Podcast: Shadow Finance Minister David Burt

April 1, 2016

A small percentage of Government pension investments could be diverted into overseas companies to get them to set up in Bermuda.

That is according to Shadow Finance Minister David Burt who was speaking to Bernews in this latest podcast about his Reply to the Budget.

He said diversification of the economy became an issue after the financial crash of 2008 but now “we have to have a long-term plan for economic diversification or else we are going to be stuck”.

Bernews Podcast with David Burt

Asked if it was realistic that Bermuda could bring different sectors to the Island to create jobs, Mr Burt said: “In countries that set their minds to accomplishing goals and tasks, if that is a national objective, I have the faith that we can do what is required I order to bring those industries here.”

“There are things that people smarter than me have said have worked the question is why haven’t we done them?”

Mr Burt ruled out making anyone in Government redundant and he said savings would be made by increased efficiency within the civil service. “You cannot commit to redundancies in a place where you do not have employment,” he said.

48 minutes podcast with  Shadow Finance Minister David Burt

Mr Burt talked about the setting up Crown Corporations as a way of injecting private sector management styles and systems into the public sector. “Many Government departments are not empowered to make their own decisions; they go through a very bureaucratic channel.”

On using part of the pension investments to set up a Sovereign Fund, Mr Burt said it was not a question of taking money out of the pot. “That money is invested in some things locally and mainly overseas. It is a question of where you are going to be investing.

“It could be a mature company that can employ 200 people that may be looking for additional investment that would help it move to Bermuda.”

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Bernews’ podcasts aim to provide an in-depth look at current affairs and different issues affecting the Island, and the text extracts above represent only a small portion of the full interview.

You can also download the episode in MP3 format here, view past podcasts here, and subscribe via iTunes, or download the Bernews app and enjoy advance listening, with each episode available for download directly to your phone or tablet earlier than it is released on our main site.

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Comments (51)

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  1. Hmmm says:

    So the PLP want to increase the debt to ridiculous levels… This time taking money from our retirement funds which are already short thanks to the PLP.

    He wants to pay business to come here!

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      Mr Burt is not taking money – the idea is to divert some of the investments to other areas. The money is already invested – it is a case at looking at other options. It is important to make that distinction.

      • Double S says:

        Investing in the business of others?

        And if it fails to materialize in Bermuda, then what?

        Divert some more?

        Should have asked him why the PLP are against the Job Makers Act while stating that their ‘diversification’ efforts ill require at LEAST 50% of foreigners to be employed in these ‘new’ industries.

        • Jeremy Deacon says:

          Clearly if you are making an investment you do so with conditions attached, so if it fails to materialize in Bermuda, there is no investment. it’s pretty straightforward

          • Double S says:

            If it doesn’t materialize we simply just get our monies back from the initial investment?

            Good thing you are a journalist and not a financial advisor.

            • Really Reallly Betty says:

              Great Job Bernews, well done Jeremy Deacon on the Podcast…..I like this and hope you do more.

              I gotta a lot of listening to do now, as well as absorbing carefully what has been presented.

              Brilliant Interviews, and great information.

              • Kangoocar says:

                Betty, I have no problem with you taking your entire pension and investing it with your clueless plp ideas of nonsense, but reluctantly ( because I don’t need it ) have paid for many years into both pensions, the moment our Government pension is invested by your plp into any hair brain investment scheme they come up with, will be the last day I pay anything into it!!! And any court can try and make me?? It will never happen!!!!!

                • Really Really BETTTY says:

                  Kangaroocar /Westpalm you and your OBA Rhetoric is really falling. ….stop for a minute and understand what is actually been presented before rejecting it just because of who said it…..please

          • Double S says:

            If it doesn’t materialize we simply just get our monies back from the initial investment?

            Good thing you are a journalist and not a financial advisor.

          • AD says:

            Jeremy – I’m surprised you are trying to defend this.

            This idea is simply ludicrous.

