BermudaFirst Response: Sir John’s Column

October 24, 2011

The BermudaFirst group has released a statement in response to Sir John Swan’s recent column ‘Bermuda’s Economy in Crisis.’

BermudaFirst is a collective of business, sector and Government leaders who came together – beginning in 2008 –  principally as a Think Tank. Over 70 men and women representing all sectors of Bermuda are currently working together to secure the future of Bermuda and her people.

Their full response follows below:

Many of the issues and conclusions raised by Sir John Swan are entirely consistent with the call of BermudaFirst that Bermuda must show the World it is indeed ‘Open for Business’.

We must embrace international business as the key contributor to Bermuda’s economy, and review and more importantly, action relevant changes to our policies relating to work permits, residency, landholding, tourism and foreign investment in light of the current facts and circumstances.

Notwithstanding the accomplishments of the past year regarding Bermuda’s international standing through the signing of multiple TIEAs, and legislative and regulatory reform; in order to secure Bermuda’s future economic stability, there must be a shift in tone, policy and behaviour by all members of this community.

Many ideas put forth by Sir John, we ourselves have placed focus. We are pleased that several are, in fact, currently under active review by Government including Bermuda’s land policy, residency and work permits, and the 60/40 policy.

We believe these and others are worthy of review and future discussion, and certainly reiterate the sense of urgency in his call to action.

If all Bermudians are to return to the standard of living to which we had previously become so accustomed, we must make it easier, more welcoming and efficient to conduct business in Bermuda.

No one person has all of the answers. So, in addition to tightening our belts, we must also collectively be willing to open our minds. As an entire people, we must understand that the creation of new jobs in major infrastructure projects will require us to warmly invite investors and their capital into Bermuda.

Every Bermudian must be a part of creating that experience, from the moment someone steps off of an airplane and moves through our immigration and customs clearance process until they depart from the Island.

BermudaFirst believes that open public debate and dialogue is critical. It should happen not only in the Boardroom, but at every dinner table as well if we are to effect the paradigm shift that is required to recalibrate our expectations, reshape our attitudes and most importantly our actions.

We congratulate Sir John on his effort and encourage others to come forth and actively engage in the future of our country.

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Comments (27)

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  1. Enquiring says:

    Nothing will improve until whoever is the Government has the intelligence, business sense and realism to understand how Bermuda works. All this is presently sadly missing. Continually blaming the “Global Recession” and expecting things to improve when the “Global Recession” improves will leave Bermuda floundering.

  2. joe says:

    This is all well written, but in fact it says nothing. To me it seems this is a piece put out by some hired gun to attached the Government’s recent efforts to some sort of fundamental change. I think Sir John was speaking on an entirely different level than the one on which the Government currently finds itself.

  3. charles says:

    “Open for Business” or should we say “Bermuda for Sale” !

    Some of the suggestions given by Sir John are too open ended and leaves Bermuda exposed to entitlement and misuse in immigration and business issues. This is akin to our “Pirate Colony” giving everything over to the “Admiralty” the proverbial lock, stock and barrel’.

    But alas, I forgot our mantra ” whither the fates may carry us ” or as today’s generation would say “…whatever”

  4. I gotta be me says:

    I overheard two American businessmen in 1st Class on the AA flight last night lamenting how sad it was that “Bermuda is finished” and they were noting “just how quickly it all happened”. Sad.

    • Ole says:

      You have to give some credence to that commnent, given that as Americans and their precarious plight, they should be able to identify a spent force..

  5. Debbie Smith says:

    So because these two American Business men (white I’m sure) said that “Bermuda is finished” makes it so. In other parts of the world people think that America is finished but that does not mean that it is true. Furthermore if American businessmen do not approve of Bermuda then why are they doing business here. They have 52 states that they can do business in. America bullies every country and tries to control every country. Just saying.

    • I gotta be me says:

      what’s with the “(white I’m sure)” attitude? jeesh.

    • ooops... says:

      Debbie have a read through this article and see where we are headed, the similarities are incredible…

      The Story of the Rise and Fall of the Cayman Islands

      • Tired of nonsense says:

        Interesting rad and parallels with Bermuda.

        However, it should be ignored for one reason only…the author is white…just ask Debbie

        • James S says:

          They probably were not coming to do business but coming to close one down!

    • Family Man says:

      52 states?? Huh? Is this the new PLP math?

      Bet you can’t name all 52.

      • Rick Rock says:

        With the “white I’m sure” comment I’d also bet she can’t name the current President of the USA.

    • THE HELL!! says:

      I cant see what the color of the skin has to do with it. Just making that statement alone will turn people off from your comments..

    • THE HELL!! says:

      The only time color of skin should be mentioned is for ID purposes IE. if you are looking for the 2 WHITE MEN..Geesh!!

  6. Terry says:

    Very true Debbie.

    As for the “52 states”, the irony is and is factual that America has less jobs, unemployment is way up because of similar circumstances as here in Bermuda. Bermuda employs others just like the US does.

    80% of what you buy is manufactored in Pakistan, India, China, Japan, et al.If you have to pay someone $7.50-12.00 an hour your profits go to hell. If you have overseas factories and pay $1.00-1.36 an hour you make billions.


    A great day too all.

