. We’ve been told by many civil and public servants that they desperately want the SAGE Commission to recommend a culture in government that both rewards excellence and also deals with non-performance. They want a culture that attracts, and keeps, strong performers.” Mr Duperreault went on to say that reducing personnel costs had to be done with a view to not causing more harm than good and planning for the social ramifications. And new revenue sources will have to be identified as “we can’t cut our way to economic recovery.” He called on the public not to indulge in the blame game over the Island’s fiscal crisis. “Are we going to retreat into our traditional comfort zones? Are we going to look for scapegoats to bear the brunt of what has to be done? Or are we going to reach out to each other, with mutual respect and decency, to find a way to fix our broken government?” The Commission has received 200 submissions from the public, and will submit an interim report next month. Healthcare costs and government pensions were being reviewed by the six Commission members, Mr Duperreault reported. But he said the Commission might make a separate recommendation of a healthcare review. “I’m pleased with the analysis the Commissioners have done so far on government pensions but I’m concerned about the review of healthcare costs. This type of review isn’t the same as finding ways to cut government spending. It needs the eye of professionals with specialist expertise.”
Formation of SAGE has resulted in top civil servants are being put through their paces with an exhaustive series of questions and requests for information from the SAGE Commission. Charged with recommending ways in which Government can be more effective and efficient, the SAGE Commission turned its attention to the 70-odd department heads asking them to provide about a dozen reports on their operations. The reports include policy and legislative reviews, service delivery standards, performance benchmarks, performance system reviews, strategic reviews and plans, “inter-departmental and inter-ministerial coordination and efficiency,” and “efficiency, effectiveness and economy of programmes and services." The bosses are expected to justify and explain how they measure performance, reward good performance and think through ways in which they could be more effective and efficient, according to correspondence obtained by The Royal Gazette. Directors are being asked by the Measurement and Metrics Committee what key performance indicators are used by their departments, what makes them relevant and whether they are taken into consideration to evaluate the performance of their staff. “Is it fair to hold you accountable for the performance of your organization?” is one of the questions being asked by the Performance committee. SAGE’s privatization/outsourcing committee is expecting civil servants to tell them which of their services compete with the private sector, can be more effectively provided by the private sector and which assets are underutilized “not used at all, or are being misused or inappropriately used?" Government employees are required by law to provide information requested by the SAGE Commission.
Governor delivering the 2014 Throne Speech
• Strengthen human rights legislation to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of mental disability, as well as discrimination through printed word, telephone discussions or any electronic medium
• Improve legislation such as the Senior Abuse Register Act to give better protection for seniors and people with disabilities
• Remove inconsistencies from sentencing of those who commit sexual crimes against children, while separating sexual experimentation from the most serious sexual offences
• Pursue legislative steps for a mental health court
• Work with groups such as Focus to ensure drug addicts and alcoholics can get the treatment they need efficiently and cost-effectively
• Pilot a programme to increase access to chronic disease medications
• Table and debate legislation to end conscription
• Move forward with department amalgamations to improve public sector efficiency
• Ban dark helmet visors through legislation aimed at tackling violent crime
• Address the Island’s lack of a secure forensic psychiatric unit
• Complete crop and dairy sector strategies to decrease reliance on food imports
• Modernize the framework that deals with long-term sick police officers
• Introduce an Electricity Act to allow competition in the generation of electricity and ensure the electricity service is environmentally sustainable, secure, reliable and affordable.
• Conduct a review of pension arrangements to determine whether public and private pension contributions are set at appropriate levels, and make changes to the supervision and regulation of pension plans and their service providers
• Introduce regulations for the administration and regulation of gaming
• Give students the right to vote while they are studying abroad
• Embark on a programme to identify and dispose surplus government real estate, with money going to the Sinking Fund to pay down debt
• Carry out a review to determine the best means by which to close one of the minimum security facilities
The Island faces “an economic storm that poses a grim threat to Bermuda’s way of life,” Governor George Fergusson told a packed Senate chamber yesterday, in a Throne Speech - for full text see ThroneSpeech - replete with references to job growth and reining in the public purse. However, the Island’s Gross Domestic Product showed its “first growth in five years” in 2013, the Governor noted: a modest rise of almost 1 per cent — and he said this financial year could prove the year in which Bermuda, “after years of recession, finally moves from decline to real growth”. The One Bermuda Alliance’s third Speech from the Throne commenced at 11am, with the Island’s “unsustainable” economic position likened to the storms that battered Bermuda last month and “revealed the living character of Bermuda.” The Cabinet building was a bustle of activity as the wet weather plan kicked into gear and last-minute preparations were completed. Up until 1999, the Speech typically took place out of public view, but for that year it was moved on to the grounds of