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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online
To refer to this web file, use "bermuda-online.org/bdagovt.htm" as your Subject.
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). Also see http://ukoverseasterritories.readandcomment.com/.
Bermuda House of Assembly or Sessions House
UK Statutory Instruments Applicable to Bermuda as a BOT. See http://www.bermudalaws.bm/site_docs/ukstat.aspx
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 2012 the OBA is now the Government. The new party brought together members of the United Bermuda Party, the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, former Progressive Labour Party supporters and people with no previous political involvement at all. In the end, the OBA is a beneficiary of the dismal state of the economy, although its members may soon wonder what they have gotten themselves into as they delve into the Government’s books.
|Bermuda size & population||20.75 (Twenty point seven five) square miles in total. 64,268 residents|
|Resident population density per square mile||3,097 (Three thousand, zero nine seven). 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|
Between The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) - in Government since 1998 - and United Bermuda Party (UBP) - in Opposition. The PLP remained as the Government by winning 22 seats to the UBP's 14. The UBP lost several key seats. 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.
Summary of the Budget Statement from the Minister of Finance. "It is clear that Bermuda faces a daunting economic challenge in the months and years ahead. The Island is experiencing its fourth straight year of economic contraction. The Gross Domestic Product — the value of all goods and services produced in the economy — has shrunk by about10 per cent since 2007, meaning the economic pie shared by all Bermudians is getting smaller, with less to go around. The Government, which the One Bermuda Alliance took over as a result of the election on 17 December 2012, is in the midst of recording its fifth straight year of Current Account deficits. That is like a family having more monthly expenses than monthly income. Year-to-year operating deficits have risen unchecked from a $19 million surplus in 2008 to a projected $247 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year. This accelerating trend is unsustainable. The operating deficits have compounded the alarming increase in our public debt, which has been growing significantly since 2005. At the end of the current fiscal year, debt, net of the Sinking Fund, will stand at $1.469 billion — a very large number for a small population, which will take many years to pay down.
The signs of economic trouble have been clear for all to see: A retail sector that has seen shop closures, layoffs and pay cutbacks; a construction industry that has shed hundreds of jobs, a tourism industry that has downsized for the fewer customers flying to our shores, and an international business sector that has quietly shipped jobs to competing jurisdictions. The human toll that these trends have inflicted is unprecedented. Although up-to-date, accurate statistics are not available — a result of the Island never having experienced mass unemployment until now — we know that 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. It is this pain that the Government’s plans and actions ultimately aim to relieve.
Bermuda is facing one of the most serious challenges in its long history. The economic foundations of the Island, which enable us to live our daily lives, must be strengthened and better protected. The OBA Government understands the scope and scale of the challenge and what needs to be done. Our goal is to create an economy that works for everyone; to lay a new foundation for broad-based prosperity. To achieve that, we will follow a year-to-year, two-track strategy that strikes a balance between responsible growth and disciplined financial management. The first track will implement specific pro-growth economic policies to stimulate much-needed foreign investment, restore confidence in the Island as a place to do business and create new jobs. The second track will eliminate wasteful government spending, thereby reducing our national debt over time. Mr. Speaker, the way out of this situation will not be easy, nor will it happen overnight. It will take time to implement solutions that work for the greater good. It will take time to revamp structures that inhibit our ability to operate efficiently and effectively. And it will take time to reverse trends and trajectories locked in place by past practices. Our borrowing requirements for the coming year, for example, will reflect the situation we inherited on 17 December 2012 as Bermuda’s new government.
