It gives me extreme pleasure to unveil our 2020 General Election Platform “Rebuilding Bermuda with Bermudians at Heart.”
At the last election we presented you our platform Building a Better & Fairer Bermuda. At that time, no one had any idea that in the year 2020, the world would be rocked to its core with the COVID19 pandemic. As we are in the 4th year of governing, your Progressive Labour Party government has been steadfast in its commitment to building a better and fairer Bermuda. We have achieved many of our platform promises, and made significant changes to the status quo. In total out of the 167 individual pledges made the last time we went to the polls 79% of those are either complete or in progress. What that means is simple, you can trust the PLP to keep its promises!
The year 2020 has been a challenging one for us all. But with every challenge comes opportunity. We now have an opportunity to use this moment in time to rebuild our economy in a way that works for all of the people who call this island home.
Never has it been so critical for us all to work together as it is now. Talent and experience in Bermuda comes in all sectors, and all hands on deck are necessary for us all to succeed.
Tonight we will present to you our 2020 General election platform “Rebuilding Bermuda with Bermudians at Heart.” You will hear first-hand how the next Progressive Labour Party government will rebuild our economy and strengthen our social fabric in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, to ensure a prosperous and healthy future for all people in Bermuda. Tonight’s presentation will not be exhaustive, but will highlight the key initiatives. For those watching online, you are welcome to read the entire platform itself on our website at www.plp.bm
The Economy is the #1 issue on the mind of voters, we hear it on the doorstep. People have been asking for “Our Plan” – to be clear we’ve laid our many aspects before – but after tonight the people of Bermuda will be in no doubt as to where the PLP will take them economically and socially. We are create a nation of owners, giving more Bermudians ownership opportunities in banking, and ensuring that our economic growth benefits those who have been left behind in the economic miracle that is Bermuda.
The PLP government knows that we must encourage and sustain economic development in Bermuda. Prior to the pandemic, we had seen growth in the form of 719 new jobs, between new jobs in Fintech and growth in Insurance and Tourism. We were on the Right Track.
Now as we pivot toward our next term, we must deal with issues that are holding back new industries and hampering people from joining the property ladder. We must unleash ever more powerful forces of entrepreneurship in Bermuda and start a renewable energy revolution.
In a letter to Bermuda on the opening pages of out platform on behalf of this great party, I lay out our key recovery commitments.
Our key recovery commitments are as follows:
- Create the Bermuda National Digital Bank with ownership shares available to all Bermudians to invest and create wealth for future generations. The bank will allow for long-stalled industries like gaming to commence, creating jobs and economic growth, while connecting Bermuda’s residents and entrepreneurs to the global world of digital payments. This bank will ensure that more Bermudians can benefit from lower mortgage rates to reduce pressure on middle class families, while lower rates will increase the value of existing homes.
- Reform banking laws to increase banking competition in Bermuda by introducing new classes of banks to Bermuda while reducing required startup capital for new banks. This will allow more banks to enter the local market, providing jobs in Bermuda. Banking reform will include harmonising the Bermuda base rate charged by local banks while working with local banks to provide security for mortgage loans to reduce interest rates charged on mortgages.
- Transform the City of Hamilton into a livable city by fostering the development of apartment buildings in Hamilton that will enable young Bermudians to join the property ladder. First-time home owners will receive support from the Government to allow them to purchase these apartments with a 5% down payment.
- Start a green energy revolution led by the Government that will increase the use of renewable energy in homes and businesses throughout the Island to reduce electricity bills and do our part in the battle against climate change. We will also introduce joint electricity ownership schemes to allow homeowners to receive grant money for panels and develop profit-sharing co-ops with energy investors.
- Increase investment in the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) with the goal of starting dozens of new Bermudian-owned businesses every year. This will mean assisting entrepreneurs with start-up grants, financing assistance and business coaching, while supporting these new businesses with the power of public procurement - and we will continue to eliminate even more red tape and regulations than we have since we were elected.
What about jobs now…
To stimulate jobs in the near term, the next PLP government will:
- Use the proceeds of our recent capital raise, to move new capital projects forward, providing immediate employment to those looking for work.
- Create employment while reducing long term costs by commencing the installation of renewable energy facilities on large government buildings, public schools, and the National Sports Centre by the end of the year.
We hear about big projects…
Your next PLP Government will support the following public and private sector building projects valued at over $1 Billion to provide employment over the next 5 years:
- Seeking new investment to complete the Morgan’s Point project
- Redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel
- Relocation of Bermuda’s container port from Hamilton
- New state of the art medical tourism facility in Bermuda
- Upgrade of Bermuda’s water supply and waste treatment infrastructure
- Construction of residential living including affordable housing in North Hamilton EEZ and the expansion of homes at HarbourView Village
- Ottiwell A. Simmons International Arbitration Centre
- West End Residential Community Care Centre, providing seniors living and community health services on site.