Cabinet. Thunderstorms sent yesterday’s ceremony indoors, with a concurrent cut in the usual pomp with the Bermuda Regiment. Reading out the legislative programme for the coming year of Parliament, Mr Fergusson said the year ahead would bring immigration reforms and changes to corporate law, along with the pursuit of hotels and the America’s Cup — plus an end to conscription and a reform of cannabis laws. Groundbreaking is to start next week on an $85 million cottage development at Ariel Sands, while phase two of the $90 million Fairmont Hamilton Princess refurbishment is under way. The upcoming session of Parliament would result in an America’s Cup Act enacted, Mr Fergusson said, with a decision to be made on Bermuda’s chances to host the event before the year’s end. Government fees regulations would be amended for the allocation of the Island’s radio frequencies used by telecommunications companies, to ensure fair access and encourage competition, while the Department of E-Commerce would use the year ahead to research best practices for cyber security. A new Energy Act would shift regulation of the Island’s energy sector to the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda, while proposals to harness the vacant “finger” at the LF Wade International Airport for solar power use would be sought. Turning to recent “uncertainty and fear” expressed by public service workers over the spending cuts now under consideration by Government, Mr Fergusson said this financial year would bring a deficit of $267 million. Although the Public Bodies Reform Bill is on hold, he warned civil service workers that they were employed “in an organization that Bermuda can no longer afford to maintain at current levels.” In conjunction with unions, “several” of the Island’s labour laws would be consolidated in one Act. The Governor also listed a series of proposals under way to bring about economic growth: the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, he said, had met 351 clients between January and May, supporting 46 small businesses — giving out $2.28 million in loans. Legislation would be unrolled in the coming Parliamentary session to develop a domestic gaming industry, and the Hotels Concession Act is to be streamlined, Mr Fergusson told the Chamber. A feasibility study would look into the Island’s chances as an air navigation service provider. On the topic of roadside breath tests, he said provisions would be put aside for preliminary breath testing. To combat the allure of gang culture on Bermuda’s youth, the Mirrors Programme would be “better aligned” with the initiative Team Street Safe, and sports clubs, educators, community leaders and parents would be encouraged to network. Meanwhile, MPs would be invited to approve new cannabis laws, paving the way for the legalization of cannabinoid drugs for medical use, and a caution policy amendment granting greater discretionary powers to police officers. In conjunction with the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, ambulance coverage would be extended in the East End and West End. The end of conscription and the creation of an all-volunteer Bermuda Regiment would go before MPs in the coming session, but will not threaten the Regiment’s abilities, Mr Fergusson said. He added that criminal procedure would be reviewed for a “more efficient and effective” administration of justice, and a committee appointed to review domestic violence in Bermuda. Turning to the issue of farming, Mr Fergusson said Government had already issued a permit for a small-scale fish farm and was interested in proposals for aquaculture and hydroponic vegetable production. He told the Chamber, too, that a youth policy would be developed to give young people more of a voice in decision-making, while Government would introduce the Children Amendment Act 2014, which would require courts and a co-parenting council to mediate in custody disputes between divorced parents. Public education reforms would continue, including a “middle school transformation programme” and a national strategy to boost students’ maths performance. A new school code of conduct would be brought in at all public schools, he said, while the Career Pathways programme would be expanded. Teachers would be trained in IT education for primary schools, he said, and an inclusive and special education advisory committee would harness the input of parents. A Parent Involvement Committee would also be unrolled as a “direct response” to parents’ interest in having a greater input. On the long-standing issue of Public Access to Information, set to become operational in April next year, Mr Fergusson said the legislation would “finally enable the public to shine light” on the work of Government — and members of the public would be invited to assist in Government’s internal deliberations. “Bermuda has what it takes to overcome any challenge, any storm,” Mr Fergusson said in conclusion. He said the Island faced a moment of truth and difficult decisions, adding: “The challenge of our time is also the opportunity of our time.”
to find your real estate property on a Bermuda Government Geographical
Information Technical Committee and Works and Engineering, Land and
Survey Division mapping website.
Agricultural Exhibition. See under Bermuda Annual Exhibition.
Archives. See http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=429&mode=2. 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton, Bermuda HM 12. Telephone (441) 297-7737. Fax (441) 295-8751. Email email@example.com. Bermuda Archives Act 1974. The Bermuda Archives holds records of the legislature, judiciary and government of Bermuda as well as the two municipalities of St. George's and Hamilton. Non-government collections include those of the churches, parish vestries, parish councils, personal and family papers. Archives of social, business and philanthropic organisations are also held. Records span the period from early settlement in 1615 until the present. All government records are in the public domain and are freely available. Private papers and manuscript collections subject to donor agreements may have access restrictions. Records containing personal data of living individuals are closed as are those archives that are fragile or at risk.
