Your Excellency, Deputy Premier, Minister Wilson, Senate Leader Dr. Peets, colleagues, friends, members of the media; good morning.
Let me begin today by welcoming Rev. Dr. EmilyGail Dill to the Senate and congratulating her on her appointment as a Junior Minister.
She has answered a call to serve at an important time in Bermuda and I am grateful for her willingness to embark on this new facet of her already extensive public service.
Rev. Dr. Dill is a graduate of Spelman College and holds a Human Resources Director Certificate from Cornell University; a master’s degree in Leadership and Administration from the Interdenominational Theological Centre; and a doctorate in Leadership and Organisational Development from United Theological Seminary, in Dayton, Ohio.
Her career experiences include the arts, education and ministry. Rev. Dr. Dill currently serves as Assistant Pastor of Allen Temple AME Church in Somerset.
Senator Dill will also serve as Junior Minister for National Security and Transport. She brings to the Senate her considerable strengths in these areas and a genuine empathy for the needs of others.
Her record of work and success with Bermuda's youth through the Alternative Education programme will add to the dedicated team at the Ministry National Security who are focused on tackling the root causes of gang violence.
I am grateful to her for accepting this challenge and I look forward to her reasoned contributions to debates and her strong voice in support of this Government’s legislative agenda.
In addition to the appointment of Rev. Dr. Dill today, I have invited Her Excellency the Governor to assign to me the responsibility for the Finance portfolio.
In November 2018 I could not have been more pleased to handover the management of the public treasury to Curtis Dickinson.
As a Minister, Curtis added a thoughtful and measured voice to the deliberations of Cabinet and brought to his service as Minister of Finance a wealth of experience honed by working at the forefront of investment banking in one of the world’s leading financial centres.
As I said earlier this week, I reluctantly accepted Curtis’ resignation and did so out of respect for him. I sincerely valued his time and counsel as Minister of Finance and look forward to his continued support of this government and take this opportunity again to thank him for his service.
Needless to say, we are on the cusp of the delivery of a Budget for the next fiscal year and I can confirm that the schedule for the Budget is unaltered.
Budget Day is February 25th and the work in preparation of the Budget, which begins in October of the previous year, was largely completed prior to MP Dickinson’s resignation on Monday.
I have already started working with the dedicated team in the Ministry of Finance to compose a Statement in Support of the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the Fiscal Year 2022/23.
This will be an extremely difficult budget as we strike the balance required to stabilize public finances, promote economic growth, deliver on our election promises, and provide relief and services for the people of this country.
That is the task ahead and every waking hour is now devoted to repairing the damage done to the economy by the pandemic and returning activity and growth to our economic forecasts.
There are also critical promises on which we must deliver related to finance:
● Pension reform to assist first time-homeowners
● Mortgage relief for hardworking families
● Enhanced protection for consumers when dealing with banks and other financial institutions; and
● Tax reform to promote greater equality in our tax system
No resignation from the Cabinet is ideal and there is no ideal time for such a thing to occur. However, the strength of our system of Government is in continuity.
The Ministry of Finance is staffed by a team of consummate professionals with whom I have had the privilege of working previously and this will be a seamless transition thanks to their level of expertise and constant attention to the various issues, both local and foreign that impact the Ministry’s mission.
Additionally, the Cabinet is likewise preparing for this new fiscal year and laying the groundwork for the delivery of those items promised in the 2021 Throne Speech and our 2020 General Election Platform.
There is a resilience in both the Cabinet and the backbench that will serve Bermuda well as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic and continue to commit ourselves every day to improving the lives of the people we serve.