The next PLP government also wants to facilitate a nation of owners. To this end, we will:
- Pass a Family Office Act, attracting economic investment into Bermuda in the form of family offices while providing immigration incentives tied to investments in Bermuda. These investments could be in the form of Government Bonds, an Innovation Fund to support new Bermuda Entrepreneurs, or directly into the new Bermuda Trust Fund.
- Create a national fund called the Bermuda Trust Fund that will benefit economically disadvantaged Bermudians to reduce generational income inequality. This fund will be seeded by economic investors in Bermuda who can invest directly into the Bermuda Trust Fund.
- The pension commission will assist in providing more on-Island investment options making it easier for workers to voluntarily invest their funds in approved economic development activities in Bermuda, building wealth for them and future generations. The PLP wants to build an ownership society in Bermuda and this policy will create more owners in Bermuda, giving more Bermudians a stake in our collective economic success.
- We will put the ownership of our airport back in Bermudian hands, giving Bermudians the ability to earn the large returns given to Aecon by the former OBA Government.
- Use provisions of Section 6A of the Human Rights Act to ensure new economic development initiatives assist “disadvantaged persons or groups”, specifically those of African descent, women, and the differently abled.
To continue our focus on economic diversification, the next PLP government will:
- Accelerate the development of Bermuda’s FinTech industry that in only two years has already created 60 jobs. We will continue to modernise our well-regulated environment for FinTech businesses, while providing enhanced FinTech education and training opportunities to allow Bermudian entrepreneurs to get connected with this growing global industry at the ground level.
- Following the extensive consultation process, Bermuda’s new cannabis industry will soon take shape.
- We will structure the regulation of cannabis to protect our children and create economic opportunity, and will ensure that the additional revenue that is generated is used to invest in marginalised communities. We will keep true to our pledge that Bermudians who have been negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition will be the first persons to have access to any of the classes of business licences.
- Create a Food Cooperative that will support the use of technology, such as vertical farming and aquaponics, to boost domestic food production. One of the first projects will be a large-scale vertical farming facility, partially powered by renewable energy, that will produce 35% of Bermuda’s demand for annual leafy vegetables.
- Invest in the Blue Economy by completing the Shoreside Facility to process fish caught in Bermuda, while supporting a cooperative purchase of larger shipping vessels to increase the domestic capture of fish, reducing imports and providing the option for exporting fish.
Since 2017, the PLP Government has provided $12m in support of small and medium sized businesses, eliminated startup taxes, and reduced red tape.
To continue to boost entrepreneurs, and small businesses we will:
- Introduce technology to allow Bermudians to quickly incorporate businesses online.
- Introduce a policy that requires the government to pay all bills to BEDC registered small or medium sized businesses within 15 business days.
- Expand on a programme that has already seen small businesses receive government contracts worth a total of $38 million over the past three years.
- Use BEDC Resources to create an online market that will allow entrepreneurs easy access to sell their goods and services online without having to deal with costly individual setups, large monthly fees and merchant account complexities.
We understand the necessity to balance the protection of Bermudian jobs with the needs of businesses to operate effectively. Your next PLP government will:
- Continue the work of the Bipartisan committee to complete comprehensive immigration reform dealing with the issue of Long term residents.
- Revise the Long term resident certificate policy to require all future residents to make investment in Bermuda in the form of establishing family offices, acquisition or development of property, setting up a new business, or investing in the Bermuda Trust fund
- Reform the Work Permit policy to promote business expansion in Bermuda while regulating gainful employment of guest workers
- Digitise the immigration application processes to improve the quality and speed of immigration services
- Grow the economy by providing incentives for emigrated Bermudians to return home
And finally, when it comes to our Economic Plan lets talk about tourism...Tourism is important – especially here in St. Georges.
Since 2017, we saw an increase in 337 jobs in tourism prior to the pandemic. We jumpstarted vacation rentals, implemented superyacht legislation, supported entrepreneurs to provide more on island activities, and created local events for Bermudian entertainers.
The next PLP government will:
- Work with the private sector to construct a medical tourism facility to create jobs and year round visitors to Bermuda
- Launch our casino industry, supported by the Bermuda National Digital Bank
- Ensure that our marketing and tourism product highlight Bermudian art, culture and fashion
- Develop key signature events in the area of film, fashion and entertainment to attract visitors
- Invest in the upkeep of Bermuda forts and historical attractions
- Support Bermuda to become a first class destination for film production which will mean investing in film equipment and training providing opportunities for Bermudians to earn a living in this exciting industry
At the end of the day, this election is about leadership and who we want to see Bermuda through this economic recovery while protecting us from a possible global second wave of the Coronavirus.
The PLP is not done with our work yet. We are working to keep our promises.
Our economic vision is a progressive vision for Bermuda and we have a heart for the people. On October 1st, vote for the best economic plan and to keep Curtis Dickinson as the Minister of Finance.