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Bermuda's 2015 July History and News

Events that made the headlines in the seventh month of that calendar year

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online

Bermuda Islands 

Admiral Sir George Somers, Bermuda 1609 Artists who painted Bermuda Bermuda, Britain & Commonwealth
Bermuda & Canada Bermuda & France Bermuda & USA
Bermuda's postage stamps Historic Houses History 1500 to 1699
History 1700 to 1799 History 1800 to 1899 History 1900 to 1939 pre-war
History 1939 to 1951 History 1952 to 1999 History  2000 to 2005
History 2006 Part 1 History 2006 Part 2 History 2007 Jan and Feb
History 2007 March History 2007 April History 2007 May
History 2007 June 1-15th History 2007 June 16 to 30th History 2007 July 1-15
History 2007 July 16th to 31st History 2007 August 1 to 7 History 2007 August 8 to 14
History 2007 August 15 to 21 History 2007 August 22-31 History 2007 September 1 to 10
History 2007 September 11 to December 31 History 2008 to 2010 History 2011 through 2012
History 2013 History 2014 part 1 History 2014 part 2
History 2015 January History 2015 February History 2015 March
History 2015 April History 2015 May History 2015 June
History 2015 July History 2015 August History 2015 September
History 2015 October History 2015 November History 2015 December
History 2016 January History 2016 February History 2016 March
History 2016 April History 2016 May History 2016 June
History 2016 July History 2016 August History 2016 September
History 2016 October History 2016 November History 2016 December
History 2017 January History 2017 February History 2017 March
History 2017 April History 2017 May History 2017 June

July 31. Insurance and reinsurance firm Lancashire has rejected the idea of a merger with another firm as a way to boost business. Company CEO Alex Maloney said: “I don’t really buy the bigger is better thing. I see no evidence of any of the companies that have got together to be super-companies with a bigger market share on the back of it.” Mr Maloney was speaking in a conference call after the firm posted a 10 per cent drop in first-half profits, pointing to “pricing pressure” in the Lloyd’s of London market. Lancashire was touted as a takeover prospect by analysts earlier this year after Catlin agreed to a takeover by XL. On Wednesday, Lancashire posted after-tax profits of $38.9 million for the second quarter of the year — down nearly $6 million on the $44.8 million recorded for the same period last year. Gross premiums written for the second quarter fell $139.1 million, from $318.4 million to $179.3 million, in the same timeframe. Diluted earnings per share for the three months to June were 19 cents, compared to 23 cents in the same three months of 2014. Lancashire group chief underwriting officer Paul Gregory said: “Our response to the tough conditions has been to maintain underwriting discipline, focusing on bottom line rather than top. This may not be particularly fashionable at the moment, but we remain convinced that our strategy remains correct.” Mr Maloney added: “The whole insurance community will sit and moan about the current market, and it is the worst it’s been in 10 years, but we’re still confident that we can work our way through it. We’re much better the way we are. It is not all one-way traffic but there’s no hiding the fact that this is a difficult market. We have to work hard and, if necessary, decline inadequately priced business.” Lancashire gained access to the world’s oldest insurance market in 2013 with its takeover of Cathedral Capital, which provides coverage ranging from terrorism to aviation risks. The firm said the acquisition “slightly offset” a decline in premiums across other lines of business.

July 31. Somerset retained the Cup Match trophy in a historic victory for the West End — but for many the match is secondary to the experience. Thousands of residents and visitors turned out to enjoy the event, which closed with ecstatic supporters cheering for Somerset Cricket Club. After an ominously rainy week, blue skies welcomed spectators to the two-day extravaganza of cricket, Crown and Anchor and camaraderie. The celebration of emancipation and the Island’s founding was filled with music, food, plenty of alcohol, laughter and smiling faces as cricket fans, and those new to the sport, sat back, relaxed and soaked up the carnival atmosphere. “Cup Match is about family, friends and freedom. It’s about Bermuda coming together,” said Karen Young, of Paget, who was rooting for St George’s. “I love the carnival atmosphere.” Crowds began flocking to the event early on Thursday morning, with the stands gradually filling up over the course of the day. It proved to be a scorcher, with temperatures hitting the mid to high 80s. For St George’s Cricket Club president Neil Paynter, the good weather was a blessing after all the rain the Island had for days preceding the match. “We’ve been working feverishly through the early hours of the morning to make sure the game gets going,” he said on Thursday. Even though tarpaulins were still being fastened down early on Thursday, the venue was prepped and ready to go by the time the first ball was bowled. Mr Paynter thanked all of the grounds crew on and off the field for their hard work. A few spectators expressed surprise that the venue was prepared in time, considering the torrential downpours. Former United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan, who was having “a great Cup Match”, said anyone who was at St George’s Cricket Club on the eve of the big game would not have thought the event could take place. “We’re really lucky that the gods of Cup Match have decided to bring out the weather for us,” said Mike Cain, CEO of Aspen Bermuda, one of the event’s sponsors. “We hope everyone is going to have a fantastic day and that St George’s are going to pull something fantastic out of the bag.” Free hats and sunscreen were available courtesy of the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre’s SunSmart programme. “Many Bermudians don’t realize that we have a higher skin cancer rate than the US,” said Azuree Williams, the SunSmart coordinator, who added that sponsorship by the St Baldrick’s Foundation meant they could give out the free items. Ashley’s Lemonade proved to be a hit with spectators looking to cool down, with Cup Match-themed drinks on offer as well as a new frozen version of the young entrepreneur’s famous lemonade. “It’s awesome — I’ve had a lot of fun. This is the fourth year of Cup Match that we’ve done,” said Ashley Stephens, who was kept busy by a stream of patrons. She said the heat was good for business because she sold more lemonade, which was available in mango, strawberry, very berry, blue pineapple, limeade and traditional flavors. Gina Thompson has been a familiar face at Cup Match “come rain or shine” for 15 years and her stall, Sniggle’s Face & Body Painting, offered creative touches to those who wanted to take their Cup Match-themed outfits a step further. Glitter, henna and airbrushing tattoos, face painting and red and blue hair dye were popular among the younger patrons who flocked to the stall. Malcolm Simons, of Paget, was keeping cool by standing in the shade. “It’s gorgeous — it’s just building up,” the ardent Somerset fan said. Mr Simons said his grandfather, who was a St George’s selector, would take him and his brother to the game back when Somerset was the winning team. That settled it for Mr Simons, who added: “I was always leaning towards Somerset.” Grace Smith, who was born and raised in St George’s, was showing her friend Jackie Allen the ropes. “It’s very colorful — I was trying to study the game,” said Ms Allen, from New York. The duo, dressed head to toe in blue and blue, were eager to try their hand at a game of crown and anchor. Cup Match would not be Cup Match without the popular dice game and the Crown and Anchor tent was steadily filling up before noon. “This is what we do at Cup Match. We gamble some of that disposable income. It’s all good fun,” said Funtyme Entertainment’s Craig Tyrrell, one of the concession holders along with Cavon Steede. By lunchtime the tent was heaving with people eager to try their luck at one of the twelve tables. “I won $50 on the Crown and Anchor,” said a delighted Kathy Rodrigues, who was visiting the Island with her husband, Perry, and their grandchildren Steven, 15, and Faith, 10. Resplendent in St George’s colours, the first-time visitors felt it only right to pick the East End team because they were staying in St George’s. The event was also a first for Ty Foster, who was visiting with his father Lee Madeiros Foster, a Bermudian who has been living in the United States for about 40 years. “I love it — It’s beautiful,” Ty said, adding that everyone had been very welcoming and “even the rivalry is friendly”. Mr Foster said that he tried to return to Bermuda at this time of year but it was the first time his son had came along. A newcomer to the Island, Elvira Llabres, was enjoying her first Cup Match after recently moving to Somerset. Proudly supporting the West End team, the Spanish national said she was still trying to figure out the rules of the game, but was having fun. John Faiella, of Southampton, was enjoying the game with his sister, Sue McCarty, and her family. Ms McCarty, who was born in Somerset, was visiting from Berwyn, Pennsylvania. “We come to Cup Match pretty often. I love it — I love the whole carnival atmosphere,” she said. Mr Faiella, a firm Somerset supporter, added: “We always come out — often we have family down. It’s a fantastic event when it gets going. Now you almost get as many tourists down here as locals.” There were plenty of food stalls for those wishing to grab a bite to eat. At St David’s Seafood stall, a popular part of Cup Match for more than half a century, business was booming. “One thing we can’t get enough of and that sells all the time is the shark hash — that’s our speciality,” co-owner Jonathan Lowe said. For those wishing to indulge their sweet tooth, Allison Smith was running her confections stall for the second time at Cup Match. “It started out great because the sun is out — everything after that is a plus,” she said. “I think everyone is going to enjoy themselves.” Spirits were high among those working at the game. Cup Match means Bermuda spirit, Bermuda love, everything Bermuda,” said Neseyah Jones, of the Island Restaurant Group (IRG). “It’s my first time working Cup Match but I’m really enjoying it. It seems like everybody is having a good time. There are no grumpy faces — everyone is smiling,” added Ladezz Cann, who was also catering the event with IRG.

July 31. Wellington Oval, St. George's (second day of two): Somerset beat St George’s by eight wickets. Jekon Edness got his wish, a first Somerset victory at Wellington Oval in 34 years as he stepped down from the captaincy with a third victory in five years at the helm. On the same ground that he started his reign with a two-wicket defeat in 2011, Edness and his team were back with a vengeance, pressing home their advantage after starting the second day with a 41-run first innings lead. It was fitting that Edness was at the crease when victory was achieved at 4.14pm, flicking a delivery from Onias Bascome down to square leg for the winning boundary as hundreds of fans stormed the field. Afterwards Joe Bailey, the last Somerset winning captain in St George’s in 1981, was recognized during the cup presentation. Terryn Fray, just as he was a year ago, was there to guide the team to a second straight eight-wicket victory, scoring 61 not out off 53 balls as he hit six fours and a six. Edness scored a run-a-ball 19 not out with four boundaries, the pair coming together at 49 for two after Tre Manders was caught behind off Stefan Kelly in his second over. “I got a duck in the first innings, like I did last year, but no two days are ever the same, so I went out there today and tried to be as positive as I could,” Fray said. “I just went out there and played my shots. I played some good shots and hit a six. I normally do not hit sixes, but that’s when I knew I was in the zone and playing within myself.” Opener Chris Douglas was controversially caught at short leg by Macai Simmons from a bat-pad chance. Simmons threw down the stumps in one motion as he tried to run out Douglas, only for umpire Kent Gibbons to give the batsman out caught after St George’s initially appealed for an lbw. The two wickets were the only successes for St George’s as Somerset settled down and quickly polished off the runs in 16.2 overs. It was anybody’s game when the day started, with St George’s hoping for a good start to erase the deficit inside the first hour and then build a decent lead. Neither happened, as Somerset were relentless after getting the breakthrough with the last ball of the first over of the day when Jason Anderson was caught at first slip by Janeiro Tucker, his 30th catch in Cup Match. Treadwell Gibbons was trapped lbw by Janeiro Tucker for the second time in the match after putting on 30 for the second wicket with Christian Burgess. Gibbons hit two sixes and a four in his knock of 20 from 24 balls. The departure of both on 31 and 39 left the home team still in arrears and by the time St George’s erased the deficit they were already three wickets down. That soon became four and five as Derrick Brangman had a two-wicket maiden in his first over to break the back of the St George’s innings, leaving them 52 for six with Fiqre Crockwell failing again and Damali Bell lasting just three balls. OJ Pitcher, the St George’s captain, was the last hope and he lasted 46 minutes for his thirteen before a flick off his pads led to his demise at 62 for six, when Derrick Brangman took a brilliant low catch at square leg. Onias Bascome and Macai Simmons took on the responsibility with a patient stand of 38 before aggressive strokes led to their dismissals. That was also the case with George O’Brien as Simmons, the colt, went for a big drive against Jordan DeSilva and edged to Tucker. O’Brien and Bascome departed after lofting straight drives to long off. Simmons scored 30 from 36 balls with six fours to lead the batting, while Bascome scored 28 from 81 balls before he was ninth out. Malachi Jones claimed three for 21, while Brangman, a strong candidate for man-of-the-match after a good all-round performance, took three for 26. He also held two catches in the second innings, with the low-diving effort off Burgess at long off a strong candidate for the Safe Hands Award. It was Brangman’s batting on day one that gave Somerset the edge after the first innings as he shared in a last-wicket stand of 34 with Greg Maybury that proved crucial. St George’s did well to battle back into the match after posting just 113 in 50.1 overs, but the match got away from them slightly at the end. After having Somerset 110 for eight, St George’s watched as the last pair frustrated them for the final half-hour of the day after coming together with Somerset leading by just seven runs. Neither looked a slouch with the bat either, as Brangman smashed 35 not out off 27 balls with four fours and two sixes. Earlier Tre Manders scored 39 from 72 balls with five boundaries, while Stephen Outerbridge added 23 at No 4 as the pair put on 41 for the third wicket after Kyle Hodsoll bowled openers Douglas and Fray to reduce them to 15 for two. Hodsoll led the St George’s bowling with four for 20, later bowling Edness before reserve Nzari Paynter — president Neil Paynter’s 15-year-old son — took a smart catch at extra cover to dismiss Jones. O’Brien supported with two for 58 and Stefan Kelly two for 54. Damali Bell picked up his lone wicket when he bowled Maybury to end the innings just before the scheduled close of play. St George’s were also in early trouble in their innings, with Fiqre Crockwell dismissed from the first ball he faced on the last delivery of the opening over from Jones. Burgess departed nine runs later to first-change Jordan DeSilva. Things picked up after that with opener Gibbons starting to score more freely on his way to 32 before he was fourth out on 65. He hit four fours and a six before being trapped lbw by Tucker. Gibbons did not approve of the decision but put the bat on his shoulder and walked back to the pavilion. Pitcher scored 20 in the middle order and Simmons 16 to help St George’s reach the 100 mark as four Somerset bowlers — Tucker, DeSilva, Jones and Brangman — all took two wickets as St George’s struggled to build partnerships.

July 30. Thousands of residents and visitors alike have turned out to celebrate this year’s Cup Match. After an ominously rainy week, blue skies welcomed spectators to the start of two-day extravaganza of cricket, crown and anchor and camaraderie. The celebration of emancipation and the Island’s founding was filled with music, food, laughter and smiling faces as cricket fans, and those new to the sport, sat back, relaxed and soaked up the carnival atmosphere. “Cup Match is about family, friends and freedom. It’s about Bermuda coming together,” said Karen Young, of Paget, who was rooting for St George’s. “I love the carnival atmosphere.” Crowds began flocking to the event early this morning, with the stands gradually filling up over the course of the day, which proved to be a scorcher as temperatures hit the mid to high 80s. For St George’s Cricket Club president Neil Paynter the good weather was a blessing after all the rain the Island had seen over the past few days. “We’ve been working feverishly through the early hours of the morning to make sure the game gets going,” Mr Paynter said. Even though tarpaulins were still being fastened down early this morning, the venue was prepped and ready to go by the time the first ball was thrown. A few spectators expressed surprise that the venue was prepared in time, considering the torrential downpours of the last few days. Former United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan, who was having “a great Cup Match”, said anyone who was at St George’s Cricket Club on the eve of the big game day would not have thought the event could take place in light of all the rain and preparation work that needed to be done. “We’re just really lucky that the gods of Cup Match have decided to bring out the weather for us,” said Mike Cain, the CEO of Aspen Bermuda, one of the event sponsors. Cup Match wouldn’t be Cup Match without the popular dice game and the crown and anchor tent was steadily filling up before the clock struck noon. “This is what we do at Cup Match. We gamble some of that disposable income. It’s all good fun,” said Fun Tyme Entertainment’s Craig Tyrrell, one of the concession holders along with Cavon Steede. “Cup Match means Bermuda spirit, Bermuda love, everything Bermuda,” said Neseyah Jones, of the Island Restaurant Group (IRG). ”It’s my first time working Cup Match but I’m really enjoying it. It seems like everybody is having a good time. There are no grumpy faces — everyone is smiling,” added Ladezz Cann, who was also catering the event with IRG. The Royal Gazette will continue covering the sports side of the event throughout the holiday. For the full report, see Saturday’s edition.

July 29. Health bosses are exploring ways to tackle crippling healthcare bills as a new study shows Bermuda costs twice as much as other islands. The Island’s healthcare figure of more than $10,000 per capita per year dwarfs that of all other 14 islands, including nine countries in the Caribbean, in new research by KPMG. The survey, “Key Issues In Healthcare, An Island Perspective”, reveals Gibraltar comes second with about $5,000 per capita, with every other Island about $4,000 or less. Jennifer Attride-Stirling, the new permanent secretary for the Ministry of Health, pointed to a large amount of services being used on the Island — sometimes, she said, without any health benefit. High levels of poorly controlled diseases like diabetes and the ageing population were further reasons for Bermuda’s soaring costs, according to Dr Attride-Stirling. Bermuda Health Council acknowledged Bermuda has a long way to go before patients get value for money, and said it is pursuing initiatives to bring down costs. The survey from KPMG was based on healthcare costs per capita rather than the international standard of using purchasing power parity which eliminates the difference in price levels when comparing the same goods. According to the most recent figures from the World Bank, it requires $1.60 USD to purchase medical goods and services, including hospitalization, operations and prescription drugs in Bermuda compared to the $1 USD that would be required to purchase the same goods in the US. As well as Bermuda and Gibraltar, it gives estimated costs of about $4,000 for Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey; about $2,000 for the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Malta, Turks and Caicos; and lower still for Barbados, Jamaica, Sint Maarten, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Bermuda and Gibraltar do have the highest hospital bed capacity at seven per 1,000 people with Malta trailing in third place with 4.45 beds. And with a life expectancy of about 81, Bermuda is among the six countries higher than 80. Tawanna Wedderburn, acting chief executive officer for the Bermuda Health Council, said that Bermuda’s healthcare system is complex and that the Island has a long way to go to achieving value for money in relation to life expectancy. “The Health Council is analyzing data to see how the health system can achieve greater efficiencies in areas such as overseas care which represents $100 million or 14 per cent of total health expenditure,” she said. “The Health Council is pursuing a number of initiatives in collaboration with stakeholders to address key drivers of costs. In addition, we continue to examine ways that yield long-term cost savings and can improve the health of the population by reviewing the Standard Health Benefit (SHB); the basic package of care that every employed person and their non-employed spouse is required to have. For all SHB services, there are no co-payments for patients. A very good example is the Home Medical Services Benefit which saved the health system an estimated $100,000 in the first six months. This benefit allows patients to receive specific medical procedures in their home as part of their insurance policy. It is natural to want to blame others but, in a system where total health expenditure is $705 million, we all have a role to play in improving our health spending. We can begin by choosing the types of services that are truly proven to enhance our health and longevity.” Dr Attride-Stirling said several BHC reports had highlighted health cost trends. She said: “From these trends we can see the main drivers are the amount of services being used, at times with no health benefit; high levels of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that are poorly controlled, such as diabetes; and the fact that our population is getting older which naturally comes with more need for healthcare. In addition there are efficiencies to be gained with respect to healthcare delivery and financing in our health system. There are many initiatives under way to reduce costs and, in fact, we are seeing some green shoots already. We know diagnostic test ordering has gone down, the Standard Health Benefit includes more coverages to drive care to more appropriate, cost-effective settings, for example Home Medical Services, and various initiatives to better manage NCDs will also improve care quality and reduce costs.” Steve Woodward, managing director at KPMG in Bermuda, said: “The survey findings show that island healthcare systems are experiencing the combined challenge of rising costs, increasing demand and greater patient expectations. Island governments have the added challenge of finding the optimal balance between providing care locally or abroad.” The BHC provides advice to help mitigate high costs while avoiding unnecessary testing or inappropriate use of emergency services. Information is available online at bhec.bm including the Guide to Bermuda’s Health Costs which details how to use services correctly, understand prices and reduce the need for care. There is also a healthcare directory which allows patients to choose among the options available for care.

July 29. The Department of Parks has announced a temporary traffic scheme for Horseshoe Bay for tomorrow, and that the beach will be closed to the public tomorrow evening as part of a cleanup effort. A spokeswoman for the Park Service said in a statement: “On Thursday at 7pm a clean up of Horseshoe Bay is scheduled to commence in preparation for the following day. We ask all patrons to kindly exit the park at this time so that the work may be carried out.” The statement also said that between 6pm today and 9pm tomorrow, parking and the traffic flow around Horseshoe Bay car park will be strictly regulated by the Bermuda Police Service and the Department of Parks. “There will be absolutely no parking allowed on the sidewalk leading down the hill,” she said. “Vehicles found parking on the sidewalk will be ticketed by police. Parking of motorcycles will be permitted at Horseshoe Bay Car Park. Once full, no bikes will be allowed to park at the bottom of the hill. The Department of Parks will be responsible for ensuring that barriers and a member of our department is in position at the entrance of Horseshoe Bay Beach Road.” Between 6.30am and 8.30pm tomorrow, Horseshoe Bay Beach Road will operate as a one-way traffic system with vehicles exiting through the Southampton Princess gate. Four wheel vehicles will be allowed down the hill for drop offs and pickups only The spokeswoman added: “The one way system will be used to facilitate taxis and mini buses to drop off and collect passengers from the beach. Once taxi and minibus spots are full no other vehicles will be given access except to drop off patrons.”

July 29.  Jekon Edness has extra incentive to go for a victory at Wellington Oval over the next two days, because this will be his last year as Somerset captain. Edness confirmed this week that he will be stepping down after five years at the helm and would dearly love to go out with a win, something Somerset have not achieved in the East End since Joe Bailey’s 1981 side scored a comfortable victory. Edness started his captaincy there in 2011 with a loss, before winning in Somerset in 2012 and 2014 after the intervening match ended in a draw. “It’s my fifth and final, I have personal and professional commitments and I think the captain of Somerset needs to be at every [training] session and committed to the cause,” said Edness, now married and expecting his second child later this year. “I’m not sure I can do that next year so I don’t want to be cheating the club, plus five years is a long time and I think it is the right time for a new captain to come in and take on a settled team. This will be the ideal time to shift someone younger in.” Edness, still only 31, intends to continue playing in Cup Match, but admits there are other things to look forward to. His decision comes less than a year after opposing captain Oronde Bascome stood down. Edness informed Alfred Maybury, the Somerset president, of his decision last week before making the announcement to the membership on team selection night. “It is something I’ve been thinking about since last year, trying to figure the right time to let someone else take over,” he said. “I felt the best time was this year so if a new captain comes in then he would come in, in Somerset where you have a lot more control. Five years is long enough for me, I have professional goals such as another certification professionally and with a second child coming in December.” Edness got his start in senior cricket playing as a 14-year-old with his father, Anthony Manders, at Western Stars. He was happy earlier this season to give youngster Jahnoi Bean a chance to keep wicket for the Somerset senior team.  “In this situation where I had control of the team, and him [Bean] being the under-19 national squad wicketkeeper, and with a tournament coming up, he needed to get as much match practice as possible in his first year playing in the Premier Division,” Edness said. “That’s how my daddy brought me along, letting me ‘keep’ in certain games. If the game was a formality he would say ‘come on, put the gloves on’ and I’d go and keep wicket for the last four or five overs as a 14- or 15-year-old.” Edness replaced Jacobi Robinson as Somerset captain, following his uncle Andre Manders as captain of the West End side. “The captaincy was never part of my plans. It fell in my lap pretty much, and at the time I needed the challenge and motivation to take me forward,” Edness said. “But, right now, I think I want a little less responsibility on the cricket field, to play and enjoy it right now.” He admits that there is a lot of extra stress that comes with being a Cup Match captain. “Everyone’s got their opinion and has their say, who you should pick, who you shouldn’t pick and what you should do,” Edness said. “You deal with it. This year has been a little more hectic than any of my previous four years as far as all the talking is concerned, so it will make my last year interesting. Whoever the next captain is comes into a settled environment. Jeff Richardson [the Somerset coach] deserves a ton of credit. It wasn’t an easy situation when I came into the captaincy. I stepped into a lot of turmoil and I wouldn’t want that for whoever comes in after me.” Somerset have been transformed into a strong unit during Edness’ time in charge, and will again be tough to beat. “We are geared up pretty good. Of course we can’t control the weather so we’re not too concerned about that at all,” Edness said. “It wasn’t ideal that we didn’t have a trial match on Saturday either, but our team is pretty settled anyway. It’s been 34 years and the fans are expecting a victory. We’re going to do our best to put St George’s under pressure and get that long-awaited victory in St George’s. We are confident without being cocky or complacent, but to focus on whatever team they put out and try to beat that team. They haven’t picked a spinner so all their attack is medium pace. Obviously we’ll have to see how the wicket plays and watch their bowlers. Bermuda wickets tend to turn no matter how much grass is on the wicket and hopefully when it does start to turn our spinners will come to the fore. If not we have enough in the pace and seam department to cause trouble as well.”

July 29. The sprawling former Lantana cottage colony is up for sale with a $16.9 million price tag. The ten-acre Sandys property with views of the Great Sound, the venue for the America’s Cup in 2017, has been closed for decades. It was bought by US business tycoon Larry Doyle, who also owns the Newstead hotel and Belmont golf course, in 2008. Lantana, the Island’s first cottage colony, opened in 1958. In its prime, it boasted extensive gardens, a croquet lawn, tennis courts and includes a private beach. It closed in 1998 and has become derelict in recent years. It is thought Mr Doyle paid between $12 million and $15 million for Lantana seven years ago. Mr Doyle could not be contacted for comment yesterday. The Lantana site is listed by real estate firm Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, which said it offered “endless possibilities to be transformed into a new luxury paradise resort in one of Bermuda’s most coveted locations”. The listing added: “Lantana is ideal for investment and future development. The property is zoned as tourism with a small limited area zoned as agricultural. Previous planning approvals in principle have included 28 hotel condominiums, 13 hotel residences, beach club, two swimming pools and clubhouse. In addition, Lantana offers another option — planning approval had been given for a draft subdivision of 13 lots with the main lot being retained as a hotel component and the remaining 12 lots as residential. This development opportunity offers the discerning investor a rare opportunity to restore Lantana and add to its natural charm.” New York-based Mr Doyle, managing director of hedge fund and mutual fund managers Horizon Kinetics also controls real estate investment firm Katierich Asset Management. He bought the Lantana site while on vacation in Bermuda. Mr Doyle said last year that plans to redevelop the Somerset Bridge site were on hold while he concentrated on Newstead, which was in receivership when he bought it last year. But he added he hoped to eventually develop Lantana, which would share ferry and limousine services with its sister properties.

July 29. A man caught with false passports now faces additional charges of money laundering and illegally obtaining a Bermuda passport. Prosecutors said that while the defendant had a Bermuda passport in the name of Alfred Alva Thompson, they are unsure of his actual identity, listing alternate names William Gates and Watson Ogon on the charge sheet. Earlier this month, the defendant denied charges having a false British Overseas Territories Citizen passport, tendering a false application to obtain a Bermuda passport and using an irregular Bermuda passport. Returning to court this morning, he was further charged with dishonestly obtaining a Bermuda passport between August 2, 2010, and June 14, 2013, and possessing $63,700, which represented at whole or in part the proceeds of illegal activity, on July 16 this year. He has denied all of the charges. During today’s hearing, prosecutors said he is believed to be a Ugandan national and may have used as many as 23 different aliases. Despite a bail application by defence lawyer Marc Daniels, Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo remanded the defendant into custody. The matter is set to return to court on August 12.

July 29. Usually when anger strikes you see red but when Premier Michael Dunkley entered his office yesterday morning to find he had been duped, all he could see was blue and blue. Mischievous colleagues from the Cabinet Office, he suspects, had decked out this devout Somerset fan’s entire office with the St George’s colours, even taking the effort to hide his little red and blue Gombey doll behind a curtain. A map of Bermuda on the wall painted in red and blue was draped in a St George’s flag while metallic blue balloons and streamers hung from every crevice. It was an east ender’s Cup Match dream. Mr Dunkley invited The Royal Gazette to his office to see, first hand, the damage that had been done. He told us: “In my time here as Premier, they know where my colours lie. It was very clear to me that there are a lot of St George’s fans in the Cabinet office so I am not too surprised. What is interesting about it is I can’t find any leads at this time about who might have done it because everybody has denied any involvement and some of the chief culprits have plausible excuses. I called in (Police) Special Branch but they tell me they are too busy with Cup Match. As I have told the Cabinet Secretary [Derrick Binns] several times, revenge is a dish best served cold.” Asked whether the overwhelming sight of blue and blue on his own territory had affected his Cup Match persuasions at all, the Premier responded: “Cup Match is a time where everyone enjoys the holiday and celebrates and remembers how we got here. There is no question in my mind that someone went to a great degree of effort to do all of this but let there be no question, I will not be changing teams. But I will be in St George’s for the two days and on Saturday when I come into the office to catch up on some work, I will be in comfort with the blue and blue because I will know they gave it their best effort but the cup is still in the west end of the Island.”

July 29. Validus Holdings Ltd took a $48 million hit from claims related to an oil rig explosion that left four people dead, the Bermuda reinsurer revealed last night. The platform, which was owned by Mexican state-run oil company Pemex, burst into flames in April this year. A fleet of fire boats was sent out to extinguish the blaze after more than 300 workers were evacuated. Despite the hefty claims, Validus recorded net income of $64 million for the quarter, 58 per cent down from the April-to-June period last year. And operating earnings were $98.3 million, or $1.13 per share, falling just short of analysts’ consensus forecast of $1.16. Validus chairman and chief executive officer Ed Noonan said: “During a quarter with meaningful loss activity in our core classes of business, Validus delivered a 10.7 per cent annualized operating return on average equity, a strong result in the current market. “Our diversified business model with a focus on short-tail lines continues to provide a strong platform for a thoughtful expansion into new classes of business and markets. The foundation of our success is our world-class staff and an outstanding set of proprietary analytical tools that benefit both our own results and those of our clients. Above all, we remain committed to underwriting profitability and will continue to adjust our portfolio to maximize results in the current market conditions.” Both Bermuda-based reinsurance unit Validus Re and Lloyd’s of London operation Talbot wrote less business. But the group as a whole increased gross premiums written to $727 million, up from $655.7 million in the second quarter of 2014. Validus said the 10.9 per cent increase was primarily due to the contribution from Western World, the US insurer that the group acquired in October last year, as well as an increase in premiums from AlphaCat, its alternative capital management arm. Validus’ second-quarter combined ratio — the proportion of premium dollars spent on claims and expenses — was 80.7 per cent, which benefited from 12.3 points, or $70.7 million, of reserve releases. During the second quarter, the company spent $85.1 million to repurchase nearly two million of its own shares at an average price of $43.23. At the end of June, total shareholders’ equity was $4.2 billion, including $510 million of non-controlling interest. Book value per diluted share was $41.43, compared to $41.27 three months earlier. Before the results were announced, Validus shares fell nearly 1.5 per cent in New York trading yesterday to close on $44.62.

July 29. Stormy weather helped push down second-quarter profits for reinsurance firm RenaissanceRe, the firm reported yesterday. Profits for the period fell $55.6 million year on year from $120.8 million to $73.2 million. Operating income for the firm totaled $99.9 million for the second quarter, compared to $93.6 million for the second quarter of 2014. Operating earnings per share were $2.18, short of the $2.23 consensus forecast of analysts tracked by Yahoo Finance. The firm reported that the catastrophe reinsurance segment generated underwriting income of $65.9 million in the second quarter compared to $82.4 million in the same period of 2014.  The report said: “The $16.5 million decrease ... was driven by a $28.9 million increase in current accident net year claims and claim expenses, primarily due to a number of weather events in the US, partially offset by a $10.2 million increase in favorable development on prior accident years net claims and claim expenses.” Gross premiums in the specialty reinsurance sector jumped by more than $108.5 million to $160 million year on year — a 210.4 per cent increase. RenaissanceRe said the increase was driven by “increases across substantially all lines of business, most notably certain casualty and property other lines of business, principally due to the acquisition of Platinum Underwriters Holdings Ltd on March 2, 2015”. The report added: “The company’s specialty reinsurance premiums are prone to significant volatility as this business can be influenced by a relatively small number of relatively large transactions.” Gross premiums written in the Lloyd’s of London segment were $116.6 million in the second quarter, an increase of $44.7 million (62.2 per cent) compared to same period last year. RenaissanceRe chief executive officer Kevin O’Donnell said: “I am pleased to report $99.9 million of operating income, an operating return on equity of 9.1 per cent and 1.9 per cent growth in tangible book value per share plus accumulated dividends for the quarter. Each of our segments executed well during the quarter and we expanded our underwriting capabilities to support our clients, despite the competitive market conditions. Our integration of Platinum has gone well. We are operating as one company with a consistent and united approach to the market. We remain committed to our goal of generating superior returns for our shareholders and third party capital providers over the long term by continuing to be market leaders in matching desirable risk with efficient capital.”

July 29. Global insurance and reinsurance broker Marsh & McLennan Cos (MMC) (which has a number of Bermuda-incorporated companies) is looking for ways to trim its tax bill. In a conference call yesterday, Dan Glaser, the New York-based company’s chief executive officer, said: “The search for tax efficiency for us started several years ago. Clearly, when we look at our competitors, we are at a disadvantage by being a US multinational company vis-à-vis what tax rate we have.” His comments came after MMC announced second-quarter profit of $419 million, down from $431 million a year earlier. MMC is the largest broker in the insurance industry by market capitalization. Its major competitors are Aon and Willis Group, both headquartered in London. Towers Watson, a US-based firm that competes against MMC in consulting services, agreed last month to merge with Willis. Executives plan to have the combined business domiciled in Ireland and have a tax rate in the mid-20 percent range. Aon, the second-largest insurance broker, moved its headquarters in 2012 to London from Chicago. MMC’s effective tax rate has been about 29 percent in recent years. The broker hired Dina Shapiro, a former executive at American Express, as head of tax in March. MMC said its revenue fell 3 per cent in the second quarter as the stronger dollar continued to weigh on results. The firm, which has offices in Bermuda operating under the Marsh and Guy Carpenter names, generates more than half of its revenue outside of the US. In 2014, 34 per cent of its top line came from Europe. Mr Glaser said he was pleased with the performance “given the macro headwinds we are facing.” In the company’s risk and insurance segment, the larger of its two businesses, revenue fell to $1.75 billion from $1.79 billion. The company’s consulting business posted a revenue decrease to $1.49 billion from $1.52 billion. Earnings per share were flat at 77 cents. Revenue fell to $3.23 billion from $3.3 billion the year earlier. Analysts were looking for 79 cents in earnings per share and $3.35 billion in revenue. MMC shares were trading down nearly 1 per cent at $57.49 in lunchtime trading in New York.

July 29. Telecoms firm KeyTech today posted losses of $1.9 million for the year ended in March. The figure was $200,000 up on losses for the previous year. A statement from the firm added: “Net loss for the year from continuing operations was $15.9 million versus $2.1 million in the prior year. A loss of $18.6 million was attributed to the difference between proceeds from the sale and recorded net assets of BTC.” KeyTech CEO Lloyd Fray said: “The last year was one of strategic positioning and growth for the company. KeyTech has positioned itself to offer robust triple play services and corporate data solutions over expansive and reliable network infrastructures as consumers substitute internet-based entertainment for subscription digital cable TV and businesses exponentially increase their bandwidth requirements. Through our subsidiaries, KeyTech is positioned as the leading full-service telecommunications provider for corporate and residential customers in both Bermuda and Cayman.” And he predicted that the full impact of the firm’s repositioning and acquisitions would be seen over this financial year. The firm posted operating revenues of $66.9 million compared to $39.1 million for the previous year. Revenue from voice services declined by $0.5 million as customers swapped from traditional landlines to cellphones and computer-based phone services. Operating expenses went up by $31.6 million — attributed to consolidating Bermuda CableVision and WestStar TV. Salaries and employee benefit costs went up by $6.4 million due to increased staff numbers through acquisition. Loss attributable to shareholders was $13.7 million at year end, compared to a profit of $5.7 million the previous year. Dividends for the first quarter of the financial year amounted to $1.3 million (nine cents per share). The previous year’s figures were $7 million (48 cents a share). The statement added that KeyTech’s basic and fully diluted loss per common share was 88 cents, compared to earnings of 39 cents in 2013-2014.

July 29. A worker died this afternoon in an industrial accident at the Pink Beach property. According to Police spokesman Dwayne Caines, authorities attended an industrial accident at a hotel construction site on South Road in Smiths at 2.18pm. Mr Caines said a 62-year-old man was operating a forklift when it toppled over an embankment, trapping him inside. The area around the accident has been cordoned off by Police as an investigation is carried out. The Forensic Support Unit and officers from the Bermuda Government’s Health and Safety Department are on the scene. Spokesman for the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, Acting Lieutenant Jamal Albuoy, said the service responded to the industrial accident with an appliance from Hamilton Station, two appliances from Clearwater Station and ten personnel. “Upon arrival, it was discovered a piece of heavy machinery had lost its footing and gone over an embankment with the operator trapped inside,” he said. “Another excavator machine on-site was used to assist with getting the occupant out of the wreckage. The accident is under investigation at this time by the Health and Safety Officer and the Bermuda Police Service. No other details will be released at this time.” Premier Michael Dunkley said in a statement this afternoon that the accident was a “sad and terrible tragedy. I wish to extend my sincerest and heartfelt condolences to the gentleman’s family, his friends and his co-workers and let them know that they are in our thoughts at this very difficult time."

