Bermuda’s Auditor General, Heather Thomas released the public interest report on the Government’s response to COVID-19 on Friday (March 5), “which is a factual summary of the Government’s activities and estimated costs to October 2020”.
This is Auditor General’s “first public interest report on the work undertaken to support Parliament in its examination of the Government of Bermuda’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response”.
A spokesperson said the work was undertaken “not only because of queries from the Public, but also because of the nature and significance of the impact of the pandemic, the Government’s unprecedented spending of public moneys and because the Office recognises the importance of independent reporting to Parliament and the Public”.
“This public interest report – which was compiled from various government sources and interviews – provides a factual summary of known Government’s activities and financial costs to October 2020, and is the first of a multi-part programme of work scheduled. Interviewees were invited to review and comment on this report and we thank them for their time,” the spokesperson added.
As of October 2020, the Government has spent approximately $30.1 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as follows:
- $13.7 million by Cabinet Office which largely went to Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] as a grant to support small to medium businesses, and also covered quarantine monitoring and laboratory services
- $7.6 million by the Ministry of Health, covering equipment, testing, call centres and laboratory services
- $7.3 million by the Ministry of National Security, for support of the embodiment of the Regiment, quarantine facilities, security and other related services; and
- $1.5 million other support for database development, loan facility fees and other related services
It was also noted that “there were approximately 50 regulations, amendments, orders and proclamations made that guided the Government’s pandemic response and assisted the effort to suppress and curb the spread of COVID-19, including impositions of curfews, shelter-in-place and the closure of LF Wade International Airport”.
There were also several supplies and services received from the UK Government totaling approximately $1.8 million (£1.3 million) donated to the Government of Bermuda.
Ms Thomas said: “It’s important to note, that the information in this report was not audited by her office. Given the scale and emergent nature of the pandemic and government’s continued response, her Office will continue to update these numbers while auditing specific programs of the government’s response and, support Parliament in holding Government to account.
“What’s Next for the Office is an examination of the Government’s Unemployment Benefit Program, as a part of the Office’s COVID -19 multi-part programme.”