Good Morning, Mr. Speaker.
I am pleased to provide another update on the Short Term Stimulus Programme that was launched on December 17th, 2020 to a maximum value of BMD $13,385,000 where small to medium sized contractors were invited to participate.
Mr. Speaker, the programme was launched as there is an urgent need to provide stimulus to the local economy in order to retain and boost employment numbers in the wake of the economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result the Ministry of Public Works compiled a list of “shovel ready” projects that are executable almost immediately. These projects are mostly infrastructure improvements and will not add further burden to government operational expenses. The project’s selection principles are to maximize the employment of the private sector while providing much-needed refreshing of neglected infrastructure.
Mr. Speaker, To ensure allocation of the stimulus funding across the participating businesses, the Ministry will maintain a register of approved contractors and awarded contracts to ensure that no one company monopolizes the project list. Once a company obtains a project, they will be rotated to the bottom of the list to allow other companies an opportunity for work. The guiding principle is to prioritize all companies that provide the most employment benefit per dollar spent while spreading the work among Bermudian owned and operated businesses.
Many of these small to medium sized businesses have never worked for government before and oftentimes the challenge is cash flow. In light of this we have arranged with the Accountant Generals Department to accelerate the payment schedule to every two weeks – noting that those who owe government money must engage in a payment plan in order to secure the work
Mr. Speaker, we have received a total of 98 submissions by the deadline of Feb 15th. Responses to the RFSQ continue to be evaluated. To date 67 Companies have been approved and are pre-qualified to work with the Government – several of these have been asked for quotes for various jobs. The Evaluation Team has been working flat out to evaluate those remaining applications.
The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation assisted a total of 74 contractors with completing their submission packages for the Request for Statement of Qualifications.
Mr. Speaker, as the RFSQ phase is now over, companies have received Request for Quotes for various Stimulus Projects and are submitting their responses. Responses to the Darrell’s Wharf repair project and the Flatt’s Bridge Handrail project have been received and processed with an award due early next week.
Several other sites have been put out for quotes including:
- Artemis Building “A” fit out work
- Artemis building B” fit out work
- Highways fencing repair works
- Elbow Beach Access stairs replacement works, and
- New Plant Inspection Building at Botanical Gardens construction work
Additionally, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Workforce Development have come onboard with their Apprenticeship/Training Programme to present opportunities for Bermudians to gain valuable experience and training which is critical in strengthening the country’s economic and social development.
Mr. Speaker, DWD provides training and development programmes and initiatives in a broad range of occupations and sectors across multiple disciplines in the workforce. They will adapt the current framework of Apprenticeship/Training Agreement Contracts to be fit for purpose to encourage Contractors to engage individuals to participate in various jobs and potentially provide opportunities for part-time and/or fulltime short and long term employment.
In summary, Mr. Speaker, DWD can provide financial assistance in the form of payment and oversight as an incentive and benefit to Contractors to hire a Bermudian for each of their respective companies at no cost to them. In return, the Bermudian gains entry level skills and/or upgrades their existing skillset, utilizes their transferable skills, and become gainfully employed as contributing individuals to society on the path to the economic recovery of the country. The Department’s Training & Assessment Officer will provide oversight and supervision for the individual/employee as the liaison between the employee and the employer. The Government believes this is a win-win construct and return on investment for all parties involved as a cross-ministry initiative.
We are very pleased with the response to the Stimulus Programme from contractors and likely employees – all of whom want to get to work and help the economy improve. This template of bundling projects together is proving to be quite efficient and we shall look to using this concept in the future.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.