July 29. RG Editorial.  It is to be hoped that Mother Nature has got her rains in early and we can now enjoy two bright and sunny days of Cup Match cricket at Wellington Oval without interruption. So what of the cricket? Little of that has been mentioned in this space this week — and for very good reason — but for about nine hours on each of tomorrow and Friday, 22 men will be charged with entertaining the thousands who flock to the East End of the Island. These men will be representing their clubs, they will be representing their families, they will be representing their communities, they will be representing Bermuda. For some, especially in the St George’s camp, the theme could very well be redemption. Before rain ruined what was likely to be another big win for Somerset in the previous match in the east in 2013, outstanding batting by Janeiro Tucker and Tre Manders for the champions had been overshadowed by the behavior of the home team, in particular that of Treadwell Gibbons Jr. The left-handed early-order bat was unofficially banned by St George’s last year, but he gets another chance to show his club and the wider public, in particular, that he can handle the big stage and that he can carry himself in a manner that is reflective of the spirit in which Cup Match is meant to be played. For Gibbons, no matter his success or failure on the field, this will be his “Redemption Day.” Both he and St George’s have much to lose; the player because he officially begins the first of a two-year Cup Match probation and the club, which risks a public relations disaster should the gamble backfire. However, the man previously dubbed enfant terrible appears to have made steady progress in recent times on the path to public forgiveness, highlighted by him staying clear of the madness that enveloped five Cleveland County team-mates at St David’s County Cricket Club on Saturday before last at the Eastern Counties Cup first round. It is to be hoped that the same backers who have helped to turn him around, in the event his Cup Match is successfully uneventful, may also be driven to seek a reduction to a five-year football ban, the length of which appears disproportionate to the crime. But redemption may not be the catchword for Gibbons alone. So, too, for Christian Burgess, Onias Bascome and Kyle Hodsoll. The first two were dropped last year, but my how did Burgess bounce back: the wicketkeeper-batsman, whose colt year was memorable most for dropping Manders before he had reached double figures, was easily the outstanding Bermuda player last year on a disastrous tour to Malaysia, which resulted in the cricket board vice-president who was standing in as coach at the last minute being summarily booted off the cricket board upon his return. You just couldn’t make it up. Only in Bermuda. Bascome, who stunningly also found himself on that tour despite having shown little to suggest that he was a Bermuda senior player, is best remembered for being off with the fairies in 2013 when he contrived to get run out at the non-striker’s end from ... it might as well have been Penno’s Wharf. “What was he thinking?” was a recurring moan. Both can only improve, which could spell trouble for Somerset. So on to the game. Can we expect to see new champions this year or will Somerset maintain the status quo? Drum roll. While St George’s appear to have been strengthened with six changes from last year, Somerset still hold the upper hand man for man and, with a settled team, have to be considered firm favorites. Last year’s win at Somerset Cricket Club was no fluke, despite George O’Brien’s fantastic eight-wicket haul in the first innings that had red-and-blue hearts fluttering on the Thursday night and for part of Friday morning. But St George’s ultimately suffered for not having anyone to adequately spell a tiring O’Brien — cue the failures of the aforementioned Hodsoll (none for 81 from 20 overs) — with their only reliable option being a left-arm slow bowler who was making his first appearance in Cup Match. They do not even have that alternative now, with Delray Rawlins staying in England to further his chances of joining the professional ranks. The other spinner, Rodney Trott, the long-time vice-captain from Bailey’s Bay, threw his toys out of the pram weeks ago after he was overlooked for the vacated captaincy, thus ending a Cup Match run that dates back to the Noughties. Only in Bermuda. So the challengers will attempt to win back the cup without a recognized spinner — and, to be fair, the “recognised” spinner was hardly recognized two years ago when Tucker and Manders raced to their centuries on virtually a steady diet of medium-paced dross. The same should be the case this time around — the medium-paced element, that is — but on a pitch that is likely to be under prepared owing to the vast amounts of rain that have been dumped on the Island every day since the final trial was washed out on Saturday without a ball bowled. It is every grounds man's dream: preparing a “result wicket” with a ready-made excuse (although there is no suggestion that the venerable Cal Richardson would take the low road. Would he?). In any case, what could make this match closer than it looks on paper is that O’Brien will take the new ball in harness with the returning Stefan Kelly, who has good memories of Cup Match in St George’s, having taken ten wickets in the 2011 match to become most valuable player. The challengers will need him and O’Brien to fire because elsewhere their capacity to take 20 wickets, unless the pitch makes geniuses of even the ordinary, is highly questionable. Hodsoll swings it but we saw enough of him last year to know that a serious improvement is needed, while Damali Bell has it to prove. Somerset hold most of the aces: experience, quality, what qualifies for pace on this Island and both options for spin. They also have Janeiro Tucker, the greatest run-scorer in Cup Match history, who will be reminded of his first-ball duck last year but who will also remind that his record in St George’s is superior to all others. They are so strong that they can survive the extended absences for differing reasons of Kamau Leverock and Dion Stovell, both of whom qualify for “first name on the team sheet” status for St George’s. There are a number of others in the Somerset camp of whom the same can be said, so that shows the scale of the task that befalls the home team. A young team with a young coach. They require two days of good, solid cricket, which may be a stretch in an era when sustained periods of good cricket are thin on the ground, and a helpful dollop of luck.

July 28. RG Opinion. Hearkening back to the jargon of his military days, Colin Powell once referred to optimism as the ultimate “force multiplier” in political life. He was slipping into Pentagon-speak for a capability which dramatically enhances (or multiplies) the probability of successfully achieving a desired objective. Battle-hardened in Vietnam and further steeled by the cynical gamesmanship and rampant political maneuvering he encountered in Washington DC, the former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State hardly fits the standard profile of a cock-eyed optimist. After all, he has a better appreciation than most of the frequently amoral power dynamics of realpolitik as it is generally practised in the modern world. Almost unfashionably high-principled in an age of counterfeit convictions and disposable ethics, General Powell walked away from a Cabinet-level position in the last Bush White House rather than continue to lend his moral authority to the quagmire of the Iraq invasion. Perhaps precisely because of his first-hand exposure to the serial contrivances and distortions of a war lobby that promised the world a three-week “cakewalk” in Iraq, his faith in the power of optimism to alter the political culture for the better remains undiminished. This longtime friend of Bermuda — and longer-time friend of Sir John Swan, the former premier — has never fallen prey to the routine thinking which too often reduces the political process to a lackluster choice between the despicable and the merely distasteful. Gen Powell’s point is a simple and incontestable one: the hopefulness and enthusiasm a leader brings to his or her position can be contagious, can in fact spread through an entire country like ripples in the proverbial pond. So, of course, can the cynicism, pessimism and coldly self-serving calculations of leaders who exploit discontent and social divisions to further their own ends rather than those of their people. Tempering idealism with realism, pragmatism and sound judgment, Gen Powell has said, allows for confidence and a renewed sense of the possible to flow from the top down. “Leadership is all about people,” he has said, “and getting the most out of people.” So according to what could be termed the Powell Doctrine of Achievable Political Objectives, successful leadership is often best predicated on conveying a sense of purpose, belonging and direction. This is particularly true at times when the gulf between expectations and straitened realities has opened up to the degree it has in the post-recessionary world. “You have to have a sense of optimism,” said Gen Powell. “Followers need to know where their leaders are taking them and for what purpose. Purpose is the destination of a vision. It energizes that vision, gives it force and drive. It should be positive and powerful. Good leaders set vision, mission, and goals. Great leaders inspire every follower at every level to internalize their purpose.” Gen Powell, who was recently in Bermuda on a private visit, is too modest — and perhaps too much the consummate diplomat — to ever suggest a vision of leadership he freely admits is drawn from personal experiences and observations is the final word on the subject. Nevertheless, his commonsensical leaps from perception to deduction, from the particular to the general, do have much to recommend them, particularly on an Island where optimism was one of the chief casualties of the 2008 economic contraction, along with full employment, a buoyant real estate market and a burgeoning Gross Domestic Product. The ongoing coarsening of Bermuda’s political discourse, the over reliance by both parties on what spin doctors call “negative messaging” to amplify and reinforce existing doubts and fears, is continuing to sap the morale of our people and undermine the confidence of overseas investors. Managing the complex and turbulent events that are shaping our times is no easy task. No one is suggesting there will not ever be legitimate disagreements and differences of opinion on the best way to manage them: as the historian Barbara Tuchman remarked, a country that substitutes placid consensus for healthy debate on every issue is a country ready for the graveyard. However, a country that allows incessant partisan political squabbling, non-stop electioneering and scare mongering to regularly overshadow the common good and the public interest is a country which is also hastening its way to the graveyard. No matter the true extent of its utility as a “force multiplier”, a healthy infusion of optimism — particularly given the potential of the America’s Cup and its associated benefits to revitalize our long-stagnating economy — would be the most welcome of developments on the Bermudian political scene at this juncture.

July 28. The Hamilton Princess and Beach Club has been named the official hotel of the 35th America’s Cup. A statement from the America’s Cup Authority noted the hotel’s recent $100 million renovations. Harvey Schiller, the commercial commissioner for the 2017 event, hailed it as a great partnership. “The world-class accommodation and celebrated restaurants at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club provide a perfect Bermuda experience for our guests who are coming to enjoy the America’s Cup.” Allan Federer, general manager at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, said the iconic hotel looked forward to hosting dignitaries in newly designed rooms. Key events for the Cup will be held at the waterfront premises. The 35th America’s Cup is now underway after the opening races for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth. Racing comes to Bermuda in October, with the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda, from October 16 to 18. 

July 28. Unsettled weather is set to give way to sun just in time for the Cup Match holiday, according to the Bermuda Weather Service. While the Island has seen bouts of heavy rain in recent days — including more than 3.6 inches on Saturday alone — meteorologist Rob Howlett said yesterday afternoon that conditions are expected to improve. “The simplest way to explain our recent unsettled weather is due to a stalled frontal boundary,” he said. “Subtle variations in the positioning of this feature produced some of the wetter days as the boundary moved closer to Bermuda. “An area of low pressure is currently developing along this front to our west, which will then move through on Tuesday. This continues to produce showers and potential thunderstorm activity with an increase in winds as well, but then clears to our east overnight. High pressure and fairer weather will then build into the start of Cup Match.” As of yesterday afternoon, a mix of sun and clouds is expected on Thursday with partially cloudy weather on Friday.

July 28.  The banners along Mullet Bay Road leading to Slip Road make a bold statement to the St George’s Cup Match team, the residents are desperate for a victory. Messages like “don’t miss those catches” and “we want a victory” greet motorists as they enter St George’s and the players are taking notice, too, hoping to end three years without the cup after Somerset’s bruising victory in 2012. “It’s a young team, but there are two things I’m looking to do here, rebuild and win the cup back,” Ryan Steede, who is in his first year as coach, said. “The captain [OJ Pitcher] is the senior player in the team, as well as George O’Brien, while Jason Anderson is going to be asked to step up as he’s the oldest player in the team,” Steede said. “He has to carry a bulk of the load so it is very important for him to rise to the occasion.” Anderson won’t be burdened with opening the batting and keeping wicket, with Christian Burgess being given the wicket keeping responsibilities while Anderson concentrates on his batting, possibly opening with Treadwell Gibbons, his Cleveland team-mate. Clevie Wade is assisting the team as manager and assistant coach, and brings to the team the experience of winning back the cup in 1983 after Somerset won it in 1979, their first victory in 20 years. “We basically have to get 20 wickets and I feel that the bowlers we have picked can get those 20 wickets,” said Wade as he watched the St George’s Colts team nearly pull off victory in the Colts Cup Match on Sunday. It’s going to take the strike bowlers and whoever else the skipper calls upon to do the job,” Wade said. “Guys have to step up to the plate and show commitment from ball one to the last ball of the game. Guys have to be hungry, passionate and work hard. Somerset are going to come here to play cricket and they won’t lie down. One thing about them is they seem to stick to a plan and that’s what we have to do. We need to put runs on the tins and take wickets and I feel we’ve got the team to do that.” St George’s made an additional three changes to the three forced upon them through unavailability. Oronde Bascome, who stood down as captain, has been dropped along with Shannon Rayner, his Southampton Rangers team-mate, and Lateef Trott. In their absence a strong emphasis has been put on a four-prong seam attack with Damali Bell and Stefan Kelly coming back to link up with George O’Brien and Kyle Hodsoll. “George has the backup this year, but we have to make inroads early and put the pressure right on them from ball one,” Wade said. A deciding factor could be the rain with more in the forecast up to at least Thursday. “Mother nature is going to play a part in this but if we have two full days then we will have some outstanding cricket,” Wade said. “Two good teams have been selected, but for us to win the cup we have to be more hungry and have the will to win.” Wade won the cup against John Tucker’s side in a 1983 match that had some rain. Now St George’s have contend with Tucker’s son Janeiro, who always seems to produce something special at Wellington Oval where he has scored his four centuries, the last in 2013. “Janeiro is the key for them, they feed off Janeiro,” Wade said. “Down here is where he makes his runs but if the chance comes we have to take it. The vibe is here, everybody in the community is feeling it and I’ve talked to a lot of people who feel this could be the year. The [banners] are good motivation, they will tell you what it takes to win, hold your catches and take wickets. I’ve been out of Cup Match for years, but now as a coach and a manager I still get nervous. I’m just asking the youngsters coming in to put their best foot forward and do their best.”

July 28. By Tim Marshall, a senior litigation lawyer and consultant with the law firm of Marshall Diel & Myers Ltd. He represented Bermuda Press in its appeal to the Chief Justice. "The Chief Justice’s decision is a landmark ruling because it has removed 60 years of darkness from our judicial system, which prevented the public from clearly seeing and understanding what was taking place before the courts of Bermuda. In 1955, the Supreme Court (Records) Act was passed into law. The legislation requires the court to keep a record of all proceedings that are commenced, and it sets out in what circumstances a member of the public can obtain copies of court records. It also sets out those circumstances when a member of the public will not be permitted to obtain copies. If a case has been concluded and a judgment delivered that is not the subject of an appeal, the legislation allows any member of the public to apply to the Registrar of the Supreme Court and inspect the court file and, with a few exceptions, obtain copies of whatever is on file. Giving the public access to judicial records recognizes and respects the public’s right to witness, discuss and criticize how our courts administer justice. We can all recall our European history and the atrocities that transpired when justice (if you can call it that) was carried out behind closed doors with no accountability to the public. The “Open Justice” principle is so fundamental to our democracy that it is enshrined in our constitution, the Bermuda Constitution Order of 1968. Section 6(9) of the Constitution says that “all proceedings instituted in any court for the determination of the existence or extent of any civil right or obligation, including the announcement of the decision of the court, shall be held in public.” Access to justice and obtaining copies of documents from the records of completed cases all makes perfect sense. What happens, however, when the case is not completed, when it has either yet to be heard by the court or the hearing is under way? What does the Supreme Court (Records) Act say about that? Well, for 60 years the accepted but untested orthodox view was that no member of the public could inspect the court file or obtain copies of the documents filed by the parties until the completion of a case. Statements of claim, defences, witness statements, affidavit evidence, all of these documents were considered the property of the parties to the litigation, and none of these documents were available to the public. You had to wait until the case was over. This limitation to giving access to the court records, arises from how generations of judges, attorneys and those people familiar with the Supreme Court (Records) Act have been reading 3(2)(a) of the Act, which says: “Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed so as to require or authorize the Registrar, on the application of any person not entitled by any provision of law, and not duly authorized in that behalf, to allow the inspection or examination, or to prepare and furnish copies, of any of the following documents, that is to say, any pleadings or other documents relating to any civil proceedings then pending in the Supreme Court.” On its face, the meaning of the words seem to be pretty clear: if a case is pending (not concluded), a member of the public cannot inspect or obtain copies of the court records. The problem with that interpretation is that it clashes with the “Open Justice” principle. With few exceptions — understandably such as family, child welfare, reorganizing family trusts, national security cases — section 6 (9) of the Constitution requires that hearings must be held in public, and that not only means the actual trial but any interim hearing or application such as the Government’s application to strike out Michael MacLean’s constitutional action where he seeks, on behalf of a company and a trust, ownership rights over the City of Hamilton’s waterfront property. As part of the claim, Mr MacLean, in a written affirmation leaked to various media outlets before the hearing, made serious allegations of corruption on the part of two government ministers and a former premier. The public, who included the media, packed into the Chief Justice’s courtroom last Monday and Tuesday and watched the proceedings unfold. The matter was without question a matter of public importance and interest and, not surprisingly, the press wished to report on the hearing. The strikeout hearing was conducted in the same manner as all such hearings have been conducted in Bermuda. The judge had read the pleadings and the affidavits/affirmations in advance of the hearing and this gave the lawyers the convenience of needing to highlight only those parts of the evidence that advanced their respective arguments. The Chief Justice and the lawyers saw and understood the whole case because they each had access to all of the evidence. The public, including the press, did not as they heard only the cherry-picked snippets of the evidence that the lawyers highlighted in court. The process prevented the press from giving a full account of what was actually before the Chief Justice, which was all of the evidence. Bermuda Press quite rightly saw and felt the injustice of this process. Having a public hearing does not uphold the principle of “Open Justice” if the public cannot see or hear all of the evidence. Bermuda Press, through its attorneys, applied under the Supreme Court (Records) Act, and the Registrar of the Supreme Court understandably applied the untested and orthodox view and said that, pursuant to the longstanding practice of the Court, copies of the evidence could not be released at this time. The case was still pending and no final judgment had been given. The Act gave an express right of appeal to a judge, and the Chief Justice, appreciating the urgency of the matter, heard the appeal last Tuesday afternoon and considered further written arguments during the week. Bermuda Press advanced a number of arguments as to why the orthodox view should be overturned. What the Chief Justice agreed with, and what won the day, is that section 3(2)(a) provides a previously undiscovered key to the door that has kept Court records locked away and out of sight until the case has been completed. The key was found in the beginning words of section 3(2)(a) of the Act: ‘‘Any person not entitled by any provision of law, and not duly authorized in that behalf.’’ Bermuda Press successfully argued that if a member of the public can point to a law that gives access to the documents, then the Registrar should in a proper case — a case of public importance, for instance — release the pleadings and the evidence. The law that gives such access is the common law principle of “Open Justice”, which is enshrined in and underpins section 6(9) of the Constitution. The Chief Justice readily accepted that in cases where the public interest is clearly engaged, then it cannot be right to restrict the public to just those few passages of the evidence that are read out in court. The public are entitled to obtain copies of all of the evidence that is before the court, even though only select passages were mentioned in the hearing. The judgment now means that the Registrar has a discretion whenever she considers an application for inspection or copies of court documents which discretion must be exercised reasonably and with the “Open Justice” principle in mind. Cases with no real public-interest element are unlikely to result in the release of evidence before the conclusion of the matter. But where the public interest is strong, the documents are likely to be released much earlier in the proceedings. This is a monumental step forward for Bermuda. The public will be aware that the Chief Justice’s judgment allowed the parties to the Allied action to black out or redact certain parts of the evidence that was of a private or confidential nature. Bermuda Press’s attorney was part of the process. There were only a very few redactions requested and they pertained to references to wholly irrelevant matters that have nothing at all to do with the waterfront or the actual dispute. Bermuda Press had no objection to these limited blackouts. The Chief Justice allowed the redactions to be made. The public will have access to 99.9 per cent of what was before the Court. Access to justice was the primary focus of the appeal. There was one other important aspect or consequence of the case that the public need to understand, and that is the consequences that flow from members of the press or the public publishing leaked court documents as opposed to documents obtained by making a proper application under the Supreme Court (Records) Act. The Royal Gazette, which is published by Bermuda Press, sensibly refrained from printing the leaked MacLean affirmation that originally caused such a stir. It did this on advice that if the leaked contents turned out to be untrue, particularly the allegations of corruption, the Gazette could be sued for defamation by those whose reputations have been damaged. In addition, the press have a duty to publish court proceedings in a fair and balanced way. Publishing only Mr Maclean’s allegations without publishing the response affidavits of the ministers and the former Premier, would not be presenting a fair account. The public have an expectation of seeing and evaluating both sides of a story. There lie the dangers and pitfalls of publishing leaked affidavits and affirmations. Publishing what is said in court, even when what is said is untrue is permissible, and the law gives the public and the press the right to publish and discuss such matters. Likewise, if affidavits and affirmations are obtained properly and lawfully under the provisions of the Supreme Court (Records) Act, the press can publish the material even if the contents subsequently are proven to have been defamatory. The Court of Appeal decided this in 1993 in the case of Bermuda Press and Julian Hall. As a result of the Chief Justice’s landmark ruling, Bermuda overnight joins those enlightened jurisdictions that give meaningful access to justice. This was long overdue but, make no mistake about it, positive changes in our justice system comes oftentimes from an engaged and vigilant public and free press. Bermuda Press deserves to be commended for opening the doors of justice. The public should now, with appropriate safeguards, be able to have meaningful access to the workings of our courts. The ruling will no doubt result in future guidelines for obtaining court documents, but undoubtedly the “Open Justice” principle will be given the respect that it demands."

July 28. Maurice Cottle, a former consultant in the Attorney-General’s chambers, strongly denies claims he knew Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney-General, was acting corruptly in the Hamilton waterfront controversy. Mr Cottle’s sworn affirmation, released yesterday after a landmark ruling from Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, comes in response to allegations, including an alleged death threat, in an affidavit from Llewellyn Peniston. Mr Peniston had filed in support of Michael MacLean, the businessman locked in a court battle with the Bermuda Government, stating he had met Mr Cottle in late 2013, after being told he was helping evaluate the waterfront site. “When I saw Cottle on Church Street one day,” states Mr Peniston, “I pulled him aside and let him know that I was aware of his instructions to give some advice with respect to the waterfront. I told him to be very careful because he might be unwittingly planting himself in a bad professional position, possibly because Pettingill may have needed support for his personal position. He did not show any emotion when I revealed that I had been made aware of an offshore bank account in the British Virgin Islands that belonged to Pettingill, and that it was suggested that that bank account be used to facilitate the payment of money from MacLean to Pettingill personally.” Replying in his affidavit, Mr Cottle denies ever being involved in evaluating the waterfront, continuing: “I knew nothing of the allegation in Mr Peniston’s affidavit that Mr Pettingill had an offshore bank account in the British Virgin Islands which was to ‘be used to facilitate the payment of money from Mr MacLean to Pettingill personally’ until I read his affidavit.” In his own affidavit, Mr Pettingill dismisses the claims against him as “deplorable nonsense.” According to Mr Peniston, shortly after his conversation with Mr Cottle, he received threats from businessman Steven DeCosta in a meeting at Evans Bay in Southampton. “As soon as he reached me, he began to shout,” states Mr Peniston. He was pointing in my face. He said that if I divulged anything about the ‘financial arrangements’ of his ‘political colleagues’ in respect to their payment from the waterfront agreement, I would be killed. He was adamant that I should think about getting out of Bermuda for my own good. It was impossible for me to say anything in response to this because of how irate DeCosta was. Once he issued the threat, he left me standing there.” In his response, Mr Cottle says that Mr Peniston had urged him not to hold up the progress of the development as he stood to benefit from it financially. Mr Cottle adds that he had previously worked for Mr Peniston’s law firm Peniston and Associates, noting: “Mr Peniston did not conduct himself in the manner expected of any attorney/barrister; he had scant, if any, regard for the truth, or ethics if he stood to benefit; and his word was not his bond.”

July 28.  Developer Michael MacLean’s allegations of ministerial corruption are a “last-ditch desperate effort” to secure compensation for the termination of his agreements with the Corporation of Hamilton to develop the waterfront. This according to Craig Cannonier, the former Premier, who has branded Mr MacLean’s claims that he and two other government ministers asked him for cash through businessman Steven DeCosta in return for their support of his project as “complete nonsense.” Mr Cannonier’s assertions are contained in an eight-page affirmation that was filed with the Supreme Court in response to Mr MacLean’s affidavit alleging bribery and corruption in relation to the waterfront deal. Mr Cannonier, who resigned as Premier in May last year and is now the Minister of Public Works, states: “These allegations are completely and utterly false and untrue. “They have been intentionally contrived by Mr MacLean in what appears a last-ditch desperate effort on his part to secure a settlement from the Government in connection with his claim for compensation arising out of the voiding by Parliament of various agreements that he had entered into with respect to the Hamilton waterfront.” Noting that Mr MacLean’s affidavit was leaked to the media Mr Cannonier claims that the accusations “have clearly been made” in order to be put into the public domain. He states: “I understand that counsel has received an anonymous e-mail indicating that if terms could be mutually agreed then the author of the e-mail would identify the person who leaked these documents to the local media, whilst also supplying the identities of the recipients of the documents.” In his affirmation Mr Cannonier acknowledges that he has had a long-term business relationship with Mr DeCosta, but maintains that he never authorized or instructed Mr DeCosta to engage in discussions with anyone in relation to his political position. He states: “Mr DeCosta is a business associate of mine and I hired him as my general manager. He remained in that role until earlier this year when he left Bermuda to relocate to the United States. However he remains a consultant to my businesses for the time being whilst I seek a new general manager. At no time has Mr DeCosta acted for and/or on my behalf in my capacity as a politician and a Cabinet Minister and any suggestions by Mr MacLean that Mr DeCosta was the ‘Premier’s assistant’ or someone acting as an intermediary on my behalf is simply incorrect. If and to the extent it is in fact correct that Mr DeCosta engaged Mr MacLean in a ‘long series of discussions’ then he did so on his own motion and with his own agenda in mind and certainly not after consultation with me or with the benefit of any input from me.” Mr Cannonier goes on to add: “I was finally able to speak with him yesterday (July 15). He informed me that the allegations were untrue and that he could not believe that Mr MacLean could say such things.” In his second affidavit Mr MacLean alleges that the money he was supposed to pay Mr Cannonier and Mr DeCosta was to be invested in a gas station in the US that Mr DeCosta would “bleed the money out of and let it fail.” Mr Cannonier described the accusation as “patently ridiculous and utterly untrue.” Mr MacLean also suggested that he helped get Mr Cannonier and Marc Bean, Leader of the Opposition, together because Mr Cannonier was looking to leave the One Bermuda Alliance and join the Progressive Labour Party. Mr Cannonier states: “The suggestion is laughable. No such thing ever happened.” He concludes by saying: “There is nothing in the MacLean exhibits which in any way supports these allegations. That is hardly surprising as there is nothing authentic and genuine which could support such allegations. It is difficult to know what more I could say other than that I wholly deny having ever been involved in any attempt to extort money from MacLean in the form of bribes either for myself or for anyone else.”

July 28.  A developer’s allegations of Government corruption over the development of the Hamilton waterfront are “farcical” and based on “hearsay, innuendo and lies”, according to Mark Pettingill, the One Bermuda Alliance MP. The former Attorney-General was one of three government ministers that Michael MacLean alleges asked for bribes to the tune of millions of dollars in return for their support of his projects. Mr MacLean suggests in an affirmation, which has been put before the Supreme Court as part of his legal battle with the Bermuda Government into the voiding of the waterfront contracts, that he was told by businessman Steven DeCosta that Mr Pettingill’s money was to be put into a British Virgin Islands bank account. But in his counter affidavit the MP for constituency 25 dismisses the accusation and brands the assertion “demonstrably ridiculous” given his position and understanding of money laundering legislation. Mr Pettingill states: “I do not have, nor have I ever had, a bank account in the British Virgin Islands either in my own name or in any name that in any way attaches to me through relatives, friends or vehicles such as a company. I never sent Mr DeCosta or anyone else any banking details for the British Virgin Islands (and) I am fully prepared to waive any banking confidentiality or privilege relation to that confirmation that I do not have any such account. Moreover the suggestion that I would have an offshore bank account in my name which was to be the repository of illegally obtained funds is demonstrably ridiculous when one has regard to the fact that as Attorney-General (i) I was the effective head of the Financial Intelligence Agency, (ii) I was a politically exposed person for the purposes of worldwide money laundering regimes with the result that (iii) I would be automatically on the radar screen in worldwide banking institutions and a deposit of the magnitude that Mr MacLean suggests would undoubtedly have caused the automatic generation or a suspicious activity report and resulted in immediate investigation.” In his affirmation Mr Pettingill states that his own assessment of Mr MacLean was that he “lacked credibility and integrity” and that he had only met with him on a handful of occasions when Mr Mac- Lean had wanted to postpone payment of stamp duty because he did not have the funds. He further states: “Consequently as a member of Cabinet during 2013 I was generally not in favour of providing any Government support for him in connection with Par-la-Ville or waterfront projects. I was quite open about this with the Premier and my Cabinet colleagues and my position remained the same throughout my tenure as Attorney-General. However beyond being involved in Cabinet discussions, the fact of the matter is that I had very little dealing with either the projects mentioned or the issues that Mr MacLean raises.” Mr Pettingill denies ever initiating any discussions with Mr MacLean and describes the suggestion that he had someone seeking payment of a bribe on his behalf three days after winning an election as “frankly ridiculous. A large part of my time in office was spent establishing The Civil Asset Recovery Authority and this was done in part with a view to recovering overpayments for Government funds by the previous administration to a number of individuals. The idea that I would seek to bribe by way of payment of millions of dollars to an offshore account is farcical, particularly in light of my position and understanding of Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer procedures and Politically Exposed Persons. It is an absolute deplorable nonsense that I should have my name and reputation sullied by hearsay, innuendo and lies in the manner that has occurred in these proceedings. All that has been said as pertains to me personally is unfounded and untrue, and I find it wholly reprehensible that I should have to publicly respond to these matters.”

July 28.  Michael Fahy, the Minister for Home Affairs, has dismissed allegations that he solicited bribes from a developer as “malicious, defamatory and wholly untrue” in a sworn statement put before the Supreme Court. Sen Fahy’s vehement denial of a string of accusations made in Michael MacLean’s second affidavit are contained in a 15-page “counter affidavit” that The Royal Gazette was provided with yesterday evening. In it Sen Fahy rejects any impropriety in relation to his dealings with Mr MacLean over the development plans for Hamilton waterfront and brands some of Mr MacLean’s accusations as “patently absurd.” Mr MacLean, who is seeking constitutional relief for the voiding of his agreements with the Corporation of Hamilton over the waterfront, alleges in his second affidavit that it was suggested to him that the money for Sen Fahy should be put into his mother’s bank account. “I have never suggested that any payment be made to my mother’s account and have never given those details to anyone either,” Sen Fahy states in his affirmation. “It would be absurd for me in any event to place such sums of money in my mother’s bank account or for that matter anyone related to me in any way. As a politician I am a ‘politically exposed person’ pursuant to anti-money laundering legislation in most, if not all, sophisticated jurisdictions. Red flags would be raised by any bank if large sums of money were deposited in any accounts belonging to a family member of mine. Furthermore I am a legal counsel and the compliance officer and anti-money laundering reporting officer at a large captive insurance management company, so I am of course familiar with anti-money laundering provisions in Bermuda. Directing that money to be placed in my mother’s bank account or any family member’s bank account would be the most stupid thing to do in respect of moving large sums of money.” Mr MacLean claims he was approached by businessman Stephen DeCosta soon after the 2012 General Election and told that the Bermuda Government would support his development of Par-la-Ville and the waterfront in return for monies. Sen Fahy states in response: “This amounts in effect to a suggestion that immediately the OBA had won the election on December 17, 2012, its first order of business was to solicit bribes from him. As well as being untrue and defamatory, such allegation is simply incredible. At no time have I ever instructed Mr DeCosta to act on my behalf ... the suggestion that I had engaged him to solicit a bribe of some kind from Mr MacLean is simply untrue.” Sen Fahy goes on to acknowledge he met with Mr MacLean on “various occasions” and communicated with him by other means such as phone and WhatsApp messaging. But he maintains: “There has never been anything untoward in any of these dealings. At the outset of these events in 2013 I was potentially open to supporting Mr MacLean’s proposals to redevelop the waterfront. However the fact of the matter was that from a very early stage both I and others in the Government became concerned as to the circumstances in which the agreements were granted by the Corporation of Hamilton. [These] concerns were due in large part to the secretive and obstructive conduct of the Corporation.” Sen Fahy also admits that settlement figures were “debated” between the Government and Mr MacLean, but nothing was agreed and no assurances were made to the developer. He states: “I hoped that a settlement could be agreed rapidly, saving both Mr MacLean and Government the costs of protracted arbitration.” Sen Fahy claims Mr MacLean was “wholly improper and irregular” in the way he has conducted his litigation. Describing the move as an “obvious attempt to slander the reputation of the Government, Sen Fahy concludes: “I believe that Mr MacLean is in cahoots with or being used by the Opposition to further its political agenda and as a result the court is also being indirectly used to push forward that political agenda. It paints a picture of malicious behavior that should be given short shrift by the court. It represents a complete contempt for due process and sets a disastrous precedent if left unchecked and unchallenged.”

July 28.  Developer Michael MacLean levels serious accusations of corruption at Craig Cannonier, the former Premier, Michael Fahy, the Home Affairs Minister, and Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney General in his sworn affidavit. He claims businessman Steven DeCosta approached him soon after the 2012 General Election and said the trio of One Bermuda Alliance ministers would support his Hamilton waterfront plans in return for “bribes” to the tune of millions of dollars. The allegations are contained in a written affirmation Mr MacLean put before the Supreme Court as part of his legal battle for constitutional damages from the Bermuda Government for voiding his agreements with the Corporation of Hamilton over the waterfront development. The 16-page statement was submitted to the court on July 2 but has only just been released in full to media organizations after a groundbreaking ruling by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley last week. In it Mr MacLean claims Mr DeCosta “repeatedly” suggested to him that the Government would support his development projects if he paid Mr DeCosta, Mr Cannonier, Mr Pettingill and Sen Fahy monies. “It seemed to me I was deliberately put in a compromising position by Cannonier, Fahy and DeCosta,” he states. “They must have appreciated that without them I ran the risk of losing everything, and for that reason the ground for them to extract personal payment from me in exchange for their support and Government influence was laid.” Mr MacLean states he was aware that Mr DeCosta’s suggestion “smacked of illegality (possibly corruption). There could be no doubt in the minds of these four individuals that what they were demanding was illegal because in his communications with me DeCosta was reluctant to use Cannonier’s, Fahy’s or Pettingill’s actual name. Instead he gave each of them pseudonyms: Cannonier was “my boy”, Fahy was “the joker” and Pettingill was “the soldier." He further alleges: “The amount DeCosta demanded I pay each of them started at $1 million but that sum was increased over time and, at one point, reached as high as $5 million each. As far as Cannonier’s and DeCosta’s money was concerned the suggested plan was to buy a gas station in the United States. DeCosta would run the station on behalf of himself and Cannonier and as explained to me by DeCosta, he would bleed the money out of that gas station and let it fail. With respect to Fahy’s money, the suggestion was that I pay his cut into his mother’s bank account; she is not Bermudian and was thought to provide sufficient cover for this. As far as Pettingill was concerned DeCosta showed me the banking details of an account Pettingill held in the British Virgin Islands, the money was to be paid to that account.” Mr MacLean claims he made recordings of conversations between himself and Mr DeCosta. He also claims to have kept private text and WhatsApp messages passing before him and Mr DeCosta, Mr Cannonier and Sen Fahy. In his affidavit Mr MacLean refers to a series of meetings he says he had with Mr DeCosta and Mr Cannonier, some of which he says took place at Clifton, the Premier’s official residence, about the waterfront and Par-la-Ville developments. He states: “DeCosta was then very active in arranging meetings between myself, Cannonier, Fahy and Pettingill. Some of these meetings were held in Bermuda, and some held overseas, and at times they included potential investors.” The developer goes on to claim that he was due to receive a large sum of cash that he would then use to pay Mr Cannonier, Sen Fahy and Mr Pettingill $3 million each. He states: “It was the suggestion of the four individuals themselves that the sum should be $55 million to $60 million for this. The plan at the time was for me to receive this sum of money and to pay Cannonier, Fahy, Pettingill and DeCosta $3 million each. But it was obvious that if those individuals could have extracted more from me in exchange for brokering such a deal they would have done so.”

July 28.  The full story behind a developer’s accusations of ministerial corruption over the development of Hamilton waterfront can be laid bare for the first time today. The written affirmations of all the key players involved in the controversy were released to The Royal Gazette last night following a landmark judgment by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley that gave the public unprecedented access to court documents. Developer Michael MacLean claims businessman Steven DeCosta solicited multimillion dollar bribes from him on behalf of Craig Cannonier, the former Premier; Michael Fahy, the Minister for Home Affairs; and Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney-General; in return for their support of his development plans. The allegations, which appear in an affidavit Mr MacLean has put before the Supreme Court as part of his ongoing legal battle with the Bermuda Government over the voiding of the waterfront contracts, have been emphatically dismissed by the Members of Parliament. In counter affidavits, Mr Cannonier, Mr Pettingill and Sen Fahy describe the accusations as “farcical”, “complete nonsense” and “wholly untrue”. Sen Fahy, who according to Mr MacLean was to have his $3 million share put in his mother’s bank account, branded such an idea “the most stupid thing to do” given his professional position and understanding of money-laundering law. In his affirmation, Mr Pettingill said he was prepared to waive banking confidentiality to show he has never had a bank account in the British Virgin Islands, which Mr MacLean had claimed in his affidavit was to be the destination for his portion of the cash. Mr Cannonier acknowledged that Mr DeCosta was a long-term business associate, but firmly denied that he had ever acted on his behalf in relation to the waterfront allegations made by Mr MacLean. The affidavits of all the parties were provided to The Royal Gazette after this newspaper’s lawyer, Tim Marshall, successfully argued last week that the public had a right to scrutinize all the documents relating to the case due to the seriousness of the allegations.

July 28. Bermuda-based White Mountains Insurance Group has struck a $2.23 billion deal to sell its Sirius reinsurance arm to a Chinese investment firm. Sirius, based in Stockholm, Sweden, has offices in several countries, including Bermuda. The deal will see Sirius bought by CM International Holding, the Singapore-based investment subsidiary of China Minsheng Investment Corporation (CMI). White Mountains chairman and CEO Raymond Barrette said: “This is a win-win transaction. Sirius is a high quality reinsurer with a strong franchise and a great track record. The acquisition by CMI recognizes this value and opens doors for Sirius to new opportunities in Asia, especially China.” Mr Barrette added that, net of the OneBeacon and Symetra positions to be repurchased by White Mountains from Sirius, White Mountains’ undeployed capital would increase from by $1.4 billion to around $2 billion. And he said: “The board will carefully review the additional capital management options available to the company when proceeds have been received.” White Mountains expects that the transaction will boost its adjusted book value by around $65 a share, subject to Sirius interim results through to the closing of the deal. CMI, which has $6 billion in shareholders’ equity, was founded in Shanghai last year and is focused on industrial integration and developing into a global financial holding company. Sirius writes worldwide property and casualty reinsurance and insurance through its affiliate Sirius International Insurance Corporation, Sirius America Insurance Company, as well as a Lloyd’s syndicate and its Bermuda subsidiary. The firm also provides exit solutions for run-off companies and their portfolios through its White Mountains Solutions arm. Sirius CEO Allan Walters said: “The Sirius management team is excited to be joining the CMI family. CMI is strongly capitalized and intends to further grow Sirius’ already substantial capital base. China is one of Sirius’ most important markets and CMI is the perfect partner for Sirius to continue its Asian growth strategy.” The all-cash deal will be equal to 127.3 per cent of Sirius’ closing date tangible common shareholders’ equity, plus $10 million. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval and other conditions, is expected to be completed within six months.

July 28. Butterfield Bank executive Michael Collins is to become the new chief executive officer, the bank announced today. Mr Collins, at present senior executive vice-president, will replace Brendan McDonagh, who has been CEO for three years, in the role. But Mr McDonagh, who was chairman and CEO, will become executive chairman, where he will continue to lead Butterfield. And senior executive vice-president, international Conor O’Dea will take on the roles of president and chief operating officer in addition to his current job. Mr McDonagh said: “Michael and Connor are highly experienced and have demonstrated their abilities to effect change and deliver results. “We are fortunate to have them on our team and I congratulate them both on their new appointments.” Barclay Simmons, Butterfield’s vice-chairman and a senior independent director added: “Since Brendan took on the CEO role, he has focused relentlessly on rebuilding value for shareholders through investment in our core businesses, accretive acquisitions and carefully managing expenses and risks. We have been successful in this regard, which is evident in the bank’s first half 2015 results.” Olivier Sarkozy, managing director and head of Carlyle’s Global Financial Services Group, a Butterfield board member since 2012, added: “The new management structure is a natural evolution that builds upon the momentum that the bank has so clearly achieved since Brendan took over as chairman and CEO. We were fortunate to have such a deep bench of management talent within the bank to draw from and, as the bank’s largest shareholder, very much look forward to supporting our expanded management team as they implement Butterfield’s well thought-out and clearly articulated strategy. On behalf of the board, I would like to extend sincerest congratulations to all three members of management on this important evolution in their respective careers.” In his current role, Mr Collins has overall responsibility for all of Butterfield’s client businesses in Bermuda, including corporate, private and retail banking. Mr Collins, who has 25 years’ experience in banking and joined Butterfield from HSBC in 2009, also manages the operations custody and marketing sectors in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Mr O’Dea has worked for Butterfield since 1989 and became managing director of Butterfield’s Cayman banking arm in 1997. He later assumed oversight of the firm’s operations in The Bahamas and Barbados and in 2011, all international operations. All the new appointments will take effect at the start of September.