On this point it is with a heavy heart and a profound sense of frustration that I project an overall operating deficit and Public Sector Borrowing Requirement (PSBR) of $331 million for the fiscal year 2013/14. This is a staggering amount that is the result of weak projected revenues and a spending momentum that will take time to change, like a great ship that is slow to answer the helm. Mr. Speaker, the projected borrowing requirement over the next year underscores the seriousness of the situation we face. Bermuda will need patience and the strongest commitment to changing the way we go about our business. The Government cannot do it alone. It will take new levels of cooperation and teamwork from Bermudians in every sphere. The revival of the Bermuda economy is something we can and must all work for together. My colleagues and I see it as an opportunity to build a new unity within Bermuda; a unity based on the prospect and realization of national progress in which we all can share; progress anchored to principles of fairness, responsibility and inclusion; progress driven by a sense of shared sacrifice and destiny. The Government will take the lead in encouraging new levels of trust and cooperation among Bermudians across all sectors of our community. We will do it through consultation, transparency and plain speaking; building from the understanding that we are all in this together. That is our starting point as we begin the important work to recover, rebuild and restore mthe promise of Bermuda.
The Global Economy. Bermuda’s economy is essentially a trading economy, one that trades with the rest of the world mainly in financial services. Therefore, any analysis of Bermuda’s future prospects must take into account the economic environment in which it trades: i.e. the global economy. Even though there are many countries in the global economy it is dominated by the United States, China and the European Union. As our principal trading partner, the state of the USA is crucial to our future. Figure 1 (of this report) shows the growth trends firstly of Industrial Production and below that, GDP since 2000. The periods of recession are clearly shown by the shaded areas. Since emerging from the “Great Recession” the US economy has shown muted growth but does not appear to be in imminent danger of returning to negative growth. The principal risk factor continues to be fiscal deadlock in Washington DC. China has been the sole growth source during the global economic calamity as it never went into recession during the period, and although the Chinese economy has cooled in recent quarters, there is no legitimate cause for fear of recession. Mr. Speaker, Europe, on the other hand, has not been able to recover as well as the other major economic blocs. Figure 2 shows the European Union slipping into recession once again. This is where the pressure on Bermuda will come from. Faltering economic fortunes in Europe are likely to increase pressure on their national budget deficits thus ratcheting up the search for easy scapegoats like offshore domiciles, including Bermuda. We face an environment of constantly shifting regulatory goal posts. The Bermuda government will continue to be ever vigilant against such threats to our reputation and our ability to freely trade with nations of the world.
The Bermuda Economy. It continues to struggle, official figures showing a recession for three consecutive years, as illustrated in Figure 3. Due to the unavailability of economic data, the graph ends in 2011 but anecdotal evidence gives one no expectation that 2012 produced anything other than economic contraction. That would make it a four year recession. This conclusion is reinforced by employment data shown in Figure 4, where there has been a steady decline in the workforce, in total, as well as the Bermudian workforce. It is the stark contrast between Bermudian economic data and the improving data from our trading partners like the USA and Canada that led analysts to the firm conclusion that Bermuda’s prolonged recession was due to structural Bermudian issues, issues that we are compelled to address ourselves. While the number of new companies being formed in Bermuda has experienced a moderate decline in 2012, anecdotal evidence indicates the economy is still shedding jobs. The invention of “reinsurance sidecars” has enabled that sector to effectively increase capacity without substantially increasing staffing levels. This is but one of the reasons that our flagship industry has continued to return solid results to their shareholders without making a significant impact on job growth in Bermuda. December 2012 numbers for Retail Sales reconfirm the negative trend. Retail Sales by volume were down by 3.7 per cent from a year earlier, the fifth consecutive monthly decline. Retail Sales for Building Materials plunged an incredible 33.5 per cent. The near completion of the new hospital wing’s outer shell was a major factor, but it demonstrates the overall weakness of the sector.
