Sir John Swan has called for a national effort to deal with the island’s economic crisis. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Sir John Swan has called for a national effort to deal with the island’s economic crisis. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26: Sir John Swan yesterday called for a national effort to deal with the island’s economic crisis.

The former Premier was speaking after advocacy groups backed his prescription for financial recovery.

Both the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) and BermudaFirst both lined up behind Sir John after the Bermuda Sun on Friday published his analysis of how Bermuda could recover from recession.

Sir John said: “I am honoured these two organisations have stepped forward and I hope others will step forward too. It’s the beginning of a journey for every man, woman and child in Bermuda and I hope it works for us.”

He added: “It’s not about what we think, it’s not about what we’re going to do. It’s what all of us are going to do and that includes Government, the Opposition and a whole range of organisations and individuals who would join in this partnership of progress.

“We might be the catalyst — but we’re not the be all and end all. This has to be a national initiative. When we’re talking about a debt of $200,000 for every man, woman and child in Bermuda, we really need to step up the pace of the country.”

George Hutchings, chairman of ABIC, said: “Sir John has detailed a plan that has a number of legitimate initiatives that could provide a badly-needed stimulus to our local economy.

“Members of the Bermuda community should seriously consider his suggestions for improving the economic well-being of all Bermudians.

“While ABIC may not agree with all of his suggestions, a good majority of them have a great deal of merit.”

A spokesman for BermudaFirst — a collective of business, public sector and politicians formed in 2008 — added that many of Sir John’s views were “entirely consistent” with their stance.

The spokesman said: “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.”

He added: “No one person has all 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.”

Sir John’s wide-ranging analysis recommended a number of proposals designed to kick-start the economy, including removing term limits on work permits and the granting of residency rights to a limited number of key businessman and high net worth individuals.

He also recommended the work permit application process should be streamlined to allow in principle approval of work permits for key employees and their personal staff at the incorporation stage.

Sir John also called for an end to the 60/40 rule that guarantees majority Bermudian ownership and for Government to loosen strict rules on property ownership to allow more non-Bermudians to buy on the island.

Sir John said: “The facts speak for themselves — things are deteriorating and deteriorating very fast. That will require some decisions.

“What we have done is said ‘here are the things we think should be done which are different.

“These organisations need not agree with everything — we have a lot of information coming in from the public and very interesting, heartening comments from people who have put effort into what they have said.”