July 28. PartnerRe last night reported a net loss of $103.1 million as a fall in the value of its investments took its toll. The Bermuda reinsurer said operating earnings were $112.5 million, or $2.35 per share, but these were offset by realized and unrealized investment losses of $217.2 million, or $4.55 per share. The company’s shareholders are preparing to vote on August 7 on a proposal to merge with fellow Bermuda reinsurer Axis Capital, as rival bidder Exor waits in the wings. PartnerRe interim chief executive officer David Zwiener said: “We continued to see challenging market conditions during the second quarter, both in terms of persistent competitive reinsurance pressures and difficult financial markets. Nevertheless, we posted strong technical results in the quarter, which when combined with our first quarter performance, resulted in an operating ROE of 8.5 per cent.” Mr Zwiener added PartnerRe’s book value had risen 1 per cent during the year to date, though it had been negatively impacted by “increases in longer term risk-free rates both in the US and Europe, resulting in a significant mark-to-market loss on our investment portfolio.” As bond yields rise, bond prices fall, forcing bondholders to report unrealized investment losses, something that is likely to feature in the earnings reports of many other Bermuda insurers in the coming days. Mr Zwiener said he saw positive signs in the challenging reinsurance market. “Despite continued competitive pressures, we saw some initial signs that markets are beginning to stabilize, and we wrote a number of profitable new treaties. This speaks to our strong market presence, the quality of our client relationships, and underscores the strength of the PartnerRe franchise.” Second-quarter combined ratio — reflecting the proportion of premium dollars paid out in claims and expenses — was 90.3 per cent, which benefited from reserve releases of $173 million, or 17.1 points. Gross premiums written were down slightly for the quarter, to $1.43 billion, compared to $1.46 billion in the same period of last year.

July 28. Aspen Insurance Holdings yesterday reported profits of $49 million for the second quarter of the year. The figure is equivalent to 62 cents a share, with a corresponding figure of $1.82 for same period in 2014. Operating income after tax amounted to $72.2 million, or 99 cents per share, over the same period. That fell well short of the $1.38 per share consensus estimate of analysts tracked by Yahoo Finance. Aspen chief executive officer Chris O’Kane said: “Through the first half of the year we continued to execute on our diversified insurance and reinsurance strategy, achieving a 10.6 per cent annualized operating return on equity. “Our reinsurance segment once again had an excellent performance with an impressive accident year ex-catastrophe loss ratio of 51.4 per cent in the second quarter. In our insurance segment, our US platform continued to grow in scale with 23.9 per cent premium growth in the quarter. In our international markets, the rate environment varied by line and geography. We reduced our exposure in certain energy-related Lloyd’s lines where rates were under pressure and competition was intense and as a result our level of insurance premiums declined. This, combined with several mid-sized losses, had a negative effect on this quarter’s insurance results. We redeployed capital to those opportunities which were better rated and will continue to do so. We expect to achieve 11 per cent operating return on equity for 2015.” The second quarter saw a 7.7 per cent drop in gross written premiums to $722.8 million compared with the second quarter of last year. For the first two quarters, net income per share was $2.50 compared to $3.48 for the first six months of 2014. In insurance operations, Aspen said they had gross written premiums of $462.1 million, a decrease of 3.9 per cent on the $480 million in the second quarter of 2014. “Growth in property and casualty was more than offset by a decline in marine, energy and aviation as a result of decisions to decline business where the pricing levels were not deemed adequate for the underlying risk. The US platform continued its record of strong growth with a 23.9 per cent increase in gross written premium in the quarter.” Aspen insurance CEO Mario Vitale said “disciplined growth” had helped the firm reach $579 million of net earned premium in the US insurance business.  “In our international platform, we maintained discipline and chose not to renew a meaningful amount of business in the energy sector. The market is experiencing intense competition and in our assessment the rates offered did not adequately reflect the underlying risks. We are redeploying that capital into areas where the rates are not as pressured, such as financial and professional lines and our UK property and casualty business and are excited about these areas of growth.” Aspen’s reinsurance sector saw gross written premiums down 12.6 per cent for the quarter at $250.7 million compared to $294.6 million in the same period in 2014. The firm’s reinsurance CEO Stephen Postlewhite said: “We achieved growth in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa of 25 per cent through the first half of the year and look forward to expanding in those regions through our established international office network.” And he predicted “profitable growth” for the rest of the year and into 2016.

July 27. A Bermuda insurance industry body has written to the US Treasury urging it not to penalize long-established reinsurers as part of its efforts to clamp down on what the US sees as hedge funds masquerading as reinsurance companies to lower their tax bills. In a detailed 20-page document, The Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) proposes its own recommendations as to how the US Treasury should test what constitutes a real insurer. “ABIR believes that the central element qualifying an entity as an active insurer is underwriting and holding insurance risk,” ABIR stated. “Regardless of a chosen business model, the primary purpose of an insurance legal entity is to issue contracts that assume risk that otherwise would be held by its customers.” The statement, signed by ABIR president Bradley Kading, proposes that the focus of the US regulations should be on objective measures of assumed insurance risk. ABIR’s submission is one of many sent to the US Treasury from various bodies concerned with the impact on the insurance industry of the proposed regulations on the ‘Exception from Passive Income for Certain Foreign Insurance Companies’. Most, including ABIR, have requested a public hearing at the US Treasury, to ensure their voices are heard. It is likely that this would take place in late August. The Reinsurance Association of America questions the Treasury’s intention to focus on employee headcount as a means of testing the insurance credentials of a company, saying that it would impact “many entities long recognized as bona fide insurance companies, as well as jeopardizing the insurance company treatment of alternate risk transfer mechanisms, such as catastrophe bonds and sidecars for US tax purposes.” And professional services firm PwC argues that the proposal, in its existing form, would force the restructuring of many Bermuda insurers and reinsurers. The Bermuda Insurance Managers Association (BIMA), whose interests are predominantly in the captive sector, has argued that there would be a “devastating” impact on the risk management planning of corporations that use Bermuda captive insurers. The US Treasury’s aim is to target hedge fund managers who have pushed into the Bermuda reinsurance market to access additional capital for investing while gaining tax advantages. The US authorities are weighing whether to impose minimum standards for reserves or premiums to distinguish the companies that rely most on underwriting from those that depend more on investing, or “passive foreign investment companies” (PFIC). The methods of differentiation are key, given that many established insurers could be caught in the PFIC net although the US Treasury has indicated that this is not its intention. The Treasury has invited comments from interested parties on the form the regulation should take. ABIR’s response, which is attached to the online version of this story under “Related Media”, argues for a “bright line safe harbour test” of a 15 per cent reserves to assets ratio. Reserves refer to the capital insurers set aside for estimated claims. ABIR, which analyzed the financial results of 40 Bermuda-based insurers to back up its submission, concedes that four of those companies would fall short of the 15 per cent line. They are PaCRe (0.4 per cent reserves to asset ratio), Hamilton Re (9 per cent), MS Frontier Re (11.9 per cent) and DaVinci Reinsurance (14.7 per cent), a subsidiary of RenaissanceRe Holdings. Bermuda-based Third Point Re, whose investments are managed Dan Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point, scores 25.5 per cent. While ABIR does not name the companies, the RAA submission does, showing the ABIR analysis in some detail. PaCRe is a joint venture between US hedge fund Paulson & Co and Bermuda-based Validus Re. Hamilton Re is the successor to SAC Re, which was founded by hedge fund manager Steven Cohen. SAC Re was bought out by a group of investors headed by Brian Duperreault, and was renamed Hamilton Insurance Group. ABIR goes on to argue that the bright line test is an imperfect measure of true insurance activity, as reserves do not necessarily reflect the risk exposure of a company, and calls for a “facts and circumstances test” for those who fall short of the bright line. A property-catastrophe reinsurer’s reserves may fall below 15 per cent, for example, simply because of a lack of major events over a few years, or because it has been in business for a short time. ABIR also points out that municipal bond or financial guaranty firms traditionally carry a low level of reserves, but a high degree of risk tied to infrequent events. Bermuda is the world’s largest captive domicile and BIMA fears that this sector will be unfairly targeted by the PFIC regulations. “Our membership, clients and the various tax experts we have consulted are concerned that the proposals in their current form reach beyond the hedge fund structures identified (on which we make no comment) and into the well-established captive arena,” the BIMA letter, signed by the organization's president Robert Paton, states. “The effect of the unintended consequence of the proposed regulations as currently drafted would have a devastating effect on the risk management planning of our clients.” PwC’s submission, which is signed by Richard Irvine, Bermuda-based managing director of PwC Tax Services Ltd, expressed particular concern about the regulation’s focus on employee activity, which would disadvantage those who outsource activities." We believe the appropriate definition of ‘active conduct’ would instead look to what a company actually does and not who does it on behalf of the company,” Mr Irvine stated. The PFIC regulation, as proposed, would ignore established practices of the industry and “force the restructuring of business operations in Bermuda and other offshore domiciles, which in turn would increase the cost of operations and the cost of insurance and reinsurance to US policyholders”, he added.

July 27. Market conditions, regulation and cyber risk are seen as the top three risks for Bermuda insurers and reinsurers, according to a new survey. The fifth survey by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI) indicates how high a concern they have become for the industry. The CSFI’s latest ‘Insurance Banana Skins 2015’ survey, conducted in association with PwC, polled over 800 insurance practitioners and industry observers in 54 countries, including 18 in Bermuda, to find out where they saw the greatest risks over the next two to three years. Globally, regulation emerged as the overall top risk for participants for the third successive time, underlining the deep impact regulatory change is having. “The most striking new theme to emerge from this survey is the high level of anxiety about cyber risk, specifically software failure and data security breaches.  The chief concern is the security of the ever-growing volumes of data that insurers hold in cloud-based storage systems. For many, major breaches are inevitable; the question is how much damage they will cause?” Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader and Insurance leader said: “Cyber risk is now ranked number three in Bermuda and it is the top concern in the US and UK. As an industry that handles large amounts of other people’s money and personal data, insurers are prime targets. “As a result cyber attacks and data breaches are seen as especially urgent by the industry both from the standpoint of a threat but also as an opportunity. With material losses now in the billions, the demand for insurance to cover cyber risk has risen considerably. Notwithstanding, cyber is also an underwriting risk which has yet to be fully scoped.” A pressing concern in Bermuda was that the current soft market and an excess of capital in the industry threatened conventional business models. Mr Wightman added: “The long-term prospects for insurers and reinsurers are positive as people around the world live longer and have more wealth to protect. Yet they also face the disruptive impact of new technology, changing customer expectations, more exacting regulation and enduring economic uncertainty. Insurers’ ability to identify and manage emerging as well as familiar risks will be one of the key differentiators for success in this volatile competitive environment.” One Bermuda respondent warned: “The soft market combined with low investment yields may force some in the market to chase premium.” Another said: “My biggest concern is the impact of alternative capital and the consequential rate reduction. My worry is with the additional overheads required, whether traditional reinsurers can survive in such a market.” Underwriting risks also featured higher than they did globally. One Bermuda respondent called the threat from climate change to all business lines — general, life, and pensions — “huge”, and urged the industry to do much more to raise awareness. On natural catastrophes, a Bermuda respondent predicted “more extreme events in locations where they are not expected”. Cyber crime was also mentioned as a potential underwriting risk. A respondent warned about: “Unknown coverage around who covers what and where coverage will fall in the event of a large scale attack”, adding: “Companies might look to claim on existing policies in the event that cyber is not mentioned or excluded anywhere.” As was the case in many countries, the costs of compliance with new regulation was a frequent grievance in Bermuda, seen to be particularly disruptive to small insurers. Regulation is “a huge cost and quite likely will require changes in business practices”, said one respondent. However, other public environment risks, such as political interference and reputation, were considered much less pressing. Globally, the report says that new rules governing solvency and market conduct could swamp the industry with costs and compliance problems. It could also distract management from the task of running healthy businesses at a time when the industry faces radical structural change. The EU’s Solvency II Directive, to be introduced next year, was the focus of strongest concern, but many other countries are introducing similar measures, often modeled on Solvency II.

July 27. A second investment advisory firm has backed a bid by Italian company Exor for Bermuda-based reinsurer PartnerRe. Glass Lewis advised shareholders in PartnerRe to reject the rival merger proposal from Axis Capital as the all-cash Exor offer is superior. Glass Lewis said: “For common shareholders ... the relative immediacy and certainty of all cash offer at a premium valuation, which we believe is in line with prior transactions involving reinsurers, makes Exor’s offer more attractive. For preferred shareholders Exor’s commitment to deliver the full economic value of the dividend rate increase at closing, in the absence of an IRS ruling, otherwise blessing the rate increase for the next five years, as well as its limitation on capital distributions, continue to meaningfully differentiate Exor’s exchange offer as compared to the ‘matching’ exchange offer under the Axis proposed merger.” The Glass Lewis advice to PartnerRe shareholders came after Institutional Investor Services (ISS) last week advised PartnerRe shareholders to vote against the merger. But, in a separate review, ISS advised Axis shareholders to back the merger. Axis said that the advice to PartnerRe shareholders was “inconsistent” with the reasoning behind ISS’ Axis report. Glass Lewis added that the pledge by Exor, controlled by the billionaire Agnelli family, to maintain PartnerRe as a stand-alone company meant there was “a lack of execution and integration risks. We believe Exor has raised reasonable concerns with regards to the ability of PartnerRe/Axis to ultimately realize the benefits envisioned, especially to the extent advertised by the companies. We aren’t convinced that this theoretical value of the PartnerRe/Axis merger based on a number of direct and indirect assumptions, is truly attainable in the near term, given the inherent uncertainties discussed. We do not believe that the Axis stock price “serves as a reliable indication of the merger consideration due to the impact that the takeover speculation may have had on Axis’ stock price” so Glass Lewis had used $131.17 as the implied purchase price for the $11 billion PartnerRe/Axis merger proposal. Even with some similarity and familiarity between the two companies, difficulties often arise once it becomes time to combine two disparate entities with separate businesses, structures and philosophies, particularly when reducing staff and continuing to operate in a challenging and competitive environment.” Shareholders in both PartnerRe and Axis, who are near-neighbors on Pitts Bay Road in Pembroke, will vote on the merger on Friday August 7.

July 27. Ace chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg has met staff at merger partner Chubb — and told them they have an “historic” opportunity. Mr Greenberg, whose firm has agreed to acquire US-based Chubb in a $28.3 billion cash-and-stock deal, said: “The opportunity in front of us is simply historic. There is no other way to say it. It is game-changing for our industry. “We’re talking about taking two of the great companies, the great underwriting companies and, by the way, there is no greater accolade that anyone will ever get from me about a company than to say it’s a great underwriting company. But I know there’s all kinds of emotions flying. I know there’s resentment, I know there’s anger. I know there’s uneasiness. In some there’s even fear, but at some point you guys have to make a decision about your company and you’ve got to make it soon. Don’t wallow. Be a part of this journey. Take what we are creating and help build it. Improve upon it and preserve it. Be a part of the history and the future of this.” Mr Greenberg, the son of AIG chairman and CEO Hank Greenberg, who made the firm the biggest insurer in the world in his day, was speaking last week as he addressed the staff of Chubb in America. Chubb chairman and CEO John Finnegan said Chubb had not thought about selling before being approached by Mr Greenberg. But he added the Ace proposal included a substantial premium for Chubb shareholders and a link-up that offered “strong business and strategic logic. It would also keep the Chubb name and envisioned significant growth opportunities. In our discussions, it also became clear that Chubb’s and Ace’s strengths in many areas complement each other, providing opportunities to grow in ways that would not be available to either as stand-alone companies.” Mr Finnegan said the integration process had already begun, with top-level committees from both companies working on “the best organizational structures and employee talent. When we complete the integration, I think we have the makings of a great enterprise. However, we recognise that a transaction of this type creates a substantial amount of employee concern, so we have tried to communicate to you on the rationale for the transaction and respond to frequently asked questions.” Mr Greenberg told Chubb and Ace staff were both feeling the same uncertainty over the merger — and he pledged to communicate decisions to staff as fast as possible. He added that the two companies were complementary and pointed out that Ace was focused on larger account and the top end of the market in the US, while Chubb’s expertise lay in the middle market. And he told Chubb staff: “I assure you I and my colleagues intend to preserve and build upon and covet those parts of your culture and your business that makes Chubb what it is, the essence of the company. Ace has gone from 25th in the ranks of global property and casualty ranks 12 years ago to seventh today. Ace, first and foremost, we are builders. Two-thirds of our growth has come organically. Only one-third is through acquisitions and we made about 15 acquisitions over the last 12 years. Ace had a strong presence in Latin America, Europe and Asia, with 25 offices in Malaysia alone and the only foreign company with 15 offices in Thailand. We’ve grown at twice the rate of the industry and our average combined ratio is seven points better than North America or international peers. Only one company was either equal or even better in one or two years than us and that’s this company, Chubb.”

July 27. Premier Michael Dunkley has spoken about the importance of Cup Match traditions, which he said reflect the best of Bermuda and the best it can be. As people come together to celebrate, Mr Dunkley called on them to reflect on the meanings of the holiday in a televised speech. “The cricket brings us together to celebrate an intense but friendly rivalry that displays the best in our young men — athletic skill, sportsmanship and camaraderie. Somers Day reminds us how important it is to work together and support each other in times of need. Emancipation Day represents the standard of equality, fairness and unity that is our national mission.” For Mr Dunkley, these meanings are an inspiration for “a Bermuda we can all work for.” The Premier also reflected on the accomplishments of the recent Parliamentary session, which he said continued to move Bermuda “forward in big ways for a future that is fair and secure. The work they do is to protect Bermuda from a tough and turbulent world while creating opportunities to help families grow and prosper." Mr Dunkley spoke about Bermuda pushing back hard against a European listing that targeted the Island’s tax status, the implementation of PATI regulations and the reforms to ensure Bermuda’s energy “future is sustainable and affordable.” The tabling “legislation that sets the stage for construction of a hotel in St George’s”, was also mentioned. Here is his speech in full: “Your Parliamentarians have just finished a busy session in the Legislature. The work we do — and I include all MPs and Senators in saying this — is to protect Bermuda from a tough and turbulent world while creating opportunities to help families grow and prosper. The session saw Bermuda push back hard against a European listing that mistakenly targeted our tax status. Finance Minister Bob Richards worked quickly to correct the situation and we are confident the matter will soon be resolved to the Island’s credit. We continued moving Bermuda forward in big ways for a future that is fair and secure. Freedom of information finally became a reality with the implementation of PATI regulations, bringing the highest standards of transparency and accountability to Island life. We moved forward with reforms to ensure our energy future is sustainable and affordable; and that our legal system works with speed, efficiency and fairness. The session also saw the tabling of legislation that sets the stage for construction of a hotel in St George’s — a development that will create jobs and career opportunities for years to come, while providing a big boost to the East End economy. We will return for a special meeting of the Legislature on August 17 to move this development forward as quickly as possible for the jobs and opportunities people need. The challenge of turning around the economy so that it creates jobs for all is a tough one, but it’s what your Government was elected to do. Urgency drives our work because many families continue to struggle. We’re making progress, but much remains to do be done to extend recovery into each and every household. It’s unfortunate that your representatives at times descend into acrimonious debate — something that once was the exception not the rule. Nevertheless, I believe that each MP and senator, at the end of the day, is committed to building a safe, prosperous and fair Bermuda. It is my hope that each of us sees a more positive approach to our life together, and to challenge ourselves to make it happen. There is no better place, no better time to start doing this than our Cup Match holiday. No other event connects us more closely, no other event reflects more clearly who we are and what we stand for. Its uniqueness reminds us that we live in a very special place, as one very distinct people, under the sun. The cricket brings us together to celebrate an intense but friendly rivalry that displays the best in our young men — athletic skill, sportsmanship and camaraderie. Somers Day reminds us how important it is to work together and support each other in times of need. And Emancipation Day represents the standard of equality, fairness and unity that is our national mission. The significance of these Cup Match traditions is that they say as much about the possibilities for our future as they do about the facts of our past, and much more. They reflect the best in what we are and what we can be, and they give meaning to our community, meaning to our identity and direction for the way ahead. My friends, as you enjoy the holiday, please take a moment to reflect on the meanings of the Cup Match holiday. I see it as inspiration for a Bermuda we can all work for. In closing, before the crowds gather and the first ball is bowled here at the St George’s Cricket Club, I want to extend thanks and appreciation on behalf of cricket fans everywhere to Club president Neil Paynter and his members. They’ve done a great job preparing the club and grounds for what promises to be two days of first-class cricket. So the stage is set. Like thousands of Cup Match fans across the Island, I’m looking forward to seeing a hard-fought contest that produces a clear winner. And to everyone, no matter where or how you choose to spend your holiday time, please be safe and enjoy. Thank you and Happy Cup Match Bermuda!”

July 27. Legislation increasing the departure fees for air travelers leaving the Island have been approved by the Senate over Opposition misgivings. The Bermuda Air Terminal Fees Amendment was brought by One Bermuda Alliance senator Vic Ball and will put the extra funds accumulated into an escrow account to be used for airport maintenance. Independent senator James Jardine, signaling his support, noted the “scary” condition of the current infrastructure at LF Wade International Airport. However Progressive Labour Party senators Renee Ming and Marc Daniels disputed the need for the legislation, with Sen Ming saying it would hamper the bid to increase air arrivals. Sen Daniels suggested the main interest was to make the airport development deal more attractive to a developer. "A dollar-for-dollar analysis shows that Bermuda is already a comparatively expensive destination," Sen Daniels noted. The legislation was put to a vote, and passed over Opposition objections.

July 27.  Ground penetrating radar, rather than the “invasive” method of drilling into rock, could be used under revised plans to develop Tucker’s Point. The 2011 Special Development Order for the property was amended by the Senate to permit other measures for exploring the geology of the site. The original SDO had allowed for five exploratory boreholes to be drilled at each of the property’s residential lots to check for caves or voids, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy told senators. Tucker’s Point, which spans St George’s and Hamilton parishes, lies in an area known for caves — an issue raised by environmentalists when major developments were initially put forward. Alternative methods, which also include electrical resistivity imaging, would be subject to the approval of the Department of Planning.

July 27. A study regarding the possible dredging of Town Cut in St George’s has been carried out, sparking hope that “procrastination” on the project is finally coming to an end. New mayor Quinell Francis is one of many in recent years who have voiced support for modifying the cut — allowing it to accommodate bigger ships — to help rejuvenate the Old Town. As the Government of Bermuda confirmed an environmental study has taken place in St George’s Harbour this summer, East End MP Kenneth Bascome, local residents and business owners all said they hoped a resolution on the project would come soon. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Works said: “There was recently an environmental impact study conducted of the North Shore shipping channel. “Since they were here we requested that they also do a study in St George’s as well. The results of this study will assist in determining if we dredge and how much we can dredge the Town Cut.” The topic of modifying Town Cut arose after cruise lines essentially abandoned the port as a destination because larger ships were unable to reach the town. Efforts have been made to attract smaller cruise lines to the port with limited success with only two visits scheduled for this year. However, while some have said larger cruise ships would provide a desperately-needed economic boost, detractors have expressed concern about the potential environmental impact. A government report, released in 2011, found that Town Cut would need to be doubled in size — essentially destroying Higgs, Horseshoe and Hen Islands — in order to allow Post-Panamax Tier 2 ships to the East End. Less extensive modifications were also considered, such as dredging the channel and a lesser widening of the cut, which would allow safer access for ships such as Holland America’s Veendam. Previous St George’s mayors Garth Rothwell and Mr Bascome had expressed support for some degree of modification of Town Cut. Mr Bascome, now the area MP, said yesterday that he remains supportive of the idea of modifying the cut, provided that studies show it can be done without environmental desecration. “I continue to say that once the studies are done the Government needs to decide on a way forward because we have procrastinated too long. We can see that the additional ferry service has been a benefit, but on occasion the ferries have malfunctioned. I believe that with a cruise ship carrying 2,500 passengers, it’s going to energize the businesses and it would bring people here from other parts of the Island because it would create an ambience.” Joeann Pearman, who works in St George’s, said that while having a cruise ship in the town would be a benefit, a cautious approach needs to be said: "What we are doing now, with the cruise ships in Hamilton and Dockyard and having the ferries take them to St George’s, is working." St George’s business owner and resident Mark Tatem also stressed the need for a balanced approach to the issue. “As a local business owner, the more foot traffic we can get down here in St George’s, the better. As a resident, though, I think we need to be careful not to disturb our precious ecology. Just recently we were out by Higg’s Island and saw at least 20 parrot fish. It’s good to see those signs of a healthy ecosystem, and that’s something we need to protect.” Mr Tatem added that the public transportation system have been doing a good job of getting visitors to the town, but the town usually empties out by around 3pm. “A cruise ship would definitely help with the nightlife, particularly the bars and restaurants,” he said. Before becoming elected mayor this year, Ms Francis said: “It’s time for a final decision to be made over what we should do with Town Cut. “We need to either accept that modifications need to be done so that a cruise ship can come into St George’s, or accept that we are not getting a cruise ship. “For my part, I feel modifications are needed, but we need to make an informed decision based on all the facts.”

July 27.  A 2011 survey of students in public and private schools showed that 21 per cent reported attacking someone with “the intent to seriously harm” and eight per cent identified themselves as being in a gang. The figures were given as Jeff Baron, the Junior National Security Minister updated the Senate on progress with the Gang Resistance and Training (GREAT) programme. Sen Baron described the initiative as “an immunization against delinquency, youth violence and gang membership for children between the ages of ten and 14”. The programme includes a six-week elementary and a 13-week middle school curriculum. Since GREAT was re-implemented in 2014, 635 students have taken part, Sen Baron said. The programme’s costs have been kept minimal, Sen Baron told the Upper House: less than $15,000 to date. There are eight GREAT officers at present.

July 27.  October’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Bermuda will offer race fans an “unforgettable experience”, according to Michael Dunkley. The Premier said the event will be just as exciting as the first one in Portsmouth which he attended along with a host of other local dignitaries that conducted a scouting mission and helped promote October’s event in Bermuda. “Bermuda will be a different scale but we have a lot of other things we are going to offer going forward and we’re excited about the opportunity of getting it to Bermuda,” Mr Dunkley said. “I think people will get closer to the action so they’ll see the excitement first-hand and the scenery of Bermuda will certainly shine very brightly. Bermuda has certainly created a buzz through the sailing fraternity and also through the viewing fraternity and I am pleased there has been a great push behind this. We’ve got a lot of great companies involved in this and a lot of the dignitaries that have been here can’t wait to get to Bermuda and see what we have to offer and I’m excited." The final day of racing in Portsmouth was cancelled yesterday due to strong gales and torrential downpours. "The first thing I’ve learnt is weather can strike at any time and I have already placed an order for October for good weather,” Mr Dunkley added. Mike Winfield, the America’s Cup Bermuda chief executive officer, deemed the scouting and promotional endeavor as a resounding success. “The ACBDA has had a small team in Portsmouth working very hard to pick up information and learn and prepare for Bermuda’s responsibilities beginning in October 2017. We spent time at the team bases, seeing how the teams set up, what their physical needs are and how the boats are launched and moored. We spent considerable time looking at how Team Origin had organized the Portsmouth event, how sponsors were being positioned and how they managed crowd control and developed excitement. It was good to see the BTA team working hard, promoting Bermuda to the thousands of people that came by their booth, and to see the Bermuda sponsors — Gosling’s getting great prominence and Hamilton Princess also very evident. Our partners in the ACEA were terrific, helping us continuously, giving us introductions, showing us how things were done. We have learnt much, have fully realized how big a job is ahead of us but return to Bermuda determined and much more aware of the demands that will be placed on us. We also saw much reinforcement of just how positive the America’s Cup is going to be for Bermuda with imaging and Bermuda branding going out continuously on the AC TV.” Bermuda will host the America’s Cup World Series October 16 to 18 with all racing to take place in the Great Sound and the Race Village to be located on Front Street, Hamilton. “I think we have some excitement building up to the World Series in October,” said Grant Gibbons, the Economic Development Minister responsible for the 35th America’s Cup, who was also in Portsmouth. “We are going to have a number of small business vendors in the World Series area in Hamilton on Front Street.”

July 27.  The West End Development Corporation has released the results of tenders for the completion of the walls and infill for the land reclamation project in the South Basin. Jay Cashman Inc, based in the United States, was announced as the preferred bidder for the pile walls, capping and placement of fill, and Canada-based RA Murray for the supply and delivery of imported fill. Yesterday, Wayne Furbert, the Progressive Labour Party MP, said in a statement that two non-Bermudian firms being awarded the contracts “without an open tender, follows the OBA pattern of secrecy, lack of transparency and failing to provide equal and fair opportunities to Bermudians”. But in a statement released yesterday evening, Wedco chairman Raymond Charlton and general manager Andrew Dias said they released two tenders for the completion of the walls and infill of the project, which will host the venue for the 35th America’s Cup. “Initially the area was to be filled with dredge material from the North and or South Channel and shortfall made up with additional aggregate,” they said. “Upon further analysis taking in consideration environmental impact, engineering assessments, time and costs, it was determined that the entire requirement should be imported.” The first tender, released on May 1 and closed on June 8, for the pile walls, capping and placement of fill, saw 15 companies collect bid documents and three bids received. The second tender, released on June 9 and closed on June 29, was for the supply and delivery of imported fill — 12 companies collected bid documents and three bids were received. A matrix where 50 per cent was weighted for quality and performance and 50 per cent was financial was used to evaluate the tenders. According to the statement, the preferred bidder for the first tender was Jay Cashman Inc, and RA Murray for the second tender, but Wedco has been advised that “local labour will be employed as much as possible.” Both bidders will undergo a value engineering exercise “to ensure the project will be delivered within the total budget before final contracts are executed.” The total budget for the delivery of the land reclamation project, which includes the recently installed bridge and the realignment of the approach to the bridge, is $39 million. Mr Furbert, the Shadow Minister of Economic Development, said: “The announcement by Wedco that two non-Bermudian firms have been awarded contracts that combined are allegedly as much as $50 million without an open tender, follows the OBA pattern of secrecy, lack of transparency and failing to provide equal and fair opportunities to Bermudians. “With the awarding of these contracts to non-Bermudian companies, millions of dollars are likely to flow out of Bermuda. In contrast, local companies would have pumped this money back into our economy, directly and positively benefiting Bermudians.” Mr Furbert questioned why there was no open tender process, how many companies entered bids, what prices were received, what process was used to select contractors and which local and foreign companies tendered. He called on Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, and Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, “to end the secrecy, stop the lack of transparency and come clean on the details surrounding the awarding of these contracts to two non-Bermudian companies.”

July 27. On Friday, the public was given the go-ahead to unprecedented access to sworn affirmations in the legal dispute between developer Michael MacLean and the Bermuda Government. As Simon Jones explains, lawyer Tim Marshall encountered a few hurdles along the way. Tim Marshall, the lawyer for The Royal Gazette, overcame a string of challenges on his way to securing Friday’s Supreme Court judgment from Chief Justice Ian Kawaley. Throughout last week, the media was restricted to reporting the limited references to affirmations during court proceedings over the controversial case between developer Michael MacLean and the Bermuda Government. One of those affidavits, by Mr MacLean, had suggested he was asked to pay money to Craig Cannonier, the former Premier, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney-General, and Steven DeCosta, a businessman, in return for their support of his waterfront development plans. Initially, Mr Marshall asked the parties involved in the case, as well as the Supreme Court Registrar, for copies of their affirmations. However the request for the full documents that had been referred to in open court was denied by the parties involved in the case as well as the Supreme Court. Mr Marshall therefore made a series of oral submissions to the court and furnished Mr Justice Kawaley with arguments and precedent cases to back up his submission that the documents should be made public. He called on the Supreme Court to release all of the full affirmations relating to allegations of ministerial corruption leveled at Mr Cannonier, Mr Fahy and Mr Pettingill by waterfront developer Mr Mac- Lean. Mr Marshall said that documents filed in connection with the civil case between Mr MacLean and the Government should be made available, partly because of intense public interest. Speaking last Tuesday, he argued that in the spirit and intent of a constitutional order, the documents should be made available to the public through “a sensible interpretation of existing legislation”. He also cited the intense public interest surrounding the case. Mr Marshall’s justification for disclosure of the documents was made on the basis that a hearing had taken place in public and that they had already been put into the public domain. His argument centred on the wording of the constitutional statute that such court documents should not be made public “pending” a court case; Mr Marshall argued that once a court case has begun in public court, it is no longer “pending” but rather “unfolding". "While the orthodox view might be that ‘pending’ refers to waiting for the decision of the court — we take the view that is not what that word means and that particular meaning can’t stand in the face of the constitution. We say that ‘pending’ should mean that if it is not yet before the court in the form of a hearing, but once you are in the hearing realm, then this prohibition does not catch. That has got to be the right interpretation that gives true effect and respect to the overriding law of the constitution. The real benefit is completely defeated if you say you can attend proceedings but, sorry, you can’t see the documents that the court and parties have seen and digested but you can try to put together through the snippets that are being referred to … that is fundamentally wrong.” Gregory Howard, on behalf of the Attorney-General’s office, suggested Mr Marshall’s stance paved the way for a “creative interpretation of the law”, arguing it would set a dangerous precedent. He also argued that law reform was the way forward. Mr Howard said: “There is a law reform initiative related to public access to court documents and the Attorney-General supports that in principle. There are certain matters left to be determined before implementing that initiative. Our position is that the law reform initiative should be given the opportunity to reach its conclusion and the court shouldn’t have its hand forced in the middle of that proceeding to doing law reform on the fly. That is our position in a nutshell.” On Friday afternoon, in a landmark decision, Mr Justice Kawaley announced he would allow access to redacted copies of the documents, quoting John Barritt, the good governance champion: “Cats are out of the bag and the public will want to know exactly what went down. This is their government that is being talked about and called into question.” The Royal Gazette has not yet received the affirmations, due to continued legal wrangling, but they will be published in full when they arrive.

Sunday, July 26, 2015. Portsmouth races for America's Cup were cancelled because of heavy rain and winds.

July 26. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, hailed Bermuda’s “invaluable opportunity” at the America’s Cup World Series — even though severe weather forced races to be cancelled. Mr Dunkley has been representing Bermuda at the event in Portsmouth, along with Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development. He said in a statement: “It was great to be in Portsmouth to support the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup, World Series event and flying the flag on behalf of Bermuda. It was also a good opportunity to spend time with our partners from the ACEA, sponsors, dignitaries and the many people interested in Bermuda. This was a hectic but productive two days for us and it provided us an opportunity to support the Bermuda team as they continue to prepare to fulfil our America’s Cup responsibilities. Overall this was an invaluable opportunity. Even though the races were cancelled today due to severe weather, it truly was a special experience. The exposure for Bermuda both here at the event and around the world via the television coverage is nothing short of tremendous. Bermuda was being mentioned continuously to the millions of people watching — and that is a positive result for the Island. Also, it was gratifying to see Minister Gibbons and the entire ACBDA team here in the trenches, getting involved and getting the job done, working through the critical processes to ensure that the World Series races in October run smoothly. Certainly today was a Dark n’ Stormy day in Portsmouth, but the sun was shining in Bermuda and that was not lost on many people I spoke to today.” A press release from the Bermuda Government stated the Island was heavily represented this weekend, with local sponsor Gosling’s providing a roof top bar, Hamilton Princess having a presence and the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) using the opportunity to maximise their media outreach. Race reports note that there were some 50,000 spectators at Saturday’s event, with several hundred pleasure craft watching from the water. Mr Dunkley said that the Bermuda team were on both land and water, observing, learning and formulating plans for upcoming AC events being hosted in Bermuda.

July 26. Land Rover BAR, led by Olympic great Sir Ben Ainslie, drew first blood at the America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth at the weekend. The British team edged Emirates Team New Zealand for the title after organizers cancelled yesterday’s final two races due to strong gales, depriving fans of a potentially exciting finish with points doubled. Oracle Team USA, the defender, rounded off the podium. Land Rover BAR posted a first and a second on Saturday, which was just enough to hold off a new-look Team New Zealand and seize early pole position in the America’s Cup qualifying preliminaries. “It’s a good start in trying to bring the trophy home,” Ainslie, the multiple King Edward VII Golf Cup winner, said. “We were just delighted to be able to perform well in front of our home crowd. It’s a shame we weren’t able to race, but it was absolutely the right decision. I don’t think it takes the gloss off the event for us.” Saturday’s conditions resulted in multiple lead changes and huge gains and losses on each leg as teams tried their best to cope with sailing in ever-changing winds. Land Rover BAR could not have asked for a better start, coming from behind to win the opening race, sparking jubilant scenes among the home fans. The British challenger snatched the lead for good from Team New Zealand on the second downwind run to the leeward gate as the gamble to hoist the gennnaker for the leg paid huge dividends. “To win the first race in front of the home crowd was probably one of the best moments of my sailing career,” Ainslie said. “I have never seen so many people turn up for a sailing event, so we are just really honored as the home team to have that support. “ Ainslie and his team got off to a wobbly start in the second race after an early gybe on the first run put them on the wrong side of a wind shift. “We had to make a very tough call on the first downwind leg and got it wrong which put us back in the fleet,” Ainslie said. The British team quickly bounced back, however, working their way through the fleet where they eventually overtook Groupama Team France for second on the final run, which effectively clinched the title after the regatta was cut in half. “Giles Scott, our tactician, did a wonderful job and the guys worked incredibly hard sailing the boat so it was a really good team effort,” Ainslie said. Team New Zealand finished runners-up with a first and third to their credit to leave Glenn Ashby, the team sailing director and skipper, happy with his day’s work. “The racing here has been fantastic and we are thoroughly pleased with being able to mix it up with some of the bigger teams that have been out on the water for the last 15 to 18 months,” the multiple world champion said. Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, was also satisfied with the team’s first outing which saw them post a second and fourth to finish third overall. “The racing was great, we had some really great stuff out there,” he said. “We saw a lot of lead changes, six competitive team and different winners to each race, so the level is very, very high.” Softbank Team Japan finished fourth, followed by Team France and Artemis Racing, who will host the next America’s Cup World Series event in Gothenburg, Sweden between August 28 to 30.