            Any responsible pension manager only invests these assets in the safest of investments, with the vast majority going into fixed income government securities. A small percentage may be invested in equities, but again these are only the safest of equities preferably with high dividend yields like IBM, or Boeing.

            Mr Burt is proposing to reinvest this money from blue chip equities into a venture capital fund to help start new business in Bermuda. He doesn’t want to use the word start-up, but that’s exactly what it is. How is this not making the investment profile riskier? Is this responsible behavior by a pension fund manager?

            Mr Burt uses the Singapore Investment Fund Temasek as an example. He may want to do a bit more homework here. Temasek was started in 1974 with an initial portfolio of positions ALREADY OWNED by the Singapore Government, including the government naval yards and a park. Please explain to me how this is not privatization?

            At 31:35 Mr Burt states that “there are 3 policy options, one continue to subsidise, two privatize, or three figure out another way which works best, we are trying for the third solution…”

            Is this an admission that the PLP don’t have a solution? Seems pretty consistent with his statement at 8:10:

            “the Progressive Labour Party has not sat and looked at specific issues of diversification…”

            Enough said really.

            • Unnaceptable says:

              Where did he say this would be a Venture Capital fund. I think the reporter asked that specifically and Burt said no.

              I think you don’t have to make things up to try to prove your point.

              • AD says:

                Sorry can you tell me exactly where in the interview that Jeremy Deacon asks David Burt whether this is a Venture Capital Fund? I honestly missed that bit.

                Mr. Burt doesn’t want to call this a Venture Capital Fund or use the word “start ups” as that has a risky connotation. However, what he is proposing is that government will establish a fund (with your retirement money) that will take equity and debt positions in new small and mid sized ventures on the island. Please explain to me how this is not a Venture Capital Fund?

                • Onion says:

                  Agreed. Totally inappropriate for pensions, especially considering they are already under-funded in part because of Mr. Burt’s poor performance in his prior job (Jr. Minister of Finance).

                  If Bermuda had a sovereign wealth fund then maybe this would be appropriate. Such a fund would exist if the government had stuck to budgets in the 2000s as taxes surprised to the up-side. Instead they spent this unexpected tax windfall and then some.

            • WOB says:

              well said – which is basically GAMBLING!

            • Jeremy Deacon says:

              I’m neither defending or agreeing – I am explaining what Mr Burt said. You need to listen to the podcast

          • PhD. says:

            But wait, I thought we hated foreigners? Or was that last week? Do we like them and want them here now? So much in fact that we want to give them money? Hard to keep up with who we are supposed to hate these days. Shall we start our hunger strikes or are we supposed to be happy about this? Do we tell these investers in our country that we hate them before they get here and open shop or wait until they find out at the march?

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        His idea is to redirect investment monies to be used as enticement payouts without any real expectation that those monies would return, much less with an ROI. It might be that we get a business to come here, that would contribute to the tax revenues, and would also pay into the pension fund, but what they would be paying in to the pension fund would not be what was paid out, but contributions for employees who would also be eligible for eventual payout. We would still be down and out monies from and an already underfunded fund

      • Betty Boop says:

        Hold up, did he and his PLP/BIU people just potest in bringing people into Bermuda, while many protestors shouting at ex-pats to get out of our country, or offering the ones here status???? Seems to me the same thing that the OBA is trying to do. Sorry don’t trust him or the PLP as far as I can spit.

  2. Double S says:

    Great idea Burt.

    Let’s see the SAGE report noted that the pension funds were failed to be audited between 2004 and 2012 (thanks PLP) and were underfunded to the tune of a couple of billions of dollars (more off balance sheet debt).

    One of the funds is expected to run out of funds by 2047 under the current payout/pay in rates.

    But hey, lets takes some more out of the pot and hope for the best by giving into some foreign company. Great idea. Simply brilliant.

    “A small percentage of Government pension investments could be diverted into overseas companies to get them to set up in Bermuda.”

    If some OBAer had said the above the anti-Bermudian, foreign loving accusations would be out no doubt followed by protests to ‘save our pensions.’

