Economic Tripartite Conference Underway

October 6, 2014

[Updated] The Ministry of Home Affairs is hosting its second Economic Tripartite conference today [Oct 6] with representatives from the Government, the Opposition, Unions, employers and stakeholder groups present for the event, which is focused on ”Encouraging Inward Investment.”

In a previous statement, the Government said, “It is anticipated that representatives from the following organizations will be in attendance; the Bermuda Trade Union Congress, the Bermuda Hotel Association, the Bermuda Construction Association, the Bankers Association, the Chamber of Commerce, members of the Opposition, the Bermuda Employers Council, ABIC, ABIR, the local insurance companies, to the representatives of the Municipalities among others.”

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In providing welcome remarks, Premier Michael Dunkley said, “I believe that today’s gathering is one of the most crucial meetings that we can collectively conduct on behalf of the people of Bermuda.

“We are all aware that we are facing some very serious issues both socially and economically. Collaboration is key if we are going to make any kind of progress in solving the challenges we face. We all share a sense of great responsibility today, because at the very core of this gathering is our desire to do something good in order to make Bermudians’ lives better.

“With this year’s theme being, ‘Encouraging Inward Investment’, we hope to engage in a robust and practical dialogue about the critical importance of attracting direct foreign investment to our shores.

“We can agree or respectfully disagree – but at the end of the day, it is my hope that we reach some real, tangible solutions on a way forward – a way forward for the betterment of all Bermuda,” added the Premier.

Premier Dunkley’s full statement follows below:

Ministerial Colleagues, Leader of the Opposition and Opposition members, Tripartite Committee Members, conference delegates:

Good morning:

I believe that today’s gathering is one of the most crucial meetings that we can collectively conduct on behalf of the people of Bermuda.

And I want to thank the Minister of Home Affairs, Sen. Michael Fahy and his team for coordinating the second Economic Tripartite Committee conference.

Ladies and gentlemen, this Government views the establishment of the Tripartite Committee as an historical accomplishment. It evolved from the Memorandum of Understanding between the Bermuda Government and the Bermuda Trade Union Congress last year, when the Government sought the BTUC’s assistance in helping to reduce the current deficit through enhanced efficiency and cost cutting measures where appropriate.

One of the agreements reached in the MOU was the formulation of a Tripartite Economic Committee.

So it is against this backdrop that we have convened here today – Government, Opposition, Unions and Employers – in the spirit of collaboration and partnership.

It’s said that more often than not, each of us – Government, Opposition, Unions and Employers – often find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue.

However, in all fairness, we also have been able to find common ground on some matters.

And today it is gratifying to know that we can set aside our differences and come together to achieve the same goal… which is ensuring the welfare and wellbeing of the people of this Country… so to all of you participating today, I say thank you for being here.

Ladies and gentlemen we are all aware that we are facing some very serious issues both socially and economically. Collaboration is key if we are going to make any kind of progress in solving the challenges we face. We all share a sense of great responsibility today, because at the very core of this gathering is our desire to do something good in order to make Bermudians’ lives better.

Last year a key aim of the Tripartite summit was to discuss the economic challenges in a frank, open and constructive way, and to discuss what steps could be taken to further ease the burdens being faced by Bermudians during these tough times.

This year, we are seeking to build on those discussions with a focus on strengthening our economic fortunes.

With this year’s theme being, “Encouraging Inward Investment”, we hope to engage in a robust and practical dialogue about the critical importance of attracting direct foreign investment to our shores.

Make no mistake about it, ensuring there are opportunities for Bermudians is a priority of this Government… and increasing economic activity and encouraging businesses to choose Bermuda ultimately results in the creation of more opportunities for our people.

Today’s summit serves as a very timely opportunity to note some of the efforts of the Government to attract potential investors to Bermuda.

My Ministerial colleagues and I have been extremely busy on several levels engaging various international businesses and promoting Bermuda as a first class destination where they can conduct their affairs.

Our resonating message is that Bermuda is open for business, that we have the capacity to take on extra business, and that we have Bermudians willing, ready and able to take on the potential growth.

And to date, we have been encouraged by the positive feedback we have received. So with this in mind we are very excited and optimistic about today’s discussions and look forward to hearing your views and thoughts on how we can work towards stimulating economic growth.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a very full agenda for today’s meeting and so I won’t take up too much more of your time, so I will end on this note.

Each of you represent the key sectors of Bermuda’s economy or have an important role to play in our future and thus your participation today is vital for us to achieve the collective goal of helping those who are struggling to find jobs… or who are having a hard time putting food on the table… or who have just about exhausted their last bit of savings to pay their mortgage or their bills.

That’s why we are here today – to try and lift some of the pressure off the backs of our fellow Bermudians.

The fact of the matter is we are indeed our brother’s keeper, and we need to rely on each other more than ever and listen to each other if we are to have any hope of reviving our economy and providing opportunity for Bermudians to get back to work.

So today is a day to put all egos and agendas aside and listen to one another. Let’s not just talk for the sake of talking, let’s commit to having a meaningful dialogue.