Saturday,  July 25. The 2015 America's Cup World Series (ACWS) - see  http://www.americascup.com began. Local favorites Land Rover-sponsored Ben Ainslie Racing ( BAR) got off to an excellent start, leading the points table after two races. Races will take place in Portsmouth, England, from 23-26 July 2015 and 21-24 July 2016. Sir Ben Ainslie and his team won the first race ahead of defending champions Oracle Team USA before placing second in the other race of the day, which was won by Emirates Team New Zealand. As shared by the World Series' official Twitter account, the points will be doubled for Sunday's races, so nothing has been decided yet. Main events will be held in Bermuda in 2016 and the 35th staging of the America's Cup in Bermuda in 2017.  The ACWS gives teams entered for the next America's Cup the chance to test the new foiling AC45 45ft catamaran boats they will use. All six of the America's Cup teams will compete in the ACWS event which is one of up to 10 regattas being held around the world during 2015 and 2016. Their overall placement will affect the seeding and starting score they take into the America's Cup qualifier events in 2017. As well as the holders, Oracle Team USA, crews from Sweden, the UK, Italy, France and New Zealand are due to take part. (In June 2015, Ainslie's plans for an America's Cup headquarters in Old Portsmouth were approved and Plymouth hosted the last ACWS event to be held in British waters when crowds of 150,000 watched the racing in September 2011). The events are being run by management company Teamorigin, headed by London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills. The Portsmouth events will encompass the dockyard, HMS Warrior and Victory, the Mary Rose Museum, the Spinnaker Tower, Gun Wharf Quays and Southsea Castle.

America's Cup

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July 25.  A landmark ruling by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley will allow the public to have unprecedented access to sworn affirmations from developer Michael MacLean and government ministers in relation to the Hamilton waterfront deal. The Royal Gazette, through its lawyer, Tim Marshall, argued in court that the documents that formed part of the controversial civil case between Mr MacLean and the Bermuda Government should be made available for public scrutiny. One affidavit by Mr Mac- Lean suggested that he was asked to pay money to Craig Cannonier, the former Premier, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney-General and Steven DeCosta, a businessman, in return for their support of his waterfront development plans. The three government officials, together with government lawyer Anthony Cottle, submitted counter affidavits denying Mr MacLean’s claims that were referred to in this week’s court proceedings but not detailed. The media were previously restricted to reporting the limited references that were made to the five affirmations during court proceedings this week. However, this afternoon in a landmark decision, the Chief Justice backed The Royal Gazette’s argument and ruled that redacted copies of all the affidavits, as well as other documentation, should be made public. The Royal Gazette has not received the affirmations, owing to continued legal wrangling, but they will be published in full when they arrive. In his judgment, the Chief Justice said: “The appeal is allowed and the appellant is entitled to obtain redacted copies of the originating summons, the strike-out summons and the affidavits filed in relation to the latter application, all which documents were referred to in the course of a public hearing. “There shall be liberty to apply in relation to the redaction issue, the terms of the order required to give effect to this judgment, costs and any other matters arising. Why, in a nutshell, do the media have a right to receive copies of documents on the court file which have been referred to in a high-profile case in a public hearing? That question is best answered in layman’s terms by Bermuda’s leading ‘good governance’ commentator, John Barritt, writing in today’s Royal Gazette, ‘Cats are out of the bag and the public will want to know exactly what went down. This is their government that is being talked about and called into question’.” The groundbreaking judgment comes on the back of the latest round of legal wranglings between Mr MacLean and the Government that began on Monday in the Supreme Court. The present case revolves around whether the “voiding” of agreements between Mr MacLean and the Corporation of Hamilton to develop the waterfront by the Municipalities Amendment Act 2013 was unconstitutional and breached his right to hold property. Although Mr MacLean’s affidavit is largely irrelevant to the latest legal proceedings, it has become the subject of intense political and public speculation, given the serious nature of the allegations that it contains. In his judgment, Mr Justice Kawaley said: “The related proceedings are constitutional proceedings brought by a local company and a local trust, the Allied Trust and Allied Development Partners Ltd to challenge the voiding of substantial contracts entered into between the Allied Parties and the Corporation of Hamilton for the development of the Hamilton waterfront. The proceedings have excited considerable public attention, not least because an affidavit sworn in the related proceedings which makes serious allegations of corrupt conduct against government ministers is already in the public domain and has been discussed in Parliament.” The Chief Justice concludes: “Based on arguments which were not placed before the registrar but which were advanced before me by Mr Marshall, both orally and in writing with considerable skill and persuasion, I find that the registrar does have a statutory discretion under section 3 of the 1955 Act to accede to the appellant’s request by letter dated July 20, 2015, for copies of the originating summons, the strike-out summons and affidavits, all of which documents were referred to in the course of the public hearing of a constitutional strike-out application.”

July 25. New airport fees that could see each passenger pay an extra $20 when they leave the Island have been defended by the Bermuda Government. The new and amended fees announced by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, attracted intense criticism from the Progressive Labour Party as they were debated last Friday in the House of Assembly  Opposition MPs said that the move would deter visitors from travelling to Bermuda and adversely impact tourism. They also questioned whether United Airlines had been informed of the proposed hike in fees when Premier Michael Dunkley met with the airline just a few days before last week’s Parliamentary debate. A Government spokesman told The Royal Gazette that airlines had been informed of the increase and that the Air Terminal Fees Amendment Regulations would not put the Island at a disadvantage compare to other Caribbean destinations. Mr Richards told the House: “With the introduction of these new and amended fees, and inclusive of the $50 departure tax, the maximum total of airport fees paid by air passengers departing Bermuda will be $78.25. This proposed amount was benchmarked against fees levied by several airports within the Caribbean. The results of the benchmark study concluded that with the new and amended fees Bermuda will compare favorably to Bahamas: $76; Dominican Republic: $82.60; Turks & Caicos: $70 and Jamaica: $93.” The spokesman added: “The Department of Airport Operations advised the International Air Transport Association, the global trade representative body for the airlines. We continue to work with them to guide us through this process.”

July 25. The terms of the British Government’s entrustment letter concerning the controversial airport deal have been unveiled by Government House. The Bermuda Government must agree with 10 Downing Street on deficiencies identified by Deloitte, the letter states, while the government balance sheet should rack up no debt over the project. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, had previously said that the entrustment letter removed ambiguity over the authority of the government to engage with the Canadian Commercial Corporation in constructing the new terminal. Reacting to the release of the full entrustment letter yesterday, David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, repeated his call for the Government to put the project out to tender. The entrustment letter states: “The cost of the construction of the airport must be wholly borne by CCC and the selected developer and subcontractors. No debt should appear on the balance sheet of the Government of Bermuda that relates to the airport construction. The United Kingdom Government and the Government of Bermuda must agree on what measures are required to address the deficiencies that are identified by Deloitte in their assessment report[s]. The Government of Bermuda must publish a written and evidence-based assurance that the required measures have been taken, before the Contract can be concluded.” The entrustment letter also states that the Government of Bermuda “will keep the United Kingdom Government informed as to the progress of its negotiations with the CCC.” Mr Burt pointed to two additions to the original entrustment letter dated November 10 last year:

• (6b) The United Kingdom Government and the Government of Bermuda must agree on what measures are required to address the deficiencies that are identified by Deloitte in their assessment report(s);

• (6c) The Government of Bermuda must publish a written and evidence-based assurance that the required measures have been taken, before the contract can be concluded.

“These additions make it clear that the OBA Government must address the numerous deficiencies that were identified by Deloitte in their independent report,” Mr Burt said. “That report was very critical of the OBA Government’s approach to the airport redevelopment and highlighted ‘key’ and ‘integral’ steps missing from the economic case. The Deloitte report examined the commercial case and poured cold water on the OBA’s claim that their current approach can guarantee value for money. Deloitte went on to recommend that the Government independently assess some of the claims made by CCC, especially the claim that a sole-source procurement is the only viable option. Deloitte also examined the financial case and found that many items were developed by CCC and may not take into account the full costs to be borne by the Government of Bermuda.” Mr Burt called it “critical that the largest capital project in Bermuda’s history is executed correctly” — particularly as the OBA planned to give Aecon control over the air terminal for “the next 35 years.” The Opposition had called from the outset for the project to go to competitive tender, he said, to ensure the best deal possible. “Further, we agree with the independent Deloitte report which states that the Government must use a ‘public sector comparator’ to ensure that the public-private partnership (PPP) that they have agreed to makes the most long-term economic sense for Bermuda. We look forward to reading the ‘written and evidenced-based assurance’ that is required by this latest Letter of Entrustment and it is our expectation that the alternate options required by the Deloitte report will be published in that document so the Bermudian people can determine whether or not the OBA’s sole-sourced PPP is the best option for Bermuda.” However, Mr Richards said he was entirely satisfied with “improvements” made to the original letter tabled in the House, pointing out that the Deloitte report used UK requirements that do not apply in Bermuda’s case. “We don’t have those rules in Bermuda,” the minister said. “That does not mean that these things were not considered by the Ministry of Finance or Cabinet. It just means they didn’t find anything in writing pertaining to those requirements when they came and spoke with us about it. We complied with financial instructions.” Mr Richards added: “There are no deficiencies because we are operating by a different set of rules. There is no deficiency so far as thought processes or due consideration by the ministry or Cabinet.” The minister said he expected a “go or no-go decision in the next couple of weeks”, with work on the new terminal to commence within the subsequent year. The new terminal will not be ready in time for the 2017 America’s Cup, he added. “It was not intended for it to be,” he said. “The two are not connected.” Mr Richards stressed the need for “a new airport in a different location”, less susceptible to hurricanes, and said the Government had urgently sought a way of replacing the dilapidated former terminal without adding to national debt. He said he had shown brief video clips of the terminal’s drastic flooding experienced during last October’s hurricanes at a number of presentations, and that these were enough to end the debate. “It has passed its sell-by date,” Mr Richards said. Mr Burt said the Progressive Labour Party would call a public meeting on the matter this August, adding that he hoped Mr Richards would allow independent debate in Parliament on the Deloitte report. “For two months he has refused to debate this report and we believe that this project is far too important not to debate all aspects in Parliament.” The entrustment letter, signed by Peter Hayes, Director of Overseas Territories, and dated July 17, 2015, also says: “I believe the continued deterioration of Bermuda’s fiscal situation to be a cause of significant concern and taking on board more debt is unlikely to provide a sustainable solution over the longer term. However, I have also considered the assurances I have received from the evaluation work undertaken by an independent accounting firm of internationally reputable standing [Deloitte], which assessed whether the project for the redevelopment of the airport represents value for money for Bermuda according to the requirements of the full business case under Her Majesty’s Treasury Green Book guidance for appraisal of public spending proposals. Subject to the requirements set out in paragraphs 6 and 7, the United Kingdom Government delegates authority to the Bermudian Government to enter into a contract with CCC to redevelop the airport.”

July 25. Leaders of several Overseas Territories including Bermuda released a joint statement following a Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting. Representatives from territories (OTs) including Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands all took part in the meeting in Bermuda this week. The goal of the international gathering was to discuss matters of common interest in order to present a unified front later this year at the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council. In advance of the meeting, Premier Michael Dunkley said: “As we prepare for this year’s Joint Ministerial Council, let us approach the UK Government in strength. “Let us present a united front in those areas that matter to all of us. Let us work together to represent the best interests of the people we were elected to serve and to guard against pressures that would otherwise threaten those interests.” According to the joint statement, the discussions covered a number of topics, including economic diversification, strengthening families, good governance, meeting global standards of financial accountability and environmental sustainability. Notable measures included:

• seeking innovative solutions, in partnership with the UK and developing robust and effective infrastructure across all of the OTs;

• developing innovative healthcare and social services in the territories, including mental health services and the creation of an OT sports council;

• reiterating the UK’s constitutional responsibility for defending OTs in international forums among key stakeholders where they have committed to meeting international standards;

• continuing the fight against financial crime and continue to be responsible international financial centres that facilitate global trade and investment in line with the emerging global consensus.

The statement concluded: “We reaffirm our commitment and respect for the principles outlined in our constitutions and will uphold our obligations to our electorate and the people we serve.”

Bermuda and other Overseas Territories Ministers meeting

July 24. Portsmouth, UK, gave the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series sailors an enthusiastic welcome. Despite damp conditions, thousands of visitors flocked to the free Waterfront Festival Arena and Fanzone Arena at the Southsea event village to watch the first races for six ‘foiling’ AC45s.

America's Cup teams in Portsmouth

July 24. The issue of beneficial ownership was high on the agenda during the first day of the Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting being hosted in Bermuda, according to Premier Michael Dunkley. Leaders from several Overseas Territories banded together to discuss issues of mutual interest ahead of a scheduled meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council. Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette that he made his stance clear, as he has done in the past, that he believes Bermuda’s existing registry is in the spirit of transparency and highlights Bermuda as a quality international financial centre. He said: “The issue of beneficial ownership was topical before the election, during the election period, certainly during the UK election period and it continues to be. The deputy Premier and Minister of Finance have been very aggressive on exposing our position on where we stand and we used a significant amount of time this morning to make sure we can put forward a collective position to talk to the UK about it. The UK has been very clear that they would like access to registries and our position has been very clear: we have had a registry for 80 years, we allow access to the registry and we are willing to work with the UK going forward.” Mr Dunkley said part of the discussions also centred on strengthening relations between the OTs and the UK. “We had a quiet discussion about where we see ourselves going forward. If the OTs are going to get stronger it is important that we all have access to the appropriate ministers, right up to the Prime Minister to be able to deal with the subjects that fall under their portfolio and can help us to move forward.” Mr Dunkley said in a statement earlier in the day: “Recently strengthened by a clear majority in Parliament, Prime Minister Cameron is at liberty to examine policies afresh and so it is vitally important for us to be in harmony on issues that affect us as territories.” Other big issues of the day included infrastructure projects in the various overseas territories, including Bermuda’s airport terminal, health issues, child safeguarding issues, the environment and climate change. The two-day meeting is intended to serve as a planning session, allowing those involved to discuss issues affecting the OTs in advance of a Joint Ministerial Conference scheduled to take place in November 2015. Among those who traveled to the Island to take part are Premier Rufus Ewing, of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Premier Orlando Smith, of the British Virgin Islands, Premier Alden McLaughlin, of the Cayman Islands, Deputy Premier of Montserrat Dolmades Ryan and Roger Anthony Edwards, Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands. Other OTs will be represented remotely, including Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena and Pitcairn. Speaking yesterday, Mr Dunkley said that all of the territories involved have faced difficulties since their last meetings, including “economic headwinds” slowing the pace of recovery. “These challenges have tested our democracies and our ability to navigate our people safely through the choppy waters of recession. Our meetings this week are held against a backdrop of cautious growth in the United States, pockets of turmoil in the European Union and complex tourism dynamics in the region. Added to that are the social issues that occupy our domestic agendas, including the threat of the gang lifestyle, increasing healthcare costs and the ability of governments to provide relief for the most vulnerable of its citizens. There is cause for much hope within the territories. Each of us in our own ways continue to ‘punch well above our weight’ on the international stage. This is something of which we are justifiably proud and which we must continue to do.” In addition to international challenges, Mr Dunkley said each of the nations are faced with domestic issues that require the same level of attention. “The expectations of our people have been disappointed by the challenges of unemployment and inadequate revenue. The task, as you all know, is difficult. We cannot simply balance budgets through redundancies or cost cutting without regard to impact. The people affected by either of those actions have nowhere else to go; not the next state, county or district. So we have to find creative ways to reduce spending and balance budgets while restoring growth to our economies.”

Premier with British Overseas Territory Premiers

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July 25. Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development responsible for the 35th America’s Cup, is among a Bermuda contingent attending the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth, England. The group, that also comprises Paul Durhager, the ACBDA chairman, and Mike Winfield, the ACBDA CEO, has traveled to the South Coast of England to get a sense of how to run a sporting event of this magnitude and also to promote October’s World Series event in Bermuda. “We are here, not only to promote Bermuda from a marketing perspective, but also to get a sense of how the logistics work with these World Series events,” Dr Gibbons said. “It’s going to be very useful from that perspective as well. Portsmouth has done a very nice job here in terms of the layout. The nice thing is that we have seen a lot of Bermuda presence here from the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Gosling’s, as well as some of the other Bermuda members, which is very encouraging. Bermuda will get a lot of visibility as a consequence of this World Series. The contrast between the very dark blue water of the Solent and when you see Bermuda up on the screen with the turquoise waters, it looks very inviting indeed and hopefully a lot of people will feel that way.” Mr Winfield added: “There are all sorts of things we are seeing here and it’s interesting how many, for instance, Portaloos [portable toilets] they have over here. There are probably more Portaloos in Portsmouth than there are in Bermuda. We are learning a lot and our technical guys are over at the technical side working with the teams and getting information from them. We have gone from the theoretical up till now to the real thing happening here, so it’s good for us and we are learning.” The official opening ceremony of the America’s Cup World Series took place on Thursday evening at the Southsea Common. The series was officially declared open after five-year old Portsmouth School student Lee Howard cut the ceremonial ribbon — albeit with a little help from Sir Ben Ainslie, the principal and skipper of Land Rover BAR, the British challenger. “I thought obviously a lot about Portsmouth and Ben Ainslie, and you would expect that,” Dr Gibbons said. “This is the first stop on the World Series and Sir Ben is clearly a British favourite. He got a lot of prominence last night, as you would expect.”

July 24. The number of people now entitled to work in Bermuda permit-free under a new legal precedent delivered by the Supreme Court excludes the “vast majority” of work permit holders. However, Peter Sanderson, the lawyer behind the latest ruling, cautioned that it was impossible to be certain as many will have already applied for Bermuda status under a previous ruling. There was no word last night from the Department of Immigration on how many might qualify to work without the say-so of the Bermuda Government. Mr Sanderson told The Royal Gazette that the latest ruling could trigger new action on the call for an overhaul of the Island’s immigration system. “Perhaps we will finally see that thing which everybody claims to support, but which nobody seems inclined to put forward concrete proposals on — comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. Calls in Parliament for a joint reform date back to 2013, when the One Bermuda Alliance made the controversial move to drop term limits. The latest development in immigration, reported yesterday by this newspaper, affects only naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens, and confirms that they are entitled to work in Bermuda without work permit restrictions. The July 15 decision by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley upheld the constitutional right of a naturalized citizen to work, after the Department of Immigration terminated his employment in March because he did not have a work permit. Many of the immigration reforms put forward by the OBA have proven controversial, but the debate gathered new force after a ruling by Mr Justice Kawaley, delivered in May 2014, allowed for certain holders of Permanent Resident’s Certificates (PRCs) to obtain Bermuda status. Although that decision began with the independent Immigration Appeals Tribunal rather than the Bermuda Government, it was nonetheless blamed repeatedly on the OBA. The earlier case centered on a point of law described as a “sleeping provision” by the Chief Justice: section 20B (2)(b) of the Immigration and Protection Act. Mr Sanderson, who was the lawyer in both cases, yesterday told The Royal Gazette that the basis of this latest decision was “not, in any sense of the word, a loophole. “The judgment was not based on an ambiguity or oversight in the law, but based on protecting fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution,” he said. “The court is not making policy but is simply applying the constitution, which has been in place since 1968. The effect of this part of the constitution is to protect people who have a strong enough connection to Bermuda that they are able to naturalize.” Last year’s outcry over PRCs obtaining status led to calls from the Progressive Labour Party, along with the People’s Campaign, to have the offending section of the law deleted. That tactic was likened by the OBA to “trying to deal with a refugee problem by simply shutting down the camps where refugees live.” The PRC law had been enacted more than a decade earlier. Undoing the effects of the latest judgment by dispensing with that area of law would prove highly complex, Mr Sanderson said. “It is not straightforward to amend a constitution. Taking away the rights of naturalized persons would be contrary to various international treaties that Bermuda is a signatory to, stating that citizens of a territory should not be banished. Bermuda is already in breach of international law in not allowing British Overseas Territories citizens to vote or participate in public life.” Exactly how many people might qualify for unrestricted work is open to question. The Island’s last census in 2010 lists 1,370 PRCs and a further 1,747 non-Bermudian spouses. Many PRCs will already have sought full status under the 2014 ruling. The category of Naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens covers people from the 14 territories that remain under British jurisdiction, which includes Bermuda. Naturalization is granted by the Governor, and is only given to people who are not under restriction on how long they can remain in Bermuda. They must have resided in Bermuda for at least three years, and have a clean record. It is not usually sought as an end in itself, but applied for as a prerequisite to obtaining a Bermuda passport or Bermuda status.

July 24. Police cadets will be given the opportunity to take advantage of an international development programme under a new agreement between the service and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. The two parties have signed a memorandum of understanding to provide training for the award as part of the Bermuda Police Cadet Programme. Commissioner of Police, Michael DeSilva, who started his career as a police cadet, said: “We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Duke of Edinburgh Bermuda and offer this well-established development programme to our cadets. “The goals of the cadet programme, aside from serving as a recruiting source, include providing opportunities for personal and professional growth and developing deportment, good citizenship and leadership. These skills and attributes have life-long applications, whether the cadets join our ranks or they move on to pursue other careers. The DofE will enhance other aspects of the cadets’ training schedule that includes Outward Bound Bermuda and our community service programme.” Traci Burgess, national director for The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award revealed that training in all areas of the award would start in September. He added: “Five cadets recently graduated their cadet programme and will have the opportunity to become trained DofE Award Leaders and be partnered with the Island’s five public middle schools to assist with delivery of the exclusive Bermuda Bridge Award programme for 12 and 13-year-olds. The remaining active cadets, many of whom have previous experience at the bronze and silver levels of the award, will be enrolled as Gold level Duke of Edinburgh participants.”

July 24. Bermuda Regiment soldiers are to be sworn in as special constables in a bid to boost the defence force’s ability to help out the Bermuda Police Service. A group of around 30 soldiers, drawn from public order specialists the Operational Support Unit (OSU), Boat Troop and the Regimental Police, have started training under police instructors to earn a warrant card and status, when required, similar to the existing reserve police. According to a press release, soldiers last weekend started the first phase of training: learning police crowd control and public order tactics as well as classroom-based lessons on the law. Boat Troop Corporal Tyler Smith said: “We’ve been learning police tactics and powers of arrest so we can have the same powers when we work with the police out on the water. It’s been very interesting. It’s a new way of looking at where the police are coming from and how we can assist them even more, on water or on land.” OSU Private Donald Smith said: “It’s been very enjoyable but exhausting — we’ve done a lot of training in the law, rights of arrest and things like that. It’s been good and good to see the relationship between the Regiment and the police building and, at the end, we will get more responsibility and powers to help support the police on the Island.” Soldiers spent three days either in classrooms studying for exams or outside, practicing police-style shield drills for crowd control under police instructors Sergeant Michael Thomas and PC Brian MacNab. The OSU’s Lieutenant Paolo Odoli said: “The quality of the training has been really top notch. We were told by the Commissioner of Police that Sergeant Thomas and PC MacNab were the best trainers they have and they’ve developed a really challenging programme for us.” Sgt Thomas said: “The enthusiasm has been great, especially in these hot and humid conditions. They all wanted to be here and we couldn’t have asked for better people to work with.” Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Foster-Brown said: “We already work closely with the police, but this is a milestone in the relationship between us. If our soldiers have police warrant cards, it means they’re even more useful in joint operations and we are always looking for opportunities to extend the utility and relevance of the Regiment.” Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva said soldiers will only be authorized to use their police powers when they are directly engaged in a supporting role to police patrols. Mr DeSilva explained: “The objective is to provide a capacity in the ranks of the Regiment with police powers to give greater support to the regular police.” And he said the extra strength — particularly in the Regiment’s Boat Troop — would be vital for major events like the 2017 America’s Cup. Mr DeSilva added: “It will increase the Regiment’s ability to help out if we get to the point where the police are absolutely stretched. Ultimately, it’s not only an advantage to have the extra capacity when we need it, it’s also a good thing for the overall working relationship between the Regiment and the police. The public should be reassured: this is about capacity building so we have enough resources if we ever need them.” For more information about the Regiment, call 238-1045 or visit bermudaregiment.bm.

July 24. Whether you are planning to spend Cup Match at the cricket, on the beach or in the water, the excitement of being at a huge gathering brings one inevitable irritation: finding a parking spot. The Royal Gazette got ahead of the game and checked out some of the big weekend’s hot spots to see exactly where it is safe to leave your vehicles as you party. The good news, we discovered, is that a minibus service could be set up from Mullet Bay Park and Tiger Bay in St George’s — meaning cricket spectators would no longer face that long, hot walk to the Wellington Oval. Many match-goers have previously claimed they have no choice other than to park illegally on the roadside and risk getting parking tickets. Neil Paynter, the president of St George’s Cricket Club, said: “There is going to be parking available for the public attending the match at Mullet Bay Park in St George’s as well as Tiger Bay, on the first day. “We are also currently in negotiations with minibus services that would transfer people from these parks to Wellington Oval for a fee. There will be absolutely no parking on Wellington Slip Road as it will be closed from 9am.” Another popular Cup Match location, Horseshoe Bay, has well-known access difficulties, with pedestrians and vehicles often weaving together as they walk towards the beach, and long lines of cars parked along South Shore Road. While a proposed new bus system should improve that area in the future, beach visitors are reminded they already have one sensible option at their disposal at Southampton Rangers. Elizabeth Pedro, treasurer of the sports club, said that a lot of people prefer parking at Rangers because their vehicles are being monitored and CCTV cameras are set up. She said: “We normally charge people that go to Horseshoe Bay on the first day of Cup Match. We get them to park properly so that we can fit as many cars in as possible and we charge them $10 for cars and $5 for bikes all day. We also provide special parking for individuals that may have emergencies. Last year we had a pregnant woman, an on call doctor and a few other people that could possibly have emergencies, so we try to allocate areas for them right at the front to be able to get out quickly. The money that is made from the parking has been going towards the club’s youth program that started last year and has gone to other club expenses in the previous years. The system works and nobody complains because it’s better than having your car parked on the roadside where you’re able to get a ticket. It makes people feel comfortable throughout the day.” Department of Parks officer, Craig Burt, said that on Thursday there will be plenty of park rangers and lifeguards on duty to make sure everything runs smoothly.  “Basically we have remarked the Horseshoe Bay car park, the bike parking has been shifted to the right where some of the car parking was and that area is now used for minibuses that will take people to and from the beach or to the top. Between ourselves, TCD and the police we are working to make it a one-way system by liaising with Southampton Princess so that people can get in and out easier in the future. The public buses are back on and there will be orange cones in the entry way at the top of the hill for an easy flow of traffic.” The park rangers will be on duty from 9am until 7pm but will usually end up staying until about 10pm when the beach is clear. Meanwhile, organizers of Non-Mariners Day, which takes place at Mangrove Bay on the Sunday of Cup Match weekend, say parking presents surprisingly few problems. Jamie DeSilva, the commodore of Sandys Boat Club, said: “Given that most people travel to Non-Mariners by boat, there aren’t as many parking issues as you would think. Usually people park their cars on the Royal Naval Field or they just find parking wherever they can. However, the police will give tickets if people are parked illegally on the roadside and they should expect to get them. We only provide bike parking by Country Squire restaurant on the grass.” Donald Hassell, owner of the Country Squire, said: “Ever since they started putting vendors around Mangrove Bay over the past few years, the traffic has picked up a little. But the action is mainly on the water. There is a good bit of parking behind the HSBC and Butterfield banks. They park all along Cambridge Road but I would avoid it because they will most likely get ticketed by police.”

July 24. An apparent switch from gun to knife crime in recent months is in line with trends being experienced in the UK, according to the Inter-Agency Community Response Group. There have been at least five knife-related crimes in Bermuda since May, including the fatal stabbing this week of 23-year-old Sandys man Job-Solomon Tucker, who has no known connections to gang crime. Kimberley Jackson, co-chair of the group, attended the Grange Holburn Hotel conference on behalf of the Ministry of National Security in May and met with several organizations during the trip. The conference was titled Guns, Gangs and Knives: Tackling Serious Youth Violence and one of the issues emerging was the fact that there can be trends in the types of weapons used to inflict violence within communities. Ms Jackson explained: “During the trip we visited Scotland Yard to see what they were doing about the problem of youth violence. They communicated to us that one of the main things to be aware of is once you suppress guns, knives tend to rise. As you begin to intervene in a particular area to solve a problem, say, firearms, you have to be aware that the criminals are going to go to other means. It can happen. It is not necessarily what is going on here, but we have to be aware. The ‘taking away’ for me was, let’s look at the violence and keep our hand on the pulse on all areas of violence whether it is fighting or knives or guns. Scotland Yard said they have to adapt to these types of changes. It’s about targeting the right people and targeting the right harm.” The Inter-Agency Community Response formed a special outreach for the West End back in November following a multiple shooting that took place outside of Somerset Cricket Club. It aims to reach out to the community, providing them with support while looking at prevention and resources that may be needed. In recent months there have been several knife-related incidences in the West End, including a stabbing at Woody’s Sports Bar and another stabbing in Sandys Parish in June. Further incidences have taken place elsewhere including at City Hall in June and one in Par-la-Ville Park in April. At a police press conference yesterday, The Royal Gazette asked whether there was any information about an apparent rise in knife incidents but Acting Inspector Smith said he could not speak to that. “This is our first murder for the year, so in those circumstances I can’t speak unto whether there is a rise,” he said. Gina Spence, of Gina Spence Productions in Christ, lost two family members to shooting incidents – her nephew and son-in-law. Her organization reaches out to families of victims of violence. She said: “It appears that attacks using knives have increased. Anybody can get their hands on a knife. I know that just before the shooting started around 2007 there was a serious number of these types of incidents. Then they put the bladed weapon law in place which could have you arrested and prosecuted for articles of a certain length. What is concerning is that people are still being murdered. Whether it is a gun or a knife, a young life has been taken.” The Bermuda Police Service has urged anyone with information about Tuesday’s fatal stabbing “to be bold” and assist with the investigation. Mr Tucker, 23, was named as the Island’s first murder victim of 2015. At a press conference yesterday, Acting Inspector Jason Smith, who is heading the investigation, said: “There are people in the community who are close to the deceased and who live in that community, who can assist us with this investigation and we are appealing directly to those individuals. “We would like to assure the public that this was not a random attack, but what appears to be a targeted attack by unscrupulous individuals.” But he added that nothing has come to their attention to suggest the incident was gang-related, a revenge attack or a robbery attack. Mr Tucker was stabbed in the abdomen during an altercation with a group of men outside of his residence shortly after 11pm, Acting Inspector Smith said. “After being stabbed the victim retreated into his residence, where he sought refuge from his attackers. The assailants broke windows in an effort to gain entry into the house, but despite their attempts to gain entry they were unsuccessful.” He added that Mr Tucker was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where he died as a result of his injuries at about 6.45am on Wednesday. Acting Inspector Smith called on members of the public, in particular residents of the Woodlawn Road area familiar with the victim, his friends and movements, as well as those who may have heard glass shattering and arguing, to “come forward and to assist us with this investigation and to bring closure to the victim’s family and to his friends. “One death is one too many, but we must all work together and rally together as a community if we are going to make any difference in the community and our lives.” Police are appealing for anyone with any information to contact the Serious Crime Unit on 247-1739, the confidential Crime Stoppers Hotline on 800-8477 or e-mail Acting Inspector Smith directly at jsmith2@bps.bm.

July 24. A failure to increase the population will result in everyone getting poorer, according to economist Peter Everson. “For Bermuda, the reality is stark,” Mr Everson told The Royal Gazette as he reflected on a poll showing more than half of people do not want the Island to grow its population to stimulate the economy. Noting the Bermuda Government’s debt is costing about five per cent annually, he continued: “To get ahead of the interest bill, the economy must grow by at least five per cent. “Failure to do so means that the next year more of the economy has to be diverted to paying the interest and everyone in the economy, meaning Bermuda, is poorer. This has been our reality since 2009. The current position is even bleaker because the Government has been unable to close the annual budget gap and must borrow an additional $200-plus million each year to cover these excess costs over taxes raised. So we are going deeper into the mire each year.” Mr Everson, the president of PE Consultants, said that raising productivity was a necessity, but that “doing more with less” would not suffice by itself. “Reducing the number of employees, or asking the same number of employees to work fewer hours, while it raises productivity, does not do so at a rate that will lift us out of recession. It has the bad side effect of decreasing employment income which is the opposite of what Bermuda needs. Thus all people who review Bermuda’s position come to the same conclusion — Bermuda must have a larger population.” Mr Everson called the securing of the America’s Cup “a small step in the right direction”, pointing out that it had brought more people to the Island. “Their numbers will build through to July 2017,” he said. “This is good, but it is neither permanent nor large enough.” New hotel construction, he added, would create jobs over an estimated 30 months, followed by permanent jobs once the hotels opened for business. “These new jobs will be filled by Bermudians and contract workers — the latter increasing the population,” he said. Population growth has been a contentious issue, particularly commercial immigration — a topic raised for consultation in the 2013 Throne Speech, and promptly labeled “a red line we will not allow to be crossed” by the Progressive Labour Party. Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, subsequently acknowledged that the right to vote was a topic of particular concern, and said it should not be extended in cases of “economic citizenship.” A variety of such models exist around the world: the United States offers green cards, equal to permanent residency, to entrepreneurs and their families if they invest in a commercial enterprise and intend to create ten full-time American jobs. Others countries offer citizenship in return for purchase of property, including Latvia, Spain, Greece and Portugal. St Kitts and Nevis have run a “citizenship by investment” initiative for more than 30 years. Citizenship can be effectively purchased through a donation of $250,000 to the St Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or an investment of $400,000 in real estate. Similar initiatives were recently adopted by Antigua and Barbuda. Malta set off fierce controversy in 2013 by offering citizenship to high net worth individuals who invested the equivalent of €1.15 million, roughly $1.57 million. Under pressure from the European Union, the Mediterranean island republic added an extra condition: applicants would have to live there for at least one year to qualify. A poll released last month by Profiles of Bermuda found that six Bermudians in ten were opposed to commercial immigration.

July 24. The America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth this weekend will be shown live on ZBM. Coverage will begin at 9.30am tomorrow and continue on Sunday as the competitive build-up to the main event in Bermuda in 2017 begins in earnest. Tomorrow’s racing will pit cup holders Oracle Team USA against Land Rover BAR, Artemis Racing, Groupama Team France, Emirates Team New Zealand and Softbank Team Japan in the first of three World Series events, with the final one taking place in Bermuda in October. This weekend marks the first time that America’s Cup racing has taken place in British waters since 1851, when the schooner America beat a fleet of British ships around the Isle of Wight, with Queen Victoria watching the finish. “We’re very pleased to be able to bring the opening races of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series to Cup fans here in Bermuda,” Ian Rawlins, Bermuda Broadcasting Company programme director, said.

July 23. Bermuda’s real estate market is bouncing back, according to the Island’s biggest real estate firm. Coldwell Banker said its sales of homes had jumped 44 per cent in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2014. And rental transactions were up 17 per cent over the same time period. A report from the firm said: “This translates to a busier, more active market even though the dollar volume of sales Island-wide has not shifted significantly. These are encouraging signs that the real estate market in Bermuda is showing positive signs of recovery.” Coldwell Banker added that the commercial market was also showing signs of improvement, with four completed sales in 2015 and five “in the works” — pointing to the best performance in the sector for four years. The report said that condominiums, more than a third of available inventory, were outselling all other categories. Single family homes accounted for 28 per cent of sales this year, with the central parishes commanding higher prices. The firm’s report said it was exciting to see the renewed interest and confidence in real estate with a cautious return to stable prices, multiple offers and in some cases, buyers looking to purchase for investment. Sales of land for residential development also appeared to be on the rise. Around 20 lots sold each year between 2012 and 2013, but that had dropped to eight by last year. But the firm said its market intelligence indicated that around six lots had sold so far this year. The firm added: “It’s interesting to note that there are currently ten times that number of undeveloped residential lots on the market. This indicates an excess supply of available inventory making it a great time to looking for lots if you are pre-approved and looking to build your dream home. There were also more homes in need of renovation coming on to the market. As the real estate market begins to show signs of improvement, prudent buyers and sellers will look for opportunities in the market. Making low ball offers — substantially below the asking price — either on rentals or sales can, however, be offensive to vendors and may not be a good idea as demand increases. Our market has changed. Landlords and vendors working with well-educated real estate agents know the market and price their property accordingly. Residential rentals appear to be following the same trend as the sales market although available data is not as robust. Our rental agents report that rental demand for stand-alone cottages and houses in central parishes is outstripping supply and they are looking for new inventory.”

July 23. The Bermuda National Trust is offering a reward of $2,000 for any information that might lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of the person who killed more than forty parrot fish. Fisheries wardens spotted a male “acting suspiciously” in the water near Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve on July 1. When they approached him he held up his empty hands but when they inspected the area they found a spear with the dead parrot fish attached to it. BNT president Tim Marshall told The Royal Gazette: “Every parrot fish is a national treasure in its own beautiful right and Bermudians should be outraged at the senseless slaughter that took place.  "We must bring to justice anyone who harms our heritage and puts in harms way our reefs.” Anyone with information can call the Fishtips hotline on 705-3474 or Crime Stoppers Bermuda anonymous hotline on 800-8477.

killed parrotfish

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July 23. Would-be merger partners Axis Capital and PartnerRe yesterday said their deal was better than a rival bid for PartnerRe by Italian investment giant Exor. A joint statement by the two Bermuda-based companies said that their $11 billion all-share transaction would be superior if the companies are successful in a bid to get the US tax office to rule that a change in terms would not create a “listed transaction.” The two firms said that the Exor proposals could leave preferred shareholders and possibly common shareholders open to “an onerous annual reporting and penalty regime applicable to prohibited tax shelter transactions under US income tax laws.” A statement from both firms added: “The companies believe it is more appropriate and provides greater certainty for shareholders to implement these terms only with an IRS ruling in hand. Exor’s proposal for preferred shareholders appears to disregard this fundamental responsibility and is therefore unacceptable to PartnerRe’s board.” PartnerRe on Tuesday said that the all-cash $6.8 billion plus bid by Exor was likely be the “superior proposal” and that it is prepared to talk to the Italian company, controlled by the billionaire Agnelli family, in an attempt to improve price and terms. But the firm added that it continued to believe that the Axis merger was “superior in value, terms and certainty of closing.” PartnerRe chairman Jean-Paul Montupet said yesterday: “Through this process our goal has been to achieve the best value for holders of both our common and preferred shares. We are pleased that we have agreed with Axis Capital to provide our preferred shareholders with a superior proposal and less risk than that put forth by Exor. We must do what is in the best interests of our shareholders and not expose them to risks that may have serious tax and reporting consequences.”

