Status updates of the Economic Recovery Plan

This page provides a general overview of key highlights and status updates regarding the implementation of Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan.

A priority list of 31 initiatives has been created which focus on areas with the highest impact for Bermuda’s medium-term economic growth and employment.

The 31 initiatives have been broadly grouped into seven core themes:

Theme 1: Economic Diversification

Launch Casino Industry

Government is committed to ensuring a properly regulated gaming industry for Bermuda. Government has advanced its legislation and planning to introduce gaming in Bermuda. The overall goal is to diversify both Bermuda’s economy and tourism product.

All necessary statutes, funding mechanisms and appointments to permit the industry to launch have been concluded, with the first approval anticipated before the end of year.

Medical Tourism Facility

The Government aims to work with the private sector to construct a medical tourism facility to create jobs and year-round visitors to Bermuda.

A feasibility study on medical tourism is currently being conducted to determine its potential to create jobs and year-round visitors to Bermuda.

Vertical Farming Facility

Government will create a commercial vertical farming project on-island that is founded on principles of sustainability and environmentally friendly technology. Harvested items should be herbicide-free, fungicide-free, and pesticide-free and be non-genetically modified (non-GMO). Government will introduce vertical farming which is the process of crops being grown indoors, under artificial conditions of light and temperature. The aim is to have higher productivity of healthier, more affordable produce in smaller spaces.

This initiative is well advanced, with a potential location for a large-scale vertical farming facility under review and financial details in development by the BEDC.

Online SME Marketplace

An online SME marketplace 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.

The online platform, aptly named byBermuda, is a local online marketplace where people come together to sell and buy unique Bermudian products and experiences. It’s a community of local entrepreneurs, highlighting the best of Bermuda’s innovative products and services while allowing connections to consumers both local and beyond Bermuda’s shores. With byBermuda there’s no warehouse – just Bermuda’s entrepreneurs selling the things they love. The BEDC makes the whole process easy, removing the expensive cost and hassle of an online presence for businesses, while helping consumers connect directly with makers to find or experience something extraordinary, through a convenient and central Bermuda-branded hub.

The online marketplace, developed by the BEDC is currently in the pre-launch phase and can be accessed at www.bybermuda.bm. The BEDC will publicly launch the online marketplace in collaboration with the launch of eMonday which will take place on November 29th. eMonday is a local online initiative aimed at encouraging residents to embrace online shopping and ecommerce. On November 8th, during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021, the BEDC will invite all vendors on its database to sign up in anticipation of e-Monday.

Residential Developments in Bermuda’s Economic Empowerment Zones

The Government aims to support the construction of residential developments in Bermuda’s Economic Empowerment Zones to increase the supply of quality, affordable residential accommodation, driving down rental costs.

The Government seeks to stimulate growth in Bermuda’s economy, and in particular within the Island’s 3 Economic Empowerment Zones (EEZs – Northeast Hamilton, Somerset, and St. George’s), by widening the scope of potential investment through providing for the creation and support of Residential Approved Schemes. Notwithstanding the rich histories within these 3 zones, it is evident that additional investment is needed for the areas to reach their full potential economically, physically, and socially. As such, the Residential Approved Scheme initiative provides a mechanism by which the Government, the EEZ stakeholders, and the country can achieve this goal. Restrictions on land ownership have been removed – incentivising a broadening of potential investments in the EEZs, and in doing so further diversifies the potential demand for residential developments, bringing economic growth to these locations.

The goal is development without displacement with Bermudian EEZ landowners required to be incorporated in every approved scheme. As such, no scheme will be approved if the existing property owner is not involved in the proposed scheme in a tangible and impactful way. Every approved scheme will also create new jobs for Bermudians. For continued investment within the economic empowerment zones, land license fees associated with purchasing of the residential units will go into an EEZ community development and investment fund to assist with investing in the people and the programmes in the Zones.

Guidelines for submitting applications for approved residential schemes within the economic empowerment zones have been developed by the BEDC, with information for EEZ stakeholders, potential investors, and the general public to be published in late November 2021.

National Space Strategy

The Bermuda National Space Strategy 2020-2025 will include the establishment of a ‘space ecosystem’ by 2025 and has the following strategic goals:
  • Build Bermuda’s reputation as a responsible, leading jurisdiction for space and satellite-related business;
  • Enhance domestic space and satellite-related capabilities;
  • Further integrate Bermuda with the international space community; and
  • Generate revenue from national orbital allotments, of which Bermuda has four.

As more companies look to space, Bermuda can play an important role.

