Bermuda’s new Governor, Rena Lalgie, delivered her very first Throne Speech setting the Government’s legislative agenda for the next parliamentary session on Friday (Nov 5).
The ceremony marked history for the island as Ms Lalgie is the first woman and first Black person to deliver a Throne Speech.
Looking at the year ahead, she said the main emphasis will be on pulling Bermuda out of the economic slump precipitated by the global pandemic.
On that note, Governor Lalgie said: “The grossest inequity exposed by the global pandemic is in the area of healthcare and health insurance coverage.
“Affordable universal healthcare is a complex, multiyear commitment and is a fundamental part of Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan, because it will reduce costs to business, which in turn increases economic growth.
“The Ministry of Health will develop a national digital health strategy to leverage technology that will streamline administrative expenses, so more funds can be spent on delivering healthcare services,” she added.
“The Government will commence merging the administration of the Government healthcare plans, which will deliver cost savings.”
The Governor also stated that “regulations will also be introduced to address the cost of the fuel surcharge for electricity and also to better regulate the storage and distribution of fuel, with the aim of reducing energy costs for Bermuda’s residents and businesses”.
“To execute another initiative of Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan, the Government will introduce a Bill to facilitate the developers of renewable energy technology testing their products in Bermuda,” she said.
“This legislation will lay the groundwork for additional investment in Bermuda, whose innovation can reduce the cost of electricity for local consumers.”
The Government reaffirmed its commitment to produce real immigration reform with changes to the immigration process by way of a new digitised application system.
On the island’s ageing infrastructure, the Government said: “The issue of Bermuda’s waste management is an infrastructure crisis, to which all efforts must be devoted to solve. The Government must tackle this critical infrastructure project to ensure that.
“Bermuda does not have to revert to landfilling its solid waste. The Tynes Bay facility must be replaced, and pending that replacement the Government will take all the necessary steps to ensure a continuation of the service provided by this critical facility.”
On Bermuda’s ailing tourism industry, the Governor said ultimately, there could be “no economic recovery” for the island “without a recovery in tourism”.
“Whilst the execution of any tourism campaign and marketing strategy is the purview of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, leadership in tourism policy must come from the Government of Bermuda, who commit tens of millions of taxpayer funds to the organisation, a commitment which demands a far greater return than has been,” she said.
We’ll have more in subsequent reports.