Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media. Thank you for being here.
As you would have heard me say, prior to the election, and to quote from the Progressive Labour Party Platform, “In order for Bermuda to succeed, we need to return our economy to a path of balanced growth that creates jobs, provides rising incomes and assists our budget challenges. It is this government’s belief that a better environment must be created in which Bermudian businesses can thrive, opportunities for Bermudians can be created, and in which capable, qualified Bermudians can earn opportunities to work, train and succeed at every level. We will ensure a fairer Bermuda for all by enacting policies to grow Bermuda’s economy.”
One of the initiatives we identified to accomplish during the first 100 days of becoming the government was to form a Bermuda First advisory group consisting of local and international business and community leaders to develop a long-term economic and social plan for Bermuda.
The Bermuda First concept is not a new idea, it was created by the PLP government in 2009 and was co-chaired by the then Premier and the Opposition Leader. The committee was formed as a result of the global financial crisis and economic downturn that started in 2008.
The creation of a new Bermuda First Think Tank is a promise that has been kept by this Government. No politicians will serve on the committee. The objective for creating this non-political entity is so they can develop an economic and social blueprint that will shape Bermuda for the next 10 – 15 years. For our island to be successful we must have a single vision and we must all move in the same direction.
As stated in this year’s Speech from the Throne, the Bermuda First think tank will draw on the intellectual capital of local and international business and community leaders. Every section of our community will be involved to ensure that the input is given so that we can move together as a country. The committee will look for new opportunities for Bermuda to strengthen its economic base, identify new and emerging industries and technologies for the island to build on, and assist us in developing a balanced long-term economic growth that keeps in mind the key need to develop socially and economically.
I have asked Mr. Philip Butterfield to chair the Bermuda First Think Tank. Mr. Butterfield served as Chairman of HSBC Bank Bermuda from May 2012 to December 2015. Prior to that, he held the position of CEO of the Bank for eight years. He has also served as chairman of the Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust, was a member of the steering committee for the original Bermuda First, president of the Bermuda Health Foundation, chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Bermuda Environmental Alliance, chairman of the Victor Scott School Alumni Association, a board member of Johns Hopkins Medicine and the American Classical Orchestra.
Phil brings to the role a global financial perspective together with a deep understanding of Bermuda’s political, financial and social make up. I am grateful that he has agreed to take on this important position and lead the outstanding team who will create the plan that will shape Bermuda and move us forward.
In addition to Mr. Butterfield, members of the Bermuda First committee who have agreed to serve, some of whom are here today are:
Sir John Swan
Dr. Duranda Green
Gita Blakeney Saltus
There are a few other members will be announced in due course.
I now invite Mr. Phil Butterfield to say a few words.
Thank you Phil.
I want to thank Phil and those who have offered to serve on the Board of Bermuda First. They are volunteering their time and expertise as we work together to build and better and fairer Bermuda. The committee will begin work immediately, developing their mandate and identifying their methodology. The committee will be given an operating budget together with office space and administrative support.
I anticipate receiving an initial report of the committee by the middle of next year.
As I mentioned, the Bermuda First Think Tank is an initiative that was identified in this government’s 100 Day pledge that we made in our platform. Those of you who have been keeping count you will know that tomorrow – 27 October – is the 100 Day mark that we have been in office.
On 3 November, when Parliament reconvenes, I will provide Parliament with an update on the success of the 21 initiatives that were identified in the 100 Day pledge. We made a commitment to focus on priorities to create a better and fairer Bermuda. We are doing that. After my report to the House, I will speak directly to the people of Bermuda to whom we are accountable, as we take our show on the road.