|Auditor General. In Bermuda, one of only two wholly independent institutions under the Constitution with oversight of the Government. 2015. November 17. A damning report by the Auditor-General underlines the origins of Bermuda’s financial woes, according to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance. Bob Richards said the public had “every right to be upset” after the revelations contained in Heather Jacobs Matthews’s report, which documents the results of audits of the Consolidated Fund for the years ending March 31 2010, 2011 and 2012, when the Progressive Labour Party was in power. Among the misdeeds listed in the 315-page document are instances of overpayments, double payments, millions paid for professional services without prior approval, failure to comply with financial instructions and millions paid without signed contracts or agreements. “The Government’s long-term debt as at March 31, 2012, ($1.1 billion) has almost quadrupled what it was four years ago and resulted in annual interest costs of about $71 million for the year ended March 31, 2012,” the document states. When contacted by The Royal Gazette, Mr Richards said: “The report speaks for itself. It’s good to have it revealed to the public, because the Auditor-General has credibility. It’s certainly a very, very low performance insofar as the Government is concerned, and it speaks to the reason why we’re in the hole we’re in financially.” While claiming to be unsurprised by the findings detailed within, Mr Richards added: “It’s the public’s money, and we’re just trying to do the best we can to look after it as though it were our own. We’ve had to be much more disciplined as far as spending is concerned, and to try to rein the beast in. We’re having some success in doing that.” David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, was unavailable for comment. With Mrs Matthews retiring from her position as Auditor-General next year, it was announced yesterday that Bermudian native Heather Thomas would be stepping into the role in May 2016. The report is available online at www.oagbermuda.bm.|
|Bermuda Annual Exhibition, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Held every April|
|Bermuda Aquarium & Museum|
|Bermuda Buses. Public
Transportation Board. A Bermuda Government quango. See
Bermuda Business Development Corporation (BBDC). Formed in 2013 by Government through the Ministry of Economic Development. A private/public partnership intended to spearhead the promotion of Bermuda as a preferred domicile for a variety of international business activities, including reinsurance, asset management, trusts and fund administration. This has involved organizing all the relevant stakeholders and formulating a coherent mission for the BBDC and strategies to achieve that mission. The Government, via BBDC, will continue to support Bermudian entrepreneurs in their quest for success and will take any other necessary steps to stimulate economic growth through non-tax policy driven initiatives.
Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission.
|Bermuda Customs. Import duties, limits on what visitors and residents can import duty-free, etc.|
|Bermuda elections. E-mail email@example.com. Bermudians can register electronically to vote.|
|Bermuda Ferry Service|
|Bermuda Fire Service. Phone 292-5555|
|Bermuda Government Geographical Information Technical Committee and Works and Engineering, Land and Survey Division mapping website.|
|Bermuda Government Portal|
|Bermuda Hospitals. Operated by the Bermuda Government owned and appointed by the Bermuda Hospital Board, a Bermuda Government quango. See Bermuda Government Boards.|
|Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC). Bermuda Housing Act 1980. A Bermuda Government quango. See Bermuda Government Boards. Hotline since late 2002 is 295-HOME (295-4663). Manages a large portfolio of rental, owned and private sector properties, holds many mortgages, owns many properties. Its Rentals Department has a clientele of about 600 households, of which 500 are housed in BHC properties. The remaining 100 households are housed in units rented from private sector landlords. Clients must be Bermudian.|
|Bermuda International Airport|
|Bermuda Land Development Corporation. Formed by the Bermuda Government to own and lease for the Bermuda Government the land or buildings used by US Military Forces in Bermuda until 1995. See Bermuda Government Boards.|
|Bermuda Monetary Authority. A Bermuda Government quango and regulatory agency. See Bermuda Government Boards. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.|
|Bermuda National Library or e-mail email@example.com|
|Bermuda Police Service. Phone 295-0011.|
Prisons Service. Phone 295-4975.
Bermuda Ship Registry. See http://www.bermudashipping.bm/useful-information/.
|Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation. A Bermuda Government quango. See Bermuda Government Boards.|
|Bermuda Tourism Authority (formerly Bermuda Tourism).|
|Central Policy Unit|
|Commission on Racial Equality (CURE). See Bermuda Government Boards. Melbourne House, Suite 202. 11 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM KX. Telephone (441) 296-0613 or fax (441) 296-9142 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. In other countries, these racial guidelines and regulations apply only in the public sector. But the Bermuda Government has made them apply in the private sector as well.|
Education & Development Programme
Consumer Affairs. See Department of Consumer Affairs.
|Department of Communications & Information. Global House, 43 Church Street, Hamilton HM 12. Phone 292-5998. Fax 295-5267. Formerly Government Information Services.|
|Department of Community & Cultural Affairs|
|Department of Conservation Services. Ministry of the Environment. P. O. Box CR 52, Hamilton HM CX. Phone 293-1785. Fax 293-2716.|
|Department of Consumer Affairs. Ingham and Wilkinson Building, 129 Front Street, Hamilton HM 12. Phone (441) 297-7627. Fax (441) 295-6892. Email email@example.com. Complaints firstname.lastname@example.org. Consumer, landlord and tenant, cable TV, shopping and utilities complaints, mostly. The Consumer Protection Act 1999 deals with unfair or deceptive business practices, unconscionable representations and unconscionable acts. For instance, double tipping or paying gratuities twice is an unfair business practice under the Act. Therefore a patron of a local restaurant or bar can lodge a complaint with this office regarding that practice. The Consumer Protection Act 1999 is divided into six parts: Preliminary; Administration; Unfair Business Practices; Consumer Safety; Enforcement; Miscellaneous. Typically, consumers call the Department of Consumer Affairs with complaints about defective or poor quality products; problems with warranties; issues concerning sales and return policies; automotive sales and repair; home improvement contract disputes; landlord/tenant issues; financial contracts and deceptive advertising. Businesses also contact the Department when they require advice and guidance about customer complaints as they relate to the Act.|
|Department of Cultural Affairs.|
Environmental Protection. Ministry of the Environment. P. O. Box HM 834,
Crawl CR BX. Office of the Director, phone 236-4201, fax 236-7582.
