Minister for the Cabinet Office Vance Campbell held a press conference today [Nov 17] to highlight the areas outlined in the Throne Speech.
Good afternoon and thank you for joining me.
The Cabinet Office is the heart of the Government of Bermuda. This Ministry sets the vision and policy direction for all of Government.
The theme of this year’s Throne Speech is ‘Serving the People’, and it places great emphasis on improving service delivery in key areas throughout government.
Over the last two weeks you have heard from my Ministerial colleagues who have shared with you the steps they will take this legislative session to introduce effective and efficient policies that will help make the lives of the people of Bermuda better.
On behalf of the Cabinet Office, I’m pleased to highlight the following areas as outlined in the Throne Speech. As you will note, last week, it was announced that the Department of Planning will now fall under the Cabinet Office.
I can advise that the Department of Planning is keen to modernize its processes to ensure efficiencies.
To that end, the Department has entered a partnership with the Green Overseas organization under the auspices of the European Union to update and modernize the Building Codes. This programme aims to accelerate the energy transition and increase the climate resilience of overseas countries and territories.
One of the benefits will be to introduce an energy rating system for buildings which will maximize the savings that persons, whether owners or tenants, can earn from the implementation of energy efficient methods.
The General Development Order, which identifies forms of developments that do not require full planning permission, is to be revised to expand the scope of work that would only require a building permit.
Some examples would include:
1.No longer needing to seek planning permission to change the use of a building located within the City of Hamilton; and
2. Enabling the installation of larger scale solar panels.
Additionally, to empower those preferring to submit applications without professional assistance, “Planning 101” workshops will be organized.
To provide an additional resource, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being proposed as another method of obtaining quick planning advice and answers to ‘frequently asked questions.
The Department will also be working with the Attorney General’s Chambers to prepare the necessary regulations to implement the Competent Persons Scheme – a scheme to enable professionals from a range of disciplines within the construction industry to perform various works negating the need for the standard inspection process.
This is an initiative that has been in the works to simplify and remove bureaucracy for registered professionals in their respective trades.
The Department of Planning is in the initial stages of reviewing the Bermuda Plan 2018. Of note, there will be more attention paid to those areas of the island that will be most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It is recognized that we need to ensure planning policy encompasses the resilience required for development going forward.
In addition, the Department is formulating a community planning initiative to enable the public the opportunity to give greater input into the development needs of the future. This will be like the ‘draft’ St. David’s Community Plan of 2022 created by the Department of Planning, Bermuda Land Development Corporation (BLDC) and various community stakeholders.
And lastly, to support and modernize processes and enhance the customer experience, Planning is looking to improve the payments processes by developing an improved system for customers to submit their fees without having to visit multiple offices.
Turning to the Department of Information and Digital Technology, let me state unequivocally that we are committed to building a more resilient information technology platform.
The last few months have been busy ones for the IDT Team. In the wake of the September 20th cyber-attack, we continue our vigilance in protecting and fortifying our IT networks and systems.
As highlighted in this year’s Throne Speech, we are creating a more robust information technology security infrastructure to maximize threat detection, minimize risk and improve overall service efficiencies.
Stricter training plans and policies will be implemented to ensure that Government personnel enhance their awareness of threats. I can confirm that several new tools, processes, and services have already been introduced and these have greatly increased our overall security position.
We recognize that it is critical to rebuild the trust and confidence of the community and our stakeholders in the wake of this event. During this legislative session, it’s anticipated that the Ministry of National Security will introduce a Cyber Security Bill.
The IDT department will work collaboratively with them to ensure that there is a framework and guidance policies to allow for good governance in accordance with international standards.
Lastly, we are aware that public interest remains high regarding this unprecedented incident. What I can advise is that these continue to be sensitive times. As it relates to our services, while some areas still face some service disruptions, much of the Government’s IT systems are operational. And our security team continues to work with several departmental agencies to strengthen the current environment.
Finally, turning to the Registry General.
Intellectual Property and aligning with international treaties and standards will be a priority this legislative session.
With the new trademark legislation recently passed in October, we are actively working on the patent legislation, and intend to table the new act in this legislative year.
The current legislation, which dates to 1930, does not provide the relevant criteria for the current industry standards and fees relating to patents. Hence we will seek to bring relevant amendments to ensure that they reflect a modern industry that is in line with the 21st Century.
In closing, this year’s Throne Speech theme is a reminder to all of us in Government, whether a Minister or a public officer – that Serving the People is the basic, underlying focus of what we do. We serve you, the people. Our government will continue to work on policy and legislative changes to enhance the lives of everyone who calls Bermuda home, as we strive to build a better island for us all.