July 23. Profits plunged to $9.5 million at Allied World Assurance Company in the second quarter, down from $151.9 million during the same period in 2014. The company was hit by a mark-to-market loss of $60.1 million on investments, together with a double-digit decrease in the reinsurance segment, catastrophe losses of $25 million from storms in Australia and a further $20 million of non-catastrophe weather and fire-related losses. During the past three months Allied World directly repurchased more than four million shares, totaling $164.4 million, from Exor SA, a subsidiary of Italian investment company Exor, which is bidding to buy Bermuda-based reinsurance firm PartnerRe. “While we are excited to report our first quarter inclusive of the results of the recently acquired Asian operations, unfortunately this quarter’s results were impacted by catastrophe and current year events,” said Scott Carmilani, Allied World president and chief executive officer. “We continue to take steps to grow attractive insurance businesses, and look to manage our growth while mitigating exposure to less attractive risks.” Gross premiums written were $826 million, up 8.6 per cent year-on-year, however there was a 19.1 per cent decrease in the reinsurance segment, driven by the non-renewal of several casualty and property treaties. Net income per diluted share was $0.10, compared with $1.25 during the same period in 2014. Operating income was $25.8 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, compared with $76.1 million, or $0.76 per diluted share a year ago. Allied World directly bought $146.4 million of its shares from Exor SA at $40.55, which was a 3 per cent discount on the most recent closing price at the time of the repurchase. As of June 30 the company had $173 million remaining on its outstanding share repurchase authorization. Allied World’s combined ratio was 99.2 per cent compared with 90.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2014.

July 23. Jeremy Cox, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, was paid $500,000 last year, with a possible bonus of up to 30 per cent extra. Mr Cox, who has stewarded the BMA for the past five years, has signed on for a second five-year term at the helm. His predecessor, Matthew Elderfield, who was CEO from 2007 to 2010, reportedly received an annual pay packet of $730,000. Mr Cox’s salary figure was released in the BMA’s 2014 annual report, which stated that the salaries of the other seven members of the executive team ranged from $230,000 to $250,000. These staff were eligible for a bonus of up to 25 per cent. In both cases, bonuses were performance based. A total of $2.75 million was paid out last year in combined executive management salaries, bonuses and “other short-term employee benefits.” As the Island’s financial services regulator, the BMA recorded a net income of $340,000 last year, compared with a deficit of $1.53 million at the close of 2013. Total revenue last year was $41.9 million. The annual report was tabled at the latest sitting of the House of Assembly.

July 23. Tickets to the Bermuda Tattoo 2015, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bermuda Regiment, are on sale starting today. According to Major Dwight Robinson, the Regiment’s director of music, the October event will feature a cast of almost 400 performers including guest groups from the United States, the United Kingdom, Jamaica and Canada. “With artillery guns, fireworks and military pageantry, we will showcase the best of Bermuda and its colorful and unique military history. Bermuda will be represented by the band and choral drums of the Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Island’s Pipe Band and Somerset Brigade Band. The Bermuda Tattoo Choir — a specially assembled voice choir — will make its debut as well. We welcome any vocal talents who may be interested in this effort. From overseas will be international groups selected not only for their musical and performance talents, but also because some have very well established relationships with Bermuda and the Bermuda Regiment.” Overseas groups taking part in the event include:

• 19 Regiment Royal Artillery Pipes and Drums;

• The Waterloo Band of the Rifles.

• 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums (the Black Watch).

• The Band and Corps of Drums of the Royal Logistic Corps.

• The United States Marine Corps 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band.

• The Regimental Band of the Governor General’s Foot Guards.

• The Pipes and Drums of The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.

• Toronto Police Pipe Band.

• 36 Halifax Pipes and Drums.

• The Bands of the Jamaica Defence Force.

Former Regiment Major Stephen Caton, the chairman of the BR50 Anniversary Committee, said the event will be the highlight of the anniversary celebrations that have taken place throughout the year. “Both the international and local participants in the Bermuda Tattoo underscore the theme of the BR50 celebrations — Reunion. To be certain, this year’s show will be without equal and will present the most diverse group of participants on the same ticket. You will be delighted, awed and inspired. I am confident that the Tattoo and the remaining BR50 events celebrating the Regiment, will strengthen the already deep-rooted affection that the Regiment enjoys island-wide and internationally.” The event will again take place at the Keep Yard in Dockyard on October 22, 23 and 24. Tickets are available for purchase at bdatix.bm, Pulp and Circumstance and Fabulous Fashions.

July 23. The “best Ag Show so far” will go ahead in 2016 — with funding for the event coming mainly from the private sector. Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, yesterday announced that the Bermuda Government had entered into a public-private partnership with the Ag Show Limited (ASL) to put on the show at the Botanical Gardens next year. For the past three months, the two parties have been hashing out the details of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which was signed yesterday afternoon. “With great pride and excitement I am here to tell you today that we have the MOU in hand,” Mr Cannonier said. “After months of negotiations, we can sign this memorandum of understanding and we can begin to prepare for next year.” The minister and ASL executive committee members, including president Antwan Albuoy, chairman David Lopes, MP Jeff Sousa, lawyer Kim White and Andrea Moniz-DeSouza, were on hand to sign the document. Mr Albuoy said the negotiations had been “very amicable.” He said that for the most part the funding will come from the private sector. “We want to make this as easy as possible for the Government. No funds will be provided by the Government." The group, which was set up after the Government announced that it was canceling this year’s show because of financial reasons and damage caused by the hurricanes, hopes to raise between $100,000 and $200,000 for the event. Any extra funds will be put aside for future shows, according to Mr Albuoy, who added that although the MOU is only for one year, the group hopes to hold the event every year going forward. While he does not see the Government making any changes to the Ag Show, he said the group have come up with some new ideas — many of which are still under wraps because they are yet to be finalized. But Mr Albuoy revealed that the group would like to see more involvement from the animal community because they want to bring some of the event’s focus back to the Island’s “agricultural roots.” He said this is an element that he remembers prominently from his childhood and feels has been “gotten away from” over the past years. Executive committee member Andrea Moniz-DeSouza added: “I think it’s an honour to make sure that the history behind the event continues. I believe that it would be a great injustice to have future generations of Bermudians miss out on all that the Ag Show represents.” Mr Lopes added that Bermuda has come to expect the Ag Show, which is now part of the Island’s heritage. Even though he expects there to be a lot more hard work ahead, he said the show will be a success if all the clubs and organizations rally together. He added that while there may be some hiccups, it will probably be the best Ag Show so far. Mr Cannonier added that he would like to see the Ag Show progress and is excited about some of the new ideas that have been put forward. “This Government is committed to seeing the Ag Show continue, we certainly do not want to see it die,” he added. He said that there was enormous amount of detail that had to be considered in putting on the show, an enormous task. But he pointed to a lot of preparations already underway for the event, with many buildings in the Botanical Gardens under construction. “We are confident that we now have enough time to prepare the grounds, repair damaged buildings and plan and execute a successful Ag Show in 2016,” he said. Mr Cannonier thanked all the individuals who have been involved for the last few decades, in particular the Department of Parks and it’s director Lisa Johnston. “For years have provided a great opportunity and service to Bermudians by allowing our young and old to display their gifts and talents,” Mr Cannonier said. He also thanked Georgia Caines, who has been organising the event behind the scenes for many years and has “been instrumental in helping us get to this point.”

July 23. International business yesterday handed out 14 educational awards to students aiming for a corporate career. Undergraduate students all got $15,000 a year for two years, with the one post-graduate award valued at $20,000 for one year. And three of the students, in addition to Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) educational awards, were given three additional grants named after previous award winners who have since died. Chelsea Warren, a former Bermuda Institute pupil studying accounting at Oakwood College in the US was given the Shernelle M Outerbridge Award, named after the late CEO of Zurich Investment Services, who was herself an ABIC scholar in 1984. The award, sponsored by Zurich, means an additional $15,000 grant to an ABIC awardee. The $5,000 Michelle Outerbridge Memorial Award, named after an award-winner from 2000, was given to Aleisha Hollis, who will be attending the University of Essex in the UK to study law. And Antonio Bailey, a former Bermuda Institute pupil, was given the Stephen Edwards Memorial Award, also worth $5,000. Mr Edwards, who was a law student in England, won his ABIC award in 2014. Mr Bailey will study information technology and computer science networking at London Metropolitan University. The other undergraduate ABIC awards winners were: Katherine Arnfield, Ashley Bento, Ciara Burrows, Clevon Cunningham, Shane Hollis, Nicholas Moulder, Emily Osborne, Jordan Payne, Chelsea Smith and Aaron Trimm. The post-graduate award went to T’Deana Spencer. The application deadline for next year’s scholarships is April 8, 2016. Applications can be made at bermudascholarships.com.

July 23. Shadow Transport Minister Lawrence Scott aired concern over the security of Bermudian jobs after further progress was announced on the controversial deal for a new airport terminal. Finance Minister Bob Richards yesterday said that an entrustment letter from the British Government had been received and accepted, removing ambiguity over the authority of the government to proceed. According to Mr Richards, the document will remove any potential legal barrier to Bermuda engaging with the Canadian Commercial Corporation in constructing the new terminal. But Mr Scott said that the move presents the “thin side of the wedge” towards the Government privatizing other public services. Mr Richards dismissed Mr Scott’s claims over jobs and privatization as scare mongering. Mr Scott told The Royal Gazette: “My main concern is the job security for those who work in the airport. “Now you have 43 individuals who could possibly be made redundant and replaced with non-Bermudians. We are disappointed at the decision because it does not seem to be an open and transparent bidding process. It seems as though not everyone was allowed to showcase their talents and also there is no way for us to definitively prove, test or see that we are getting the best value for our money. This is the thin side of the wedge to privatization throughout this country which has been the seeming MO of the OBA (One Bermuda Alliance) since its inception. You will see Marine and Ports, then Parks Department, then you will see the Public Transport Department. Bob Richards’ government ignores the fact that there is $14 plus million not properly allocated — I am talking about the departure tax which is going to the consolidated fund when it should be, by international regulations and standards, filtered and cycled back into the running of the airport.” Mr Richards rubbished Mr Scott’s claims as “sheer speculation” and “scaremongering in the extreme.” He said: “We made it clear from the start, from the first time I met with CCC and [developers] Aecon, that we are not interested in solutions that cause our people to be put out of work. As far as I know the plans for the airport will increase the number of people working at the airport.” Speaking of the claims that this was the first move towards privatization of government services, Mr Richards added: “This is a P3 [public-private partnership]. This is not privatization. I have said what this is and that fact remains. And, right now, departure tax is part of the consolidated fund but it has been part of the consolidated fund since the departure tax was invested.” In a press conference yesterday, Mr Richards said that government had previously received legal advice stating that the transaction it sought with CCC did not fall within the requirements for an entrustment from the UK which he said would have posed a “significant problem”. However, he said, after striking a dialogue with the UK “that ambiguity had been removed.” David Burt, Acting Opposition Leader and Shadow Finance Minister, said in a statement that the UK issuing a Letter of Entrustment does not mean that the airport redevelopment project has received the green light. Mr Burt also highlighted the Deloitte report on the OBA’s approach to the airport redevelopment saying that, while Mr Richards “glossed over the point”, it highlighted “fundamental gaps in the process which mean that the important measure of value for money cannot be guaranteed.”

July 23. Under a new ruling by the Supreme Court, naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens are to be freed from work permit restrictions. The judgment by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley carries potential implications for other areas of law that could be deemed unconstitutional. While the case excludes most work permit holders, it will affect holders of Permanent Resident’s Certificates (PRCs) and their spouses, as well as spouses of Bermudians and naturalized British Overseas Territories (BOT) citizens. It will not extend the right to vote, cautioned lawyer Peter Sanderson, who told The Royal Gazette: “It just means that they have the ability to live here and work here. The constitution is clear that only Bermudians can vote.” Mr Sanderson also stressed that only persons with no restrictions on their length of stay in Bermuda would be eligible for naturalization. The judgment was delivered by Mr Justice Kawaley earlier this month, on the case of Melvern Williams versus the Minister for Home Affairs and the Attorney General. Mr Williams, who was born in Jamaica, was naturalized as a BOT citizen in December, but lost his construction job in March at the orders of the Department of Immigration, since he did not hold a work permit. Mr Williams challenged the Department on the basis of the constitution — specifically, section 11 part five, which sets out the conditions under which a person is deemed to “belong to Bermuda.” Naturalized citizens are included in that category, opening the way for Mr Williams to argue that the work permit stipulation had been discriminatory. In his ruling, available online at the Supreme Court’s website, Mr Justice Kawaley noted that Bermuda’s immigration laws had operated in this manner without challenge since 1968. According to Mr Sanderson, the ruling sets a precedent for challenging other laws that go against the rights of naturalized BOT citizens. This could include the 60-40 rule for company ownership, as well as government hiring and firing regulations that favour Bermudians. “Naturalisation is limited mainly to PRCs and spouses of Bermudians, who can normally work anyway — but as an example, the wife of a PRC can naturalize and then be able to work,” Mr Sanderson said. “The main point is that this ruling declares that anyone who belongs to Bermuda is able to work without restriction.”

July 23. A newspaper journalist who previously worked in Bermuda and went on to attract notoriety in the UK by being sacked for going on strike has died at the age of 75. Ruth Jones came to Bermuda in the mid-1960s where she worked at The Royal Gazette and made an unsuccessful attempt to organise the first union chapel in the paper’s history. In 1967 Mrs Jones married Stan Jones, another reporter from this newspaper, and their daughter Miriam was born later in Bermuda. Former colleague Charles Webbe described Mrs Jones as a “quiet professional” who was well liked. “I worked with Ruth for a number of years at The Royal Gazette and always found her to be gentle and easy going,” said Mr Webbe. “She was quietly spoken and we often covered the courts together. She was always diligent and professional and nice to work with.” Mrs Jones later returned to England where she started working for the Nottingham Evening Post as court reporter from 1970 to 1978. She was one of 28 journalists who was sacked by the Nottingham Evening Post after joining the provincial journalists’ national strike that began on December 5, 1978. The dispute ended six weeks later and the Post was the only paper in the country not to take back its journalists when the strike ended. After losing her job Mrs Jones joined the National Union of Journalist-backed independent paper the Nottingham News where she was a reporter from 1979 until 1982. She moved to work at Gems News service, where she stayed for a number of years. Her death was widely reported on journalist websites in the UK, including the NUJ website and Hold The Front Page.

July 23. RG Editorial.  The debate about our population and the economy needs to happen without further ado. Make no mistake, this issue relates directly to the Island’s economic sustainability, its ability to pay pensions and provide social services, to keep its public debt under control and to provide opportunities for the younger generation. If anyone doubted the link between population and prosperity, they should consider events in Bermuda over the past seven years. The opposite of population growth has occurred as thousands of foreign workers and their dependents have left the Island. Has it made Bermudians better off? Has it boosted local employment? Has it benefited local businesses and entrepreneurs? After six years of painful recession, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’ on all counts. According to government statistics, there were 40,213 jobs in Bermuda in 2008. Last year, there were 33,475 jobs, meaning a drop of more than 6,700 jobs in the space of six years. There are now about 3,500 fewer work permit holders in the workforce than there were then, but there are 3,200 fewer jobs for Bermudians, their spouses and permanent residents as well. We don’t need an economist to tell us why an exodus of thousands of workers would lead to economic pain. It’s logical that when there are fewer residents, there are fewer customers for all kinds of businesses, whether they’re selling burgers or banking services, mattresses or massages. A smaller population means a smaller market. A fall in business means fewer employees are needed and that translates into fewer jobs for Bermudians. The statistics bear this out. Gross domestic product — the sum of the total value of goods and services produced by the Island — was $6.1 billion in 2008 and $5.6 billion in 2013. That’s an 8.2 per cent shrinkage in the economy, but the impact is much greater than that when inflation is taken into account. Unfortunately, Bermuda’s economic recovery from an awful recession faces a strong demographic headwind. According to projections by the Department of Statistics, the Island’s population will fall from 64,129 in 2010 to 61,566 by 2020, due to a combination of low birth rate, longer life expectancy and more people leaving Bermuda than moving here. But that loss of more than 2,500 people is not the only economic problem. One in five of the population will be aged 65 and over by 2020, a total of more than 12,000 people, compared to about 8,700 in that age group in 2010. If we continue on this path of declining population, the country’s healthcare and pension schemes will come under ever-increasing strain, as fewer working-age people pay into the system to support a greater number of seniors. The Government’s tax base will shrink — fewer residents mean less revenue from payroll tax, land tax, customs duty and vehicle registrations. Government would be faced with having to slash spending, increase taxes, or both, or suffer the devastating consequences of the public debt spiraling out of control. The drop in economic activity associated with a fall in population may also mean fewer opportunities for our bright young people. The Department of Statistics report mentions the possibility of a “brain drain” effect, which would only exacerbate the economic challenges. Having seen the impact of population decline in recent years, it’s somewhat surprising that a poll commissioned by this newspaper and published this week found that more than half of respondents would be against an increase in the population to boost the economy. Nervousness about an influx of foreigners is not unique to Bermuda and is understandable. However, as we saw before 2008, the rise in expatriate employment was accompanied by more economic activity and more jobs for Bermudians. We could learn from the Cayman Islands on this score. Our fellow British Overseas Territory was suffering economic difficulties that echoed our own not long ago. Last year, the Cayman population rose 4.5 per cent to a record high of 58,200, thanks mainly to the arrival of about 1,800 foreigners, mostly work permit holders. During the same period, the unemployment rate among Caymanians dropped by 1.5 percentage points to 7.9 per cent. Don Mills, the chief executive officer of a Canadian market research firm Corporate Research Associates, who worked on the periodic, HSBC-backed Bermuda business sentiment survey with Total Research Associates, has interesting views on the seriousness of the population trend. “There is very modest potential for growth with the population that you have right now,” Mr Mills told this newspaper in February this year. “You have to find another 3,000 people to have any reasonable growth expectations. I would estimate Bermuda’s growth rate will be hampered by at least 1 per cent per year unless the population issue is addressed.” Mr Mills is an advocate of economic immigration — the selling of citizenship to a limited number of wealthy individuals on condition that they each invest, for example, $5 million in job-creating enterprises. Just 100 of those would create many more than 2,000 jobs, he argues. Whether that would be supported by Bermudians is far from certain, but it is an idea that warrants discussion. Prominent commentators in our community like Sir John Swan, Larry Burchall and our own columnist Nathan Kowalski have all signaled warnings over the potential dire consequences of continuing on the road of declining population. This newspaper will continue to highlight this issue and foment discussion of it, because of its fundamental importance to our future. Mr Mills added: “There has to be a national dialogue on population. You can’t just wait another ten years — it will be too late.” He may well be right.

July 22. Finance Minister Bob Richards insisted opinion polls “cannot change the economic reality” as he reacted to a survey showing more than half the Island opposes boosting population. His remarks came as business research head Don Mills told The Royal Gazette that “more voices need to join the conversation” to allay fears of foreign workers taking jobs, which he said were far from unique to Bermuda. Meanwhile, Opposition Member of Parliament Walton Brown said the Island’s need for foreign capital did not equate to a need to increase the residential population (see page 2). Each was responding to a poll commissioned by this newspaper, which showed 54 per cent of residents disagree with jump-starting the economy by upping the number of residents. Mr Richards replied that, in an ideal world, strong economic growth would come with keeping the number of residents constant, adding: “But we’ve never had such a world. Not in the golden age of tourism, nor the go-go days of international business. “Statistics clearly show that economic growth in Bermuda has been accompanied by increasing numbers of people either living in Bermuda and/or visiting our shores. Opinion polls cannot change the economic reality that the link between the number of people spending money on our shores and the strength of the economy is virtually unbreakable.” Mr Mills, chief executive officer of Corporate Research Associates in Canada, which produces regular business confidence index reports on Bermuda, said: “The reason why the results are the way they are, and Bermuda is not the only place that would have this challenge, is that most people do not understand that a stagnant population, or a declining population in Bermuda’s case, is actually very bad for everybody. There has not been a big enough conversation about the consequences of ten per cent moving off the Island in the last five years and the result of that.” When it comes to an influx of foreigners, he said, many were “afraid that those people will make jobs even more scarce”. However, with population decline, he said: “There is no single part of the economy that hasn’t been negatively impacted.” He continued: “Somebody has to make the case that we need the investment to create jobs that were never there. The conversation has started with some important voices like Sir John Swan, but it needs more voices and it can’t just be the Government. Right now the information is not out there.” Mr Mills said it was crucial for senior figures in the business community to make their case. Even if the case for economic immigration has proven highly unpopular, Mr Mills said business people should take up the cause. “It’s not just having expatriates working for international business. Economic immigration would mean that people would have citizen status by making an investment. The example I use is if Bermuda could find 100 very wealthy individuals who were prepared to make a minimum investment of $5 million into the economy to set up businesses and create jobs for Bermudians.” Mr Mills suggested such measures could be directed into new businesses, such as the IT sector, which could give “a third leg on the stool” for the Island’s economy. “There needs to be a discussion. It’s going to take a while.” In his response to our Global Research poll, Mr Richards said Bermuda was suffering a loss of confidence, coinciding with international market turmoil, which have led to large-scale losses of private sector jobs, including thousands leaving Bermuda. He maintained that Bermuda Government measures had stabilized the economy, and that “solid evidence of growth” was emerging. The Island’s debt crisis persisted, Mr Richards said, and annual budget overruns would have to be dealt with before any inroads could be made into reducing debt. Calls to reduce spending were “naive at best”, while harsh austerity measures would result in untenable mass public sector layoffs. Mr Richards characterized the Government’s tactic as “a glide path of deficit reduction, with cost cuts concurrent with revenue increases that would be principally derived from growth. We are today faced with trying to put as many Bermudians back to work as quickly as possible. In Bermuda, all money is ultimately from abroad. The Government has been hard at work creating the appropriate environment that will attract overseas investment. There are clear signs that this is working. Money is coming into the Island for several building projects, including several hotels and a new airport terminal. Other sources of investment are also coming to the fore. Foreign investment in our economy comes with more commercial activity, more opportunity and more jobs for Bermudians and more government revenue. We want to put Bermudians back to work but typically, overseas workers will be required to fill the gaps not filled by Bermudians. This is the nature of our service economy. We will always need foreign exchange and foreign-born citizens who contribute to our community, and who bring and spend that money in our economy. This is what worked for us in the many years of prosperity, and if given a chance, will work for us again.” The argument equating economic growth with population growth is “patently false”, according to Walton Brown, the Shadow Minister of Immigration and External Affairs. Mr Brown, right, was responding to a survey by The Royal Gazette showing 54 per cent of Bermuda residents are against the idea of boosting numbers as a means of reviving the economy. He said he had not seen a single economic growth model predicated upon population increases. “We need investment,” Mr Brown said. “We need more money coming into this country. We need the growth of international business and the revitalising of tourism. It may well be that certain models lead to an increased population, but that’s in consequence to the growth. Some people have it backward and I wonder if other motivations are in play.” Technology-driven increases in revenue would have “almost no positive impact” on employment, the Progressive Labour Party MP warned. “New businesses coming in are so tech-focused that you don’t need as many people. Look at HSBC. When they took over the Bank of Bermuda there were 1,700 people employed. Now they have about 700. We lost 1,000 jobs and it wasn’t because of term limits. The smaller number represents greater efficiency for HSBC.” He suggested many calls for population growth were motivated by a desire for an inflated property market. “We need people investing and we need tourists coming to Bermuda. That’s what we need to focus on, not just numbers.” Mr Brown said that when thousands of unemployed Bermudians saw a drive to bring more people in, “that simply tells them the Government does not have its focus on their opportunities”. “That explains the high level of sensitivity around a Government that says we need more people for economic growth,” he added. “It is a nonsensical argument.”

July 22. By Vic Ball, a Government senator and Junior Minister of Tourism Development and Transport. "Members of the Opposition who are trying to convince the public that the Bermuda Tourism Authority has failed dismally in its bid to improve Bermuda’s visitor arrivals are putting the worst possible gloss on the truth. Those who might be disheartened by their relentless campaign to denigrate the BTA should read on. Yes, air arrivals are down again — by 6.7 per cent in this year’s first quarter over the same period last year. There has been a 14.5 per cent reduction in available airlift, so perhaps a loss of just over 2,000 arrivals is not surprising. The first three months of the year are always our weakest in terms of tourist arrivals, so fluctuation in Q1 figures shouldn’t be seen as the end of the world. At the same time, there is a good-news story to tell about tourism, if you look beyond the obvious. First, cruise ship arrivals are expected to increase by 10 per cent in 2016, which represents 37,000 additional visitors. The BTA has been targeting the high-end ships in the cruise industry and has had a great deal of success, according to my colleague, Shawn Crockwell, the tourism minister. Second, visitor spending is up by 21 per cent in this year’s Q1. Visitor spending has a lot more to do with job creation and growing the tourism economy than air arrival numbers do. The BTA forecasts total visitor spending to grow by $100 million between 2014 and 2017. So it can be said that this figure alone demonstrates that the BTA has begun proving it has the ability to grow the tourism economy by aiming its marketing efforts at a more affluent visitor, who not only spends more, but stays longer. With the average daily rate for a hotel room up 6.3 per cent in Q1 2015, this must have taken much of the sting out of lower air-arrival numbers for hotels. But let’s get away from the numbers for a minute, and look at the improvements the BTA is making in Bermuda’s tourism infrastructure, which has been slowly deteriorating for years. I acknowledge that the BTA itself provided me with this list.

• The BTA product and experiences team uses market research data to understand what the customer wants and then financially backs local entrepreneurs who can create products and experiences that meet those customer demands. It’s called the Tourism Experiences Investment Process. Its launch marked the end of us giving visitors what we think they should have and began an era of giving customers what they want. This strategy has produced many successful experiences, many of them new. Examples: Hydro-bikes, Bermuda Carnival/Heroes Weekend, aerial tours, hidden gems, beach yoga, etc. So far $1.4 million has been invested in home-grown ideas. These home-grown ideas create jobs.

• The BTA has been challenging restaurateurs to create Bermuda-inspired dishes because visitors tell us they want authentically local cuisine when they travel. Restaurant Weeks 2015 produced greater revenue for all participating restaurants that the BTA surveyed. One local establishment reported year-over-year sales up 92 per cent! Another restaurateur said he was shocked Q1 visitor numbers were down because his sales revenue was up so sharply.

• The BTA put the same dollar investment in the Pink Sale for 2015 that the former Bermuda Department of Tourism put into the promotion for 2014, but got far better results. There was a 45 per cent growth in number of reservations, 24 per cent growth in room nights and a 24 per cent increase in direct visitor spending. That represents about $900,000, year over year.

• The BTA budget from Bermuda taxpayers this year is $21.7 million. That’s down 31 per cent from the 2013-14 budget, the last budget year for the former Bermuda Department of Tourism. So while taxpayer funds spent on tourism is going down with the BTA, the economic impact of the tourism industry spending is going up. That means the BTA is providing a healthier return on investment for the country than it was getting before — a result that can’t be measured in air visitors alone.

• The spirit of entrepreneurship and job creation is under way in St George’s largely because of the BTA. It has helped to make Tobacco Bay the kind of beach experience young visitors are looking for, it has backed new experiences such as the haunted history walking tour, two new beach buses are running, connecting visitors with businesses, beaches and cultural attractions in St George’s and St David’s. This is the kind of economic stimulus imagined in the National Tourism Plan.

• To combat the seasonality issue and the burden it puts on the tourism economy, the BTA is chasing collegiate teams who need a mild climate for training during spring break. This could mean track teams, swim teams, field hockey teams, sailing teams, etc. In Q1, six collegiate golf teams came to Bermuda and played on our courses while the weather was too cold back home. And many of the golfers and their coaches brought their families. This strategy clearly has a more beneficial impact on the tourism economy when compared with college spring breakers. For one thing, families spend more.

That’s not the bad news the Opposition wants you to hear at all, is it?"

July 22. Bermuda could be a testing ground for a prototype technology that generates electricity from slow-moving water currents. And in the long-run the Island might be able to harness a constant, renewable energy source to reduce or replace its reliance on fossil fuel to generate electricity. The Waterotor device has undergone $14 million worth of development and has attracted purchase agreements worth $4 million even before any promotional campaign begins. Now a suitable location is being sought where a working prototype can be demonstrated later this year. California is one possibility, however Canada-based inventor and company boss Fred Ferguson is open to the idea of bringing the device, and likely accompanying worldwide interest, to Bermuda. What is needed is a serious expression of interest, and the pinpointing of an offshore location with a steady water current of two miles per hour or more. Mr Ferguson has ties to the Island, which he has visited “hundreds of times”. He is a friend of businessman Kenny DeFontes, and his brother John Ferguson was news director with the Bermuda Broadcasting Company between 1968 and 1978. A few years ago, at the invitation of Bacardi family member Carlos Bosch, he met with Belco’s then-president Vince Ingham to talk about the alternative energy technology, which at the time was still in the early stages of development. “We looked at Bermuda a few years ago. When I met Vince (Ingham) he was intrigued and people seemed to be open to the idea,” Mr Ferguson said. Since then things have moved on considerably. The technology has been trialed and tested and is now on the cusp of being promoted to the world. The Waterotor uses a rolling drum-like system to generate power by capturing the push of water. Mechanical energy from the rotating drum is converted to electrical energy through on-board generators. The device can function anywhere that has a water current of two miles per hour or faster. The “sweet point” is in a current of around 4mph. The invention is fully submersible and can be hung from buoys or anchored to the seafloor. It has no open propeller-like blades and rotates at the same speed as the water current, so it will not disturb fish, Mr Ferguson said. In slow moving water currents the Waterotor can produce electricity costing as little as five cents per kilowatt hour. Initial models of the device will generate between 5 kilowatts and 20KW, however greater levels of electricity output would be achieved by linking an array of the Waterotors together, with an underwater cable bringing the generated electricity ashore. Mr Ferguson said scaled-up versions of the Waterotor will be able to generate one megawatt (MW) each. “That’s something we may see in two or three years. They would obviously be for deep sea use, and we are talking about a lot of power that can be trunked back ashore,” he said. Mr Ferguson has been involved in research and development of aerospace technologies for many decades, including development of the Magnus Spherical Airship. He set up Waterotor Energy Technologies (WET) in 2010 to develop and promote the Waterotor technology. Interest in the Waterotor devices has grown, and the company has been offered a joint venture to build up to 2,000 of the devices with a government group in the Philippines led by Manny Pacquiao, winner of multiple world boxing titles and a Philippine congressman. The firm also has purchase agreements in place with the Federated States of Micronesia and a number of other Pacific Ocean jurisdictions. Construction of the Waterotors will be undertaken by two large North American engineering firms. Mr Ferguson said for small communities or resorts, having a number of the Waterotors in operation would give a reliable and cost-effective source of renewable energy. As a benchmark, he said the devices would cost the equivalent of a fossil fuel generator together with a one-year supply of fuel. However, Waterotors are designed to last many years with minimal downtime. Any disruption from maintenance could be mitigated by running a number of the devices in tandem, giving some spare redundancy capacity. Mr Ferguson said resorts and small communities could create and operate their own “micro grid” with electricity from an array of the devices. The generation of electricity on a larger scale, allowing it to be plugged into a national power grid, is also envisaged. When asked if Bermuda could make use of the technology, Mr Ferguson said he would be open to the opportunity of bringing a prototype device to the Island to demonstrate. Now could be a fortuitous time to do so. In the House of Assembly last Friday, the Bermuda Government tabled its draft Electricity Bill, through which it hopes to encourage alternative power suppliers to enter the domestic market. The vacant “finger” runway at LF Wade International Airport has been cited as a possible location for a solar farm, while energy company Belco is preparing to release to regulators its Integrated Resource Plan, which will feature natural gas and solar energy solutions. Belco’s power plant in Pembroke burns heavy oil and diesel to generate electricity. The company reported that peak demand last year was 107MW, down from 123MW as recently as 2010. Mr Ferguson said the Waterotor would be a perfect energy generating system for Bermuda if there is a constant water current that can be identified. With the Waterotor at the prototype stage he said he would be happy, if asked to do so, to bring one of the devices to Bermuda to demonstrate its effectiveness. Mr Ferguson would need someone to identify suitable locations where there is a constant water current of 2mph or more, which he feels is feasible as the Island is on the fringe of the Gulf Stream. “Maybe there is someone in Bermuda who would like to get involved,” he said.

July 22. The ‘merger mania’ that has swept through the Bermuda insurance market is unlikely to let up any time soon, according to a special report by AM Best. The New Jersey-based credit rating agency argues that more takeovers are likely, driven by soft market conditions and weak investment returns in the low interest rate environment. Best notes there has been a trend of large companies merging with each other. “These deals have the ability to change the landscape of the reinsurance market, squeezing businesses that lack niche product differentiation,” the special report noted. Best said while the pressure on investment returns from low interest rates was a driver of merger activity, the low rates also served as an enabler, in that they have allowed cheap borrowing to finance deals. The rating agency cited deployment of excess capital, scale and product diversification, geographic expansion, and cost savings as advantages sought by consolidators. Best said it expected stronger specialist players to be the most attractive to acquirers, especially those in the Lloyd’s of London market. Although the wave of transactions has already caused some Lloyd’s participants to trade at high prices to net tangible assets, Lloyd’s’ capital-efficient structure and international licences have attracted trade and private-equity buyers, with the acquisition of an existing managing agent still regarded as the most straightforward way to access the market. Best points out that consolidation can create larger, more competitive companies, but merging entailed considerable risks. These included overpaying for an acquisition, the challenges of integration, and unforeseen risks such as legacy reserve issues. Diversification can also lead to companies going into lines of business in which they may lack underwriting expertise, Best said. “AM Best notes that trying to expand a niche to other territories or related classes of business quickly has been the downfall of many companies, resulting in significant downgrades and insolvencies — particularly following the last significant soft market from 1998-2002.” Bermuda has been bubbling with mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity this year. In March, RenaissanceRe acquired Platinum Underwriters for $1.9 billion, and during the same month Endurance announced its $1.8 billion buyout of Montpelier Re. In May, XL Group completed its $4.1 billion takeover of Catlin and Chinese investment firm Fosun International announced a $1.8 billion deal to acquire Bermuda insurer Ironshore. Ace pulled off the biggest deal of all, agreeing earlier this month to buy The Chubb Corporation in a transaction worth $28.3 billion. Another deal is very much in play, involving PartnerRe, whose agreement to merge with Axis Capital is threatened by a rival bid by Italian investment firm Exor. PartnerRe shareholders will vote on the Axis proposal on August 7. Best said the losers amid the spate of takeover deals will be smaller insurers and brokers, especially those without particular expertise. “Smaller reinsurers will continue to struggle as dominant companies can have more influence on terms and conditions or can steer business towards an affiliate.  The policyholder theoretically will have less choice from an insurance provider, but at the same time can benefit from greater security through the purchase of protection from a stronger, financially sound entity with highly refined underwriting ability and product offerings.”

July 22.  The board of takeover target PartnerRe yesterday did a U-turn and admitted an improved bid by Italian investment firm Exor was likely to be a “superior proposal” to its merger plan with Axis Capital. The Bermuda-based insurer said it was prepared to talk to Exor in an attempt to improve price and terms — but renewed its support for the Axis merger. The PartnerRe statement said: “In response to Exor’s revised offer, its sixth revised proposal, the PartnerRe board has determined that the latest Exor proposal would reasonably be likely to result in a superior proposal as defined in the amalgamation agreement with Axis Capital. As such, the board will seek to engage in negotiations with Exor and offer Exor the opportunity to conduct due diligence to determine whether the current offer can be improved both in its price and terms with respect to items previously identified.” But it added: “However, the board continues to believe that the transformative amalgamation with Axis Capital is superior in value, terms and certainty of closing to the current Exor proposal. Following its review of Exor’s revised proposal, PartnerRe’s board of directors reaffirms its recommendation that shareholders vote for the agreed amalgamation with Axis Capital Holdings Ltd.” The announcement came after Exor on Monday upped its bid with a $3 a share special dividend for common shareholders on top of its $137.50 a share offer. Exor also dismissed claims that the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would treat preferred shares in PartnerRe as part of a “listed transaction” or “prohibited tax shelter” involving “fast pay stock” under the Exor bid. But Exor added it would seek a private letter ruling from the IRS to confirm its views. And Exor said — if a private letter ruling could not be obtained in time or the IRS were to decide there was no abuse in the transaction and declined to spend time and resources on it — Exor would add a lump cash payment of around $42.7 million, equivalent to the 100 basis points of additional dividend payments for five years added to the Axis/PartnerRe merger terms after Exor began a bidding war. Charles Sebaski, an analyst at BMD Capital Markets, said Axis would find it hard to come up with a better offer for PartnerRe without losing support from his shareholders. Shareholders in PartnerRe and Axis, near-neighbors on Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, meet to vote on the proposed merger between the two firms on Friday, August 7. And Mr Sebaski predicted: “With the limits of Axis’s bidding nearly reached and PartnerRe’s board changing its stance toward Exor, it appears that the end is near in this transaction.” Axis said yesterday: “The value of our merger agreement with PartnerRe is superior to the Exor offer both immediately and in the future. We provide continuity of interest for investors to participate in the future upside resulting from the substantial strategic and financial benefits of the combined company, the exchange of PartnerRe common stock for combined company common stock in the amalgamation is tax free to PartnerRe shareholders, we offer deal closing certainty ahead of the upcoming renewal season and the combined company will have a superior credit profile.”

July 22.  Longtime visitors to Bermuda Susan and Jerry Waller enjoyed a little adventure during their most recent visit helping to save a baby longtail from drowning. The married couple spotted the juvenile bird floating in the water off The Reefs where they were staying. They noticed that it was trying to fly but was getting taken further out to sea with the tide. They decided to contact the hotel and immediately Bermudian staff members Clarkston Smith and Adrianna Lowe took a kayak on to the water. They were able to scoop up the bird using the oar paddle where it stayed until getting close to shore at which point it jumped into the water. Reefs guest Nick DiVita was able to catch the longtail while Mrs Waller found a beach towel to wrap it up in. The Reefs staff members wrapped up the chick and carefully placed it in a crevice in the beach cliff. Mr and Mrs Waller then contacted the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo to arrange for the bird to be transported to the aquarium to be treated. Mr Waller said: “These are beautiful birds to watch flying out of the cliffs around the Island. But when you see a young one floating out on the ocean before its time to fly knowing it will inevitably drown, there’s only one thing to do and that is to try help with a rescue, which as you can see — can be done if done in time.” Jerry and Susan Waller have visited Bermuda some 42 times and stayed at The Reefs hotel 38 times since 1990. By coincidence, they were involved in a similar rescue about four years ago. Mr Waller recalled: “Surprisingly we were involved in a similar longtail rescue about four years ago in almost the same manner with the same result — the baby Longtail was saved via a kayak rescue and it was sent to the aquarium for further care.” As for the progress of the bird, Mr Waller added: “All we know is that after we contacted The Reefs front desk, they immediately went into action and the longtail was taken to the aquarium to be taken care of until it matured and was ready to fly on its own. The staff at the aquarium knows what to do.”

