Senators have passed an Act into law requiring vehicles to undergo emissions testing.

 

The Motor Car Amendment (No. 4) Act 2008 gained cross-party support in the Senate yesterday.

 

 

 The Act outsources car inspections from the Transport Control Department into the hands of Bermuda Emissions Control (BEC), a company which will carry out its testing at the new TCD facility.

 

 

Senators have passed an Act into law requiring vehicles to undergo emissions testing.

 

The Motor Car Amendment (No. 4) Act 2008 gained cross-party support in the Senate yesterday.

 

The Act outsources car inspections from the Transport Control Department into the hands of Bermuda Emissions Control (BEC), a company which will carry out its testing at the new TCD facility.

 

Motorists will have to pay $15 to get a car tested and $10 for a motorcycle. The charges will be added to the licence fee and payable to Government, Senator Marc Bean said yesterday.

Sen. Bean, Junior Minister of Transport, said research has shown vehicles are responsible for 75 percent of carbon monoxide pollution and so emissions testing would alleviate air pollution and associated health care costs.

 

"The new emissions testing will have a positive impact on our physical health," he said.

 

Independent Senator Walwyn Hughes asked: "How is this going to be paid for? Are we going to be charged or is Government going to pay for the new inspectors?"

 

Sen. Bean said the outsourcing costs were $2.4 million a year.

 

"The $2.4 million is an operational contract Government has entered into with BEC," he said.

 

Senators also approved The Ministers and Members of the Legislature (Salaries and Pensions) Amendment Act 2008, which aims to safeguard pension funds for former Ministers, MPs and Parliamentary Officers.

 

The Ministers and Members of the Legislature Pensions Fund (MMLPF) was set up in 1988 to provide retirement pensions for Ministers, Members and Officers of the Legislature of Bermuda.

 

The amendment to the original 1975 Act means that any time the Fund is insufficient to meet payments against it, the deficiency will be paid from the Consolidated Fund.

 

Attorney General Kim Wilson told Senators yesterday: "The purpose of this amendment is relatively straightforward and is to align the plan provisions for matching contributions paid to the Ministers and Members of the Legislature Pension Fund by the Government, with generally accepted provisions for defined benefit pension plans.

 

"Currently when a person ceases to be a member, before they are eligible to receive a pension, they are paid a refund of their contributions to the Fund plus interest compounded at the rate of six percent.

 

"Section 15 (C) 2 of the Act currently provides that where an amount is refunded to a member, the Accountant General shall in each case pay an equivalent amount into the Consolidated Fund from the MMLPF.

 

"According to the Act, the Consolidated Fund is ultimately liable for all fund deficiencies. Thus any future deficiency in the Fund will have to be fully covered by the Consolidated Fund.

 

"This fact makes it illogical for the MMLPF to repay Government's matching contributions to the Consolidated Fund.

 

"It is the Ministry's view that it would be prudent to leave these contributions in the MMLPF to increase the Fund balance.

 

"This is similar to the provisions of the Public Service Superannuation Fund and basically any other defined benefit plan."

 

Senator Wilson said: "Section 15 (C) 2 of the Act will be amended to provide that where a refund of contributions is made to a Member, the Government's contributions to the Fund in respect of that Member shall remain in the Fund.

 

"Section 15 (C) 3 will be deleted as Government's contributions will now remain in the Fund."

 

Opposition Senator Jeanne Atherden said: "We support this legislation. The deficiencies are met ultimately from the Consolidated Fund."

 

Independent Senator Walwyn Hughes also voiced his backing for the Act. "I think this is a wise move," he said.

 

Also receiving cross-party support was The Government Employees (Health Insurance) Amendment Act 2008, which was passed into law yesterday.

 

Sen. Wilson said the Government Employees Health Insurance Fund covers medical expenses, such as hospital stays, doctors' visits and prescription drugs, and is funded by contributions from its members and the Consolidated Fund.

 

Under the Act, it will become optional rather than compulsory for retired private sector employees who come to work for Government, and who have existing health insurance, to join the GEHI Plan.

 

Sen. Wilson told Senators the Act will also enable unemployed spouses of deceased retired Government employees who decide to remarry to remain in the Plan. She described the previous loss of GEHI Plan benefits upon remarrying as "immoral".

 

She described the amendments as "housekeeping" measures, adding: "It should be noted that these amendments are socially responsible and will have minimal financial impact on the Plan."

 

Sen. Atherden said: "We support these amendments, and the amendment on spouses will make sure an unfairness is removed."

 

Independent Senator Joan Dillas-Wright added: "I want to express my support for this Bill. I think it is important for an individual to have full health coverage."

 

 

 

By Amanda Dale

From :http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20081211/NEWS/312119954