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      You need to listen to the podcast – see my comment above

      • Double S says:

        You need to read the SAGE report and the most recent report on the state of our pensions.

        Investments do fail you know as has been experienced here and time and time again.

        • The Original Truth™ says:

          Investments only fail if not invested properly. What’s wrong do you not trust our finance minister to make sound decisions? It would be Bob who would make the choices not Burt. Burt is only giving out ideas. This idea has never failed Canada so if we follow their model of approach we should be fine. Bermuda’s market is only so big so why not extend it overseas. There are private Bermudian companies that already do this and have become well established in other jurisdictions.

          • Double S says:

            No I don’t trust Burt or Richards to take our underfunded pension plans and invest it into a private start-up enterprise.

            While it is an idea, it is a half-baked idea based on no actual thorough research

            Just like Burt’s plan to open up online gaming and FinTech in Bermuda with no specifics on how to lure these established firms (from Gibraltar) to set up here.

            When asked about online gaming he simply took 25% of Gibraltar’s online gaming revenues and said that would be beneficial to Bermuda. But there was no plan on how Bermuda would all of a sudden be amore attractive jurisdiction in which to do business. In order to do so they would have to provide ‘incentives.’

            These would be the very same concessions that the PLP and their supporters rail against the OBA using to entice foreign direct investment to your shores.

            For their diversification of Bermuda’s economy their budget reply stated the below:

            “As the PLP recognizes that our plans for diversification will require at least half the new jobs created to be filled by highly skilled and experienced international labour, balance is required.”

            So at LEAST 50% of the ‘new’ industries will be staffed by foreign nationals. Didn’t you and others march and threaten unrest because of Bermuda jobs, land, culture etc. being taken over by foreigners?

            Now somehow when the PLP states to bring in more of those dreaded foreigners it is an idea and thinking out of box.

            Guess it depends on where the ideas flow that determines one’s opposition/approval of such

            • The Original Truth™ says:

              “Just like Burt’s plan to open up online gaming and FinTech in Bermuda with no specifics on how to lure these established firms (from Gibraltar) to set up here.”

              So what was OBA’s plan again for luring gamblers from the other Caribbean casinos?

              Burt is not part of the current government so he’s not the one to come up with a full plan. He just made a suggestion that was not even looked into. Instead the government came up with falsified claims that it will attract money laundering. It’s not easy to launder money when you have everything checked through credit card companies. It’s much easier for local drug dealers to go into a physical casino with drug cash get a bunch of chips and only use some. At the end of the night the casino gives them a cheque in return for the chips and tada they have something clean to bring to the bank. How did they get the money in the cheque? Silly question, it’s their winnings from a legit casino.

              “As the PLP recognizes that our plans for diversification will require at least half the new jobs created to be filled by highly skilled and experienced international labour, balance is required.”

              The key part here is “highly skilled and experienced international labour” not all foreign labour in Bermuda is highly skilled and experienced. Pre PLP it was but like I’ve said I am not a PLP supporter I just support what makes sense wherever it comes from. FYI I didn’t march and threaten unrest but I do agree that part of the plan would have Bermuda jobs, land and culture being taken over by foreigners. The PRC and their spouses and children was the part I agreed with since they have been part of building Bermuda jobs, land and culture. The part I disagreed with was residents in Bermuda for 15 years given PRC because much of those 15 years they were here was during a period that Bermudians lost jobs to these people and the economy went in a downward spiral. It was PLP that allowed these job takers to stay and that’s why I would not march with them because they helped bring about the decline in our society and will not admit to it. All PLP has to do is admit it and then there would be no justification to that part of the pathways plan but like the OBA they will never admit to their missteps.

              • Double S says:

                Luring tourists here due to new amenities (i.e. casinos) is very much different than luring established businesses to re-domicile their firms from their current jurisdiction to Bermuda.

                One stays for a week while the other is expected to stay here and grow their business over the years.

                That was a pretty asinine comparison.

                So again I ask what incentives (i.e. concessions) would have to be granted to lure these businesses here. obviously there will have to be tax breaks granted and a much more liberal immigration system.