E-mail email@example.com. For
Environmental Protection offices see under Environment.
Department of Environmental Health. Ministry of Health.
Royal Gazette newspaper photo
|Department of Marine & Ports
2015, November 20. Marijuana, heroin and cocaine remain the most commonly used illegal drugs in Bermuda, according to the annual report from the Bermuda Drug Information Network. The study by the Department of National Drug Control, provides analysis of trends in drug use in 2013 and 2014 according to a press release from the Ministry of National Security, it presents national data on the nature and magnitude of use and misuse of legal and illegal substances in Bermuda and represents the work of a broad spectrum of agencies and departments engaged in drug prevention, intervention, treatment, counseling, rehabilitation, enforcement, interdiction, and health. The release states: “Drug use is a difficult and complex phenomenon to monitor. This report serves the purpose of providing a comprehensive overview of the current drug situation in Bermuda using multiple sources and indicators, with the intent of providing insight into the different aspects of the drug problem.” The report monitors and accounts for local drug-related information from about 30 data providers, covering some 45 drug control areas, and providing measures for more than 150 indicators. Since last year, it has expanded to include four new measures and one new survey. Drug use prevalence has remained constant among Bermuda’s residents over the past ten years, with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana the most commonly used substances among the general adult population and youths, while the heroin and cocaine remain drugs of choice for problem drug users. Since 2014, drug-related crime has declined and there were no cases where drug use contributed to the underlying cause of death. Michael Dunkley, the Premier and Minister of National Security, stated: “The Government is committed to a healthier and safer Bermuda and an interconnected balancing of drug control efforts in both supply and demand reduction. Drugs continue to jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of people throughout the world; and Bermuda is no exception, as substance abuse continues to negatively impact our island extensively. Drug use prevention cannot occur unless there is change in our social attitudes toward alcohol and drug misuse.” The report can be found at www.dndc.gov.bm.
|Department of Parks. Ministry of the Environment.|
|Department of Personnel Services. Phone 297-7643.|
|Department of Planning. See Ministry of the Environment.|
Social Insurance. 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12. Phone
295-5181 extension 1117. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To access your Social Insurance contributions online for the period
August 6, 2000 to August 4, 2002, click on Contributions, then
Contribution Records, then enter Social Insurance Number and Date of
Department of Telecommunications.
Department of Workforce Development
Economic Development Committee (EDC). 2013 Bermuda Government initiative intended to cut down on the bureaucracy and move projects forward faster. Its mandate is to compress the time taken to obtain the necessary approvals for direct inward investment into Bermuda. Unwelcoming and bureaucratic procedures in the years prior to 2012 reduced the flow of inward direct investment to virtually a trickle.
|Freedom of Information. See "Public Access to Information" below.|
|Computer Systems & Services Department, Government of Bermuda|
|General Post Office|
|Government Training, Employment Services and Labour Office. Phone 297-7716.|
|Government Marketing Centre - for local fruits and vegetables, at e-mail email@example.com.|
Immigration Appeals Tribunal. An independent tribunal on immigration matters. See Bermuda Government Boards. The House of Assembly passed legislation establishing the tribunal in July 2011. It is designed to make the final decisions on grievances relating to issues such as Bermudian status, permanent residency and work permits. There are 12 members of the panel, revealed in the Official Gazette in February 2012. The chairwoman is lawyer Victoria Pearman, and other members include lawyers Tim Marshall, John Barritt and Shaun Morris, former Premier Alex Scott and former Civil Service head Kenneth Dill.
Technology Office (formerly CSSD)
Land Title Registry Office. 3rd Floor, Victoria Hall, 11 Victoria Street, Hamilton HM11. Mailing Address: PO Box HM 2587, Hamilton HM KX. Tel: (441) 294 9260. Fax: (441) 296 1324. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.ltro.gov.bm
|Land Valuation Office. See Ministry
of the Environment.
London Office. 6 Arlington Street, Westminster, London SW1A 1.