July 22. A visitor has complained online and to Government about a negative experience with an “inappropriate” taxi driver. In a post on the Cruise Critic forums the visitor, using the name “Harleysparents”, said that while they had a “spectacular” cruise, an experience with a taxi driver marred their time on the Island. She wrote that last Thursday, she and her husband got in a taxi at Dockyard, with the intention of having a drink at Woody’s before visiting Horseshoe Bay and Elbow Beach. “Our driver was a local in his 60s who talked about his grandchildren,” she wrote. “Everything was fine and we were having a lot of fun until Elbow Beach. When we finished there my husband was in line to grab our kids T-shirts. I had to use the ladies room and told him I would meet him at the cab. When I got back to the cab I got in to wait for my husband, who incidentally is a 6ft 5in former football player. You would think based on that the cab driver would have remained gentlemanly. He did not. In fact as soon as I got in the cab he jumped into the back seat with me. I was stunned. I immediately jumped over the driver and exited the cab saying I had left my camera in the ladies room. We needed to get back to the ship so I asked my husband to refrain from saying anything until we got back. In retrospect we should have called another cab. Anyhow when we got back I told the driver what he did was inappropriate and that we would be dealing with it. I informed my concierge who planned to report the driver to the Norwegian [Breakaway].” She said that the next day she contacted the dispatcher, who in turn notified the “Bermuda Transportation Police.” They had me write a statement and assured me that this man will lose his licence,” she wrote. “Though he never touched me, the situation was uncomfortable and inappropriate. I am still shocked.” A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport said the Transport Control Department has received a written complaint from the visitor, which has been forwarded to the Public Service Vehicles Licensing Board.

July 22.  A major legal dispute between the Bermuda Government and a developer over the Hamilton waterfront will be ruled on at a later date after parties completed their submissions yesterday. Michael MacLean claims that new legislation voiding his agreements with the Corporation of Hamilton to develop the waterfront breached his constitutional right to hold property under Section 13 of the Bermuda Constitution. His legal team has also submitted that the agreements with the corporation were not properly voided by the Municipalities Amendment Act 2013. The Government has opposed Mr MacLean’s legal challenge and sought to strike it out as an “abuse of process”. It says Mr MacLean had already accepted the agreements with the city’s former administration had been voided and had therefore embarked on proceedings to pursue damages through an arbitration panel. The case has attracted attention because Mr MacLean’s 16-page affirmation levels allegations of corruption against Craig Cannonier, the former Premier, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney-General and Steven DeCosta, a businessman, which they strongly deny. After nearly two days of submissions, which saw a team of between six and eight Government lawyers attend the commercial court, the hearing was closed at about 4pm yesterday with Chief Justice Ian Kawaley saying he would reserve judgment to a later date. He did not specify when the ruling would be given. Yesterday, Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, Mr MacLean’s lawyer, argued that his client should be able to pursue constitutional relief for the waterfront agreements. “In this case we have a bona fide claim, and it looks to be a powerful constitutional claim,” said Sir Jeffrey. “No individual can barter away the freedoms given to them in the constitution. Constitutional rights should not be waived by any form of election.” Sir Jeffrey told the court that Mr MacLean had changed tack from the arbitration proceedings and embarked on the constitutional challenge because of the “derisory” sum he would have received. He also maintained that Mr MacLean’s decision to initially proceed with arbitration should not bar him from now challenging the legislation that voided the agreements with the city as unconstitutional. Chief Justice Kawaley said: “There is no doubt that what happened to your client is as dramatic an interference as you can possibly imagine. That they would be distressed by consequence is entirely understandable.” Government lawyer Monica Carrs-Frisk had previously argued that Mr MacLean had elected to pursue the arbitration proceedings on the understanding that the agreements with the corporation had been voided. She also submitted that significant expense had gone into setting up the arbitration panel — the first of its kind in Bermuda — and a hearing date of July 6 had been scheduled before Mr MacLean’s “U-turn.”

July 21. An affirmation by developer Michael MacLean outlining allegations of ministerial corruption has been branded “scurrilous” and “without substance” by the lawyer for the Bermuda Government. Mr MacLean’s affirmation was referred to and parts were read out yesterday by the Government’s lawyer, Monica Carss-Frisk QC, as she told Chief Justice Ian Kawaley the allegations had been vehemently denied in affidavits before the Commercial Court. Ms Carss-Frisk further stated the claims were “not relevant” to the proceedings before the civil court that revolve around whether the “voiding” of agreements between Mr MacLean and the Corporation of Hamilton over plans to develop the waterfront was unconstitutional. In the present hearing, Mr MacLean is fighting a government move to strike down certain of his constitutional challenges to the voiding of the agreements on the basis that they are an abuse of process and made out of time. Referring to Mr MacLean’s affirmation, Mr Kawaley said: “I am not sure I will be easily convinced that this evidence will have anything to do with the present application.” He acknowledged that the affidavits made in response to Mr MacLean’s allegations were “crystal clear in their rebuttal”. Mr Maclean’s 16-page sworn statement alleges that he was asked to pay money to Craig Cannonier, the former Premier, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney-General and Steven DeCosta, a businessman, in return for their support of his waterfront development plans. Referring to Mr MacLean’s affidavit, Ms Carss-Frisk said: “The recent evidence produced by the applicant makes allegations that can only be properly described as scurrilous. The court will have seen detailed responses by the relevant individuals staunchly and robustly denying all allegations. Looking at that evidence, one sees it entirely lacks substance and credibility. Finally, speaking as far as this application to strike out, that evidence is not relevant.” Ms Carss-Frisk noted that Mr MacLean’s affirmation had been put into the public arena and revealed that the Government’s legal team had also filed an affirmation by Anthony Cottle, a former government lawyer, with the court yesterday morning. For legal reasons, the media are not permitted to print the full details of any of the affidavits, other than any part that has been told to the open court. The Royal Gazette asked the Government’s legal team for copies of the counter affidavits and that of Mr Cottle, but was not provided with the documents. This newspaper also asked the applicants’ attorneys for a full set of the two affirmations filed by Mr MacLean and referred to in yesterday’s proceedings, but the request was denied. Referring to Mr Cottle’s statement that was made in London and submitted yesterday, Ms Carss-Frisk said: “It is another extremely robust denial of what has been said against Government by someone who does not have an axe to grind.” Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, representing The Allied Trust and Allied Development Partners, said Mr MacLean’s affirmation concerning the allegations made against the three parliamentarians was submitted to provide background and that the applicants had “no part whatsoever” in putting the information into the public domain. Mr MacLean’s affirmation was filed at the beginning of this month, together with exhibited messages and taped conversations. “If one looks at the various messages and transcripts, there is nothing there that actually corroborates what Mr MacLean is saying,” Ms Carss-Frisk said. The government lawyer referred to one specific audio recording, saying: “His trump card is a reference to a discussion about a number. When one reads these paragraphs, it is abundantly clear that the reference to the number in no way refers to any conversation of improper payments. It is simply a number that the applicants might be willing to settle their claims for relief.” Mr Kawaley added: “This is all about what Government is likely to give to applicants in a settlement for the voiding of the agreements.” Ms Carss-Frisk told the court: “Mr MacLean has suggested that various individuals began to make improper demands on December 22, 2012. That is the day after ministers Fahy and Pettingill were appointed to the Government. The idea that we have this group of people that have just been elected and within a day are thinking to themselves ‘we can now start to make these demands’ is utterly ludicrous. Mr MacLean says that suggestions of improper payments were being made over two years repeatedly. If he is setting out to record things for his own protection, which he says he was doing, why on earth has he not been able to achieve anything in what is taped that actually supports his story? This is a complete fabrication and has been put in a desperate attempt to divert attention from what this application is all about. It also appears that someone at least has an ulterior purpose in circulating these matters outside the courtroom.”

July 21. A real estate sales office has been formed at Morgan’s Point ahead of a major development that it is hoped will help rejuvenate the Island’s economy. Today, Bermuda Realty Company Ltd and Morgan’s Point Development Ltd announced they had agreed to form a joint venture real estate company in preparation of the impending development of phase one of the luxury residential and hotel proposal. The project will include 149 branded luxury condos and a 79-room five-star boutique hotel with world class spa and restaurants. The distinguishing factor is said to be its mega-yacht marina, slated for completion next year. Brian Madeiros, president and CEO of Bermuda Realty Company, said in a statement: “The joint venture allows us to work directly with the property developer to create and market a brand new product for Bermuda. “There are several phases of development and an intricate knowledge of the past, present and future of the development site is absolutely necessary to effectively showcase this phenomenal real estate opportunity.” According to a press release, Morgan’s Point development team shareholders including Brian Duperreault, Craig Christensen and Nelson Hunt embraced the collaborative partnership, stating: “This innovative and unconventional approach to a sales agency business model will more closely align the objectives of both business partners.” The press release said the new company, once incorporated, will benefit from the global exposure and branding of the Coldwell Banker organization. Coldwell Banker boasts 3,047 offices around the globe, in 43 countries, and more than 86,000 sales representatives.

July 21.  When it comes to a new resort on the old Club Med site, the feelings of St George’s residents are easily summed up by former mayor Henry Hayward. “I’m afraid the popular belief is ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’,” Mr Hayward said of the property whose history is chequered with a litany of false hopes. The latest reason for optimism came on Saturday, when the Bermuda Government tabled the St George’s Resort Act which paves the way for the construction of a new luxury hotel. But controversy has come easily to the site, whose current developer, Desarollos, has been the target of suspicion from Opposition Members of Parliament. Many political hopes have been staked on securing a developer, and allegations linked to the estate scuppered the career of former Premier Craig Cannonier in last year’s “Jetgate” affair. “Having checked up on the Desarollos group, I think it’s a step in the right direction — I think we are going to see something happen,” Mr Hayward added. He said the building of a resort could also jump-start any number of significant projects for the Old Town. “It would be particularly good for St George’s with no regular cruise ships coming,” Mr Hayward said. “They could agree on the widening of Town Cut to let ships in. The St George’s golf course, which was so beneficial, could open up again. People used to come down four or five times a year when we got the cruise ships, and the course was very popular. All of this is going to supply jobs to the St George’s community and all of Bermuda.” To trace why many Bermudians will choose to wait and see, The Royal Gazette compiled a timeline for the site’s history.

• 1988: The Club Med resort in St George’s closes, beginning a two-decade spell in which the site has mostly lain empty.

• November 2003: Fifteen years later, the St George’s Renaissance Consortium, led by Canada-based Quorum, fights off a host of developers to secure an exclusivity deal to transform Club Med. It vows to knock down the eyesore building and replace it with a $210 million five-star hotel with piazza-style colony housing.

• Summer 2004: The Bermuda Government announces that a lease will be presented to Quorum.

• March 2005: The hotel chain Four Seasons is lined up by Quorum to manage the new hotel.

• August 2005: The Government reveals it is reviewing the terms of Quorum’s lease.

• Early 2006: Quorum is dropped as developer in favour of KJA Developments.

• September 2006: KJA developer Jack Avedikian announces he wants to construct a five- to seven-star hotel with a Nick Faldo signature 18-hole golf-course.

• November 2006: Mr Avedikian’s position is dropped as developer of choice.

• Early 2007: The Government announces that squatters in the derelict building will be evicted by the end of March. They eventually move, although the eviction date is put back.

• April 2007: Bazarian International — a company linked to luxurious five-star resorts all over the world — is named as the latest operator for a new resort.

• April 2008: Premier Ewart Brown announces Bazarian International’s intent to develop the site for the Park Hyatt hotel chain. The $294 million project, due to be ready by spring 2011, is to feature 100 rooms and suites, swimming pools, tennis courts, five restaurants and bars and the 18-hole Faldo golf course. A $90 million, 262-year lease on the property is signed.

• August 2008: In a first for the Island, the 11-storey derelict hotel is imploded. The opening year for the hotel is now put off until 2012.

• December 2008: As the world recession unfolds and hoteliers express doubts that the project can secure backers, Carl Bazarian Sr, president of developer Bazarian International, gives firm assurances that he is near to signing for $300 million in financing.

• June 2009: Dr Brown candidly acknowledges that development around the world is at a standstill, but stands by Mr Bazarian’s promise.

• January 2010: Mr Bazarian, having said that he expected to get $120 million in backing from HSBC, declares that he has full funding and should break ground on the project by the year’s end.

• October 2010: Park Hyatt announces it has become a “significant” backer of the project.

• July 2011: Designs for the resort, now open to the public, incur criticism as skepticism grows. Environmentalists and residents formally object to the hotel’s design.

• July 2012: Echoing the sentiments of most east enders, St George’s Mayor Kenneth Bascome voices his disappointment at the lack of progress. A deadline to begin construction within 48 months of the demolition is about to expire.

• October 2012: Wayne Furbert, the Minister of Tourism, calls the deal “terminated” but subsequently retracts the remark, and Mr Bazarian now says the resort could be built by 2015. The Opposition calls on the Government to come clean about the deal. Mr Bazarian applies for permits to begin the first phase of building — but the Government terminates the Club Med lease.

• January 2013: New Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell affirms the Government’s cutting of ties with Mr Bazarian.

• September 2013: Parliament repeals the Park Hyatt (St George’s) Resort Act, opening the way for fresh negotiations.

• May 2014: Mr Crockwell announces the signing of a 120-day Memorandum of Understanding with Venezuela-based developer Desarrollos Hotelco Group for the site. The negotiating period will later be extended until the year’s end. Meanwhile, embattled Premier Craig Cannonier steps down over the “Jetgate” uproar when it is revealed that he and other One Bermuda Alliance ministers flew to Washington, DC on a private jet owned by US developer Nathan Landow, allegedly to discuss investment in the Club Med.

• December 2014: Mr Crockwell announces that Desarrollos have switched brands for the project, choosing St Regis, Starwood hotels for a five-star resort to be developed, starting in May.

• July 2015: After repeated calls from the Opposition for Mr Crockwell to give an update on the project, the minister tells Parliament that legislation authorizing the lease of the site is to be tabled later in the year.

July 21.  More than half the Island are against increasing Bermuda’s population to stimulate the economy, according to a new poll. The survey commissioned for The Royal Gazette shows that 54 per cent of the Island disagrees with the proposition of growing numbers to help ease the Island’s financial woes. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, as well as a string of high-profile economists, have repeatedly pointed to a connection between flagging population figures and Bermuda’s struggle to combat the effects of the recession. Thousands of expatriate workers have left the Island in recent years in a period that has seen the economy shrink by about 10 per cent. But in the poll, carried out by Global Research between July 1 and 10, just over one in three, or 34 per cent, said they agreed with the comment: “Bermuda should try to increase its population to help improve the economy.” Some 41 per cent gave their answer as “strongly disagree”, with a further 13 per cent saying they “somewhat disagree”. Twelve per cent said they neither agreed nor disagreed. A breakdown of the results by race shows 43 per cent of whites agreed, compared with 27 per cent of blacks. Among blacks, 45 per cent said they strongly disagreed. Older people were more likely to agree with the idea of population increase, with 51 per cent of those aged 65 and older saying yes, compared with 20 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds. In February this year, Don Mills, chief executive officer of a Canadian market research company involved in a pioneering Bermuda business confidence survey, said the declining population was the second most important business issue flagged by corporate decision makers. Mr Mills argued the Island needs a national dialogue on population issues. Meanwhile Mr Richards has been quoted as saying: “It is virtually impossible to grow GDP with a shrinking population … without a game-changer, we have to depend on incremental growth in population and small increases in productivity to grow GDP.” Former Premier Sir John Swan said recently: “Growing the population is not just critical to growing the economy but to Bermuda‘s very viability.” Speaking on the issue in a joint opinion piece, Sir John and political commentator Larry Burchall stated: “Today in the midst of Bermuda’s unique but declining economy, there stands an ordinary Bermudian who today says, ‘I see and hear all of that. But I’ve just lost my job. Now I don’t have a job. I see a foreigner here who is doing a job that I believe I can do. As we have shown you, Bermudians are a shrinking or non-growing group. We have to import people to replace Bermudian shrinkage. Bermuda’s national economy cannot and will not grow or regenerate if we rely solely on Bermudians. If we do get it wrong and concentrate our efforts on preserving jobs for Bermudians, we will, absolutely, find that Bermuda’s economy will continue to wilt and die a slow death.” And Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister for Home Affairs, said in March last year that an increase in population was needed “in order for our economy to have the critical mass that it needs to function properly”. The telephone poll of 403 Bermuda residents aged 18 or over has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 per cent.

July 21. A management buyout of an arm of top offshore law firm Appleby is to go ahead, the firm has confirmed. The move means the fiduciary and administration business, which has more than 320 staff, part of which is Bermuda-based, will be spun off in a deal backed by London-based international private equity firm Bridgepoint. And a spokesman for Bridgepoint yesterday said the firm had plans to expand the business and the workforce. Appleby partner and global group head of fiduciary Farah Ballands, who is based in Appleby’s Jersey office, will become chief executive of the independent fiduciary business, which provides a range of professional services. She said: “With Bridgepoint’s support and expertise in growing businesses successfully, we will be able to develop a greater range of products and services for our clients. The Appleby Group has provided us with a solid foundation and enabled us to grow to the size, reach and scale that we enjoy today, but now is the right time to accelerate our growth plans.” Bridgepoint partner and head of its financial services team William Paul added that the fiduciary business was “an exciting platform with a reputation for high-quality, client-centric services and the expertise to deal with the complex needs of its clients. It brings significant opportunity as a stand-alone business to accelerate its growth organically and via acquisition in what remains a strongly growing market.” Appleby Group managing partner Michael O’Connell, who will continue to lead the law firm after the deal concludes, said: “The transaction will enable two strong businesses to grow and prosper independently, while remaining close where it suits the needs of clients.” Neither side in the deal was prepared to disclose the cost of the buyout. The deal, reported in the UK media to be worth around $370 million, covers the Appleby divisions covering corporate administration services, private client and trust business, back-office services for Bermuda-registered companies and trusts, and Bermuda Stock Exchange listing services. The unit is also a significant player in the Island’s booming insurance-linked securities business. Appleby chairman Frances Woo, who is based in Hong Kong, said: “Being able to respond to client needs by investing in the development of products and services for each business is a key part of our thinking here, coupled with providing essential continuity of service. With the existing management team taking the helm of the new fiduciary company this will ensure that existing clients feel it is very much business as usual.” In Bermuda, the fiduciary arm is made up of Appleby Services (Bermuda) Ltd, Appleby Management (Bermuda) Ltd and Appleby Securities Ltd, according to the firm’s website.

July 21. Government House has not been courted by airlines offering alternatives to the present British Airways service to the UK. The rebuttal came earlier today in response to an article in The Royal Gazette, in which Shadow Transport Minister Lawrence Scott spoke on the need for alternatives to the British Airways service. Mr Scott said the Bermuda Government had been successful in acquiring alternative routes from the United States — but suggested that Governor George Fergusson might be “protecting the UK’s interests when it comes to not allowing competition for BA as the UK’s flagship carrier”. A statement issued by Government House read: “An Opposition spokesman has reportedly asked whether the Governor is protecting the UK’s interests when it comes to not allowing competition among air carriers. The answer is no. Government House has not been approached by any airline carriers wishing to fly to Bermuda from London or any other European destination and we are not aware of any proposals in this area. “If such an approach were received it would be given proper consideration, and in the first instance would be a matter for the Bermuda authorities.”

July 21. The America’s Cup is to be shown in China after a ground-breaking deal between event organizers and a Chinese sports channel. CCTV Sports and Entertainment has acquired exclusive rights to broadcast all stages of the America’s Cup, giving the world’s biggest TV audience a good look at Bermuda, host nation for the 2017 finals. America’s Cup commercial commissioner Harvey Schiller said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for the America’s Cup, our partners and our teams to demonstrate the excitement of America’s Cup racing to the largest national television audience in the world.” The races, including the 2017 finals in Bermuda, will be carried on CCTV5+, the network’s free-to-air sports channel to the Chinese mainland. The news came as Moet & Chandon was announced as the official champagne of the event. The champagne house, part of the same MHLV luxury brands group as major sponsors Louis Vuitton, has an association with the event dating back to 1987. Stephane Baschiera, president and CEO of Moet & Chandon, said: “The America’s Cup is the epitome of elegant achievement and the bold pursuit of victory. “It is a perfect reflection of Moet & Chandon’s own pioneering spirit of success. We raise a toast to this prestigious event and its exceptional participants.”

July 20. Italian investment giant Exor today upped the stakes in a poker game for control of Bermuda reinsurer PartnerRe. Exor has added a $3 per share dividend sweetener to its $137.50 a share bid for control of the firm. The move brings the value of Exor’s offer to $140.50 per common share for shareholders, which is up against a proposed $11 billion merger with Axis Capital favored by the PartnerRe board. Exor said: “This additional $3 per share of real incremental value to PartnerRe common shareholders further widens the gap in value with the Axis transaction.” The Exor statement said the Axis transaction’s increase in the special dividend announced earlier this month amounted to $1 a share after adjustments for the ownership split in the combined Axis/PartnerRe, reported declines in the s2015 second quarter tangible book value of both firms and the costs associated with a 100 basis-point increase in the dividend rate for PartnerRe preferred shares. The Exor statement added: “Through its actions, PartnerRe’s board has effectively acknowledged the superiority of the Exor binding offer by seeking enhanced terms with Axis. This is the second time the PartnerRe board has sought to improve its terms with Axis to respond to the Exor offer, which continuing to claim that the Exor offer is inferior.” A spokesman for Axis said: “The value of our merger agreement with PartnerRe is superior to the Exor offer both immediately and in the future — we provide continuity of interest for investors to participate in the future upside of the combined company, the exchange of PartnerRe common stock for combined company common stock in the amalgamation is tax free to PartnerRe shareholders, we offer deal closing certainty ahead of the upcoming renewal season and the combined company will have a superior credit profile.” The Italian firm, controlled by billionaire Agnelli family, dismissed claims that the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would treat preferred shares in PartnerRe as part of a “listed transaction” or “prohibited tax shelter” involving “fast pay stock” under the Exor bid. The statement added: “Although Exor and its advisers do not believe a ruling from the IRS is necessary, in light of PartnerRe statements to shareholders to the contrary, which avoid a truly committed exchange offer in the Axis/PartnerRe transaction, Exor is also willing to seek a private letter ruling from the IRS that the preferred shares issued in the exchange do not constitute ‘fast pay stock’ or are not otherwise part of a listed transaction.” And it said that — if a private letter ruling could not be obtained in time or at all if the IRS were to decide there is no abuse intended in the transaction and declined to spend time and resources on the issue, Exor would give a lump sum cash payment of around $42.7 million, equivalent to the entire amount of 100 basis points of additional dividend payments for five years. The cash would be payable to preferred shareholders in PartnerRe as the successful conclusion of Exor’s bid for PartnerRe. PartnerRe and Axis shareholders will meet on Friday to vote on the merger deal. Exor raised its original $6.4 billion bid for PartnerRe — equivalent to $130 a share — to $6.8 billion, or $137.50 a share, in May. The cash deal went up against the all-share merger proposition and Exor said it intended to retain PartnerRe as a stand-alone company and keep existing management and staff. The Axis-PartnerRe deal would create the world’s fifth largest reinsurer and the two companies have said joining forces would save $200 million a year — with some of the savings from redundancies among the combined Bermuda-based staff of around 130. And the two reinsurance firms, near-neighbors on Pitts Bay Road in Pembroke, would also probably require less office space.

July 20. New legislation is set to boost the Island’s attractiveness to outside investment. The Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) said amendments to the Investment Business Act tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday was a “collaborative effort” by regulators and Government, backed by professionals and the BDA. The move aims to put Bermuda in a good position to be considered for “third country” — non-European Union (EU) — passport rights for alternative fund managers. Fund managers covered by the EU “passport” would be allowed to register in one EU state and market their funds more freely in other states under a regulatory regime that would apply on an equivalent basis to EU managers. BDA chief executive officer Ross Webber said: “This is an important milestone for Bermuda’s funds industry and we applaud the inclusive public/private team approach that has been taken to ensure that our global regulation and regulatory environment support the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) regime and that we are considered in the best possible light.” The European Securities Market Authority (ESMA) will make a decision this week on whether to open up the EU market and ESMA is expected to announce a list of countries that should be considered by the European Commission for extension of passport rights to the funds business. Mr Webber said: “There are procedural unknowns at this point and it may be a phased process but we anticipate Bermuda will now be seen to have a sufficiently rigorous and well-resourced structure for fund managers located in our jurisdiction to operate in line with European rules and requirements.” Jeremy Cox, CEO of regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), added: “The amendments will supplement the present licencing and regulatory provisions which apply to any manager issued an investment fund licence by the BMA. “But, under the amendments, alternative investment fund managers may choose to come under the AIFMD-equivalent regulatory provisions if they wish to market their funds in Europe.” Members of the BDA’s asset management industry group and AIFMD subcommittee gave input to the new legislative measures. BDA business development manager Sean Moran said: “Our collaborative view is that investors located in the European Union stand to benefit significantly from inclusion of Bermuda under the AIFM directive, because it offers opportunities to place their capital with well-supervised fund managers outside their own region. “It also shows recognition of requirements and standards which the EU has initiated in this area. We trust the EC will recognise Bermuda’s robust regulatory credentials and our long legacy of compliance and transparency that set us apart from many other jurisdictions.”

July 20. Businesses in the Island’s West End remain optimistic about the 35th America’s Cup, despite saying they have seen no significant increase in revenue so far. While some establishments reported a slight uptake in business in the past six months, others insisted it is still too early to tell if there has been a difference and urged patience. “We’re trying to push something that is not fully developed yet,” said Donald Hassell, owner of the Somerset Country Squire. “You’re only getting a slight taste of what’s happening.” Mr Hassell said some members of the AC teams, but mainly support staff, had dropped by “every now and then.” Although he has seen only a slight increase in business, he thinks there will be a big difference once the teams and their families are fully based here. “Even if there is a trickle right now, you can definitely see the potential,” Mr Hassell said. “One day it’s just going to hit.” The Royal Gazette approached businesses in the West End, the focus of America’s Cup activity, after a poll revealed that just under half the population does not support or is unsure about the Bermuda Government’s financial support of the event. The manager of Woody’s Bar and Restaurant, Wayne Tucker, said he saw business increase after the announcement with some of the support staff occasionally stopping by. But this has since died off, which Mr Tucker put down to the teams setting up their own kitchens. Although he thinks the America’s Cup will be good for the country overall, Mr Tucker also questioned whether the Island is ready for such a large-scale event. He is also concerned that the benefits will not be spread out among certain individuals. “It’s not like it’s going Island-wide — a certain group of people seem like they have a lock on certain contracts and the way things are being set up for the America’s Cup. People are less excited because it doesn’t feel like the trickle-down effect is happening.” Mr Tucker said Government should “educate people on how to get a piece of the pie and work along with them.” Partner and managing director of Bermuda Fun Golf, Jill Kowalchuk, said: “We haven’t seen a necessary increase in business, but we’ve seen a lot of patronage from the America’s Cup teams. The event provides a great opportunity for new businesses, which I hope will draw more people to Dockyard. It’s very difficult never having held an event of this magnitude to project the benefits because we have no concept of truly understanding the size of the event. Bermuda will not only benefit financially, but also through the global exposure it will receive. At the end of the day there is no way that it’s not going to benefit everybody.” Staff at Somerset Pharmacy have seen a slight upgrade in business over the past six months with team members coming in to shop. “That’s just with two teams here,” said one of the front store managers, who asked not to be named. “When there are more, I think we will see even more business. I think people just have to be patient — they’re not going to see things overnight.” She added that while people are talking about the event and there is a general feeling of excitement, the critics “don’t understand what actually goes into the America’s Cup. People just have to be open-minded and accepting to it." Bob Ricketts, the owner of clothing store Orchid in Dockyard’s Clocktower Mall, said that although he is yet to see any cash benefit, he is still encouraged by the teams’ presence. He said he has seen a bit more movement in the mall and remains hopeful that the event will boost business. Hand Made co-owner Andrea Moniz said she has seen no direct influence since the announcement either, but hopes there will be more once the event draws closer. “Even though I haven’t seen it directly, I think indirectly it is helping us,” she said, adding that when there is more money in the local economy, more money is being spent.

July 20. The Progressive Labour Party’s motion of censure against Speaker of the House Randy Horton was defeated in the early hours of Saturday morning. The final vote, which took place at 1am, saw all MPs present in the chamber vote along party lines resulting in the motion being defeated by 17 votes to 15. After the vote Mr Horton returned to his chair and presided over the last hour of the sitting before Parliament was adjourned until August 17. At the end of the evening, Premier Michael Dunkley scolded Opposition MPs for the un-Parliamentary language during the debate. Yesterday he told The Royal Gazette: “The Opposition’s motion of censure against the Speaker was first put down on the Order Paper on March 16, four months ago. In the time since, I have called on Opposition Leader Bean and his team to proceed with the motion. I did so repeatedly because to keep it hanging on the Order Paper from week to week and then month to month was not just an affront to the integrity of the House of Assembly but an affront to integrity of the Speaker himself. As for Friday’s debate on the censure motion, I have never in my time as an MP heard a more poorly made argument, from start to finish. After four months of preparation, not one Opposition speaker advanced a concrete argument that justified the motion. Indeed, some of their speakers rubbished core elements of the motion while they spoke, prompting Government MPs to wonder just what was going on with the members opposite. All in all, the Opposition’s handling of this episode has raised questions once again about its leadership and its priorities. There are better ways for the Legislature to spend its time. We did not let the censure motion distract us from the important work we have. We voted it down and then tabled the St George’s Resort Act 2015 to make for a productive finish to the day. It is my hope that MPs and Senators will use this episode constructively to get on with the people’s business and nothing but the people’s business when they meet again.” However Michael Scott, the Shadow Attorney General, who brought the motion, defended the Opposition’s conduct. “I believe the motion was brought with as much integrity as it could have been,” he said. “There were unprecedented interruptions and interventions during the debate and that is a shame. We felt there was a clear case that supported and sustained the details of the motion and because Mr Horton later apologized for his actions on the day in question we believed we were able to prove the motion. We believe the motion should have been carried.” The censure motion prompted nearly six hours of fiery debate in the House of Assembly on Friday night with Opposition MPs leveling accusations that Mr Horton was in collusion with the Bermuda Government. Some went even further claiming Mr Horton had made a blackmail allegation against Marc Bean, Leader of the Opposition, because Mr Bean had threatened to reveal that he had accepted a payment of $45,000 from Nathan Landow. Suzann Roberts-Holshouser, the Deputy Speaker, had to repeatedly tell MPs from both sides of the floor to stick with the terms of the motion that was brought by Michael Scott, the Shadow Attorney General. The motion itself related to Mr Horton’s handling of an immigration debate back in March that ended with David Burt, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, being ejected from the chamber and a walkout by the PLP. Mr Horton later admitted that “with reflection and the benefit of hindsight” he should not have hurried the motion that prompted Mr Burt’s objections. Mr Scott accused Mr Horton of systematic mismanagement, telling MPs that the charge against Mr Horton of bringing the Parliament into disrepute extended to numerous other issues that have roiled the House. Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, rose next, likened the walkout to “a family spat among colleagues here in the House”. Other OBA MPs including Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, and Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development, also backed Mr Horton Walton Brown, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, said that he had been present, with Opposition Whip Lovitta Foggo, when Mr Bean had met with the Speaker in his chambers, telling Mr Horton he had information that was “gravely disconcerting” and calling on the Speaker to resign. Mr Brown said he had been surprised to later hear that Mr Horton had accused Mr Bean of blackmail. Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development, said the motion was politically motivated and not a good use of the House’s time. Calling Mr Horton a patient Speaker, Dr Gibbons said that behavior in the House had “dropped to a new low” and told the Opposition to “suck it up” when they could not get their own way. PLP MP Jamahl Simmons told the House the Speaker’s error was either a result of incompetence “or something else”, questioning why the OBA were “so protective of the Speaker.” Mr Crockwell said that there had been Opposition “animus” against Mr Horton since he became Speaker because as a PLP member it affected the numerical balance of the House.

July 20. An international companies umbrella group is to unveil its 38th annual scholarship winners on Wednesday. Previous winners have lined up to praise the Association of Bermuda International Companies’ (ABIC) long-running scheme for helping them to get a foot on the corporate ladder. Patrick Tannock, head of Bermuda insurance operations for giant XL Catlin and also now president of ABIC, said: “The ABIC education awards enables young Bermudians to further their education overseas and acquire the skills sets in order to participate and succeed in international business. “As former scholarship recipients working in international business, we are uniquely positioned to act as ambassadors to positively influence perceptions about Bermudians in the international business arena and perceptions about international business within our communities." Mr Tannock, who won a scholarship in 1980, added: “And we must continue to tangibly demonstrate by our contributions to the success of our companies that it is a great investment for international companies to award scholarships to Bermudian students.” ABIC said many of today’s industry leaders were among the 541 Bermudians who have benefited from the scholarships since they were introduced in 1977. Scholars now work in fields like accounting, law, information technology, media and financial services, as well as insurance and reinsurance. The awards marked their 35th anniversary with a new award sponsored by insurance firm Zurich named after Shernelle Outerbridge, the former president of Zurich Investment Services. The programme has handed out more than $5 million in the last decade alone. Bowring Marsh assistant vice president Laura Norman, who won a scholarship in 2008, said the award helped to fund her studies in business at Edinburgh University. She said: “The funding contributed towards tuition, accommodation and required textbooks. I greatly appreciate the association’s support during my studies.” XL Catlin underwriter Deniece Gordon, who won her scholarship in 2003, added: “Furthermore, ABIC can be monumental in providing a student their first glimpse into the world of international business. Being awarded the ABIC education award as well as the Michelle Outerbridge award opened up doors to internships and relationships that I may have otherwise not been given the opportunity to pursue.” Scholarships are awarded by a special committee drawn from donor companies and are given on the basis of financial need, academic ability and area of study. Every year between 14 and 20 students are given $30,000 over two years to help fund undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.

July 20. New legislation paving the way for a luxury hotel resort to be built in St George has been welcomed by the town’s leaders. The St George’s Resort Act 2015 was tabled in the early hours of Saturday morning by Shawn Crockwell, the Minister for Transport and Tourism Development. MP Kenneth Bascome told The Royal Gazette he was confident the development would now reach fruition, while Mayor Quinell Francis said the tabling of the Act was “good news” for the whole community. “We are on our way to creating something that the town but also the country can be proud of,” said Mr Bascome. “At this stage on behalf of the community of St George I want to thank the Minister of Tourism and his team for bringing the project this far. What happened with this site previously was never really as concrete as this and I believe these folks will take it to fruition and the Minister has done all his due diligence. I want to thank them for showing faith in St George. We will welcome them with open arms. I believe this is the real thing, and it is very much needed because the property is dilapidated and looks like a jungle.” Ms Francis added: “I’m pleased to see the Act tabled in the House and hope that this resort will now come to fruition. It’s good for St George but it’s also good for the country and will bring in a wide range of visitors to the Island. We are still in the early stages. When we start to see progress on the ground we will be even more excited. It’s good news.” The Act, which is expected to be debated later this summer, authorizes the leasing of the land to the developer and grants rights, leases, concessions, permissions and the approvals necessary to develop the resort on land lying to the south side of St Catherine’s point. Work on the new hotel, which will be managed by the St Regis, Starwood Hotels & Resorts brand, is expected to start before the end of the year. “I am very excited to announce that the Bermuda Government and the Desarrollos Hotelco Group are now poised to finalise the Master Development Agreement for the St George’s Tourism Development Site,” said Mr Crockwell. “This is a group that is more than capable of developing a world-class, full-service resort and we are very excited to have them as our partner. Today marks a significant milestone for this development, it is indeed very good news and comes as a result of numerous meetings that the Government, the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Desarrollos have had with both internal and external stakeholders, to negotiate terms and to prepare the relevant documentation. This is a $120 million dollar development and very significant to the revitalization of our tourism industry, the St George’s community and Bermuda as a whole.” The proposed development includes 122 hotel rooms, a casino — subject to an application to the Gaming Commission — and the renovation of the 18-hole Robert Trent Jones designed St George’s Golf Course. “There are also plans to build: 90 condominiums, six estate residences, a spa and fitness centre, meeting rooms, swimming pools, a pool bar and grill, a speciality restaurant and a beach restaurant and bar. Mr Crockwell said: “This development has the potential to spur other developments and provide exponential employment opportunities. It is crucial to Bermuda and it will have a positive impact on our Island. This Government made a promise to develop a resort in the east end and it is a promise that we are keeping. I must applaud the hard work and commitment of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport, the BTA and our consultant on this project, the Hemisphere Group, a Miami-based international real estate advisory firm. Reaching this point is a testament of our focus and efforts to create an inviting business environment to attract inward investment and private sector jobs for Bermudians. This is a very important piece of legislation and I encourage the Opposition to support it as it is a tremendous benefit for all of Bermuda.”

July 19.  Leaders of the UK’s Overseas Territories will gather in Bermuda this week ahead of the Joint Ministerial Council. It’s the second time the Island has hosted the precursor of the JMC that will be held in London later in the year. The pre-meeting, which takes place at Rosewood Tucker’s Point from July 22 to 24, will be attended by Orlando Smith, Premier of the British Virgin Islands; Alden McLaughlin, Premier of the Cayman Islands; Rufus Ewing, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Dolmades Ryan, the Deputy Premier of Montserrat and Roger Anthony Edwards, member of the legislative assembly of the Falkland Islands. Other overseas territories of the South Atlantic including Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena and Pitcairn will be represented remotely. “Bermuda is very pleased to welcome the OT Heads of Government and OT representatives,” said Michael Dunkley, who will be chairing this week’s meetings. “The Joint Ministerial Council is the highest political forum between the UK Government and elected leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories. It’s objective is to provide leadership in delivering shared priorities as set out in the 2012 White Paper. So the pre-meetings provide an invaluable opportunity for us to have frank and meaningful discussions about critical matters facing each of our countries in preparation for the OT JMC meeting later this year. Areas of focus at this week’s meetings will Centre on social and economic development, environmental and security matters and the relationship between the OTs and the UK.”