Employment Trends. Visitor arrivals continued to be dominated by lower spending cruise travellers. In 2012 higher spending air arrivals were around the previous year’s levels. Cruise arrivals are due to increase this year with the arrival of the Breakaway class ship that can accommodate over 4,000 passengers. These conditions underpin this Government’s intense focus on enacting policies that will increase the number of potential employers on the Island, the demand for labour and policies that will reduce the marginal cost of employing a Bermudian. Some observers have accused the OBA approach to the economic problems of today as being, “Too big business friendly.” Such comments speak to a profound lack of understanding of the economic realities of today’s Bermuda. Clearly, today’s economy is in these dire straits because a different approach was taken. It is worth reiterating the simple fact that only an employer can create a job. And a job is the best social programme ever invented. As a government, the choice is simple, we either employ everybody who wants to work but doesn’t have a job, or we make it easier, cheaper and more attractive for businesses based in Bermuda to employ more people. The first option would bankrupt the Government, the second option leads to a more sustainable path. We choose the sustainable option. Mr. Speaker, in the Bermudian economy there are two types of businesses: foreign exchange earners and foreign exchange users. Businesses that earn foreign exchange for the Island are our most valuable national economic assets. It is these earners of foreign exchange that are the pumps that infuse money throughout the economy. Other businesses use that money to employ other people and provide residents with goods and services. Resident consumers use that same money to live. However, without the foreign exchange earners they would not be able to fulfill that function. Ultimately all jobs in Bermuda are derived from these primary foreign exchange earning businesses. Therefore, it is a moral imperative for the Government of Bermuda to encourage and assist these primary foreign exchange earning enterprises which provide the funding for its citizens to have opportunities of employment, home ownership, education, healthcare and a good standard of living. For many decades Bermudians have taken such enterprises for granted, concentrating instead on getting a bigger piece of the pie. But after four consecutive years of contraction, with the loss of jobs, opportunity, savings and homes, we can no longer think like that. The pie is shrinking and we must start expanding it again. Those who still harp on the struggle between “Us and Them”, should have realized by now that there is no us and them, there’s only us and us. The data shows that divisiveness only succeeds in shrinking the pie. The “have nots” always suffer the most when the pie is shrinking. The fortunes of all people who call this island home are tightly interlocked: we all rise and fall together. This government understands the linkages that bind this economy together and we will do everything within our power to create jobs for Bermudians by improving the environment for entrepreneurial activities in Bermuda so that job creators can do what they do best:- take risks to seize market opportunities, thereby creating employment as a by-product. That’s how jobs are created.
The Budget. The headline numbers projected by the Bermuda Government in February 2013 for fiscal 2013/14 are as follows, in $0000:
Total Revenues 871,199
Total Current Expenditures 983,883
Debt Service 134,300
Current Account Deficit (246,984)
Capital Expenditure 84,609
Overall Deficit (PSBR) (331,593)
The revenue estimate for 2013/14 is $871.2 million, 4 per cent lower than the original estimate for the previous year. The most significant decline has been in the Customs Duty yield which has decreased by $25 million or 12.5 per cent compared to the previous year. The weakening economy is the main factor. The other factors are the continuing Customs Duty concessions being granted for the redevelopment of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and to the hotel, restaurant and retail sectors which will reduce the Customs Duty yield in 2013/14. Also the payroll tax concessions for the hotel, restaurant and retail sectors will be extended which have reduced the projected payroll tax yield in 2013/14 by an estimated $21 million. As the overall Bermudian economy remains stagnant-to-weak, and particularly from the lackluster trends exhibited in the current fiscal year where the PSBR was $42 million larger than forecast, we are unable to forecast anything other than weak revenue projections for 2013/14. We are, however, hopeful that the measures we have already taken and those that we plan to take as the fiscal year unfolds will have a positive effect on economic growth and job creation, thereby rendering higher revenues than forecast here. We are hopeful; but prudence demands that a National Budget must be based on “Expected” cash flows as opposed to hoped for results. Insofar as expected expenses are concerned we have cut back most Ministries’ cash requests by significant amounts during the budgeting process but have not had the time to really come to grips with cost structures within the Government. Moreover, with 71 Departments, the organizational structure of the Government is unnecessarily cumbersome, a complexity that generates excess expense. These and other related issues are matters the SAGE Commission will look into. Capital expenditures for the coming fiscal year are glaring examples of spending momentum carried over from the previous administration. The new Government has been locked into large capital expenses to remediate poor quality work done at Heritage Wharf at Dockyard; to make major repairs at Tynes Bay and to complete the Aquatic Centre. Heritage Wharf deserves special mention as the poster child for government bungling and waste. Not only was this project hugely over budget, it was not built to the required specifications and therefore did not survive the first hurricane intact. Now the new Government is forced to spend millions of scarce dollars to make repairs in time for the cruise ship season in April 2013. Like Heritage Wharf, this budget is groaning under the weight of economic decisions of the former administration, the consequences of which we have inherited and have carried forward through to the coming year. They say, “Rome was not built in a day,” and I would add that neither can it be cleaned up in three months or a year. But the journey back to credibility starts now, and it starts with transparency. This budget contains no artificial, unexplained revenue projections, neither does it try to use sleight of hand to make the cost of debt service appear less than it really is. This Government gives it to Bermudians straight, irrespective of whether the news is good or bad.