Ministers and Parliamentarians Salary Review Board. Set up by legislation enacted in 2005 in an effort to end the recurring controversy that flares up every time MPs vote for a pay rise for themselves.
|Ministry of Finance.|
|Ministry of Education|
|Ministry of the Environment. Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton. Phone 297-7590, fax 292-2349. Main departments are Department of Planning, Land Valuation Office, Department of Parks, Department of Conservation Services and Department of Environmental Protection (e-mail email@example.com).|
of Telecommunications & E-Commerce. From September 17, 2001, it is
at the F. B. Perry Building, 40 Church Street, Hamilton HM 12, P. O. Box
HM 101, Hamilton HM AX. Telephone (441) 292-4595. Fax (441) 295-1462.
Office of the Ombudsman for Bermuda. Bermuda Government appointed.
|Office of the Tax Commissioner, F. B. Perry Building, 40 Church Street, Hamilton HM 12. Telephone (441) 297-7750 or 297-7751 or 297-7891 or fax (441) 296-5406. or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Payroll Taxes payable by Employers who usually pass 50% of the cost to their Employees. You can now pay Payroll Taxes online. A wide range of other taxes can also be paid here.|
Public Access to Information (PATI) Act 2010.
|Registrar of Companies|
|Registrar General. For birth, marriage and death certificates, to patent a product or copyright material.|
|Road Safety Council. See Bermuda
Sage (Spending and Government Efficiency) Commission. See https://sagecommission.bm/. Can also be regarded as the Savings And Government Efficiency Commission.
|Transport Control Department. North Street, Hamilton.|
See Bermuda Weather.
Washington Office. Since September 2009 to coincide with Government's attendance at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Weekend in DC. Established to "immeasurably strengthen the links" between the Island and the USA, at a cost to Bermuda taxpayers of $58,328 to set up and renovate, almost $180,000-a-year to lease and allocated $321,000 in the Bermuda Government's 2010-2011 budget paid by taxpayers, with much more in the 2011-2012 Budget. It was intended that staff would be based there and would work with Congressional staffers to further Bermuda's interests in the States, particularly in relation to tax issues. The office, which is seven blocks from the US seat of government, is at third floor, Liberty Place, 325 Seventh Street NW, close to Capitol Hill. It is for use by Government ministers and senior officials and will provide a localized source of information and key contact personnel at the disposal of Congressional staffers charged with briefing and preparing legislators.
West End Development Corporation (Wedco). See http://www.thewestend.bm. A government quango, formed to redevelop the former Royal Navy Dockyard). P. O. Box 415, Somerset, Mangrove Bay MA BX. Phone (441) 234-1709. Fax 234-3411. E-mail email@example.com. Dockyard. Established in 1982 to manage and develop 214 acres of Government-owned land in the West End, including Watford Island, Boaz Island, Ireland Island South and North, the small islands forming the Crawl off Ireland South and the North and South basins and breakwaters. Revenue is generated from residential and commercial tenants plus berthing fees from the commercial and cruise ship docks. Mega cruise ships now dock near there. Recent work carried out by Wedco at Dockyard includes the installation of a reverse osmosis plant, the relocation of the marina and the development of ten residential units. Future planned developments include the Victualling Yard, Casemates, the South Basin and the Parsonage.
Voters of Bermuda and non-citizens who can never vote
2014. June 13. Government has launched a last-minute appeal to a landmark ruling which enabled two Permanent Residents Certificate (PRC) holders to obtain Bermuda status. And according to Attorney General Trevor Moniz, the Department of Immigration has been inundated with applications from residents seeking status since last months decision by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley. Mr Justice Kawaley upheld an earlier ruling by the independent Immigration Appeal Tribunal, which directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to grant applications for Bermuda status by long-standing PRCs Rebecca Carne and Antonio Correia. Status was granted under section 20B of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956. Outlining Government's reasons for the appeal, Mr Moniz said that the two applicants had been advised correctly in 2012 that there was no procedure to submit a request for status under the 20B section of the Act but that amendments to the law had created this unique circumstance. In spite of this advice, applications were subsequently submitted to the Minister in 2013 at which time the Minister rejected the applications on the basis that there had been no pre-approval for Bermudian status under the Act, Mr Moniz said. Notwithstanding, the Ministers decision was overturned by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal (the IAT) with the matter eventually being appealed in the Supreme Court in January of 2014 with the Chief Justice ruling in favour of the applicants and stating in his summation, the decision of the IAT directing the Minister to grant the Respondents applications for Bermudian status is accordingly affirmed. This judgment now meant under the current legislation, a pathway to status for PRC holders was now possible. In essence, the Supreme Court ruling says that if a PRC holder submits an application for naturalization to become a British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC) (Bermuda) to the Department of Immigration at the same time he/she submits an application for Bermudian status under Section 20B (2)(b) of the Act, and the Minister supports the naturalization application which is subsequently approved by the Governor, the Minister must, save for various circumstances as set out in the Act, grant the applicant Bermudian status under the said section. And while this provision has existed for many years, it only came to light as a result of the original PRC legislation which would appear the previous Administration did not grasp the fact that provisions in the Act that were amended in 1994 would have this effect upon the introduction of PRC legislation in 2001. In essence, the PRC legislation has seemingly created this unique circumstance. Mr Moniz said that a flood of status applications had been made in the last month, with 115 residents becoming naturalized. Mr Moniz added that a further 1,340 residents were eligible to make an application for naturalization. Notwithstanding the anomaly in the legislation, the Ministry has sought the advice from a the Attorney-Generals Chambers as well as a Queens Counsel in the United Kingdom on the merits of appealing the Supreme Court judgment, Mr Moniz said. Whilst the advice received following an exhaustive review of this judgment by the aforementioned Counsel was not entirely favorable as far as the judgment being successfully overturned, the Ministry has nonetheless filed an appeal in this matter to the Court of Appeal which will allow the opportunity for further Government review of the matter.