July 19. New legislation paving the way for a luxury St Regis hotel to be built in St George has been put before Parliament. The St George’s Resort Act 2015 was tabled in House of Assembly in the early hours of Saturday morning by Shawn Crockwell, the Minister for Transport and Tourism Development. The Act, which will be debated at a later date by MPs, authorizes the leasing of the land to the developer and grants rights, leases, concessions, permissions and the approvals necessary to develop and deliver the St George’s Resort on land lying to the south side of St. Catherine’s point. The resort will be managed by the St Regis, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and it is anticipated that work will start before the end of this year. “I am very excited to announce that the Bermuda Government and the Desarrollos Hotelco Group are now poised to finalise the Master Development Agreement for the St. George’s Tourism Development Site and as such I am able to table the St. George’s Resort Act 2015,” said Mr Crockwell. "This is a group that is more than capable of developing a world class, full service resort and we are very excited to have them as our partner. Today marks a significant milestone for this development, it is indeed very good news and comes as a result of numerous meetings that the Government, the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Desarrollos have had with both internal and external stakeholders, to negotiate terms and to prepare the relevant documentation. This is a $120 million dollar development and very significant to the revitalization of our tourism industry, the St. George’s community and Bermuda as a whole. This development has the potential to spur other developments and provide exponential employment opportunities. It is crucial to Bermuda and it will have a positive impact on our Island. This Government made a promise to develop a resort in the east end and it is a promise that we are keeping. I must applaud the hard work and commitment of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport, the Bermuda Tourism Authority and our consultant on this project, the Hemisphere Group, a Miami based international real estate advisory firm. Reaching this point is a testament of our focus and efforts to create an inviting business environment to attract inward investment and private sector jobs for Bermudians. This is a very important piece of legislation and I encourage the Opposition to support it as it is a tremendous benefit for all of Bermuda.” The proposed development includes 122 hotel rooms and the renovation of the 18 hole Robert Trent Jones designed St George’s Golf Course. The resort will also include: up to 90 condominiums, six estate residences consisting of three and four bedrooms, a spa and fitness centre, meeting rooms, a casino — subject to an application to the Gaming Commission, swimming pools, a pool bar and grill, a speciality restaurant and a beach restaurant and bar. A Government statement released this afternoon said: “The selection of Desarrollos resulted from a thorough Request for Proposal (“RFP”) process that had the stated objective “To provide a high quality tourism development that will complement the St. George’s UNESCO World Heritage Site designation and accentuate the historical significance of the area while providing economic opportunities for the people of St. George’s and Bermuda.  At that time, interest was expressed by over a dozen international development and investment companies which resulted in five written submissions being received by the Ministry of Tourism Development & Transport by the March 31st deadline, 2014. Each proposal was thoroughly reviewed and evaluated incorporating a decision matrix that took into consideration the respondents international experience in successfully financing, building, owning and operating luxury resort developments and their relationships with renowned hotel brands. From this process two short listed finalists emerged and the finalists were invited to make oral presentations to the Economic Development Committee. It was not an easy decision as both short listed finalists’ submitted impressive proposals that were augmented with very detailed oral presentations that highlighted their desire and enthusiasm for the development opportunity, but most importantly their proven ability to deliver projects was evidenced. Ultimately, Desarrollos was chosen."

July 19. Plans to make City Hall car park an all-day parking site with motorists paying an upfront $15 fee on entry were abandoned this evening. The change was due to take affect from 8am tomorrow to tackle the issue of motorists parking illegally in the car park. But a statement released from the Corporation of Hamilton tonight revealed that as a result to talks between the corporation and Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, a new solution had been found. Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, said he was pleased to announce that City Hall car park would revert to its prior manner of operations rather than be closed off to all day parking. He added: “We recognise the challenges facing the traffic wardens and scheduling for a reduced work team and we are grateful that ticketing in the city car parks will resume. This episode shows that neither the city nor the country can work in isolation of each other and together we can meet our challenges.” The corporation’s statement said “Changes to the way City Hall Car Park would operate, have been averted and motorists can park there as usual, paying only for the time they need, effective immediately. The driving public is reminded that as the car park is intended for short term parking, the maximum parking duration within the car park remains at three hours. Any car not showing payment or having stayed beyond the maximum period will be ticketed by traffic wardens, effective immediately.”

July 18. With gross national debt at $2.185 billion and facing another year with a budget deficit, the Bermuda Government is to execute a $200 million loan facility agreement with Butterfield Bank. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, made the announcement yesterday in the House of Assembly. Six months ago he warned that it would be necessary for the Government to borrow $125 million to see it through the 2015-16 fiscal year. The loan agreement with Butterfield Bank is in effect an overdraft facility for Government to use when necessary, with an interest rate of 4.75 per cent to be paid on any monies drawn down. Mr Richards said there were a number of reasons behind the decision to make the two-year loan facility deal. One reason was to access an interest rate lower than the 5.1 per cent average that Government is paying on its other borrowings. Mr Richards pointed out that there were lower costs associated with the arrangement compared with other forms of borrowings. These included public bonds where fees can typically range from $500,000 to $2 million. In 2013, the Government raised $750 million through overseas US dollar bond issues, and a further $50 million with a Bermuda dollar bond issue. That money was needed to see it through multiple years of projected budget deficits. Mr Richards said other reasons for deciding to have a loan facility with the bank included the minimal reporting and minimal documentation requirements which will result in lower legal fees. There is also the market certainty, he added. “There are no market timing issues and pricing uncertainty associated with this transaction. International deals will have this risk which can negatively impact the coupon rate and execution of the deal with no timing,” he told MPs. Mr Richards said that flexible terms meant funds can be drawn as needed, saving on interest cost. “It must be noted that at this time Government has not borrowed $200 million but only has a facility in place to borrow up to this amount.  Funds will only be drawn when absolutely necessary. It is anticipated that this transaction should meet Government’s total financing requirements for fiscal year 2015-16 and a portion of the 2016-17 deficit.” If the $200 million loan is fully used Bermuda’s gross debt will stand at $2.385 billion. “This level of debt for an economy the size of Bermuda is not only unsustainable, but also, as mentioned in the Budget statement, is the biggest risk to Bermuda’s financial independence and the welfare of all sectors and all people in this Island,” said Mr Richards. Therefore it is critically important that Government continues to aggressively reduce the deficit and start paying down on our debt.” It is not the first time Butterfield Bank has extended a $200 million loan facility to the Government. A similar deal was struck by the previous Progressive Labour Party administration in 2011 as part of its debt financing strategy. Mr Richards said the Government had been considering various financing strategies since April, and following a RFP (Request for Proposal) process had executed the two-year term loan facility with the bank. “This facility offers the Government valuable flexibility with regard to its debt management strategy. Also satisfying is the fact that a local financial institution was able to provide Government with its financing needs for the year demonstrating the strength of the local financial sector,” Mr Richards told MPs. He said the loan matures in 2017 and Government has the option to either refinance this debt, or it can be paid off using the Sinking Fund. The decision taken will be dependent on prevailing market conditions at the time and the balance in the Sinking Fund. “The raising of this $200 million loan facility has helped the Government to enhance its financing flexibility and keeps this capital here on the Island. Moving forward, the Government will seek to further expand the domestic capital markets which could provide many benefits to the Bermuda economy.”

July 18. New airport fees that will cost each traveler leaving Bermuda up to $20 more have been passed by the House of Assembly despite intense criticism from the Progressive Labour Party. The fees come on the back of the hike in the departure tax from $35 to $50 that was announced by the Bermuda Government in its budget earlier this year. The new $16 per person airport improvement fee and an increase in the aviation security fee were tabled by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance yesterday. The Air Terminal Fees Amendment Regulations will see the aviation security fee rise from $4.25 to $8.25 for travelers flying to the US, while for travelers flying to Canada and the UK the fee will rise from $4.25 to $7.25. Mr Richards told the House the fees would take effect from September 1 and bring in an extra $6.25 million in revenue per year to help fund the airport redevelopment project. But PLP MPs slammed the “outrageous” move claiming it made no sense and would deter visitors from travelling to Bermuda and damage the Island’s tourism sector. Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, said the hike would inevitably be passed on to passengers. “Two months ago Government raised the departure tax from $35 to $50, now they are trying once again to increase the cost of doing business,” said Mr Scott. “It increases the cost of business to airlines and yet we are asking them to increase airlift. If they start adding on these new fees they are pulling the plug on our tourism product. These regulations are increasing the costs of living in Bermuda on every level and in every demography. It does not allow for the have-nots to have more, it takes away from everyone.” David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, accused the Government of “putting the cart before the horse.” This was because they had set up a fund for the airport redevelopment before the project had been agreed on. “This is poor policy, this is poor economics and poor visions. It does not make sense. For the OBA to bring this here means they do not understand and are clueless as to the results of this. This regulation gives a stream of income to a Canadian company which has been given an untendered contract.” Marc Bean, leader of the Opposition, launched an all-out attack on Government accusing them of ignorance and arrogance by bringing in the new fees. He branded the airport project a “non-starter” and claimed the Government was motivated by self interest. Meanwhile Wayne Furbert, the Shadow Minister of Economic Development, asked whether the Government had gone mad in imposing the new fees, while Zane DeSilva, the Shadow Minister of Tourism branded the move “outrageous.” But Shawn Crockwell, Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, defended the move saying: “Our problem is attracting tourists, it is not our fees. No one wants to increase any type of fee, but this is done out of necessity. We need to modify our airport and these fees are required to make that happen. This is not something we are thrilled about, but we have to do it.” Mr Richards turned on the Opposition accusing them of “schoolyard bully politics” and maintained that the money raised by the fees would go towards the construction of the new airport. He dismissed suggestions that an extra $20 would deter visitors from travelling to Bermuda as “utter nonsense.” The regulations were passed along party lines by 18 votes to 14. MPs Kenneth Bascome, Michael Scott and Kim Wilson were not present for the vote.

July 18. The Bermuda Police Association has accused Premier Michael Dunkley of “divide and conquer” tactics as it reacted with dismay to news of job cuts. Raoul Ming, the chairman of the BPA, described the ten redundancies as “nothing short of heartbreaking” and claimed more officers are unable to pay their mortgages due to ongoing pay reductions. Mr Ming heavily criticised the Premier for recent comments about officers on long-term sick leave, revealing seven officers are currently suffering with trigeminal neuralgia, a serious illness known as suicide disease. “Is there a correlation between shift work and the disease? Is there some other explanation that links the disease with our very line of work?” Mr Ming said in a statement yesterday. Earlier this week, Michael DeSilva, the Commissioner of Police, revealed that ten officers’ contracts would be allowed to expire in the coming months as a “last resort”, with more likely to face the same in 2016 to meet budget targets. Reacting yesterday, Mr Ming said: “The news of the decision not to renew ten contracts of serving members of the Bermuda Police Service was nothing short of heartbreaking. The members were notified via e-mail from the Commissioner of Police on June 29. I immediately made contact with each of the officers that same day and have since met with all but two of the said officers since the news was delivered. Contracts are a matter for the Commissioner of Police and he has provided the affected members with an explanation as to their individual contracts.” Mr Ming said the BPA executive met with Mr DeSilva to address the matter in March. “One of the suggestions was that of the continuation of the furlough day which was widely unpopular with the government workers who through the Bermuda Trade Union Congress rejected its continuance. However, when asked whether or not the continued adoption of the furlough day would save all jobs within the rank and file of the BPA, the Commissioner was clear: that would not be enough and contracts would be in jeopardy. Although the BPA presented suggestions in other areas, the Commissioner explained that our $38 million salary budget would be the only area to make significant cost savings.” The number of officers within the Bermuda Police Service will now be 418, Mr Ming said. That figure is down from 438 in March, due to resignations, retirements, natural attrition and the new redundancies. Mr Ming continued: “With the 2015-16 budget five per cent less than that of last year the BPA members have been asked to continue all the cost savings measures from the previous year plus an additional five per cent. There are members within the BPA who are currently making interest only payments on their mortgages, some are delinquent and others on the verge of having their mortgages called. The affects and impact are being felt by all. A question that I ask of the Commissioner, has the Bermuda Government either provided or set a specific number of officers they believe is the ideal number of officers needed to police our Island? If yes, what is the number? The BPA is currently in negotiations with the government’s public sector negotiating team and we have entered into this venture in good faith. Is the Commissioner’s statement in relation to further job cuts for 2016-17 premature or is it likely that further cuts are necessary to reach a lower number mandated by the government? If an agreement were to be met covering the next two years, why would it be necessary for additional cuts?” Earlier this month, Mr Dunkley said he was in discussions with the commissioner over figures showing seven officers have been given extended sick leave beyond six months during the past three financial years. Mr Ming said in his statement: “On a matter of welfare, I find it distasteful that our very own minister takes every opportunity to speak on the subject of GEHI contributions. The constant attention to the subject has caused anxiety throughout all ranks of the BPS. It’s as if a tactic of divide and conquer is being applied to ensure the matter remains in the public eye and especially among other government workers. The rank and file of the Bermuda Police Service put their lives at risk on a daily basis. We walk into danger when others have the option of running away. We provide safety for our residents and visitors alike at the risk of our own lives. As we continue to work rigorous shifts and long hours our bodies fold under the pressures of stress. There is currently a disease causing grave concern for many of our members within the BPA: trigeminal neuralgia. Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve as it exits the brainstem. Those suffering with TN experience excruciating, sporadic, sudden burning or shock-like facial pain. Who is affected by this disease, every 12 out of 100,000 people. Why is this information relevant? There are currently seven officers suffering with TN in the ranks of the BPS. Five of those mentioned have had the treatment which consists of brain surgery. One of those officers has had five surgeries. The statistics are alarming. The members of the BPA remain committed to policing, and statistics show that we are focused on combating the effects of guns, gangs, violence and antisocial behaviors. I, as I’m certain those within the BPA membership, would also welcome the support of our minister, the Premier as we remain committed to our mandate, making Bermuda safer.”

July 18. Family, friends and colleagues have paid tribute to a guardian of Bermuda’s heritage after the passing of Elfrida Chappell. Mrs Chappell, who celebrated turning 100 last year, was remembered as a “heroic woman” with a passion for conservation: she donated more than $1 million to local organizations. She was a great supporter of groups including the Bermuda National Trust, the Audubon Society and the Garden Club of Bermuda. Her eldest grandson Jonathan Ingham said: “I can’t tell you how many times people have used the word ‘lady’ when describing Elfrida. She conducted herself with grace and class at all times. Her contributions to Bermuda are enormous. Throughout her life she donated very generously to charities in and out of Bermuda.” Speaking of her donation of an 8.7-acre swathe of land to the Audubon Society, he added: “She wanted this property preserved for future generations of Bermudians to cherish and enjoy open spaces and the wildlife of Bermuda. This is heroic. We live in a time when the common motto is to maximize the profits from one’s assets. She was above that motto and chose to give for the betterment of Bermuda.” Mrs Chappell, who was awarded an MBE in 1999, established the Alfred Blackburn Smith Nature Reserve in 2002 as a gift to the Audubon Society in memory of her father. Her aim was to contribute to the preservation of Bermuda’s natural coast, native flora and bird life. The land stretches along South Shore at the Coral Beach Club. David Wingate, a founding member of the society who still sits on the executive committee, said: “Elfrida was the most remarkable woman in every respect and certainly from the point of view of the Audubon Society. Her gift of prime coastal land to this society so clearly demonstrated her dedication to conservation on the Island. She put her money where her heart was. This was a huge donation by Audubon’s standards — this was greater than any other gift the society has received by that extraordinary donation. We are very sorry at her passing. It is the end of an era in a sense.” In the same year, Mrs Chappell was named as the winner of the Bermuda National Trust’s Silver Palmetto Award for her contribution to Bermuda’s heritage. This followed her move to open her Paget house Mount Pleasant to the public for a trust fundraising event. Working with the trust, she was instrumental in helping it to improve woodland management in Bermuda. Tim Marshall, president of the BNT, said: “Mrs Chappell was a great friend of the BNT and did fantastic work to raise funds and awareness for the purchase of open space habitats which are reserved for the benefit and enjoyment of all Bermudians. She will be sadly missed but when you see a natural habitat chances are you will experience a little of her passion and spirit.” Mrs Chappell also served on the executive committee of the Garden Club of Bermuda for 15 years and was president from 1965 to 1967. In 2013, she won the organization's coveted Bermuda Trophy. Anna Fulton, the president, said: “Elfrida was passionate about horticulture in general and always able to see the whole picture. Her knowledge and interest in gardening was phenomenal.” Aside from her work in conservation, Mrs Chappell represented Bermuda in the World Team Amateur Golf Championships and was an active member in the early days of golf in Bermuda. She and other members of her family founded the Coral Beach and Tennis Club and they developed the Coral Beach Property as well as Horizons and Cottages, The Newstead and Waterloo House. Mrs Chappell’s family trust also donated Winslow Homer’s famous Bermuda painting Inland Water to Masterworks, helping to put the Island on the map. She was originally married to the late George Wardman with whom she had two children, George and Gillian. After his death she married Robert Chappell who has also passed.

July 18. Preparations for the America’s Cup resulted in jobs for 236 workers in Dockyard by mid-June, the House of Assembly heard yesterday. Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, said the America’s Cup Event Authority has relocated nine employees to the Island, hiring nine Bermudians and two spouses of Bermudians. Team Oracle has brought in 50 staff and families, hiring eight Bermudians; Team Artemis has brought in 34 team members with their families, and 40 team members are expected from SoftBank Team Japan. So far, more than 200 local businesses have registered with America Cup Business Connect, Dr Gibbons added. Meanwhile, the World Series is to be launched on October 15, with a press event followed by a regatta in St George’s.

July 18. Customers may get lower electricity bills as the Bermuda Government warned Belco it could face healthy competition from alternative power suppliers. Under a draft Electricity Bill tabled in Parliament, Belco will retain control of the grid — but Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, expressed hope more entities will enter the market. Dr Gibbons told The Royal Gazette a regulatory authority would be tasked with “looking for others out there that could supply our electricity demands”. He said: “This is providing the ability to get independent power producers and bring down customers’ bills.” Dr Gibbons said potential new providers could be a natural gas plant or solar farm on the disused “finger” runway at LF Wade International Airport, or a hotel installing a generator and selling off its excess to the grid. Encouraging renewable energy use by residents and small commercial operators is another feature of the document, tabled for consultation and expected to be formally submitted early in the next parliamentary session. The proposal suggests Belco will integrate a resource plan, which would then be directed by the regulatory authority. The grid itself would remain under Belco’s control, and the utility company would continue to control the billing of customers. Dr Gibbons said: “There is no point from an economic perspective to have someone else putting up new poles and installing new transmission cables. “That remains the responsibility of Belco. If someone else needs to build that, it will simply get passed on to the customer. It’s the generation part that we’re looking to get competition.” He described the move as diversification rather than seeking to break a monopoly, but told the House of Assembly Belco would be “carefully regulated to ensure accountability” in return for its sole provider status. Measures such as the 2013 Customs duty break for energy-saving thermal storage technology stand to continue once the legislation is passed, Dr Gibbons said. The bill also seeks to “facilitate the use of renewables, because they make good economic sense for Bermuda, and not through the extensive subsidies which exist in some other jurisdictions”, Dr Gibbons told the House. Later yesterday, legislators approved a draft order to convert the 80-acre “finger” into public land for use in electricity production. Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said the area had been identified as the only available land that could accommodate a large scale solar power plant, capable of providing 25 per cent of the Island’s power. Under the Civil Airport Amendment, the airport’s lines would be redrawn, making the finger public land under the control of the Minister of Public Works. Both Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, and Marc Bean, the Opposition leader, pointed out that the finger is much-used at present. Hazardous materials are stored at the vacant runway and aircraft are diverted there in emergencies, as well as military aircraft, the Opposition said. “That finger is strategically necessary, not just for us but for many foreign militaries,” Mr Bean said, requesting to hear contingency plans. Mr Bean conceded that the south-facing finger alongside Castle Harbour was an ideal site for solar energy, telling MPs that a company had lobbied for its use as such under the Progressive Labour Party administration. However, he said there were no other sites in the Island that could be used as effectively to store hazardous materials. Mr Crockwell replied that it was necessary to split off the finger from airport land because of the negotiations for the redevelopment of an air terminal. “Government does not want this piece of land to be part of that discussion,” Mr Crockwell said. The order was subsequently approved.

July 17. A Progressive Labour Party motion of censure against Speaker of the House Randy Horton has been defeated along party lines by 17 votes to 15. The vote came at 1am. The debate laid bare long-simmering divisions of Parliament, including charges of favoritism toward the Government by Mr Horton, and suggestions of evidence to support collusion between the two. The move, brought by Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott, can be traced back to Mr Horton’s handling of an immigration debate back in March, which ended with Deputy Opposition Leader David Burt being ejected from the chamber — and a walkout by the PLP. Mr Scott quoted from The Royal Gazette of March 17 in which Mr Horton admitted that “with reflection and the benefit of hindsight” he should not have hurried the motion that prompted Mr Burt’s objections. That motion on March 13 had been brought by PLP MP Walton Brown, proposing to create a joint select committee to review immigration policy. Amendments by Attorney-General Trevor Moniz were about to be voted on without debate when Mr Burt stood insistently to make a point of order. What occurred next brought “shock” to the House, Mr Scott said this evening, saying: “An answer needs to be provided.” He accused Mr Horton of systematic mismanagement, telling MPs that the charge against Mr Horton of bringing the Parliament into disrepute extended to numerous other issues that have roiled the House. Record levels of antagonism between the Opposition and the governing One Bermuda Alliance, observed by Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, could be traced to Mr Horton’s “mismanagement” of cases such as Jetgate that the PLP sought to pursue in the House, Mr Scott told MPs. Mr Scott was steered away from references to recent allegations made against sitting ministers of the Government, and told to confine the debate to matters contained in his motion. “We have been watching this movie unfold, as we are bound to, as is unavoidable — we have watched the motion, the mannerisms, the tone set by the Speaker, his use of the gavel against Members of the Opposition,” Mr Scott said, accusing the Speaker of appearing to have a “cosy” relationship with Premier Michael Dunkley and Mr Moniz. He added: “This kind of speculation about the Speaker and his independence is part of my complaint about Parliament being brought into disrepute.” Mr Moniz rose next, acknowledging the consternation that erupted on the night in question, and said that tempers had worn thin throughout the debate. Calling Mr Horton’s method as Speaker comparatively soft, Mr Moniz said under the previous Speaker, Stanley Lowe, he had been told to leave the House and had not been allowed to speak upon returning until he apologized. “At base, it’s a family spat among colleagues here in the House,” he said. “We do not see any substance to the allegation that the Speaker has brought the House into disrepute. It was a very small matter. The members got very upset.” Mr Moniz also questioned whether Mr Burt had been ejected, suggesting he had left of his own volition. He said the OBA believed the Opposition’s behavior had been the issue of the evening, and suggested they were using it as “leverage”. Telling the House the Speaker was a personal friend, Mr Brown rose next, calling it “a very sad day.” Mr Brown said that over the past 2½ years he had noticed “a trend whereby motions from the Opposition were altered in such a fundamental way that they effectively turned around the intent of the original motion. I hold to my position that such amendments should not be allowed under our standing orders."  Mr Brown said he had learnt that the Speaker had gone to Government House on the day after the upset in the House, questioning what its purpose and saying Government ministers also went there the same day. Mr Brown said that he had been present, with Opposition Whip Lovitta Foggo, when Opposition Leader Marc Bean had later met with the Speaker in his chambers, telling Mr Horton he had information that was “gravely disconcerting” and calling on the Speaker to resign. Mr Brown said he had been surprised to later hear that Mr Horton had accused Mr Bean of blackmail, which also caused him concern. Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development, said the motion was politically motivated and not a good use of the House’s time. Calling Mr Horton a patient Speaker, Dr Gibbons and that behavior in the House had “dropped to a new low” and told the Opposition to “suck it up” when they could not get their own way. Dr Gibbons was followed by PLP MP Jamahl Simmons who told the House the Speaker’s error was either a result of incompetence “or something else”, questioning why the OBA were “so protective of the Speaker.” Zane DeSilva, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, told the House Mr Horton made the blackmail claim because Mr Bean threatened to reveal that he had accepted a payment of $45,000 that had come from Nathan Landow. Shawn Crockwell, Minister of Tourism said that there had been Opposition “animus” against Mr Horton since he became Speaker because as a PLP member it affected the numerical balance of the House. He said he backed Mr Horton and would vote against the motion.

July 17. The Bermuda Heroes Weekend received $50,000 in sponsorship from the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the House of Assembly was told this morning. Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Tourism, said a further $2,500 was provided by Community, Culture and Sport, with Transport contributing $4,456 for extra buses and ferries. Mr Crockwell released the figures in response to parliamentary questions from Zane DeSilva, the Shadow Minister of Tourism.

July 17. The Island’s Barbadian community has spoken of their relief to hear that family and friends back in their homeland were left unscathed by yesterday’s earthquake. Michael Taylor, the vice president of the Barbados Association of Bermuda, revealed that the group’s president, Jacqueline Brenman, and former president, Judith Gill, were both in Barbados when the earthquake occurred. “We have been in touch with them during the course of the day and reporting back to our members that there were no injuries and no major damage,” he said. “Our thoughts are obviously with everyone back in Barbados at the moment. A lot of people contacted me during the course of the day to find out any information they could. From what we have been told some people had to be evacuated from their offices but there was no serious damage. Everyone and everything seems OK, which is a relief.” The US Geological Survey said the quake was centered out at sea 81 miles northeast of the island’s capital Bridgetown. It hit at 11.16am local time as Bermuda’s junior national squash team was preparing to travel to Barbados to compete in the 2015 Junior Caribbean Championships. The ten-strong team, led by national team coach Runa Reta, arrived in Barbados last night where the competition is expected to take place as scheduled. Meanwhile, Bermuda resident David Gibbons, whose mother lives in Barbados, said that Barbadians were “taking it in stride. I heard that they had to evacuate some buildings in parts of the country as a precaution, so that could be unnerving to people. My mother, on the other hand, didn’t seem to notice much. During a previous earthquake, there was a bit of panic which led to some injury, but this time out, things appeared to be handled a bit better. It seems that this is becoming somewhat of a more frequent occurrence in the region, so hopefully the authorities have been prepared accordingly.”

July 17. Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Environment, has said that her department would consider putting extra regulations on recreational fishing in Bermuda. Ms Atherden was speaking in response to calls from commercial fishermen who fear their livelihoods are being put at risk by people selling fish illegally on the roadsides and to restaurants. She said the idea to limit the catch of people who fish for fun was floated two years ago but had not been taken up. However she stressed she was not adverse to revisiting the proposal. Ms Atherden told The Royal Gazette: “I have heard suggestions about licensing recreational fishing. It was thought of a couple of years back and it can be looked at again. I have seen a paper that talked about the regulations and I always believe that, periodically, you should look at whether an idea that was looked at before is possible now because technology has changed. But when you talk about recreational fishermen selling fish when they are not licensed to, usually you are talking about persons who have boats, not those families on the docks and that will be difficult to deal with. One thing is that we have to make sure we don’t create an environment such that it is impractical to enforce — you have to be practical. I saw the paper [on recreational fishing] and I didn’t see any notation as to why it didn’t happen — but with any new regulation you have to ask is it practical; how will you enforce it; and, as one warden said to me, if you are struggling now to regulate just the commercial people, just imagine what you would be trying to do if you added the recreational people to that as well.” Last week it was reported that a spear fisherman got away with killing 42 parrotfish — a species protected under the Fisheries Act. Many commercial fishermen interviewed by this newspaper said they believed recreational fishermen should have smaller catch limits than commercial fishermen who are subject to a $10,000 permit fee. Data collected during a 2008 survey on recreational fishing, conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection, suggests that as many as 16,000 people in Bermuda fish on a recreational basis and that the total annual recreational catch amounted to almost two-thirds of commercial fishing catch. On the issue of enforcement of illegal fishing in general there were many suggestions from fishermen and others in the community including better policing but one of the main issues appeared to be resources. All government departments are under strict orders to curb spending and there is little chance of growing the fleet of five Fisheries wardens responsible for policing the seas, the docks, restaurants and roadside sellers — not to mention the vendors at public events around the Island. Ms Atherden said: “There is nothing that is not going to be considered. For now we have to do the best we can with what we have; demand is what creates the need for illegal supply or people reacting to it so we have to turn around and stop the demand. It really is a combination of trying to make people believe that it is important enough that we don’t deplete our fish stocks. The public is also part and parcel of the extension of the wardens. By buying something at a cheap price you are creating the opportunity for our fish stocks to go down. You are not allowing us to stay on top of the usage and whether we need to do something to protect them.”

July 17. Former Mayor Graeme Outerbridge has expressed his dismay at the collapse of the controversial Conference of Black Mayors. “It was a huge disappointment having that thing fall apart,” Mr Outerbridge said as he reflected on his beleaguered spell at City Hall in an interview with The Royal Gazette. “We entered in the faith that we were going to have it, but deadlines were not being met, contracts were not being signed off on for whatever reason and we had the bad luck of having the Ebola thing blow up when we were going to have a delegation coming from Africa. Dates had to be moved and it slipped away.” New mayor Charles Gosling has estimated that efforts to host the event had cost the municipality around $250,000, but efforts are under way to recover some of those funds. Mr Outerbridge said: “One would hope that basically people would be honourable and return the funds that we deserve to get back, but it was all done in good faith and with [Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy’s] full knowledge and backing at the time. “There were plusses. In the same way that we are now embracing the America’s Cup with all of these sailors coming here, [we thought] it would be a big event bringing bodies and hard currency here, but it got ensnared in local politics and some of the differences in members around the table.” He said the concept of hosting the event came after members of the council attended the National Conference of Black Mayors in Columbia. While it was hoped the event would provide an economic boost to the city and the Island, bringing a surge of visitors coming to Bermuda, he said there were concerns voiced by members of the council from the start. “Obviously it was a very fractious, philosophically divergent council, and certain members were very against it from the beginning. “From the point of view of experience of the delegation who went to CBM, it was seen as a way to bring people to Bermuda in the same way that we embraced ASDA travel agents coming down here. It was just seen as another positive way of bringing bodies to Bermuda. These are people that would have been coming down here from all across the diaspora, all over the Caribbean, all over South America, and it’s a shame where it got to the point where non-deliverables happened.”

July 17.  Bermudian marine archaeologist Chris Addams has co-written a book documenting wartime medical glass and pottery with a section dedicated to Bermuda. Glass and Pottery Containers of the Royal Navy and British Military documents the seldom studied historical and archaeological finds dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It includes containers found on the excavation of the Dromedary — a prison ship that arrived in Bermuda in 1826 carrying 200 convicts employed to construct a new dockyard. Naval historian and archaeologist Michael Davis partnered Mr Addams in 1982 on the excavations of the site. They uncovered the ship which had been moored near the same spot off Dockyard for 37 years. According to co-author Tom Bown, after seeing the artifacts recovered from the ship, surgeon Commodore Nicholas E Baldock was able to search and find some of the original documents that helped piece together previously unknown number and letter codes on the items. The introduction reads: “As future excavations of marine deposits such as those under the prison hulk Dromedary in Bermuda, other British naval wreck sites, or military establishments on land are explored, more examples, hopefully with more precise dates, will be found.” The book is available in local bookstores soon.

July 17.  The Progressive Labour Party has refused to say whether it supports the Bermuda Government’s multimillion investment in the 2017 America’s Cup. Opposition leader Marc Bean, deputy leader David Burt, shadow economic development minister Wayne Furbert and shadow tourism minister Zane DeSilva all responded with silence after The Royal Gazette asked whether they back Government’s commitment of more than $70 million on the sailing event. It comes after a poll commissioned by this newspaper showed 52 per cent of people approve of the backing, with 27 per cent disapproving and 21 per cent undecided. Previously, Mr Bean has said the America’s Cup will be a boost to the Island and called for “everyone to be on board and row in the same direction.” Responding to our survey earlier this week, Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, stressed Bermuda is still near the beginning of a long programme and that he believes enthusiasm for the Cup will grow, particularly as events take place such as the World Series, Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and the Challenger Series. Reasons for approval in our poll included one voter who said: “I hope that this will bring more finances to the Island. We have to spend money to make money.” From the “nay” camp, many voiced skepticism that the America’s Cup would translate into the Island-wide windfall promised by the One Bermuda Alliance. One said: “I think the Government was thinking short-term, and it will only benefit the people who already have money. There are a lot of little jobs now, but when it’s over there will still be people without jobs.”

July 17. Insurance and reinsurance firms should deploy their capital not only to boost income but to add knowledge to their businesses. And top lawyers from a specialist US law firm last night outlined to business executives the benefits of corporate venture programmes, which aim to invest in newer areas than is traditional in the industry. Tom Dawson, of American law firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath, said that investment in technology start-ups — like firms specializing in cyber crime, could earn money and help the insurance sector better manage their risk exposure. Mr Dawson explained that low interest rates and poorer yields on investments meant companies were looking further afield for ways to boost income. He added: “Increasingly, over the past few years, as returns have come down on investments, there has been some movement, at least on the part of US companies, to reach out a little bit more for yields and think about trying different things with some of their investment assets.” Mr Dawson added that firms had also turned to hedge funds and private-equity firms to increase investment companies. He said: “One other way to look for returns and higher yields is to invest, and it could be minority or majority, in companies.” Mr Dawson was speaking as he prepared for a Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies (BFIS) conference at the Hamilton Princess, staged with Drinker Biddle & Reach. The guest speakers, who highlighted the different types of corporate venture programmes being used and how they could drive growth and innovation, were Eric Steager, managing director of the Independence Blue Cross Strategic Innovation Portfolio, and Ian Goldstein, a Drinker, Biddle & Reath partner in charge of the firm’s corporate venture team. Mr Steager said companies had started to invest in areas undergoing rapid change, like healthcare. He added: “You get exposure to new technologies, you have direct influence in the type of companies you are trying to stand up and build and you become a partner with them. It’s more around a strategic rationale to venture with these companies.” And he cited apps for hi-tech items for Apple watches that can help people live healthier lives. Mr Steager added: “It can even be partnering with auto companies with self-driven cars — that may be an ecosystem that can be insured. It’s looking five to ten years out rather than how you can get 300 basis points on my capital today.” Mr Dawson said he had had “a lot of conversations in the last few days about cyber security” and how the insurance sector could get in to the area and what kinds of exposure they should aim for. Maybe you should be getting some really smart guys out of the big cyber security firms to make better decisions on who you’re going to insure and for how much. You get smarter, you know more about the field — it’s not so much the return, but changing the way you think about the opportunity.” Mr Goldstein pointed to the Comcast merger with NBC Universal in 2009, where the investment arm of NBC Universal was rebranded and used to push the firm as a “thought leader” and “a player in technology generally. You can transfer that to an insurance company writing cyber risk who wants to be seen as a leader. You can see them using that for being branded as a thought leader in that particular area.” And Mr Steager said that “dumb money” “doesn’t work in today’s environment. It really needs to be intelligent capital, smart capital. You want to do more than just acquire companies.” And Mr Goldstein said: “One of the key takeaways we want people to leave with is, if there they are going to think about starting a programme like this, they need to know their strategic goals and how the programme aligns with its strategic goals.” Mr Steager added: “Money is a commodity — it doesn’t add value to these start-ups. They need guidance.”

July 17. Michael DeSilva, the Commissioner of Police, has pledged that the loss of ten jobs across the service will have “minimal” effects on the Police’s law enforcement duties. Mr DeSilva said the decision to allow ten officers’ contracts to expire in the coming months was a “last resort” but acknowledged that more contracts would likely be allowed to expire in 2016 to meet budget reduction targets. The news of the pending redundancies prompted Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of National Security, to urge Police to provide more specific information about who would be affected and what departments they were in. “The Police do need to carry their fair share of sacrifice like other public services have had to and they did not suffer the benefit reductions that other services have had to,” said Mr Roban. "This news raises a number of questions that need to be answered: firstly is there a fixed policy on how these redundancies are being handled; secondly is it Bermudian officers or overseas officers that have been affected; and what areas of the Police force have been affected. We support the Police and the work they do and they are to be credited with the work they have done reducing crime. We certainly as a Government provided what resources were needed for the Police service. But our concern is whether the redundancies will affect the effectiveness of the Police and the Police need to provide further answers to these questions because the public will be concerned too.” Mr DeSilva described the move to cut ten posts as a “very difficult decision” but vowed that operational effectiveness would remain his primary focus. In a statement he added: “The BPS has been carefully considering our options to reach the Government’s three-year budget reduction targets. This year, we do not have the benefit of the “Furlough Day” to meet the five per cent target and we must also position ourselves for a further three per cent reduction in 2016/17. We have been reducing our operational budget each year since 2009. Six years on, there is not much left to trim and I now have to consider reducing the cost of our police labour. Currently there is no agreement with the Bermuda Police Association to reduce the cost of salaries and benefits and that leaves me with a final option of reducing the number of officers. I have therefore taken the decision to allow ten police officers’ contracts to expire over the next few months. The contract expirations are spread over time to help reduce operational impact. This will not be good news to anyone but it is clear that it is not possible to keep all of our officers in service.” Michael Dunkley, the Premier and National Security Minister, admitted that the course of action was “not the preferred option”, but he insisted there would be “minimal impact to operational effectiveness”. He said: “The Commissioner indicated that these contracts would not be renewed and although this course of action is not the preferred option, it is one I support in light of the budgetary requirements of this ministry. This Government continues to support the Police in the tough job they have to do every day and I am satisfied that there will be minimal impact on operational effectiveness and that the Commissioner and his team of officers can continue to do the job we rely on them to do. The fiscal realities created by the historic agreements with the Bermuda Police Association are the subject of active negotiations. We signaled in the Throne Speech and the Budget that these conditions had to be revised to take account of today’s economic climate. That commitment is unchanged and so our aim is to recognise the hard fought benefits gained in previous years but to foster greater equity in areas like health insurance where currently officers make no contributions unlike the majority of public and private sector workers.”

July 17. Cruise visitors will increase by 10 per cent in 2016 with the industry expected to bring in more than $90 million to the Island’s economy. An additional 15 occasional calls in 2016 compared to this year is part of the reason for the 12 per cent increase in the projected economic impact of the cruise industry. Hamilton will see cruise calls increase by 20 per cent while the number of liners visiting St George’s will increase from two this year to five in 2016. “We strategically targeted the premium or luxury brands over many months and are extremely pleased all the hard work paid off with 15 additional occasional calls in 2016, a significant 43 per cent increase,” said Bill Hanbury, Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO. “That’s going to go a long way toward building on the tourism economy growth we have begun to realize in 2015.” The preliminary 2016 cruise schedule predicts 100 regular cruise calls with an additional 50 occasional callers bringing a total of 150 cruise calls for 2016. In 2015, there are 135 scheduled cruise calls. About 407,000 cruise visitors are anticipated for 2016. This compares to 370,000 for 2015. In 2014, there were 356,000 cruise visitor arrivals. “Over the past two years we have experienced a significant increase in cruise arrivals and are pleased that this trend will continue into 2016,” said Shawn Crockwell, Minister of Tourism Development & Transport. “Most importantly our strategy to find the right demographic of cruise vacationers is showing results. We are attracting the cruise lines, and therefore passengers, who will have the biggest impact on the local economy.” Projections for 2016 forecast that a total of $91m will be ploughed into the Island’s economy in a combined total of government taxes, cruise passenger expenditure and crew member expenditure compared to $81 million this year. “We can grow the St George’s number even more if Town Cut is widened,” said Mr Hanbury, “but that’s a decision we leave in the hands of East End residents and their elected officials.” Royal Caribbean will be introducing their newly built Anthem of the Seas to Bermuda in 2016. “Royal Caribbean’s introduction of the larger and newer Anthem of the Seas and Norwegian Cruise Line’s return of the Breakaway shows the major cruise lines commitment to providing Bermuda with their most modern cruise ships,” said Minister Crockwell.