                Given the vehement disdain spewed by the PLP and their supporters regarding giving concessions to ‘business people’ and their outright hatred for foreigners I find it strange that the PLP would even include such proposals.

                But again, as I said before, I guess it all depends on who is making the proposal which dictates their approval/rejection of such initiatives.

    • Mutual Respect says:

      Imagine if anyone in the OBA were to bring up the idea of effectively giving away some of our pension money to foreign business to get them to come here! Full on anarchy would ensue. No one but no one should be allowed to touch anyone’s pension money

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        Please educate yourself as to what a crown corporation is. No one is talking about given away money.

        If you want to talk about given away money we have already given over 14 mil to America Cup and we have not broken even yet. We are just sitting with our fingers crossed hoping that the predictions actually come true. This idea of Burt’s is better than the America’s Cup investment because the money will be invested in profiting companies not a sporting event that could possibly put us in the red.

        • Double S says:

          The investment by the Government into the AC is not supposed to bring profits to the Government.

          It is designed as an economic stimulant. Which it has proven to be successful at so far.

          Houses are being rented, numerous construction projects that would have never been undertaken have come to fruition, people that would have never traveled to Bermuda have and will do so in the future, the exposure to Bermuda to the world has never hit the heights as it has and will because of the AC.

          But somehow you believe that Burt’s idea of taking our underfunded pensions and giving them to private business with the hope that they will be profitable and employ a handful of Bermudians is much more sensible than a worldwide viewed sporting event?

          And you have the nerve to call others on here OBA sycophants with their heads too far up the OBA backsides? You do realize you are no different in your partisanship right? Or is being a PLP sycophant a noble cause?

          • The Original Truth™ says:

            I have no allegiance to PLP and will say it straight out that what they did was a sell to Bermuda. They drove IB away while under their watch the most permits ever issued to non IB workers happened. They allowed employers to let go Bermudians and take on foreigners in non IB sectors. Now PLP wants to go on the offensive about OBA’s idea to allow these same foreigners they allowed to stay so to have PRC. I don’t agree with the idea by OBA but I see it as completely underhanded for PLP not to admit they caused the issue in the first place. Now would a PLP sycophant say this? I think not.

            Just like a PLP sycophant will defend every action taken by the PLP good or bad OBA sycophants do the same. I look at everything as one who is on the fence and can see what is for the good of Bermuda and what isn’t. You calling me a PLP sycophant just shows you are not spectating but are in the OBA mix like the rest of their zealots just like the other side of the fence with the PLP zealots. What a sad place to be with the naive who really think that one of the sides really cares about Bermuda.

            Now that I have cleared up your accusation of me let’s get down to individuals like Burt. Like I said before not all his ideas are great but some are worth looking into. Forget what side he’s on and then you will be where I am looking at it all with an unbias.

            I fully understand what America’s Cup is designed to do and you need to understand that it still no matter which way you look at has plans to make government money as well. All the stimuli you talk about has some sort of government tax attached to it so it indeed is part of making government money. There’s no bad in that because government needs money to support our country. The problem is that the money put in needs to create enough of this stimuli you are talking about to surpass the amount invested or else it is just a waste.

            I’m glad you can entertain yourself with a crystal ball that tells you that people who traveled to the island for the America’s Cup will do so in the future. Although at some point you have to realize that crystal balls that tell the future are a thing of fairy tales. You and other were sold on an idea by America’s Cup promoters who are good at selling a dream but at some point you have to get back to reality.

            The reality of the America’s cup is that it has a shelf life which will soon be up. Once America’s Cup is gone the renters will go with it and the construction projects which are not as numerous as you make them out to be will have to find some alternative use. Sorry to burst your bubble but the America’s Cup is not even in the top 10 viewed sporting events. We would have been better off trying to host the Cricket World Cup as that is in the top 10.