2014. June 7. Around 1,500 residents stand to obtain Bermuda status thanks to a recently discovered immigration loophole, affirmed in a ruling by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley. And it was claimed in the House of Assembly, as MPs clashed over the rulings implications, that a slew of Permanent Residents Certificate (PRC) holders have already applied to Immigration to get Bermuda Status. However, Government has declared that all current applications have been put on hold until the matter is clarified. Attorney General Trevor Moniz told MPs yesterday that Government had reached no decision yet over the surprise ruling, which could still be appealed further. However, he said the One Bermuda Alliance refused to back a premature amendment proposed by the Opposition to strike down the culprit section of the law. In the meantime, Junior Immigration Minister Sylvan Richards told the House that Government had enlisted a Queens Counsel with a specialty in human rights law to review the case. The debate touched also on long-held sensitivities over the history of discretionary status grants, which were discarded in 1989. Introducing the amendment for its second reading was Shadow Minister of Immigration and Home Affairs Walton Brown, who called it a stopgap measure that allows us to step back and fully consider the most appropriate immigration policy for this country. Otherwise, he said, Mr Justice Kawaley's ruling has created a situation in which legislation was decided by a judge instead of by Parliament. The occasionally stormy debate saw Progressive Labour Party MP Walter Robain tell Government to tread carefully, adding: "There are a whole lot of hypotheses about the purpose of this." Shadow Health Minister Kim Wilson warned the OBA that "Bermudians were listening, and listening very intently" while PLP MP Glenn Blakeney, accusing the OBA of already having its mind made up, told Government: "I warn you, it will be at your peril." However, Mr Blakeney got a reprimand from Speaker of the House Randolph Horton when he said: "This situation, for political expediency, to increase the voting registry, is exactly what's intended by the OBA." The Devonshire North Central MP subsequently withdrew his remark. The five-hour debate emanated from a ruling in May, in which Mr Justice Kawaley upheld a decision by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal for PRC holders Rebecca Carne and Antonio Correia to win full status. In so doing, the Chief Justice ruled against Governments repeated appeal of the Tribunals decision, and many PLP MPs questioned why the OBA didn't support the Opposition legislation after Government had contested the status move in court. However, the Attorney General said "Government's motive for the appeal had been to obtain clarification from the Chief Justice's ruling. The position of this side is that its premature to decide exactly what the ramifications of this decision are." According to the Department of Immigration, there are 1,340 PRC holders who potentially qualify, plus 150 children under the age of 22 at the most, he said. The loophole technically became active in 2002, when the PLP government introduced PRC legislation but the significance of the obscure clause 20B (2) (B) of the Act was only recently spotted. Ms Wilson urged Government to support Mr Brown's amendment, calling the status ruling a clear case of what is known as judge-made law. "It's an application or interpretation of the law that is contrary to the intent of Parliament," she said, accusing the OBA of opposing the amendment solely because it was raised by the Opposition. We're talking about 2,000 people that, at the discretion of the Minister, can get Status tomorrow with the flick of a pen." But Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell responded that "status in this case rested on eligible PRC holders meeting the criteria of immigration law. It's not a matter of one individual making arbitrary decisions, saying I want this person to get status," Mr Crockwell said, characterizing it as primarily a human rights issue. We're not talking about people who just showed up here, these are people who have been in this country for at least 25 years. These are our neighbours, these are our friends." The Attorney General told MPs he agreed with Opposition concerns over the numbers of people who could become full status Bermudians. Pointing out that even 1,000 people was a very large percentage on Bermudas scale, Mr Moniz said people were entitled to be emotional about it, particularly in light of the difficult financial circumstances the country finds itself in. While Government didn't support Mr Brown's proposed amendment, the AG promised: "This will be before the House in the not too distant future." Opposition leader Marc Bean who compared the OBA to prostitutes said that the loophole had been created under a PLP Government, and it was the party's intent to close it. "It's a loophole that the One Bermuda Alliance is looking to exploit, it's clear." Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin hit back: "To be told we are nothing more than ladies of the night willing to be sold for 30 shekels is disgusting." And she dismissed as ridiculous that the OBA intended to exploit the legal loophole for political ends. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said Government would not support the bill "because of the fact we would like the Opposition to recognize we can put in abeyance any applications which have been made until the implications of the ruling had been discussed, and grounds of appeal to the Privy Council were considered."