We can agree or respectfully disagree – but at the end of the day, it is my hope that we reach some real, tangible solutions on a way forward – a way forward for the betterment of all Bermuda.

Ladies and gentlemen, it has been my pleasure to address you this morning, once again, thank you for being here, and most of all thank you for your commitment to Bermuda.

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Update 3,59pm: Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy’s full statement follows below:

To the Hon. Michael Dunkley JP, MP, Premier of Bermuda and Minister of National Security:

To my Cabinet Colleagues present:

To the Opposition Leader and Members of Parliament present:

To the Mayors of St. George’s and Hamilton:

To Mr. Ed Burns, the General Manager of the Elbow Beach Hotel and his team for making this wonderful venue available to us:

Good morning…and thank you all for being here today.

As the Premier just mentioned, last year we had the 1st Economic Tripartite Retreat wherein we assembled the government, the unions and business to discuss shared sacrifices in an effort to get our economy back on track.

This year we looked to change the paradigm by sharing from the government’s perspective, the gradual improvements we have seen in the economy over the last year – with today’s Retreat designed to augment our efforts.

The Economic Tripartite Committee, chaired by me, meets when possible – to discuss ways of stimulating economic growth for Bermuda.

During the past year, we have had a number of presentations from various stakeholders who have shared what they have been able to do to ease the financial stresses of our people.  From the Grocers to the Ascendant Group, these presentations have been very enlightening…which the Committee has greatly appreciated.

Also from these ongoing meetings, we recently received several recommendations from the Union Representatives on the Committee regarding ways to stimulate the economy.

Today, we are hoping to receive additional recommendations and from there we hope to compile a comprehensive list into one document for the Government’s consideration.

You will have seen from the agenda placed on your tables that today’s Retreat is intended to cover a variety of topics from the positive economic indicators, telecoms, to our efforts to attract inward investment.  It is our hope that during the breakout sessions after each presentation, that you would share ideas within your respective tables and with the open forum.

Colleagues, today is about fellowship and being open with one another – hence our reason for choosing this venue as we believe this meeting room lends itself to a more intimate setting.

Today is also an opportunity for us to speak our minds.  Therefore, I would encourage all to be frank, bold, and honest….as this is what it will take to move Bermuda forward.

As I conclude, it would be remiss of me not take this opportunity to thank my organizing team for pulling this retreat together.

I would also be remiss if I did not thank the Premier and the President of the BIU  for suggesting we have this follow up Retreat that has brought all of you hear today.

On that note I will now turn it over to Mr. Ross Webber, CEO of the Bermuda Business Development Agency to jump start the Retreat by sharing some of what the BDA is doing to attract business to Bermuda.

Thank you!

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Comments (6)

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  1. Black Soil says:

    Well done. This sort of initiative would have never been done by the PLP. Thank God for change.

    • RU Kidding says:

      Done many times under the PLP. Just because you call it something different doesn’t mean its new.

  2. Check the Soil says:

    This initiative was never needed during the PLP’s time in government as that government had talks with the Unions and the other participating organizations on a regular basis. Additionally, the relationships between the participating organizations and the previous government were solid and based on trust – - cannot say the same for the current government.

    Check the soil, mate.

    • LiarLiar says:

      That was a major problem of the last regime mate. There was little to no distinction between the Unions and the Government. This scenario resulted in the civil service becoming bloated and eventually unsustainable as it is now. This is evidenced in some of the most ridiculous benefits being granted to the public service at the expense of the tax payer. These benefits if applied in the private sector (i.e. the sector which finances the public sector and their benefits) would cause companies to go broke. There needs to be a separation of the two.

      In other words the tail should not be wagging the dog.

      If the PLP was true to consultation as you claim then it is a shame they didn’t extend this to the one sector that has kept and continues to keep this island afloat. That would be the IB sector that provides the majority of funding (i.e. tax revenue) to keep the massive sivil service afloat. Instead there was no consultation undertaken in relation to policy development and implementation of policies (i.e. term limits) that led to the exodus of a number of employers and their jobs from our shores and into the arms of our competitors. Also, the PLP did not negotiate with anyone from my memory when they hiked the payroll tax and foreign currency purchase tax 2010 and in the middle of a recession.

      So the PLP while keeping their Union arms happy forgot to take care of the sectors that actually provide the funds to keep their Union mates employed.

      There was no relationship and here we are now.

      • Kangoocar says:

        @LiarLiar, a big thank you for saying it the way it really was!!! The Plp kept the unions happy by continuesly employing more government workers and doing things like FORGIVING the porfarmance bond that cost us all over $7 million right there!!! People like “check the soil ” are either just ignorant or Plp plants put in place to disrupt things at all costs!!!! All the money wasted by the shear incompetence of the Plp has put us in the predictament we are in, they and only they are the ones responsible for the suffering of those that suffer the most, but unfortantley it is those that are suffering the most that are defending the Plp the most???? You really can’t fix stupid?????

  3. Coffee says:

    Did Premier Dunkeley explain why milk and egg prices have gone to luxury item prices ?