The National Space Strategy policy has been developed and is currently being reviewed, with the aim of creating an environment that can lead to more opportunities for Bermudians, such as increased employment and investment in Bermuda.

Establish Sub-Sea Communications Sector

A sub-sea communications sector will allow Bermuda to position itself as the North Atlantic communications hub and allow the island to reap the benefits of an industry that provides global connectivity and data protection in an increasingly online world.

Legislation allowing Bermuda to become a hub for submarine communication cables is now in effect, with a plan for implementation developed by the Regulatory Authority in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Bermuda Business Development Agency. The Regulatory Authority is currently taking enquiries for companies wishing to enter this space.

Theme 2: Financial Markets

Lower Interest Rates to Reduce Mortgage Costs

The Government will work to reduce the cost of mortgages by lowering interest rates through measures to increase competition in the banking sector and by working with local banks to provide security for mortgage loans.

The Ministry of Finance is working with relevant parties, including the Bermuda Monetary Authority and the Banks to develop appropriate solutions to progress these matters. It is anticipated that in this parliamentary term, legislation will be advanced to set a framework for the establishment of a Bermuda base rate.

BEDC COVID Support to Small and Medium Sized Businesses

In response to the impact of Covid-19, the BEDC received a $12,000,000 grant which has provided essential support and assistance for small and medium sized businesses.

As at the end of September 2021, through the BEDC Covid-19 Business Sustainability and Continuity Funding programme which was created in April 2020 to assist businesses during the Covid-19 period, BEDC has approved 287 applications for funding support to business. This number of approvals far surpasses the number of applications we would approve in a “normal” year by at least 400%. Over the last 18 months, as at the end of September 2021, the BEDC has deployed a total of $5.1 million in Covid-19 funding support to assist local small and medium sized businesses. This is made of up of: $1.7M in grants (inclusive of Covid-19 Emergency Grants); $2.6M in loans; and $835K in guarantees.

The BEDC Covid-19 Business Sustainability and Continuity Funding programme and support continues to be available to small and medium businesses through to March 31st, 2022. It is estimated that by March 31st, 2022, BEDC will hit the $6.5M to $7M range in deployment of support funds. As the impacts of Covid-19 still continue, this funding support will probably be extended beyond March 2022.

In addition,

  • BEDC’s Advisory Services increased significantly. In a “typical” year the Corporation would provide approximately 650 free confidential one-on-one advisory meetings for businesses in any year. In 2020 the BEDC held 1309 such meetings to assist business weather the challenges of the pandemic. Thus far in 2021, up until the end of September, the BEDC have held 810 advisory meetings and project to reach over 1000 this year.
  • The BEDC ramped up significantly its complimentary webinars and seminars and entrepreneurial education opportunities so that businesses and entrepreneurs had access to knowledge and resources to sharpen their saws to get through the impacts of Covid-19. Over the last 12 months they’ve held 31 such sessions of which 1343 entrepreneurs and business owners attended. For its multi-week courses and intensive courses, the BEDC cut all fees by 50%. Most remain at this reduced rate until March 2022.
  • The BEDC cut its funding application fees and other fees for business by 50% in order to assist and removed its credit check fees. The BEDC also reduced its interest rates on all BEDC direct loans by 1.5% bringing them down to a range between 3% and 3.5% annually and implemented deferred and interest-only payment terms. These will remain at least until March 31st, 2022.

The BEDC advocates for concessions and relief with its government partners and facilitates new partnerships with the Government, private sector, and third sector to ensure entrepreneurs and business owners have access to resources, information, and opportunities to get through the impacts of Covid-19. Assistance is still needed and the BEDC will continue to be a resource and advocate for Bermuda’s local small and medium businesses, especially as they move through the pandemic.

Bermuda National Digital Bank

The Government is committed to the creation of a Bermuda National Digital Bank with shared available for Bermudian ownership, providing an opportunity for a new generation of investors to create lasting wealth by supporting the next wave of financial services, connecting Bermudians to the global world of digital payments.

A business plan has been developed and is currently under review.

Theme 3: Infrastructure Investment

Water and Waste Treatment Facility

The Government continues to review the current system for handling Water and Wastewater and working with the private sector to facilitate systems that would properly treat sewage waste across the island, including the two Municipalities.

Phase one of this massive undertaking involves trenching much of the main roads in St. George’s and similar work in Southside to completely replace the infrastructure from piping, pumping stations, water producing plants and waste treatment plants to provide relief to the long suffering residents of these areas in providing reliable water and waste water services. This project addresses the country's needs of getting people working, earning and providing for their families while their valuable labour is transforming Bermuda’s infrastructure for the better.

