By Christopher Famous
Recently it has been revealed that Bermuda Premier Craig Cannonier seemingly has been caught out once again with a number of conflicting stories. Today I will present other examples of a disturbing pattern of not telling the full Monty.
Christopher Famous is a Caribbean real estate developer and business owner. Raised in various Caribbean islands such as; Bermuda, Jamaica, St Eustatius and St Kitts and Tortola. He has a weekly social and political column in The Bermuda Sun. Feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org
During a recent interview in London, Premier Cannonier told Global Insurance Intelligence (GR) a number of things that show a stark contrast between an attempt to paint a false global image and our local reality.
Premier Cannonier: “The latest policy we put in place was to allow many of the reinsurance companies, insurance companies, to be able to purchase property in Bermuda for their CEOs. This is something, as we continue to listen to the industry.”
Reality: “We have had two companies who have come to us directly, and said… we would like to buy a residential property for our chairman or chief executive officer.” MP Grant Gibbons -- House of Assembly -- March 21.
So who are these TWO unnamed companies that are pulling the OBA’s strings?
Premier Cannonier: “We’d like to invigorate the real estate industry as well; we believe that this will go a long way in ensuring that Bermudians are put back to work with this policy.”
Reality: In their 2013/14 Budget, OBA insisted that reducing licence fees for non-Bermudians purchasing property would stimulate the real estate industry and jobs would be created. However, recently the OBA was forced to admit that these jobs never materialized.
So why isn’t the OBA attempting to stimulate the real estate market by assisting Bermudians to be become homeowners? Currently, despite having one of the highest GDPs, only 50% of residences in Bermuda are owner-occupied. Compare this to the US (69%) and UK (70%).
Premier Cannonier: “This is something, as we continue to listen to the industry… Early on in the year when we interviewed we talked about term limits and that was an inhibitor to the insurance/reinsurance companies, and so we dealt with that.”
Reality: OBA has yet to show actual jobs created as a direct result of removing term limits. In fact, the recently released 2013 Employment Survey revealed that even after term limits were quashed, an additional 1,166 jobs were lost in our labour market.
The number of filled jobs is the lowest it has been since 1995. Even more troublesome is the lack of effort by the OBA to protect certain industries and occupations for Bermudians. Why remove term limits for all industries if OBA’s focus is on attracting high-end IB employees?
Premier Cannonier: “I can think back 15 years ago, there were very few Bermudians getting involved in the international business sector. But if you look today, there certainly has been a proliferation of Bermudians that are getting involved. But it’s education that is key.”
Reality: Bermudian employment flourished within IB under the PLP tenure, and can be partially attributed to PLP’s commitment to education. If they believe that education is “the key”, why did OBA;
• Slash the Education 2014/15 budget by $6.1m?
• Cut funding for total scholarships by 25% from $1.25m to $1m?
• Cut Further Education Awards, which are based on financial need by 95% from $740k to $40k?
So as you can see someone has a habit of fudging the truth. Stay tuned for part two next week.