Minister’s Updates: Short Term Stimulus Program

29 of 43 short-term stimulus projects have been started or completed, representing an outlay of about $6 million, and 92 new jobs have been created, Public Works Minister Lt. Col. David Burch said. .

Speaking in the House of Assembly, the Minister said: “I will provide the House with a report on the short term stimulus package which was launched in December 2020 following the economic downturn caused by the Covid pandemic -19. The objective of the program was to stimulate the private sector economy in order to retain and stimulate employment within the community.

“Participation in the program was announced through an open bidding process – and some 94 companies have registered to participate,” he said. “Of the 94 who registered, 51 were defined as small businesses, while 21 were defined as medium-sized and 22 as large.

“A total of 43 projects accounted for the $13 million in expenditures approved under the program. Some of these projects were then broken down into various subcontracts to maximize the distribution of funds.

“I am happy to report that to date, 29 of the 43 projects have been launched or completed, which represents an expenditure of $6,028,912.75 or 45% of the total budget allocated to the program. Through the program, we were able to determine that 92 new jobs were created, of which 74 are Bermudians, or 82%.

“With the effects of the pandemic fading now, and I pray it continues to move in that direction, we will need to gauge the momentum for the program to continue. However, the framework it created, providing a registry for small businesses to bid on government work, is something that will stick around and even be improved more easily in the future.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I will provide the House with a report on the short-term stimulus package that was launched in December 2020 following the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The objective of the program was to stimulate the private sector economy in order to retain and stimulate employment within the community.

Mr. Chairman, you will recall that the Department of Public Works compiled a list of “shovel-ready” projects that could be carried out almost immediately. The criteria for selecting the projects were projects that would maximize private sector employment while providing a much-needed refresh to some of the island’s neglected infrastructure.

Participation in the program was announced through an open bidding process – and some 94 companies have signed up to take part. Companies that participated offered services ranging from landscaping to architectural design, project management, construction, and more. Of the 94 that signed up, 51 were defined as small businesses, while 21 were defined as medium-sized and 22 as large.

Mr. Chairman, a total of 43 projects made up the $13 million in expenditures approved under the program. Some of these projects were then broken down into various subcontracts to maximize the distribution of funds. For example, the roadside clearing program represents only three [3] projects on the list but provided for at least 30 or more individual opportunity contracts for which the private sector could bid. I should note that this was not new money, but money already budgeted in the Department of Public Works that was redirected to achieve the objective of the program.

Mr. Speaker, to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of stimulus funds among participating companies, the department maintained a registry of approved contractors and strategically awarded contracts to ensure that no one company monopolized the list of projects.

Once a company has secured a project, it would be placed at the bottom of the list to allow other companies to have a work opportunity. To date, 30 out of 94 companies have been awarded contracts and although not all companies have obtained work, the ministry is working to increase this number depending on the type of work available. For example, fencing and landscaping contracts were faster to tender and complete compared to some building renovations still in progress.

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to announce that to date, 29 of the 43 projects have either been launched or completed, which represents an expenditure of $6,028,912.75 or 45% of the total budget allocated to the program. Through the program, we were able to determine that 92 new jobs were created, of which 74 are Bermudians, or 82%.

Mr. Chairman, this was a new undertaking for the government, triggered by an extraordinary event, and although there was a steep learning curve, I am pleased that the Department of Public Works, in conjunction with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] rose to the challenge and was able to provide much needed opportunities to the private sector at a very difficult time.

Not only has this program allowed companies to retain their employees, but in some cases it has also helped to hire new ones. In this sense, the program achieved its objective and was a success.

With the effects of the pandemic fading now, and I pray it continues to move in that direction, we will need to gauge the momentum for the program to continue. However, the framework it created, providing a registry for small businesses to bid on government work, is something that will stick around and even be improved more easily in the future. This will ensure that all businesses, especially small businesses, will have access to opportunities.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the companies that have participated in the program so far and the teams at Public Works and BEDC who have brought it all together. It is truly a testament that government can pivot to partner with the private sector to meet community needs in creative ways.

Thank you, Mr President.

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Michael J. Chiaramonte