Major trenching works are underway at Southside and in St. George’s and a business case is currently being prepared to support phase two of the project which will see the Tynes Bay Waste to Energy facility refurbished and repurposed as a central energy hub for the Water and Waste Water infrastructure, forming a combined Waste and Water recovery utility.

The Tynes Bay plant is already on a path to replacement with a cross-ministry team set to accelerate the replacement of key assets and components within the facility in the short term, with the ultimate goal of a fully refurbished and repurposed facility within the next three to four years.

Shoreside Facility

The Government, through the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC), is working to develop a plan for a Fisheries Development Centre (FDC) in partnership with representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Fishermen’s Association of Bermuda (FAB).

Commercial fishing is one of the oldest industries in Bermuda and continues to be an important part of Bermuda’s culture. However, its contribution to the economy has not grown proportionally to Bermuda’s population size or economic growth.

The FDC can be the catalyst that transforms the island’s artisanal commercial fishing industry to the next level, making it profitable for all participants, while improving the island’s food security, through the provision of high quality, sustainably harvested seafood from local resources, and diversification of its economy. The FDC will have the ability to provide a number of products and services for the industry including those related to wholesale; retail; export; by products; and on-site experiences.

A business plan for a Fisheries Development Centre is currently being developed under a steering committee led by the BEDC, DENR, and FAB. The plan will consider how such a facility will benefit the public; create opportunities to show a return on Government’s investment; and offer additional options and cooperative business benefits to participating Fishers. The plan will meet the current and future needs of the fishing industry, put fishers at the centre to best control their industry, take into consideration current economic conditions, as well as consider short to long term fisheries development factors.

For everyday Bermudians and the Island’s visitors, the FDC aspires to increase the year-round availability of locally and sustainably caught pelagic fish such as tuna and wahoo.

Electric Recharging Infrastructure

Government is committed to ensuring a sustainable transportation infrastructure that is safe for the environment. The Ministry of Transport is committed to introducing an electric charging infrastructure. In the first instance, the Government will facilitate the installation of an Electric Bus Charging Facility at the Department of Public Transportation's Fort Langton, Devonshire, Bermuda Facility to support the operations of new electric buses.

A policy has been developed for the charging infrastructure for Bermuda’s public buses, with a timeline for the delivery of 30 new electric buses. The Ministry of Public Works is currently reviewing charging infrastructure and developing a policy document for the government fleet, and a pilot project has been launched for two electric vehicles with charging stations at The Cabinet Office.

Increase Affordable Housing

Through continued infrastructure investment, the Ministry of Public Works will increase the stock of affordable housing throughout the country.

The Bermuda Housing Corporation currently has a number of housing initiatives underway, with recently completed upgrades to the former Police Barracks providing 10 studio apartments in the Eastern end of the island, two more units recently completed in the West end, and multiple projects ongoing to increase housing inventory. The Government made an additional $1.6 Million funding available to the Bermuda Housing Corporation provide 17 additional affordable housing units.

Uptown Development Authority in North East Hamilton

The Government will complete work to establish the Uptown Development Authority in North East Hamilton, whose mission will be to implement the North Hamilton Local Plan, drive residential and economic development projects, and rebrand the area formally as Uptown.

Since the dismantling of the Economic Empowerment Zones Agency in 2014, there has been a noticeable absence of a dedicated body solely focused on driving economic regeneration in North East Hamilton. As such, the authority will be a public body established under the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation whose sole remit will be to facilitate the economic, physical, and social development of the North East Hamilton Economic Empowerment Zone (NEHEEZ).

The effective implementation of a local authority responsible for the NEHEEZ will require a holistic approach which builds on existing efforts to develop Uptown with key community stakeholders as partners. The authority will be a flexible, responsive, and empowered public body with the capacity to carry out a wide array of semi-autonomous functions in order to develop the economic, social, and infrastructural capacity of local residents and business owners within the North East Hamilton community.

A draft North Hamilton Local Plan has been developed to facilitate new economic investment in the area through providing a flexible planning framework which is responsive to the needs of the community, with the intention of making North East Hamilton a more appealing place to reside, establish a business and visit. The Approved Residential Schemes economic development tool has also been developed to facilitate economic investment driving residential developments within this quadrant of the City of Hamilton and will be publicly released in late November 2021.

Additionally, $1 million in seed funding has been provided for the establishment of the Uptown Development Authority, projected to be established by December 2021 as a subsidiary of the BEDC.

Green Energy Fund

The Department of Energy will create a Green Energy and Environmental Justice Fund, which will encourage local and overseas investors to provide funding for:
  • installing solar for residential homes and small businesses;
  • additional training to develop solar installers and energy managers;
  • the initial investment to entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the renewable installers or energy management business.