Medium Term Economic Dept Glade Path. It is high time for 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 right up to the present time. 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. Figure 5 shows three scenarios: the Base Case, the Worst Case and the Best Case. All scenarios are possible but the Base Case is the scenario that Government thinks is the most probable. The most noteworthy of the scenarios is the Worst Case because it merely extrapolates the current real life deficit and debt trends. In other words if we do nothing and economic conditions remain as they are now, Bermuda is forecast to have a public debt of about $4 billion in five years. Debt service is forecast to be in the area of $300 million per year, making it by far the largest Government “department.” After paying debt service and salaries there would be little left for anything else. The Base Case scenario shows debt continuing to rise to just over $2 billion and declining thereafter. The Best Case sees debt rolling over faster and being somewhat lower after five years. Again, we are working toward and hoping for the Best Case but the highest probability scenario: i.e. the expected case is the Base Case.
Bermuda Debt Trajectories. This is a very sobering chart and should explode anybody’s notion that 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. We are currently under that 40 per cent mark but will blow straight through it over the next few years under the Worst Case scenario. The IMF also has a maximum level criterion for the Debt/Revenue ratio of 80 per cent. Currently we are well above that maximum. but we will work to comply with it over the medium term. Moving Government off of its dependency on operating deficits requires medium term revenues to strengthen and costs squeezed out. Current weak revenues may improve as our efforts to revive the flagging economy through policy incentives and investment incentives take hold. On the cost side the SAGE Commission will soon start its work. Government will also formally commence negotiations with the relevant unions regarding reduction in staff compensation. The overarching principle, insofar as cost reduction is concerned for this Government, is that of shared sacrifice. It is wrong to ask some people to sacrifice while others get off “scot free”. Accordingly, Cabinet has led the way by example in cutting its own compensation. Others must also share the burden. Bermudians are fair people and the inclusion of all in the public sector is the only way for such action to be fair. The projections in Figure 5 do not include any specific presumed compensation reductions.
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. One thing is clear, and that is 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. The fact that a Minister of Finance is even discussing solvency should send a message to Bermuda that we cannot continue as we are, i.e. along the Worst Case scenario path as shown in Figure 5. We must change. This National Budget contains only the first steps of the changes required. There has not been enough time since this Cabinet was sworn in to make any more changes than we show here, but we are committed to making the changes in the Public Sector to make it sustainable in the eyes of Bermudians as well as the eyes of our foreign creditors, upon whom we rely.
Dept Ceiling. Currently the authorized debt ceiling for the Government is $1.45 billion. In view of the forecast operating deficit, not only for the year under consideration, but for those forecast in the medium term plan, this authorized ceiling must be raised. It is the view of this Government that what has become the annual ritual of ratcheting up the debt ceiling gives the impression that there is indeed no debt management plan at all. This is a negative insofar as capital markets are concerned, the same entities we rely on to finance this debt. Therefore, we will be laying legislation, for the approval by Parliament, to raise the authorized debt ceiling to $2.5 billion. It is important to note that this only authorizes the limit of Government borrowing, it does not prescribe the actual amount of borrowing. We do not expect the borrowing requirement to take us to that level, but we want a level that is pragmatic, realistic and static. The only adjustment to this ceiling I would like to see is an eventual downward adjustment. 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. We will work toward reducing these ratios to such a level over the medium term.
