The BermudaFirst Group has also backed many of Sir John Swan's ideas for economic growth. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
The BermudaFirst Group has also backed many of Sir John Swan's ideas for economic growth. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
MONDAY, OCTOBER 24: Bermuda’s international companies came out today in support of Sir John Swan’s initiatives to stimulate the economy.

The Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) said the current Government’s protectionalism policy “could be detrimental to Bermuda’s long-term prospects”.

Yesterday the BermudaFirst Group — a think tank — also backed many of Sir John’s ideas.

On Friday, he unveiled a multi-faceted approach to help get Bermuda going again, which included policies that would help international business.

ABIC chairman George Hutchings today confirmed his support of Sir John’s comments. The association represents more than 130 international companies incorporated in Bermuda

Mr Hutchings said in a press release: “Sir John Swan has detailed a plan of action 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.

“The economy has some significant issues and challenges that require a fundamental shift in how Bermuda does business with the rest of the world. Over the past several years, the world’s economy has dramatically changed yet Bermuda’s business model has not adapted to this new reality.

“International businesses have a great many more jurisdictional choices, our traditional tourism visitors have opted for other destinations and challenges from foreign regulatory and tax authorities may have a further negative effect on our economy.

“The reality is the world is changing at an exponential rate and we must position ourselves to respond to both the challenges and the opportunities.

“In order for Bermuda to maintain its current standard of living and employment opportunities for its people, policies encouraging investment in the island need to be considered.

“Undo amounts of current protectionism could be detrimental to Bermuda’s long-term prospects.”

In Sunday’s press statement, BermudaFirst called on a shift in tone by all members of our island community.

It said: “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.

“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. 

“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.”