The development of a policy to support a green energy fund is currently underway.

Theme 4: Expanding the Resident Population

Extension of the Temporary Residency Certificate (1-year)

TTo capitalize on the increasing number of Digital Nomads and students in tertiary education completing their courses online, the One Year Residential Certificate allows persons such the ability to reside in Bermuda while working remotely, and Non-Bermudian Post-Secondary Students the ability to complete their higher education from Bermuda. They will be enjoying life in Bermuda while contributing daily to the local economy.

Implementation of this policy by the Ministry of Labour has been successfully completed with the Temporary Residency Certificate programme in full operation. Over 937 Certificates have been issued since August 2020 and over 638 Certificate holders were living in Bermuda as of the end of October 2021. The Policy allows persons to re-apply for a further certificate if they wish to stay longer than one year.

Further Measures to Expand the Resident Population

In its efforts to retain and expand the residential population in Bermuda, the Government increased the maximum period that visitors may stay on the island without further permission from the Minister responsible for Immigration from 90 days to 180 days.

Further, with the implementation of the Repatriation and Mixed Status Families legislation (Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2020) the Government has allowed for persons born overseas to Bermudian parents to be Bermudian from birth as of the effective date of the legislation and moving forward.

Additionally, in March 2021, the Department of Immigration removed the administrative requirement for applicants to produce an Affidavit of Domicile to better facilitate persons born overseas to Bermudian parents to apply for and obtain Bermudian Status.

Additionally, legislation to advance comprehensive immigration reform by providing a process for Long-Term Residents to apply for Permanent Residency in Bermuda was passed in October 2021.  This initiative will be completed once the Immigration Amendment Act comes into force on 1st December 2021. The Government has also recently released a Position Paper on Long-Term Residents here

Theme 5: Labour Market and Social Development Measures

National Reemployment (Jobs) Strategy

The National Reemployment Strategy is designed to get people back to work by reducing current unemployment, preventing future unemployment, and assist in facilitating employment opportunities. The strategy focuses on creating employment opportunities, enhancing the labour supply, promoting equality and equity in the labour market, and building a more robust workforce through information, training, and education.

The implementation of a national jobs strategy is now underway.

Youth Employment Strategy

The Government will implement a Youth Employment Strategy to meet the identified needs of unemployed persons between the ages of 18 and 26, guide unemployed Bermudian youth back to work, and train them in jobs currently occupied by guest workers. The Youth Employment Strategy will eventually form part of the National Reemployment (Jobs) Strategy and will allow the Government to focus its efforts on this demographic group. Therefore the Youth Employment Strategy is currently being developed separately.

A policy for a youth employment strategy is now in the planning stage.

National Unemployment Insurance

The Government, along with a wide range of stakeholders, will consider the main issues in implementing an Unemployment Insurance Plan for Bermuda including issues such as eligibility, contributions, benefit amounts, duration of benefits, funding, administration, staffing, and legal matters. The goal is to develop an Unemployment Insurance Scheme so that critical social protection is provided to support displaced workers and their families, allowing them to receive a basic income in their time of need.

A roadmap for implementation is now being advanced by the Ministry of Finance

Implement Minimum and Living Wages

The public is aware of the challenges facing many hard-working Bermudians who struggling daily to ensure their family’s basic needs are met.

This Government is confident that as we move toward establishing a minimum wage in alignment with a living wage regime, it will improve the lives of many by ensuring that they receive fair and just wages allowing individuals and their families to cover their basic needs.

Generally speaking, a minimum wage refers to a minimum amount an employer is required to pay to persons for their work during a given period, ensuring a minimum threshold for wages across the board. A living wage refers to an amount of minimum hourly pay needed to allow workers and their households to enjoy a “socially acceptable standard of living”.

The Wage Commission has issued its first report on minimum wage recommendations, which was tabled in the House of Assembly. The report can be found here:  https://www.gov.bm/sites/default/files/Wage%20Commission%20Report_0.pdf

The Commission is now working on a report recommending a living wage, which is expected in the first half of 2022.

Cheaper Food Through Financial Assistance

The Government is keen to support start-ups, cooperatives, and market participants who are looking to supply foods at lower prices by partnering with the financial assistance programme to reduce food costs not only to taxpayers but also to the general public.

The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is working with both the fishing and farming industries, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), on key economic development initiatives aimed at facilitating economic growth for the individual businesses and for Bermuda.

This work involves exposing these entrepreneurs to new business models, helping them to identify and implement innovative operating techniques, and identifying opportunity gaps within Bermuda’s food supply process to fill.