Non Tax Policies to Promote Job Growth. For several years now it had been clear to most economic and financial analysts that Bermuda had become an uncompetitive player in its trading in services with the rest of the world. And since trading in services with the rest of the world is our primary business, this fact represents a huge problem. It is our lack of competitiveness that is causing our economy to contract. That contraction is causing the loss of jobs and the weakness in government revenues and the increase in public debt. Competitiveness is not merely a function of cost, although cost is very important. Competitiveness is also a function of the quality of our services as well as speed of delivery. The latter two areas are issues that the Government can and should influence, because by doing so we can increase competitiveness and promote growth and jobs for Bermudians. Regarding quality, we have the issue of intellectual capital. It was found that employers were not willing to bring non-Bermudian staff to Bermuda if they could only stay for six years. Company executives told us that there is a global competition for intellectual capital and that such people wouldn’t come here if they had to be arbitrarily uprooted after six years. So this intellectual capital either left Bermuda, never to return, or wouldn’t come here in the first place. Bermudian employees connected with that non-Bermudian intellectual capital often lost their jobs because of the exodus. Our economy was therefore robbed of their consumer spending and government revenue derived from that spending. It was clear to this Government that term limits had the opposite effect on employment of Bermudians to what Bermudians had been told by the former government. 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 OBA didn’t have access to all the facts before we became government and that’s why we promised to suspend term limits pending a review of all the facts. Once in office, however, we reviewed the facts, as well as multiple legal opinions that the former government had at its disposal and ignored, and the case was clear. If we were going to be a Government that would be acting to improve Bermuda’s competitiveness and create jobs for Bermudians, term limits had to go. We acted decisively, taking one first step to improve job opportunities for Bermudians. The other component of competitiveness is speed of delivery. Speed is important because time is money. 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. The speeding up of these procedures will improve our competitiveness. In addition, Government has 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 have 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). The BBDC 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. This Ministry will play a crucial role in helping Bermuda to improve its quality of services to our international customers as well as increasing the speed of delivery thereby improving the island’s competitiveness worldwide. Small businesses provide goods and services locally but they also play an important role in determining Bermuda’s competitiveness and by extension its future growth path. The Government, through the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation will continue to support Bermudian entrepreneurs in their quest for success. As I mentioned earlier, one of the ways to turn around the trend of economic contraction is to encourage inward direct investment to the island. Crucial to this strategy is the encouragement and enabling of the construction of new resort hotels on island which will provide new construction jobs and ultimately new jobs in hospitality. However, before any building can start investors and financiers must be convinced that such projects represent compelling value propositions. This is the linchpin of every potential new hotel project, a value proposition that works. Government, through the Economic Development Cabinet Committee, is working to accelerate approvals and clear away red tape that would otherwise erode the value proposition for new hotel development. This Government has embarked on these initiatives 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 has 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 this budget there are two tax initiatives which will have the effect of stimulating economic activity and employment. The first, as per our election platform, is 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. I will remind Bermudians that 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 will be set up to be watchful for those 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. Currently, the Licence Fee is 25 per cent of the value of the property. It is 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 is 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. This is a jobs programme, pure and simple. 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. Insofar as Government revenues are concerned we anticipate this action to have a positive effect. We estimate that the demand for property is indeed price elastic and the reduction in fees will 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, as we expect, 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. With these two tax initiatives Government has found a way to stimulate the economy and create jobs without resorting to major tax cuts which would jeopardize the solvency of the Government.
