The Premier delivered a national address last night and pledged “a Bermuda that can, and will, work for all of us”.
David Burt unveiled new plans to benefit seniors and students, and looked back on the Progressive Labour Party’s first year back in power.
The Premier announced that the Government, with the Bermuda Housing Corporation, planned to introduce “interest- free home-improvement loans” of up to $15,000 for families in need of help to modify their homes to accommodate elderly relatives.
He added fixtures and fittings for units to accommodate the elderly at home would be duty- free, with the exemption also extended to “existing or new rest homes”.
Mr Burt raised the deterioration of the Lefroy House rest home in Sandys and said a new building would be necessary with a site already under consideration.
He said: “This new facility will combine the Mangrove Bay clinic under its roof, providing the West End with much needed improved community health services.”
Mr Burt singled out the high cost of electricity as a significant problem and said that the days of “continued unsustainable electricity increases must come to an end”.
He added height restrictions on buildings in Hamilton were under review and that plans would be complete before the end of this year with a view to boosting development in the City.
He also said: “Before this session of Parliament is over, we will have “consumer debt-protection legislation”.
Mr Burt also highlighted education in his 18-minute ‘state of the onion’ address.
He said that his daughter would start public school in September,
Mr Burt added that improvements had been made in science, technology, art, engineering and maths courses at the primary level, which were piloted by four schools this year.
He said: “We will now introduce the Steam curriculum to six primary schools per academic year over the next three years.”
Mr Burt added that consultation was under way on an end to middle schools, in keeping with the PLP’s pledge to phase them out.
He said efforts to diversify the economy by embracing new fintech businesses were also under way.
Mr Burt claimed that the PLP’s “decisive action” has positioned the island as a world leader in the emerging industry, with a fintech business unit set up.
He said: “It is the next wave of how the world will do things.”
The Premier added that ratings agency Standard & Poor’s had upgraded its outlook on Bermuda’s economy to positive in April for the first time in 12 years.
Mr Burt said the General Election last year had left the PLP with an “unprecedented mandate”.
The Premier added that civil servants had been “denigrated” under the One Bermuda Alliance and that austerity measures had harmed services and brought trust in the Government to “an all-time low”.
He said the 2016 Census showed the rift between races in earning opportunities.
Mr Burt added that “black people in this country have a right to demand that their government address the systemic inequalities that see black
people overrepresented in the criminal justice system, or always battling against historic inherited wealth for fairness and equality”.
He praised the decriminalisation of small amounts of cannabis that had reduced the number of young black men going before courts.
Mr Burt closed with a list of the administration’s achievements over its first year.
He added: “The Government I lead is not perfect and we will make mistakes, but trust and believe that your government’s heart is in the right place”.
Mr Burt said: “This journey is only beginning.”