March 9, 2007. Efforts by an Opposition Minister to persuade Government to provide absentee voting at the next general election - in the same way absentee voting is not only allowed but encouraged in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe has has been for some time - were defeated. Then-Shadow Minister for Legislative Reform and Justice John Barritt moved, without success, a motion in the House asking for the facility help the housebound, those on vacation, and also Bermudians studying and working abroad but with ownership or co-ownership of homes in Bermuda. Why? Because presently in Bermuda, strict voting laws bar people from voting if they have lived away for more than six months. Checks are made to see if Bermudian voters were still resident or just flying in. Many Bermudians want to come home and vote who live abroad but cannot, despite being Bermudian and having an ongoing Bermudian connection. Under Bermuda's archaic laws they are longer entitled to vote.
Bermuda's strict laws barring votes from those who had spent a relatively short time away need to be changed. Especially as for Bermudians, irrespective of whether they live full-time or part-time abroad but own or part-own a home in Bermuda, they appear to be fully entitled to vote in Bermuda under both Bermuda's Human Rights Act and under UN law. In the UK, British voters can be gone for up to 15 years before they lose the right to vote in UK national elections and European Union elections. Bermuda's six month limit is far too short and was one of several aspects of electoral law which needs to modernized. It means that Bermudians who are students abroad cannot vote if away from Bermuda for more than six months at a time. Presently, absentee ballots are not allowed to registered voters if they are off the Island at the time of an election or the day of the advance poll — which is just a week or so before the election - a democratic right common in other countries. In the United Kingdom every British citizen who has been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years is eligible to vote. If now living overseas, for example in Bermuda, they can vote in General elections (for the UK Parliament) and European Parliamentary elections. They don’t have to go all the way back to Britain to do it, as when they register in the UK they have the choice of voting by proxy, post or in person if they happen to be in the UK on election day.
In most British Commonwealth countries, to be eligible to vote there are only three conditions, namely you must be: a citizen; at least 18 years old, and ordinarily resident at a particular address or deemed to be sometime or full-time ordinarily resident at and/or an owner or co-owner of a property in a specific constituency.
Also see under Bermuda Citizenship.Bermuda voters in general and other elections or referenda are at least 18 years old and are either Bermudian by birth or status, or non Bermudians, long term residents of Bermuda for decades, citizens of the (British) Commonwealth of Nations, who were otherwise registered and qualified to vote in 1979, have remained residents since then - and, like Bermudians - have registered to vote.
Most - about 78% - residents were born in Bermuda of Bermudian parents (or a Bermudian parent) and are Bermudian. Elsewhere, automatic citizenship applies to all children born there. But children born in Bermuda, without either parent being Bermudian by birth or status at the time, are not Bermudian. They are NOT allowed to register to vote in any election after they become 18 years old. All British Commonwealth of Nations nationals including Australians, Britons, Canadians, New Zealanders and West Indians and all other non Bermudians of good character and reputation who have been long term residents of Bermuda for 20 or more years but were refused Bermuda status if they applied for it and were not registered to vote in 1979, are NOT allowed to register to vote. There is no longer any mechanism providing for any other individuals who may be also be long term residents of Bermuda, but who do not have close family ties with Bermudians, to become local citizens. Without this designation, they can never vote. And because they cannot, nor can they ever own mid priced real estate by Bermuda's standards. They are limited to the top 5% in price and Annual Rentable Value (ARV).
Under Bermuda law, the only people who are irrevocably Bermudian are those born here with at least one Bermudian parent. Those not born here from a Bermudian parent have conditional Bermuda status. They must have received it officially before 1991 (no longer issued except in the special 2002 cases mentioned below) to spouses and children of Bermudians) by virtue of residence.
Citizenship is not given to any non-national unless he or she marries a Bermudian and stays married to and lives with that Bermudian for at least 10 years and then applies for citizenship and receives it.
Non-Bermudians not allowed to vote - even when they have been model residents in every way for years - are mostly from the USA, Britain, Canada, Caribbean and Europe, but some are from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and elsewhere. Without citizenship, persons also cannot buy any real estate as Bermudians can if they can afford it; are limited to the top 5 percent of property in assessed value and must pay a substantial purchase tax on top of other taxes; cannot obtain any local scholarships from any organization; and if of employable age are not allowed to take any employment but are limited to the kind of employment on a Work Permit approved by the Immigration authority of the Bermuda Government.
Minor concessions were granted in 2002 to some non-Bermudians with over 20 years of continuous residence and demonstrated good character and conduct. They were given Permanent Residents Certificates (PRCs). They took effect on October 31, 2002 with the enactment of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2002. However, PRC holders (i.e. Bermuda residents of more than 20 years) still have to pay Land Tax as seniors, unlike most Bermudians who don't; cannot purchase properties with the same lower ARVs (see below) as Bermudians and have to pay the 25 percent foreign ownership tax; cannot vote and do not have access to HIP and FutureCare. Having a PRC will provide security of employment and residence to long term residents. But having either a PRC or WRC (see below) does not entitle any non-Bermudian to buy lower or mid-priced real estate. They continue to be limited to the top 5% in price and Annual Rentable Value (ARV).