Other Tax Adjustments. The duty on cigarettes and tobacco and beer, wines and other spirits will be raised in April 2013 to achieve additional Customs revenue of about $2 million. The yield from land tax will be improved in 2013/14 by adjusting the rates on ARV bands higher than $90,000. The amount of additional tax is estimated at $3.4 million. 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 exemption previously afforded to seniors for vehicle licences has been maintained for vehicles in classes A, B, C and D. However the exemption from licence fees for seniors in classes E, F, G and H will be rescinded. Also there will be an increase in vehicle licence fees of 3 per cent on all vehicles. These measures will recoup an estimated $2.2 million in vehicle licence fees for 2013/14. The cost of bus passes (day passes) will be raised resulting in an increased revenue yield of $500,000. The Corporate Service Tax Rate, which has been in existence since 1995, will be raised from 4 per cent to 6 per cent to achieve additional revenue of about $1.5 million. Most other tax rates will remain unchanged except for various Immigration fees. It is estimated that these changes will be revenue neutral.
Tax Collection. Government financial statements show large amounts of money as Taxes Receivable. These represent taxes that should be paid to government according to law but have not been paid. As Government presently has to borrow money to pay monthly bills, every unpaid dollar owed to government increases the public debt and costs taxpayers the interest payable on that dollar. Due to the extended recession there are many small businesses that have struggled to meet their tax obligations in a timely fashion. Government will work with these businesses to make suitable arrangements. However, there are others who simply ignore their obligations. For this group Government will use all available means to collect overdue taxes, thereby improving Government’s cash flow and reducing its need for borrowing. Now I would like to provide a few highlights of programme initiatives related to the key Ministries of Public Safety, Education and Health and Seniors.
Public Safety. Safety and security in Bermuda are fundamental human rights, hence it is a clear imperative to provide the Bermuda Police Service with the resources they require to meet the challenges of these times. This budget provides additional funding to increase the BPS manpower to adequate levels. Also provided is an increased allocation to the Police Complaints Authority. An additional $30,000 will enable this body to engage a part-time investigator to properly deal with complaints made against the Police thereby increasing public confidence that rights and freedoms are highly valued in this society. The Government will move to renegotiate the Police Conditions of Service Order to remove those provisions regarding Police compensation which are no longer appropriate. While we will not compromise on keeping Bermuda safe, fiscal prudence must be applied even to this vital Department. Supporting strong enforcement must be accompanied by effective rehabilitation. The Department of Corrections fulfills a critical role in breaking the cycle of anti-social behaviour in our community. To ensure that incarcerated men and women are returned to society equipped to make better choices, and thereby reducing the risk they pose to the wider community, this Budget makes provision for the recruitment of prison officers to fill existing posts and in this fiscal year the Department of Corrections will also engage key professionals in areas related to the rehabilitation and management of inmate issues.
Education. This Budget will allow the Ministry of Education to improve teaching quality and learning outcomes as well as expand opportunities and provide greater access for all of our students. Career Pathways, a programme started in September 2012, represents a dynamic partnership between Bermuda’s industry partners, the Ministry of Education, the National Training Board and the Bermuda College. The programme is designed to provide public school students with pathways for greater preparation for career and college opportunities for a fulfilling life beyond the classroom. The goal is to expand the programme to bring Bermudian students closer to the various occupations in which non-Bermudians are heavily represented. The refining of the programme at the Senior School level will assist the Ministry to build the pipeline that will eventually see the introduction of the Career Pathways programme at the Middle School level. The budget allocation for the upcoming year will allow the Ministry to expand its services to special needs students. Vision Services is one such area that has expanded in recent years. The number of students with vision impairments has risen from 11 in 2010 to 46 in 2012 of which five require to be serviced with Braille. Known as the Busy Bees programme, this vision programme has benefited from overwhelming school, family and community support. Without this support the programme would not have been able to meet the needs of these students. In September 2011, an Alternative Education Programme was implemented for troubled youth with severe behavioural challenges who were not functioning to their level of ability in the regular school environment. This one per cent of the total student population is being serviced through a consortium of alternative facilities to meet their individual learning and behaviour management needs. These new programmes provide opportunities for our students to reach their full potential and for the public education system to be inclusive and responsive to student needs.