            “the exposure to Bermuda to the world has never hit the heights as it has and will because of the AC.” Well that’s just a matter of opinion without any facts to back it up. There are loads of people in this world who have no idea what the America’s Cup is and don’t care to know because it does not fit in to their life. Only a small percentage of the world are interested in sailing because it’s just not a sport that many can relate to either because of it’s expense or the limited access they would have to it. Heck the Talbot Brothers gave more exposure to Bermuda in their time than the Americas cup has done at present.

            If we want something that will attract visitors for years to come it needs to be permanent not an event that is done by 2018. The elite that will come to the event will do so because of the event and once it’s gone they will have other places to go to just because they can.

            • Double S says:

              “I’m glad you can entertain yourself with a crystal ball that tells you that people who traveled to the island for the America’s Cup will do so in the future. Although at some point you have to realize that crystal balls that tell the future are a thing of fairy tales. ”

              Is that the same crystal ball that tells you Burt’s pension idea is great and much better than a proven event like the AC?

              • The Original Truth™ says:

                For goodness sake Burt is not looking in a crystal ball he’s not even come up with the idea himself. It’s something that I’m quite sure he’s gotten from Canada as they are the ones who are renown for this and have much success in it. They are ready to apply it on us and the only reason is because they must see some profit in it. As long as we put fair agreements in place of how many foreigners they bring in to do the work I even think it will be a good partnership. They will helps us get more flights here. The only part that I think Canada is overlooked is that we do not have any affordable hotels so the flights they entice may end up empty. It’s tried and tested so the only thing we need to get right is the selection of a business that will benefit us. One that is a necessity to it’s costumers so we know there’s no way it can go under.

                AC is not a proven event because it put SF in the red so it has the possibility of doing the same to us. What drove the success of AC in other countries was the attractions already there in the country. People came to watch the race and realized that there was much more to do over and over again. We don’t have much of that in Bermuda and if we wanted to make AC work we should have push the agreement back for the next cup and worked on our attractions in the meantime.

        • PhD. says:

          Yea, who needs the America’s Cup when we have all the profits from Black Mayor Conventions. Let’s host more of those! Remind me what the ROI on that was again please?

        • Betty Boop says:

          Unfortunately another one who know nothing of which he speaks!

    • hmmm says:

      You start to wonder if they haven’t raided the pension fund before…..I seem to recall something.

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      It’s obvious that the whole idea Burt has put forth is not in the commenter Hmmm and your range of perception.

      The Canadian Commercial Corporation that OBA looked to for organizing the build of our airport is one of hundreds of crown corporations Canada has. They’ve had these crown corporations going for centuries and have made a huge profit off of them. The tax payer money Canada uses for these corporations is not taking from the their citizens it is borrowed as an investment that will gain a return. This has worked out well for Canada because there has been times when companies there have work shortages and the government finds work for them elsewhere and invests in them. The return comes back to Canada higher than what was taken out. Canada is not doing us a favor by offering to build a new airport they expect a return that’s higher than what they put in.

      At the moment the pot you are talking about gets more taken out of it than gets put in. Wouldn’t you rather have that money making interest that increases the amount so when you retire there’s enough. I don’t know how old you are but I know I’m not a spring chicken and at the moment the numbers show when I retire there will be nothing left for me. If you are around the same age you share the same fate as I do.

      Burt is not keeping this solution for the PLP just in case they get back in he is sharing it with the OBA. Playing the blame game doesn’t help anyone and what Burt is suggesting will so instead of opening old wounds just shut you mouth for a second and listen. This is bipartisanship and if the OBA really says they are participating in it they need to show it. At the moment they have shot down everything that Burt has suggested without even digesting it. Not everything Burt comes up with is solid but that is what debate is for. Burt does have good ideas even if all are not good but OBA wants to do is not listen and say no! no! no! This is hypocritical if they are to complain about others doing the same. You get what you give.