    • The 411 says:

      Its called Capitalism Terry. Read. Would you prefer one of the other alternatives?

      • Terry says:

        I know what it is called 411 and Captalism is greed, irony As for the other alternatives, well were far from it at this rate.

  7. Eastern says:

    Although I have a lot of respect for John Swan his comments last week amount to the continued prostitution of Bermuda and its land. These ideas only favour the rich so I should not really be surprised.
    Casino on Front Street? Who is going to own it? Only the already rich? – Only the hotels should own the casinos.
    Why build more houses to sell to foreigners when the island is already covered in luxury homes sitting empty?
    Doing away with the 60/40 rule will only make the rich richer and destroy any chance of the small man profiting from small business as we will not be able to compete with these outside owned entities.

    Some people will not be satisfied until every available piece of land is sold off and built on. It’s the “I’m getting mind while I can” attitude. Where does it end? When do we stop giving our land away for the mighty dollar? When there is none left to sell and the whole island is covered in concrete?

    Our Government needs to privatize all services that are losing us money. Start with the buses and ferries, parks department, road works, etc., etc., but no, I doubt that this government will do any of that. Just keep spending money like there’s no tomorrow.

    Line up the hos, the prostitution of Bermuda is gaining momentum.

    • Bears repeating says:

      Some people will not be satisfied until every available piece of land is sold off and built on. It’s the “I’m getting mind while I can” attitude. Where does it end? When there is none left to sell and the whole island is covered in concrete?

      Just had to see this part again , basically because it’s already happened .

    • The 411 says:

      Your commentary is so sad but sadly indicative of the mindset that paralyses us and in large part has us where we are today. Like it or not – money makes the world go around. Just ask the hundreds no thousands of unemployed and unemployable poorly educated persons that are out of work. Perhaps as an Airconditioning installation technician, fixing cars at HWP, tending the bar at Flanagans, teacher at Berkeley, or cleaning the homes of a wealthy Bermuda resident if he/she benefited from that segment of our economy that really made it move. Understand that our economy and the lifestyles that we live are entirely dependent on the existence and turnover of wealth in this country and the lifestyles wealth fosters.

      I question too the luxury homes sitting empty. Just because its in Tuckers Town does not mean it is luxury. Today’s wealthy resident wants technology driven lights, doors, temperature, they want attached nanny / housekeeper quarters, the newest high end kitchen, a vehicle at their leisure, marble floors etc. Some of these properties need major renovation to attract those types of rents now. They have simply re-adjusted to what is truly marketable…

      Spending – I agree with you on spending but unfortunately your position is so weak in that if the government does not take aggressive measures to keep the wealth stationary in Bermuda, then it will have to spend a lot more on the social programmes etc – so the spending will continue and further multiply. Don’t forget too that our senior population will double in the next 10 years – and this is a group of retirees that lived / worked before the mandatory pension act and in many cases are now riddled with massive debts, no high paying rents etc etc etc…

  8. navin johnson says:

    Sir John’s column,whileI do not agree 100%, shows that he still has more to offer than all of the politicians in Bermuda put together…So many people are still stuck in the whole “we must look are Bermudians first” mantra that they fail to grasp that IB provides everything and is a Benefit for all Bermudians..I would agree with the 2 businessmen that we are finished but only as to the current dependency on IB as that period of our life is gone and will not return…Sir John looks to the future and ways to survive and hopefully thrive again…Term limits are doom and rather than charge $20,000 for a 10 year permit I would give them $20,000 to take one….listen to the current government and you realize they are clueless

    • Ole says:

      Same John Swan that would jump into bed with Ewey and that Burgess bye to ensure that he makes a profit of his over valued building, albeit at the expense of the country.

      Great chap that John is.. You gotta luv him!!

      • navin johnson says:

        At least Sir John got to the point where he has the overvalued land and what is wrong with him trying to hype Bermuda and what his sees for the future…He had the balls to stand up for his principles when it came time for independence unlike Ewart and his band of sycophants and he built something. We could use as many of the 1%ers as we could get. Sir John never changed political ideology and I admire him very much….personally and professionally….no current politician could carry his briefcase…..


    I’m going out to get a Big Mac . And it’s nice to know that some of us regular citizens could still afford to travel first class with the movers and shakers of the universe .

  10. joe says:

    I’m glad he made money. I’m glad that we still have more millionaires (and black ones per capita) than anywhere else in the world. Ok so its property, big deal. I’m glad he still cares and is willing to fight after all these years, unlike the other sh!ts who plundered this country and ran. I’m glad that he has come up with ideas that people here can debase and ridicule, because that’s what we do. I’m glad because it means there are some people out there who still care and despite their reasons want to make Bermuda a success. So what if some people get rich -isn’t that what we all want to do? As long as we have future opportunity and access to it, a people’s promise is met. Get on with it, or get out.

  11. THE HELL!! says:

    It seems like we could use Sir Johns leadership today more than the incompetent leaders we have now. Sometimes you got to sacrifice a little, give up a little in order to succeed. Sir John has good business sense. Turning front street near the Harbor into a entertainment and gambling centre is an excellent idea. Get your head out of the sand PLP people. This is the year 2011 soon to be 2012 Bermuda is falling way behind. WAKE UP!! GEESH!!!