‘You stem that tide by ensuring that you’re at the likes of the RIMS and that you’re involved in this industry.’
Premier Craig Cannonier
On how attending RIMS will help bring future jobs to Bermuda
‘You stem that tide by ensuring that you’re at the likes of the RIMS and that you’re involved in this industry.’ Premier Craig Cannonier On how attending RIMS will help bring future jobs to Bermuda

Premier Craig Cannonier, speaking from a huge insurance conference in Colorado, says catering to such industries will be instrumental in any economic recovery on the island.

The premier is the head of a government contingent who are attending the Risk and Insurance Management Society Conference & Exhibition (RIMS) in Denver, Colorado. Mr Cannonier said it was crucial to have government officials communicating their willingness to work with major players in the insurance and reinsurance industries.

“It’s vitally important that we’re supporting the main industry in Bermuda that contributes so much to our GDP,” he said by phone at the RIMS conference.

He added: “We are well regulated by the BMA (Bermuda Monetary Authority), we are recognized on the world stage. We must keep up with our regulation, and we must keep up with world standards.”

Job losses

The OBA-led government has come under fire as more than 1,100 jobs were lost on the island last year.

“You stem that tide by ensuring that you’re at the likes of the RIMS and that you’re involved in this industry,” said the premier.

Minister of Education and Economic Development Dr Grant Gibbons, who was also on the trip, framed the job losses as the result of an inherited mess.

“What we inherited from the former government was a hemorrhaging situation with respect to jobs. The previous five years there was some 5,000 jobs lost in Bermuda,” he said.

“What we had to do at the end of 2012 is bring stability to the marketplace and restore confidence,” he said. “There was a loss ofjobs last year and what you see a dramatic slowing of those job losses, particularly on the international business side at the statistics. We had negative GDP growth for almost five years. But I think we’re starting to feel now that things are turning around.”

Bermuda’s competition in the international business markets is also at the conference. That group includes officials from Barbados, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands.

“One of the things to do here is make sure people think of Bermuda. Having senior government members here is a very important part of that,” said Dr Gibbons.

The number of new insurers in Bermuda, said Dr Gibbons, increased by 70 per cent between 2012 and 2013.

“That’s a very good sign,” he said.

But is the trip a prudent use of taxpayer money?

Opposition Leader Marc Bean criticized the premier’s travel earlier this year, noting his travel bill for a little more than a year in office topped $180,000. 

Yesterday, however, the PLP did not return multiple phone calls and Dr. Grant Gibbons, the minister of education and economic development, dismissed any notion that the trip was in any way a financial waste.

“We’re not travelling for the sake of travelling,” said Dr. Gibbons. “We’re travelling because it’s really important to be here. This is probably the largest insurance and reinsurance conference every year.”

“It has a huge impact on the North American markets but also worldwide. Lloyd’s is here as well.”

Secretary to the Cabinet Dr. Derrick Bins and Minister of Finance E.T. “Bob” Richards were among the other government officials to make the trip to Colorado. n