  3. smh says:

    ALERT! WARNING! ALERT!NO TO TOUCHING ANY OF OUR PENSIONS FOR ANY REASON, PARTICURLY ONE THIS RISKY… ALERT! WARNING! ALERT! NO TO TOUCHING ANY PENSION FUNDS

  4. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    So Mr. Burt’s solution is to take further from an underfunded fund, leaving less for the increasing more that will need to draw from it??? Burt mathematics at work again; a billion dollars of revenue from the airport around 3/4′s of which we would never see because of thing called expenditures, increase borrowing up to and over 30%+ of government revenues with no real plan to increase revenues, a $200m fishing industry that was debunked by their own commissioned reports, online gambling industry with no description about how we would gain revenues from it or what of our financial regulations we would have to scrap to attract them here, against privatizing an airport that is already effectively privatized, against privatizing the airport but proposes setting it up as a private authority that would effectively privatize the airport, and now he wants to take from a fund that is already underfunded for the needs of our seniors today and is known that will not support the increasing seniors population of tomorrow… and use those funds in a way that will not actually return the monies spent back with any sort of ROI. Again we return to the PLP financial notions of spending money we don’t have and taking from where we can’t afford to… basically the same financial policies that has put us in this hole that we struggling to climb out of now

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      What Burt is suggesting is to make an unfunded fund funded by interest gained on investing the funds. If done properly we will have more to deposit into it not draw out of it. This is not Burt mathematics it’s an idea he has taken from already working models. Canada already has plans to do the same to us with the airport build.

  5. WOB says:

    This doesn’t make sense. Why would you give external companies money to set up here. Business fails and what’s the recourse for these companies – this sound very much like the Par-La-Ville hotel guarantee and what happened with that? How about supporting government policies that attracts businesses to the island so that companies are not “scared away”. Businesses wants a stable human capital – PLP policies do not support that. They also want to make sure business continuity (in any event) – recent strike actions – did not show that!

    “A small percentage of Government pension investments could be diverted into overseas companies to get them to set up in Bermuda.” – key word DIVERTED AWAY – THIS IS TOO MIND BOGGLING!!!!!!!!!!

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      It’s not giving to external companies it’s investing in them essentially making Bermuda shareholders of them. Not all parts of the business would be set up here because we will not have the resources for it. The part that would set up here is the same as IB the part that would want to take advantage of exemptions. Right now IB sets up part here and we only profit from that part while the business profits in all other jurisdictions they have work in. Why not do the same so we can gain profits in other jurisdictions. Private sectors already do this why not run the government like a business and profit from it. We can send workers overseas to work and get trained like companies send people here to do the same.

      There are Caymanians with Butterfield Bank accounts. They don’t have an account in Bermuda. They have it in Cayman but Butterfield still profits in Bermuda from these overseas business set ups. Government needs to start thinking out of the box like some of the private sector has done.

  6. High Road says:

    This man scares me.

  7. jt says:

    Frightening.

  8. steve says:

    Hes gotta say somthing, and all of the best Ideas at this time are in the budget…so…

  9. serengeti says:

    He says he “rules out making anyone in Government redundant” but says “savings will be made by increased efficiency”.

    Huh?

    If you doing things with less people, that is how you are more efficient.

    He’s just reinforcing the “jobs for life” mantra. They want to suck everyone else dry to make sure they keep their 14 weeks sick pay and platinum pensions.

    • jt says:

      Step 1…switch all government pensions to defined contribution plans.

    • Betty Boop says:

      Well you know what they’ll do, they’ll make one person do more jobs. Well, that won’t work since the GW are quite layed back and think their jobs are so protected by their own.

  10. Jimmy says:

    He wants to take from diversified portfolios and plunk it down on concentrated risk ventures?? Fools and their money are soon parted.

  11. cat says:

    “As the PLP recognizes that our plans for diversification will require at least half the new jobs created to be filled by highly skilled and experienced international labour, balance is required.” Did you run that by Chris Furbert? Can you imagine if the OBA said this? There’d be another ‘party on the hill’.

    • jt says:

      Should pave the way for the OBA though! Use this and get on with it.

  12. steve says:

    I would have joined Riddles bay golf club if had the security of citizenship. Since thats been been put back in the jar labeled ‘ignance’, i will continue to save every dime until i leave the island.

  13. the audacity!