Health and Seniors. The proposed 2013/14 budget for the Ministry of Health and Seniors is $195.2 million which is an increase of $4.2 million or 2.2 per cent on the base budget from the previous year. The vast majority of the Ministry of Health and Seniors’ budget (over 72 per cent) is allocated to the Bermuda Hospitals Board. For the 2013/14 fiscal year, a budget of $104 million has been provided for patient subsidies for the youth, indigent and the aged, as well as providing some support for the Continuing Care Unit at the Hospital. Since the closing of what was then called the “Indigent Clinic” at the Hospital, there have been many among our most vulnerable populations who have been unable to access primary care. Instead, many of these Bermudians have either gone without care or they have gone to the Emergency Department. This situation is unpleasant for the people involved, and it drives up costs for the entire healthcare system. The Ministry of Health and Seniors will address this by providing primary care services for those Bermudians who cannot afford health insurance. The Ministry will address their immediate care needs, and will ensure that they have the appropriate treatment and support for any chronic conditions.
Conclusion. This budget marks the beginning of a new direction for the manner in which the economy of Bermuda and the finances of the Bermuda Government are managed. The hallmarks of the new management style will be realism, transparency, prudence and decisiveness. At the present time Bermuda’s economy is in a tough spot but the Government is confident that the corrective measures outlined in this Budget Statement, and others initiatives that will come, will result in more jobs, more prosperity, greater opportunity and safer neighbourhoods in the years to come. Therefore, this Government remains firmly confident in future prospects of Bermuda."
Invited guests at the April 29, 2011 marriage at Westminster Abbey, London, of their Royal Highnesses the Duke (Prince William) and Duchess of Cambridge included, (right), the Premier of Bermuda and her husband Germain Nkeuleu, seen in this official Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) photograph with the UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague and (left), Premier of the Cayman Islands McKeeva Bush and his wife Kerry, at a reception at Lancaster House, London.
A written document 96 pages long, it went into effect on June 8, 1968. The Bermuda Constitution is not like other constitutions which cover all nationals and non-nationals. The Bermuda one covers Bermudians and their spouses only, not the 25 percent who are not and probably will never be unless they marry a Bermudian, or are born to parents one of whom must be a Bermudian. Non-Bermudians married to Bermudians should be aware they are not protected by the Constitution against work permit cessation or conviction of a serious crime and also under the latter have no human right to a family life in Bermuda, unlike under European law where the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) may offer protection.
The Bermuda Government has three main branches - Executive, Legislative and Judicial - in the British "Westminster" system. They are described below.
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.
Bermudians, other residents and visitors spend more per square mile in taxes than anywhere else in the world, both per capita and in total. The table below is in order of revenue by source. 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.
February 24, 2012. Bermuda Budget Day. How Bermuda's Government announced Income, Expenditure, new taxes and changes to taxation and benefits for financial year 1 April 2012 through 31 March, 2013. See http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20120225/NEWS09/702259952/-1 and http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20120224/NEWS09/702249917/-1.
|Customs Duty Tax payable by individuals, wholesalers and consumers||Payroll Tax, payable in equal proportions by employers and employees||Other Taxes combined||International Companies Tax||Land Tax payable by home owners and indirectly by renters|
|Stamp Duty Taxes payable by consumers on real estate, mortgage and death duties||Motor Vehicle Licenses, payable by owners||Passenger Taxes, payable by airline and cruise ship residents and visitors||Hotel Occupancy Tax, payable by all airline visitors at all categories of guest premises||Telecommunications Tax, (local and international telephone companies, ISPs, cellphone (mobile) users, etc.|
|** 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.
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 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.
The Deputy Governor is David Arkley. A career diplomat, he last served at the British Embassy in Luanda, Angola, earlier in Moscow, San Paulo and Washington. His office is the Deputy Governor's Office. 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. The office and contact details of the Deputy Governor are Government House, 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke, Hamilton. Phone 441 292-3600. Fax 441 295-3823.