In January 2012 the situation re PRCs got worse in some respects in the vexed question of who might be entitled to Permanent Resident’s Certificate (PRC) status in Bermuda. Before then, PRC status was possible only for spouses and children of PRC holders. Until 1st August 2010, a work permit holder who landed in Bermuda before 31st July 1989 and continued to reside in Bermuda for 20 years after that date was eligible to make application for PRC status. In January 2012 Government introduced a PRC initiative designed to encourage international companies to set up or remain in Bermuda. It is currently the only way to achieve PRC status and is open only to chief executive officers (CEOs) and senior executives. The Incentive for Job Makers Act 2011 ("IJMA") came into force on 1st January 2012, amending the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 (“Immigration Act”) and the Economic Development Act 1968. The IJMA permits employers to apply for designation under the terms of the IJMA allowing application to be made for an exemption to work permit requirements and, after ten years, for the work permit holder to apply for a PRC. There is a three-step process that must be followed and the criteria are strict. First, according to IJMA, the CEO must apply for designation as a company whose senior executive employees can apply for exemption from Part V of the Immigration Act. The criteria for designation include that the employer (referred to as 'the company') must have at least 25 persons on staff who have Bermudian Status and who are employed at all levels in the company. The company must provide entry level positions to those persons with Bermudian Status and also must have programmes in place to develop and promote those persons with Bermudian Status. Finally, the company must not have employment practices that have regularly required the intervention of the Labour Relations department or Human Rights Commission. Once the criteria have been established and the application made the Minister responsible for making the designation must consider five matters: the size of the company applying, the significance of the company to the economy of Bermuda, the existing or likely economic situation in Bermuda, the protection of local interests and, generally, the interests of the community as a whole. The Minister also has the power to consider lowering the number of persons with Bermudian Status that a company must have on its staff to qualify. Therefore it may be possible for companies with fewer than 25 such persons on staff to apply for designation the conditions for considering a lower number will likely follow those matters the Minister will have to take into account in any event. Should a company be successful in applying for designation, a senior executive will be eligible to apply for exemption from Part V and that application shall be considered by the Minister. Thereafter, the Minister's recommendations regarding the application shall be considered by a Cabinet Committee for determination. The Minister and the Cabinet Committee will need to be satisfied that an applicant meets further criteria, which includes confirmation of the designation of the company, that the applicant is indeed a senior executive, that the applicant is responsible for making decisions that are critical for the company continuing in Bermuda, that continuity must be dependent on the senior executive remaining in Bermuda, that the senior executive continued employment during the exemption/designation period, and that the company is continuing to meet the conditions for its designation. The company can apply for up to five employees to be exempted at any one time. The Minister has to be satisfied, however, that there is no person in Bermuda with Bermudian Status having sufficient qualifications and experience to efficiently undertake the work concerned. Once the senior executive has been granted the exemption he/she will be deemed eligible to apply for a PRC. In the meantime the senior executive will receive a certificate of exemption in place of a work permit, the cost of which will be $20,000. This certificate must be produced on re-entering Bermuda. Once that process has been completed the third step is to apply for the PRC itself. To do so, the senior executive must have been ordinarily resident in Bermuda for ten years. For those who were ordinarily resident in Bermuda before 1st January 2012, the ten-year qualifying condition may be reduced correspondingly with any period of ordinary residence since 1st January 2005. Therefore, the first such application for a PRC under the IJMA will be possible from 1st January 2015. The application fee for the PRC will be $120,000 such fee can be amended from time to time.
Having a qualifying Bermudian connection, such as marriage to a Bermudian of the opposite sex, is key to getting Bermuda Status (citizenship) after 10 years. Otherwise, there is no chance at all of getting it. All others can apply for Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) if they qualify. So far, some 800 persons have done the latter. Application criteria include being ordinarily resident in Bermuda before 31 July 1989 and for a period of 20 years immediately before application; are at least 40 years of age; and are of good character and conduct. Their full names, addresses, parishes and postal codes are published in the Official Gazette. Those with a Working Resident Certificate (WRC) - introduced in 1998 - must still apply for a PLC as some years have passed since they proved their eligibility.
All other applicants for the PRC must also demonstrate good character and conduct and must prove that he or she was ordinarily resident in Bermuda before August 1, 1989 and be at least 40 years old on the date of application.
In most other countries, persons of good character born elsewhere who wish to become citizens can do so after 3-5 years, do not need a qualifying local connection; and can buy any real estate they wish, at any price.
Voter statisticsIn December 2012, prior to the December 17 General Election, there were 46,678 registered voters, about 60 percent of Bermuda's total current population. As soon as local citizens become at least 18 years old they can register to vote.
February 9, 2016.