Theme 6: Healthcare

Universal Health Coverage

Government remains committed to a new integrated healthcare model for Bermuda. This Plan will see public and private sectors joining together to focus on patient-centred care in the delivery of essential health services. This will enable Bermuda to realise efficiencies and value in the health system and drive better healthcare outcomes. By focusing on prevention as well as primary and community care, we will be able to combat the imbalanced reliance on expensive hospital care.

A move to universal health coverage was approved in August 2020. A roadmap for implementation of the transition to an integrated healthcare model to facilitate the delivery of affordable essential healthcare has been developed by a steering committee with input from key stakeholders and the assistance of KPMG. Accelerated engagement of the wider group of stakeholders is commencing.

Reduce Medicine Costs

Government believes that Bermuda must have a holistic healthcare system that prioritises prevention, chronic disease management and healthcare delivery via primary care, with a restructuring of the health system financing. One immediate step being taken to contain costs for consumers involves establishing a National Drug Formulary. We will mandate that pharmacies provide pricing information on the most commonly-prescribed medications, to feed into the Formulary. This will permit maximum prices to be set for the most frequently prescribed medicines, reducing costs to patients and providing relief to those on fixed incomes.

Legislation has been implemented to allow for the establishment of a National Drug Formulary, to improve procurement efforts for medications. The Bermuda Health Council using recommendations from the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee will regulate the prices at which common, essential medications along with associated products and devices used in medical treatments are sold to the public thereby reducing the largest out of pocket health expenditure for a large segment of the community.

Theme 7: Regulatory Framework

Energy Regulatory Sandbox

A regulatory sandbox refers to a regulatory environment that allows innovators to test new technologies and business models without some of the red tape and other established barriers often faced by start-ups, innovators, and new entrants to the market.

The Government aims to develop an energy regulatory sandbox that will encourage developers of new renewable energy technology to test their products in Bermuda, giving Bermudians access to new technology.

A policy and plan for creating an energy regulatory sandbox has already been produced, and work towards a Bill to facilitate the developers of renewable energy technology testing their products in Bermuda has been progressed. The Government is currently in discussions with a company which will likely be the first applicant for a sandbox license.

Marine Economic Development Zone

The Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme is a partnership between the Government of Bermuda, the Waitt Institute, and Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). The goal of the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme is to foster the sustainable, profitable, and enjoyable use of ocean resources for present and future generations.

Draft reports have been produced for three industries: (1) Fisheries; (2) Blue Tourism; (3) Renewable energy.
The reports have been circulated to stakeholders for comments. This policy work will inform a Marine Development Act to include a marine spatial plan as well as create a framework to balance development and sustainability.

Economic Empowerment Zone (EEZ) in South East Hamilton

The BEDC has been tasked with establishing new and regenerating existing EEZs across Bermuda. The EEZs are designated geographical areas where special programmes are implemented to close the gaps of economic differences that exist in comparison to other areas in Bermuda. This involves providing economic tools to help local businesses thrive; working with key stakeholders to address local community issues; and engaging external partners to invest in these zones.

Despite being located on Hamilton’s active and beautiful waterfront and bounded by vibrant Front Street, South East Hamilton has not enjoyed the same level of economic development and regeneration success as can be found in other nearby geographic areas of the City of Hamilton, such as in South West Hamilton and North West Hamilton.

Given the focused attention on regenerating North East Hamilton with the establishment of the Uptown Development Authority, the implementation of the North Hamilton Local Plan, and the introduction of new economic development tools such as Approved Residential Schemes, the Government believes there is synergistic benefit in creating a new economic empowerment zone in South East Hamilton by extending the existing zone in North East Hamilton. This expansion will result in both a direct physical and economic link between Front Street to North Street, while providing the framework for complementary economic development benefits between the 2 neighboring areas.

Work is underway by the BEDC with surveys and analyses currently being conducted. It is envisioned that the extension of the zone will be formally completed by February 2022.

Establish Regulatory Regime for Cannabis

The Government is keen to introduce policies that will progressively liberalise Cannabis laws in keeping with public sentiment on the topic and aligning with other jurisdictions on the matter. A proposed policy sets out the framework of what a regulated Cannabis scheme might look like for Bermuda. It has been principally influenced by existing regulated Cannabis laws in other favourable jurisdictions such as Canada and small island nations in the Caribbean.

The Cannabis Licensing Act rejected by the Senate in March 2021 will be reintroduced in the House of Assembly and passed.

 

e.g. energy regulatory sandbox, digital/FinTech, marine development zone.
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