Column: ‘Re-establish Our Leadership Position’

July 5, 2019

[Opinion column written by OBA Senator Marcus Jones]

The Senate recently ratified the Economic Substance Amendment Act of 2019 after passing unanimously in the House of Assembly.

Within our democracy it is advantageous that legislation being considered that impacts the economic health of our country be studiously contemplated, rigorously debated and rolled out as a well-crafted and thought out document, that not only solves problems for today, but positions us for the foreseeable future.

It is praiseworthy that there was one voice emanating from our legislature in both Houses which was ‘Let’s fix the gap created from the lack of foresight in the original Economic Substance Act 2018 and align ourselves with our fellow Crown and Independent Territories’.

What this process demonstrated to me is that Bermuda has relinquished its time-honored position as a leader in the off-shore finance/insurance capital of the world and has been reduced to a second tier domicile whose lofty mark of achievement is to amend an Act that merely levels the playing field.

In sporting vernacular that’s like playing for a draw when an outright victory is in one’s grasp.

Leadership is simply the ability to influence. Can one find Bermuda taking an influential role in this process when we rolled out a bill in December 2018 void of a tax residency clause in its original drafting when direct competitors such as Cayman Islands, BVI and the Channel islands had it enshrined in their legislation at the same time?

There is no shame in peeking over the shoulders of competing jurisdictions’ legislation to ensure that we have included all the ingredients in our laws necessary to maintain alignment with them and satisfy the regulations set out by the EU.

This government has taken on the practice of last minute, poorly planned out, lack of consultative drafting of legislation that spotlights their “measure once cut twice approach” to crafting legislation that delivers a devastating blow to their claims of good governance being the centre-piece of their administrative efforts as opposed to political expediency.

This amendment to the Economic Substance Act 2018 is evidence of their approach, but sadly is not the only one.

One needs to look no further than the Government’s attempt to amend the Municipalities Act which failed, and its hurried passing of the Health Insurance Amendment Act 2019 which produced unintended consequences such as increased premiums and a health industry full of uncertainty.

As a jurisdiction we can re-establish our leadership position by drafting legislation and implementing policies [immigration comes to mind] that does not stop at leveling the playing field but rather aims to gain a competitive advantage.

We can do it Bermuda.

- Marcus Jones


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Comments (2)

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  1. Cicada says:

    Short simple sentences are better writing and easier to follow. I have a phd and can barely follow each sentence.

  2. Realist says:

    Not with the legal bunch crafting and under the current, defensive to the core leadership of the AG. Unfortunately, we don’t have the brightest or the best legal minds more like those placed to reflect political favour and agenda.