In July 2003, Bermuda formally joined the Caribbean Community, as an Associate Member (non-voting member), in certain areas but not in others. 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).
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.
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. Excluding the Members of Cabinet already mentioned above they include:
New Premier of Bermuda from December 19, 2012 is the Hon. Craig Cannonier, JP, MP.
New Premier Hon. Craig Cannonier, JP, MP. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bermuda Cabinet from December 19, 2012. 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.
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
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 untol 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
Good Governance Act 2012
Bermuda's House of Assembly and Senate approved in mid 2012 legislation aimed at promoting good governance, with both parties calling the bill a step forward. 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.
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.
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.
|Its 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.
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.
On August 1, 2011 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 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.”
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.”
Ms Cox said the public would soon be able to view new procurement regulations on the Government website, as well as the rules of engagement for tendering.
The Premier concluded: “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,” he said. “They moved smoothly and quickly on that. They did the same with their anti-corruption law.”
He said if Bermuda wanted to enhance its reputation and strength of governance it needed to act swiftly too.
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
Act represents a monumental change in how information held by the Bermuda public
authorities can be accessed and obtained.
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;
■ 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:
(a) which would adversely affect the health and safety of an individual;
(b) with personal information relating to someone other than the requester where that person has not given consent for the information to be disclosed;
(c) containing sensitive commercial information unrelated to the requester where the original information provider has not consented to disclosure;
(d) received in confidence;
(e) containing Cabinet documents;
(f) that undermine Ministerial responsibility;
(g) that undermine deliberations of public authorities;
(h) that undermine or affect operations of public authorities;
(i) reasonably expected to have a serious adverse effect on the financial interest of Bermuda or of Government to manage the national economy;
(j) prejudicing or undermining national security, defence and international relations;
(k) containing information relating to the Governor's responsibilities and communications with the United Kingdom;
(l) reasonably expected to prejudice law enforcement;
(m) subject to legal professional privilege; or
(n) 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.
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 there are three, namely
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
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.
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.
|Address Finder. How to find your real estate property on a Bermuda Government Geographical Information Technical Committee and Works and Engineering, Land and Survey Division mapping website.|
|Bermuda Annual Exhibition, or e-mail email@example.com. Held every April|
|Bermuda Aquarium & Museum|
|Bermuda Buses. Public Transportation Board. A Bermuda Government quango. See Bermuda Government Boards.|
|Bermuda Customs. Import duties, limits on what visitors and residents can import duty-free, etc.|
|Bermuda elections. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 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). As at February 28, 2003 it manages a large portfolio of rental, owned and private sector properties. It holds 310 mortgages valued at $19 million. It owns more than 100 properties with an estimated value of $65 million. 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 email@example.com.|
|Bermuda National Library or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Bermuda Police Service. Phone 295-0011.|
|Bermuda Prisons Service. Phone 295-4975.|
|Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation. A Bermuda Government quango. See Bermuda Government Boards.|
|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 email@example.com. 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.|
|Community Education & Development Programme|
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints email@example.com. Consumer, landlord and tenant, cable TV, shopping and utilities complaints, mostly. 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 it relates to the Consumer Protection Act 1999.|
|Department of Cultural Affairs.|
|Department of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For Environmental Protection offices see under Environment.|
Royal Gazette newspaper photo
|Department of Marine & Ports Services|
|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 email@example.com.
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.
|Director of Public Prosecutions. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Global House, 43 Church Street, Hamilton. Phone 296-1277.|
|Freedom of Information. See "Public Access" 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.
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.|
|Progressive Labor Party|
|Registrar of Companies|
|Registrar General. For birth, marriage and death certificates, to patent a product or copyright material.|
|Road Safety Council. See Bermuda Government Boards.|
|Transport Control Department. North Street, Hamilton.|
See Bermuda Weather.
West End Development Corporation. On behalf Government, it owns the former Royal Naval Dockyard.
London and Washington DC Offices.
Voters of Bermuda and non-citizens who can never vote
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.