July 17.  The America’s Cup World Series curtain raiser in Portsmouth will be a proud occasion for Land Rover BAR team principal and skipper Sir Ben Ainslie. It will mark the Olympic hero’s first opportunity to lead a British team into battle in America’s Cup competition and the two times winner of the King Edward VII Gold Cup in Bermuda is pumped up for the big occasion. “It’s the team’s first competitive outing against the other contenders for the 35th America’s Cup, and we get to do it on home waters in front of a home crowd,” Ainslie said. "The America’s Cup started here in 1851 and we’ve had a few shots over the past 164 years but never come that close to winning. It’s important to us to get that job done now.” In order to “get the job done”, Ainslie will have to beat Oracle Team USA, defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’, who he helped to victory in 2013. Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle skipper, is quite familiar with the threat his former team-mate poses. “Ben is a really good guy. You meet him on the shore and he’s very courteous, well mannered,” Spithill, the youngest skipper to win the America’s Cup, said. “On the water though, you flick a switch. He becomes very, very aggressive and he gets the results.” Ainslie and his team-mates have been warming up for the upcoming regatta sparring on the Solent in the one design AC45F catamaran with a new look Emirates Team New Zealand. “It was awesome to line up against Ben and his guys,” Glenn Ashby, the New Zealand team’s sailing director, said. “This new era of America’s Cup style racing requires not only great yachting prowess but an extremely high level of fitness, strength, technique, timing and teamwork.” Joining Land Rover BAR, Oracle and Team New Zealand at the start line in Portsmouth next week will be Artemis Racing, Softbank Team Japan and Groupama Team France. The regatta will consist of four fleet races to be held on July 25 and 26. Bermuda will also host the World Series from October 16 to 18, with all racing to be held in the Great Sound.

July 17. Visitors have been promised a warm welcome at Cup Match this year amid accusations that they face being snubbed by tourism bosses. The Bermuda Tourism Authority yesterday came under fire from the Progressive Labour Party after it was revealed the popular tourism booth would be dropped from this month’s festivities. But Romeo Ruddock, vice president at St George’s Cricket Club, insisted that the lack of the designated visitors’ area would not affect hospitality, and pledged the club would have people of its own looking out for tourists. “It’s a little unfortunate — we still think it’s a missed opportunity — but Cup Match goes on,” Mr Ruddock told The Royal Gazette. “There won’t be a designated spot this year, but if you walk around at Cup Match you will still see that happening. We’ll have people interacting with visitors and developing a relationship with them. It’s not just about people coming to the game or filling beds in a hotel but connections developed that will bring people back. There’s a lot going on down here.” The club at Wellington Oval has “a boat yard right in our back yard”, Mr Ruddock said, where catamarans and boats can dock with a short walk to the game. “Normally we get a lot of tourists at Cup Match, especially on the second day,” Mr Ruddock said. Prizes will be given out by raffle thanks to a partnership with Worldview Travel and United Airlines, and visitors will qualify for numbered wrist bands, with the winning numbers read out. Souvenir cups through sponsors Aspen Insurance and prizes courtesy of Sol Petroleum are in the works, the vice president added. “One thing about St George’s fans, they will be out there showing people a good time.” Mr Ruddock’s remarks came as Zane DeSilva, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, took the BTA to task for not funding the tent, which has traditionally offered a shady refuge for visitors to enjoy the game, get a drink and have Bermuda’s national sport explained. Mr DeSilva likened the decision, in which budgetary constraints were cited, to a “boycott” of Cup Match. He further criticised the decision in light of a bonus awarded to Bill Hanbury, CEO of the BTA. However the BTA said the decision lay with the Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA), and the organization further unveiled new offerings for the national holiday. The BTA has teamed up with the company Bermuda Explorer to offer a special visitors’ package for Cup Match, adding that there had been no request made by the club for additional funding. “The BTA is aware of the Bermuda Hotel Association’s decision — it will not manage a visitor stand at the 2015 Cup Match, as it did in 2014,” spokesman Glenn Jones said. “Our product and experiences team will reach out to the BHA in the coming days to better understand the reason for the decision and to ensure both of our organizations have confidence visitor desires are being met. Ultimately, the goal is to provide the kind of visitor experience visitors tell us they want, and at this year’s Cup Match we believe we are well on our way to meeting that objective.” BHA president JP Martens said the association was “obviously really sorry that we can’t do it this year. The visitors’ stand at the games, either in St George’s or Somerset, has always been sponsored by the BHA,” Mr Martens said. Unfortunately, due to these budgetary constraints, we can’t do it this year. As you can imagine, there was quite a cost attached to it.” Mr Martens said the association hoped to be in a position to resume the service in future years.

July 17. Retail sales rose for a ninth consecutive month in May, up 1.4 per cent year-on-year. The value of sales for the month was estimated at $89 million. However, once the figures had been adjusted for inflation it was a relatively flat month, with the volume of retail sales a fraction lower than at the same time last year. Building material stores continued an upward trend with the value of sales improving by 9.5 per cent. This increase, which was also reflected in the volume of sales, has been linked to residential construction projects. Apparel stores also reported a better May than last year, with takings up 3 per cent, partly due to higher demand for sales items according to the retail sales index data released by the Department of Statistics. The value of food sales was up 5.3 per cent, some of that increase was due to higher prices. Falling fuel prices meant lower sales receipts for service stations, down 4.6 per cent, although the volume of sales was up 4.1 per cent. Fewer motor vehicles were sold in May compared with the same month in 2014. Motor vehicle stores reported sales receipts were down 5.4 per cent. Residents also declared $5.6 million in overseas purchases, which was 12 per cent higher than a year ago. After adjusting for the annual retail sales rate of inflation, measured at 1.5 per cent in May, the volume of retail sales decreased 0.1 per cent.

Retail sales graph

See above story

July 16.  Property developer West Hamilton Holdings Ltd, which is building a condominium complex on Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, has been given a licence which exempts it from the 60 per cent Bermudians and 40 per cent non-Bermudians ownership rule. The licence was granted by Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, and was issued by the Registrar of Companies. The licence will remain in force until the end of July 2020.

July 16.  The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) has teamed up with local entrepreneurs to create a “more culturally rich” Cup Match experience for visitors. Tourists will have the chance to visit camp sites under the initiative announced this afternoon, according to a statement from the BTA today. It will include round trip transportation to St George’s Cricket Club; tickets to the game; traditional Bermuda cuisine at local host camp site; traditional Bermuda drinks at local camp site; explanation of local culture, cricket and Crown and Anchor by local hosts. Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer of the BTA, said: “Visitors tell us through market research that immersion in local culture is paramount to their vacation experience. Local company Bermuda Explorer has come up with a package that not only takes visitors to Cup Match but makes them a part of the Cup Match experience. Our product and experiences team provided data-driven input and advice for developing the package. We’re thrilled a local entrepreneur has come up with an easy option to provide what visitors want. We believe the new Bermuda Explorer experience has the potential to become the best visitor Cup Match experience to date. It’s more authentic, it’s more in tune with customer demands and it relies on the ingenuity of Bermudian entrepreneurs to be successful.” Earlier today, Zane DeSilva, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, had issued a statement criticizing BTA for dropping its tourism booth at this year’s event. “The decision by the Bermuda Tourism Authority to essentially boycott Cup Match by dropping their tourism booth at the St George’s Cricket Club citing ‘budgetary constraints’ should be very disturbing to Bermudians and anyone who sees the value of this historic holiday to our tourism product,” stated Mr DeSilva. “While the BTA couldn’t find the money to market Bermuda effectively or to support Cup Match, there didn’t seem to be any ‘budgetary constraints’ when it came to paying out nearly half a million dollars in bonuses to Bill Hansbury et al despite the BTA producing the worst tourism numbers in 48 years. Cup Match matters to Bermudians and matters to the countless number of visitors who have benefited from the hospitality and education provided over the years through the tourism booth at Cup Match. We encourage the BTA to reverse course and allocate some of their taxpayer funds, even at this last minute to this vital part of our social and cultural heritage.” Glenn Jones, director of public and stakeholder relations at the BTA, responded: “The BTA is aware of the Bermuda Hotel Association’s decision — it will not manage a visitor stand at the 2015 Cup Match, as it did in 2014. Our product and experiences team will reach out to the BHA in the coming days to better understand the reason for the decision and to ensure both of our organizations have confidence visitor desires are being met. Ultimately, the goal is to provide the kind of visitor experience visitors tell us they want, and at this year’s Cup Match we believe we are well on our way to meeting that objective.”

July 16.  City Hall car park will next week become an all-day parking site, with motorists paying an upfront fee on entry. Drivers can pay $15 per day (reduced from $17.50) and enter City Hall car park any time after 8am Monday to Saturday on a first come, first served basis. Payment can be made by cash, credit or debit cards. Once City Hall car park is full, attendants will leave one gate open for people to exit as they wish. The car park will be locked from midnight until 8am. The price for disabled parking will be $10 per day. In a statement this afternoon, a City of Hamilton spokeswoman stated the change is being made to tackle falling parking revenues within the municipality. “The City of Hamilton has assessed and determined that City Hall car park is currently being used for all day parking by motorists who are generally not paying, and therefore has introduced an upfront all day parking fee upon entry,” she said. “Today most motorists who try to use the City Hall car park for its intended short term parking, of three hours or less, will find the car park generally full to capacity all day, with most users failing to follow car park regulations, or pay for its use. This means the customers of Hamilton’s retail shops, restaurants and other local businesses are unable to use this car park for short term parking. In addition, the City is losing a significant amount of revenue, which it simply cannot afford. The current absence of short term parking is due to a lack of enforcement, either by the City with clamping and the relevant City Parking Ordinance being invalidated by the Supreme Court in October 2014, or in spite of numerous requests, the traffic wardens who patrol our city streets will not enter the city’s car parks to enforce the same parking regulations.” Corporation secretary Ed Benevides said: “It is our hope that this will be a temporary measure that can be withdrawn once we have traffic wardens patrolling the car parks or a comprehensive parking ordinance passed through the legislative process. It is unfortunate but the deliberate refusal of motorists to pay and or follow the rules and ensure short term parking, have forced this response to limit the loss in revenue.” The spokeswoman said the cost of parking at City Hall will be lower than regular all-day parking in other car parks, however the most affordable all-day parking is Bull’s Head car park, where parking costs $5 per day. “The Corporation of Hamilton regrets having to take this course of action and hopes that this can be quickly resolved and parking within Hamilton can return to some semblance of normalcy,” the spokeswoman said. “We apologize to the fee paying car park users for any inconvenience caused and hope the reduction in the all day fee at City Hall Car Park will offset any inconvenience.”

July 16.  World leaders in the reinsurance business are set to descend on Bermuda for a major conference in November. ILS Bermuda Convergence 2015 is expected to attract more than 300 delegates from around the globe. Greg Wojciechowski, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Stock Exchange and chairman of the conference steering committee ILS Bermuda, said that registration for the event was now open. Insurance-linked securities (ILS), where investors buy into the reinsurance market, is a major business for Bermuda. Mr Wojciechowski added: “The ILS Bermuda team has been expanded this year with a view to continuing and enhancing the Bermuda Convergence networking event, while concentrating on developing additional business development initiatives domestically and abroad. The team is creating a schedule that will offer compelling information exchange, an event platform for business development networking and social events designed for continued networking.” Mr Wojciechowski said that the UK’s announcement that it would go after a chunk of the ILS market dominated by Bermuda, which has experienced continued growth in the sector and the rush to takeovers and mergers as reinsurance firms adjust to changed market conditions and new capital in the market were all likely to figure high on the agenda for this year’s conference. Adam Alvarez, of InsuranceLinked.com, said this year’s event would also feature a number of top speakers across the industry in short talks modeled on the TedX format. He added: “As the industry evolves, ILS Bermuda will continue to be a leading source of information and analysis.” First-quarter figures for ILS issues in Bermuda increased 27 per cent compared to the same period in 2014, making the most active first quarter on record. Bermuda-domiciled firms increased the volume of ILS issued by 29 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same three months the year before. And the Bermuda Stock Exchange at the end of June saw total volume of insurance linked listings, including catastrophe bonds, ILS and reinsurance-linked investment funds pass the $17 billion mark — more than two-thirds of global issuance. Mr Wojciechowski said: “Bermuda’s leadership position has strengthened in 2014 and the first half of 2015 through the success of the annual ILS Bermuda Convergence event that brought to the Island professionals looking to do business here. We look forward to welcoming them back for the third year of this innovative event.” The Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) has signaled it will again be lead supporter of the event and Mr Wojciechowski added that “sponsorship and delegate interest is robust”.

July 16.  RG Opinion. Government’s argument that the America’s Cup will be a boon to the Island’s economy has so far failed to convince about half the population. That is a conclusion that can reasonably be drawn from the results of the Global Research poll commissioned by this newspaper, which showed 52 per cent approved of Government’s financial backing of this premier sailing event, while 27 per cent disapproved and the remainder were unsure. The numbers will be of concern to the Premier and his team. Firstly, because they may have considered winning the host selection for the 2017 America’s Cup as a popular achievement and a sure-fire vote-winner, and the numbers suggest public support for the event is less than overwhelming. Secondly, the survey points to dissatisfaction with public-spending choices, a potentially politically damaging factor, especially for an administration burdened with making tough budgetary decisions as it rightly works to stop the public debt from spiraling out of control. Of course, it will be difficult for the Opposition to score political points from this, given the support Progressive Labour Party members have voiced for the America’s Cup and the opportunities it can bring to Bermudians. And in practical terms, support for the America’s Cup event is inextricably tied to Government’s financial support of it, given the blunt truth that without one, we would not have the other. So what’s changed since last December, when Bermuda’s selection as the venue for the 35th America’s Cup was greeted with widespread euphoria? Thousands lined the roads to get a glimpse of the “Auld Mug” as an open-topped car paraded the magnificent, gleaming trophy across Bermuda, and many more celebrated at a triumphant party on Front Street. Even among those who don’t give two hoots about sailing, there was genuine hope that this represented a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel of recession. One would imagine that the same survey question asked at that time would have indicated much stronger support for Government’s financial backing than we saw this week. Over the seven months since the venue announcement, it would be easy to say Government has failed to get its message across on the economic benefits of hosting the Cup. There may be some truth to that. It is true that tangible benefits are already being felt, particularly in the West End, where teams have set up bases and businesses are benefiting from the extra custom generated by this influx of people. Homes and apartments have been rented, and a wide range of goods and services are being purchased, from vehicles and clothes, to insurance, accounting and boat maintenance services. While Government has made a broad-brush $250 million estimate of the economic benefits the America’s Cup will bring, the periodic publication of more detailed information about the money that has already been spent and the sectors benefiting could help to convince people that the promised economic stimulus is actually unfolding. However, the survey suggests that too few lives have so far been touched to convince a large majority of residents that they will benefit from the Cup’s presence. There is still a perception among a part of the community, as expressed in various ways by some of the survey respondents, that the America’s Cup is for rich folks and only the elite will benefit from it. Quantifying the positive impact on the broader community would help to disprove that. There are other reasons why there is a gap between the great expectations of last December and the reality of today. Around that time, announcements of new tourism-related developments were raising economic optimism. It was hoped that by now, construction work would be under way at Morgan’s Point and at the site of the old Club Med in St George’s. Although these are not directly linked to the America’s Cup, the massive influx of wealthy visitors hoped for in 2017 was seen as the catalyst for developers to push on. Add on the new airport terminal plans and the vision was for thousands of construction jobs that could reinvigorate the economy, followed up by hundreds more jobs in the new hotels. That vision may still materialize, but Bermudians, wearied by numerous false dawns, will understandably be reluctant to believe that any hotel project will become reality until they at least see shovels in the ground. If seeing is believing, perhaps perceptions will change in October this year, when Bermuda will host a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event, one of the races leading up to the finals in 2017. If all goes well, it will provide a taste of the greater things to come. The economic benefits and opportunities surrounding the event will become more visible. From then, the preparations for our moment in the global spotlight will gather pace and hopefully, excitement will build up, along with visitor numbers. A successful America’s Cup is of critical importance to the Island’s economic future. It is a chance to showcase Bermuda’s stunning beauty, which will be revealed to millions of television viewers and prospective visitors. Aside from tourism, international business practitioners may see the attractions of locating in a place that is sufficiently organized to host one of the world’s great sporting events. After that, it will be all about the legacy. A better time to judge whether Government’s financial backing of the America’s Cup was justified will be 2018 and beyond.

July 16. Charities should come up with their own solutions to avoid being crippled by a new Police fee, according to Clare Mello, the executive director of YouthNet. The Centre on Philanthropy has warned that fees of $100 are to be imposed for Police checks on individuals working for charities, prompting concerns some groups could rack up bills of thousands of dollars. Some charities have warned they may have to cut back on services to the community — but Ms Mello said she understands economic constraints faced by Government. She added that dialogue is now essential to ensure Government and Police are fully aware of the threat the move posed to some charities. “I don’t want to put the onus entirely on the Police Commissioner and Government to come up with solutions — I think non-profits can come up with some creative solutions themselves,” Ms Mello told The Royal Gazette. “One option would be to hand this fee off to our volunteers or have them pay, in part, with Government. Maybe fees could be set on a scaled basis depending on how many volunteers or employees a charity has. A discussion is important, it might be that they [the Finance Minister and Commissioner] are not fully aware of the magnitude of the impact and the number of volunteers it is going to affect.” The charge for a Police background check began in September 2011, but it is understood charities have until now been exempted when they recruit both employees and volunteers. It has not been specified how often Police checks would have to be carried out but it is understood that most employers and other bodies that require vetting normally stipulate that a report must be less than six months old. Asked whether the extra fees would affect her charity directly, Ms Mello said: “It is going to have an impact on all non-profits to a varying degree. “In terms of YouthNet, our goal this year was to recruit an additional 60 mentors which, under this policy, would amount to $6,000. Does that have an impact? Yes. It will impact us, in the most part, in terms of expansion but all the mentors that are currently enrolled with YouthNet have police checks and I don’t know whether the checks will have to be renewed. We ended our year this year with 170 people — that would be $17,000 and our annual budget is $500,000.” Yesterday, this newspaper reported how Elaine Butterfield, the executive director of the Centre on Philanthropy, had written to Finance Minister Bob Richards and Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva over the issue. Ms Butterfield wrote that charities catering for society’s most vulnerable — children and the elderly — would be most affected by the move. Patrina O’Connor-Paynter of child mentor programme Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda said her charity was subject to three police checks just last week. She said: “As you know, with the economic climate, the charities are really trying to monitor spending and keep the spending within the programme limits while cutting back operational costs. I don’t think this is something that would be fair for us. We need Police checks for everyone who comes to work in the programme. We want to ensure that they understand the importance of that for us and that many charities can not afford this extra expense.” Charles Jeffers, deputy chairman of Age Concern’s board and chairman of its advocacy committee, said the proposed fees would hit the third sector hard, especially considering hikes in payroll tax and health insurance. “We have already had to reduce our staff. With this we may have to decide we can’t take on as many volunteers,” Mr Jeffers said. “It could have a negative effect on people who wish to volunteer because we can’t afford to do it. It boggles my mind. These people are helping Government to fulfill its role of taking care of its citizens.” Kelly Hunt, director of child and adolescent services for the Coalition for the Protection of Children, which provides protection for victims of abuse, said: “With reports of abuse on the rise, we are hopeful that this decision is reconsidered by Government as these background checks are an important policy for those who are dealing with vulnerable persons. Implementing a cost to this kind of prevention will result in avoidance; it’s counterproductive all around.” When contacted, the Police Commissioner reiterated a statement he made in yesterday’s Royal Gazette saying he does not set government fees. “There are no options that I have the discretion to consider,” he said. Mr Richards did not respond to our request for comment by press time.

July 16. The Progressive Labour Party has a 13-point lead over the One Bermuda Alliance, in a newly released poll from Profiles of Bermuda. The survey in April and May found that 46 per cent of people would have voted PLP in a general election, compared with 33 per cent for the OBA. According to a press release from Profiles of Bermuda, a breakdown of the results shows 63 per cent of blacks pledged support for PLP, with 67 per cent of “whites and others” voting OBA. The survey, conducted by Profiles “as a matter of public service”, involved 407 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 per cent.

July 16.  Former Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge has defended the “balanced budgets” during his time in office — although he accepted that the Par-la-Ville loan had put the city in a challenging position. A financial audit, released on Tuesday, cast doubt on the future of the municipality because of the $18 million owed to Mexico Infrastructure Finance over the Par-la-Ville hotel project. That came after newly elected Mayor Charles Gosling said the grim financial situation left by Mr Outerbridge’s Team Hamilton administration would place restrictions on his administration. Giving his side of the story to The Royal Gazette, Mr Outerbridge said: “I know the city is stressed and until Par-la-Ville is resolved it’s going to be an albatross around the city’s neck. We in the council knew the risk if things didn’t work out, but I’m hoping for good outcomes. We were trying to build a hotel and create jobs for the country at a time when it was apparent that that’s what we needed, and I think everybody else nationally felt the same way.” Mr Outerbridge said that during his time in office the municipality had balanced budgets, which were all approved by Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy. “There’s a misconception that the council can spend money as it sees fit,” he said. “The council has to agree on a budget and both this year’s budget and last year’s budget were approved by the minister. The minister had a remit to look at them and he approved both of them. They were balanced budgets. The first year I was in it was the previous administration’s budget that ran until the end of that year and we basically didn’t deviate from it. When I left, the financial state was good. We were basically on budget for the projects we were working on, our capital projects.” He said the greatest impact on budgets that he experienced was a massive reduction of wharfage fees being paid by government, saying: “I think they paid only about $1.5 million when we would usually get $5.5 million, so there’s in the region of $4 million less to work with. That was a big impediment on cash flow this year and adjustments were made based on that and cutbacks were made. We still found room to do a number of capital projects but it was severely curtailed by that adjustment.” He also said the longstanding issue of the Hamilton Fire Department had also caused challenges, saying that the Government owes the corporation around $6 million in back rent for the property. The Government had leased the corporation-owned property for a “peppercorn” of $1, but that lease expired in 2008. While no new lease has been signed, Mr Outerbridge had argued that the annual rent for the King Street property should be around $700,000. “It’s very important that either the government buy it or be a good tenant,” he said. “It’s gone on long enough. The big problem is the government have no money so they are basically squatting and not paying.” While Mr Outerbridge acknowledged that his administration had spent a good deal of money on legal fees, he said it was the result of the municipality responding to threats from outside. “The legal costs for my specific administration were expensive, but I think Mr Gosling’s administration also had high costs because of the government’s attempt to take over. I think we were twin administrations. We both had the same issues of government interfering in the process of local government. We had to either defend ourselves or roll over, and we chose to defend some things. I think we all tried to do the best that we could.” Regarding the issue of the $18 million guarantee on the Par-la-Ville loan, which defaulted earlier this year, he said that the council felt that it was an important project for the entire Island. “At the time that we came into office the economics in the country were dire, the new government hadn’t really engaged yet, and certain members of the council thought it was a very good idea to keep on pursuing it, along with the waterfront.  We went through a process with all of the other parties, but ultimately I take responsibility basically for putting this in place in terms of the resolutions, giving permission to do that. I think that’s where we are right now, it’s in a process and we’re seeing when we can get back to stage one with Mexico Infrastructure Finance. It certainly had a very detrimental impact on Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences.” Asked about government’s involvement in the loan, he said government had changed legislation at the corporation’s request to allow the loan guarantee and that Sen Fahy was “in the loop” throughout the process. We wrote to the minister to get the changes because we went to the silks in London to clarify. People talk about legal costs, but we did our due diligence and very carefully looked at what the parameters of our legislation was. In that process we realized that in order to even do it we would basically need to change the legislation. Government would have been updated more by the developer [than the corporation]. There were some verbal updates with the minister but he was more than aware of the process to the point where we signed the escrow agreement. It happened that when I was travelling we were on the same plane and we talked about what I was going to do. A lot of times my updates were under the obligation of the new commitment to give monthly updates to the Minister. He was certainly in the loop.”

July 16. Government’s decision to remove the most controversial element of its hotly debated package of legal reforms has been welcomed by critics of the changes. Venous Memari, managing director of the Centre for Justice, said the centre was pleased that Clause 91 of the Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure Bill had been deleted from the Bill because it could have allowed for adverse inferences to be drawn from an accused’s silence at the police station later during trial. Opposition and independent senators also backed the move that came towards the end of a long debate in which both the Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure Bill and its companion Bill, the Disclosure and Criminal Reform Bill were passed in the Senate yesterday. But The Centre for Justice and PLP senators still expressed concerns about other areas of the proposed legal reforms. “Clearly, we are very pleased that Government has withdrawn the provisions relating to the possibility of unfavorable inferences being drawn from an accused’s silence at the police station at trial,” said Ms Memari. “We commend Government for listening to the objections and concerns that have been expressed by various professional bodies and groups with respect to the constitutional rights of an accused. We are disappointed that Government did not withdraw the provisions requiring a defendant to serve a statement on the prosecutor and the court within 28 days of his arraignment — if he is going to give evidence at trial — failing which the ‘court may direct the jury to draw inferences as appear proper in deciding whether the accused person is guilty of the offence charged’ although a defendant can’t be convicted of an offence solely on the basis of any such inference. We are curious as to why Government did not withdraw the latter provision. No doubt, the constitutionality of this provision will be decided by the courts in due course.” Independent senator James Jardine and senate president Carol Ann Bassett praised Government for listening to the concerns that had been expressed about Clause 91 and the right to silence. “This particular clause caused a great deal of concern from a whole variety of areas on the Island,” Sen Jardine said. “I would like to commend Government for removing this particular clause — they have listened and made a judgment.” Sen Bassett added: “I am so pleased that the Government has listened and removed the entire clause, which was extremely offensive to me.” PLP senate leader Diallo Rabain and senator Marc Daniels also acknowledged that the removal of the clause was the correct decision. Sen Rabain said: “It is absolutely amazing that the Government has listened, but I see the cup as half full as they did not listen for the original (first) bill that was debated earlier today.” Sen Daniels told the Senate he had major concerns over the package of legal reforms tabled by Government that he felt would simply “waste more time”. Referring to the Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure Bill he added: “I see constitutional challenges and I see delays. This is a very disappointingly drafted piece of legislation.” The Bill together with the amendment to remove Clause 91 will now go back to the House of Assembly for debate on Friday. Earlier in the day the Disclosure and Criminal Reform Bill was passed by a six-four vote despite major doubts cast by independent senators as well as PLP senators. Sen Bassett and Sen Jardine joined Sen Rabain and PLP senator Renee Ming in voting against the Act, with Sen Bassett urging Government to take objections into account. The PLP has opposed both bills since Attorney-General Trevor Moniz brought them before legislators on June 5. Sen Rabain agreed with the need for the legal system to be modernized — but in light of myriad objections over the erosion of fundamental rights, he urged fellow senators to “send a message” and reject the (first) bill. Sen Marshall was the only OBA senator to speak on the first bill, which Sen Jardine said had also surprised him. He called Sen Bassett’s dissension “most unusual”, saying he had not seen such a move during his time in the Senate — and reiterated her concern over the need for one-on-one dialogue. After the passing of the Disclosure and Criminal Reform Bill closed the morning session, Government Senate Leader Michael Fahy called it a healthy debate. “The Opposition seems to have the approach that if there are concerns from one or two stakeholders, therefore the Government is wrong,” he said. Sen Fahy insisted concerns had been heard and detractors consulted with, but that “we as a Government do not believe these provisions are unconstitutional”. “More to the point, judges themselves will have an opportunity to use the Act as they see fit,” he added. “Recall that many of these were proposals in 2004, under a law reform committee chaired by an Attorney-General of the PLP.”

July 16. Support will grow for the America’s Cup as more events come to the Island, according to Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons, who conceded there were some who might never favour the Government’s economic policies. Asked if the One Bermuda Alliance had fallen short in convincing the public that the Cup constituted a game-changer for Bermuda, he said more town hall meetings were on the way — plus an update for tomorrow in Parliament. Dr Gibbons was responding to a survey by The Royal Gazette that found 27 per cent of residents opposed to the 2017 event, and 21 per cent unsure. The minister also took encouragement from the silver lining, saying he was pleased to note that 52 per cent supported an event that the Government invested $70 million to secure for the Island. As for those still undecided, Dr Gibbons said they were “probably waiting to see how things develop. We recognise that not everyone will agree with our enthusiasm for, and confidence in, the many benefits the America’s Cup will bring to Bermuda,” he said, voicing hope that October’s World Series, as well as the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in 2016 and the Challenger Series and America’s Cup Finals in 2017, would raise support. “In this regard, we recognise that we’re still only six months into a 2½-year programme.” Still, he defended outreach efforts made by the Government with the America’s Cup Bermuda Ltd (ACBDA) and America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA): town hall meetings, public meetings to link entrepreneurs with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, press releases and parliamentary statements. There had been individual meetings since January with service clubs, unions, the Chamber of Commerce, tourism sector groups, and local boating and sailing clubs. Although the Government and ACBDA had been consumed with site preparations, Dr Gibbons said updates would continue. “But we recognise nevertheless that some members of the community will possibly never agree with this Government’s economic approach to creating jobs and opportunity.” The $70 million investment would be “just a part of the overall $250 million in spending this event will create. Bermuda is making a substantial investment with clear indications of a substantial return on that investment, in order to benefit every Bermudian for the foreseeable future.” Extra spending could be banked on from the local operations of the ACEA, plus spending over the next three years by teams and sponsors involved. The minister said extra visitors, with media, regatta officials, super-yacht visits and event-related Government spending, also stood to multiply benefits. “Our America’s Cup costs involve investment in Bermuda infrastructure and services over the next three years, and sponsorship of the event as part of Bermuda’s bid package,” he said. This newspaper’s survey drew some notably strong comments from detractors believing the America’s Cup would fail to benefit average Bermudians. Dr Gibbons responded: “All sectors of Bermuda’s economy will be positively impacted: tourism; hotels, restaurants and hospitality-related services; transport, including taxis, ferries, buses; construction; wholesale and retail; security; marine services, shipping and forwarding; telecommunications; service industries; small businesses; and real estate — even international business. And the global media exposure generated for Bermuda will have a significant and sustained impact on tourism, including air arrivals and on-island expenditure for years to come.” Meanwhile, the Government’s capital costs of $14 million over three years included provisions for site preparation, enhancements to buildings and docks, moorings, utilities and services. Expenses to run the America’s Cup Village have been budgeted at $11 million over three years, he added. For both capital and operational expenses, the majority of the spending will occur in 2016 and 2017. Dr Gibbons said securing the event had already jump-started the development of new hospitality products and promoted a reinvestment in existing properties. Infrastructural projects would stand to enhance the Island’s tourism “well beyond” 2017, he said. “The hosting of the America’s Cup provides Bermuda with a chance to re-establish tourism which should have a broad-based and long-lasting beneficial effect on the Bermudian economy.”

July 16.  The Celebrity Summit is poised to be the first cruise ship captained by an American woman when it visits the Island next month. Celebrity Cruises has announced that San Francisco native Kate McCue is set to take the helm of the ship in August as it continues its regular visits to Bermuda. “Becoming the first female American captain of a cruise ship has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember,” Capt McCue said. “The honour is amplified by being the first at a company like Celebrity Cruises. The cruise industry is ever-evolving, from the ships and the itineraries, to our guests’ expectations for vacation experiences. Celebrity has a history of delivering on each of these and I am thrilled to be a part of it.” Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the president and CEO of the Celebrity brand, was quoted as saying: “From the first time I met Kate, I looked forward to this moment, when I could extend my congratulations to her for being such a dynamic and highly respected leader who will continue to pave the way for women in the maritime industry. Of all the great moments throughout my career, this is at the top of my list. I am both honored that Kate accepted this position, and proud of the way our team continues to transform the way people think about Celebrity, and about cruising in general.” Capt McCue, 37, graduated from California State University’s California Maritime Academy and has worked at Celebrity’s sister brand, Royal Caribbean, where she reached the position of master mariner.

July 16. Axis and PartnerRe have boosted the special dividend for PartnerRe’s common shareholders to $17.50 if they back a merger deal. And the two firms also pledged to match an offer to preferred shareholders by Italian investment firm Exor, who have launched a $6.8 billion rival bid for PartnerRe. PartnerRe chairman Jean-Paul Montupet said: “We are very pleased to agree to enhanced terms with Axis Capital so that shareholders can realize the value of the combination. “This amalgamation will immediately enhance our strategic positioning and financial strength and we will have tremendous resources to build upon our proven track record of stability and success.” Shareholders in both PartnerRe and Axis will meet on Friday, August 7 to vote on the $11 billion merger. Mr Montupet said: “We are confident that they will recognise the unique potential of this transformative combination. In addition to the cash special dividend, shareholders will benefit from owning a significant interest in a world-class speciality insurance and reinsurance franchise.” Axis and PartnerRe offered an $11.50 a share sweetener, in the shape of a dividend, to common shareholders in the wake of the all-cash Exor takeover bid. The would-be partners also said they would seek a private letter ruling from the US tax authority the IRS that an exchange offer to preferred shareholders, which matches Exor’s offer of a 100 basis point increase in the current dividend rate, would not expose preferred shareholders to tough IRS rules on tax shelter transactions. Axis CEO Albert Benchimol said: “The combined company will have the scale, the product reach and the service capabilities to add substantial value and deepen our relationships with clients and distribution partners.” Exor raised its original $6.4 billion bid for PartnerRe — equivalent to $130 a share — to $6.8 billion, or $137.50 a share, in May. The cash deal went up against the all-share merger proposition and Exor said it intended to retain PartnerRe as a stand-alone company and keep existing management and staff. The Axis-PartnerRe deal would create the world’s fifth largest reinsurer and the two companies have said joining forces would save $200 million a year — with some of the savings from redundancies among the combined Bermuda-based staff of around 130. And the two reinsurance firms, near-neighbors on Pitts Bay Road in Pembroke, would also probably require less office space.

July 16.  Bermuda CableVision is to merge with Logic Communications Ltd. The news was announced today by telecommunications group KeyTech Ltd, Logic’s parent company, after it secured ownership of 100 per cent of CableVision’s shares. The CableVision name will disappear as the combined company will branded as Logic. KeyTech was already the majority owner of CableVision’s shares, but after a special shareholder meeting yesterday it completed the buyout of all minority shareholders. In the run-up to the meeting, some of the minority shareholders voiced concerns that KeyTech subsidiary Wansunt’s offer of $13 per share significantly undervalued the television and internet provider. KeyTech chief executive officer Lloyd Fray said: “The transaction positions Logic for future growth as it brings together Bermuda’s premier internet service provider and cable access providers. In order for these companies to meet growing consumer demand for high bandwidth products, one bill, and to expedite capital intensive projects for network expansion and upgrades, we felt it was prudent for KeyTech to acquire 100 per cent of the Cablevision shares and to merge these two entities. “The combination of Logic and Cablevision will create a ‘triple play’ telecommunications provider that is supported by a robust network with superior customer service that caters to both corporate and residential customers.” Both CableVision and Logic’s existing customer service centres will continue to operate under the Logic brand.

July 15.  Four civil penalties have been imposed by the Chief Immigration Officer since April last year, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy told the Senate this morning — with 41 more under investigation. The Chopsticks restaurant was fined $5,000, along with employee Imelda Mon. Pedro Arruda, a former employee of Hasco Construction, was fined $5,000 and $10,000 for two violations. David King Sr, an independent contractor at Manor House, was fined $5,000, Sen Fahy said. There was also one investigation which resulted in no case to answer. Sen Fahy said that the Compliance Section was at present dealing with another 41 cases for civil penalties. Parties will not be identified until after a penalty has been issued. However, Sen Fahy told the Senate that categories included positions for: chef, construction worker, mason, fitness instructor, automotive mechanic, panel beater, manager, administrator, refrigeration technician, domestic worker, waiter and waitress, hairstylist, landscaper, health and safety coordinator, accountant, boat maintenance, cleaner, butcher, architect, nanny, financial controller and landlord and tenancy. Sen Fahy said he was “imploring employers and work permit holders to play by the rules.”

July 15.  Senators expressed surprise that the One Bermuda Alliance brought its legal reform bills before the Upper House today. Among them was Progressive Labour Party senator Marc Daniels, who had been tipped to lead the debate on behalf of the Opposition. Sen Daniels suggested the OBA had deliberately sprang the two bills on the Senate today — the Opposition had previously been advised during repeated sessions when it never came up for debate. Sen Daniels, a lawyer, is taking part in a courtroom trial today and was unable to attend, although his presence would not have been sufficient to tip the vote in the PLP’s favour. The bill passed by six votes to four. The bill that passed this morning is the first of two: up for debate this afternoon is the Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure Act 2015.

July 15.  The Island logged 228 firearm offences between 2010 and 2013, plus a further 206 offences for other weapons. Jeff Baron, the Junior Minister of National Security, also revealed that a total of 21 people have been murdered by firearms since 2010, as he spoke to the Senate this morning. Sen Baron is co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force, which is developing policy to address gang violence and has met with hundreds of families. Initiatives include an Inter-Agency Gang Enforcement Team and an Inter-Agency Community Response.

July 15. The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce has appealed against planning approval for projects linked to the 35th America’s Cup. According to a statement, BEST are objecting to 11 acres of landfill in the South Basin at Dockyard, which is intended to house the hub of the 2017 event and later the Department of Marine and Ports. However BEST president Stuart Hayward said the concerns could be addressed with a minimal delay to the America’s Cup aspects of the project. “The appeal is against all three parts of the proposal, the landfill, the interim uses for the land-filled site, and the end uses for the land-filled site. The first two parts could, with a little effort, meet acceptable environmental and procedural standards and BEST has pledged to work with ACBDA to expedite resolution of the outstanding issues for the landfill and interim uses. However the third part — the proposed end uses — is untested. Essentially Wedco wants to convert protected marine habitat into an industrial wasteland. Wedco promised public meetings but that hasn’t happened, so the public isn’t adequately informed nor has their input been properly sought. Wedco has not presented a tested case for the end uses. In any case, those end uses are not required until AC35 departs in 2017 or later. Therefore, there should be proper public consultation about the end uses and an independently vetted EIA should be conducted, and that part of the application should be resubmitted to the DAB. Our appeal is now before the Minister and we call on him to do the right thing for the people of Bermuda, our environment and our future. Mr Hayward said the organization have listed six grounds of appeal, including that the environmental impact study (EIS) was flawed and the Department of Planning failed to convey certain information to the Development Applications Board (DAB), who granted final approval for the project.  He said the department did not include key recommendations from Bermuda Environmental Consulting, the applicant’s designated environmental consultants, or the concerns of government agency consultants including the Departments of Conservation Services and Environmental Protection. “Of greater concern in this project is that the fill being dredged for the development is not part of the application,” he stated. “Over 368,000 cubic meters of fill will be required, most of it will be dredged from the south channel, from Shelly Bay to Grassy Bay, without adequate environmental impact assessment. These grounds of appeal point to serious flaws in a development is huge, complex and important — especially to the America’s Cup, which BEST supports wholeheartedly. The America’s Cup is depending on the land filled acreage on which to build their event village. Unfortunately, Wedco’s end use plans, which are not needed for the America’s Cup event itself and can’t be realized until after they abandon the site, were piggybacked on to the landfill and received final approval that should have been denied. We alerted ACBDA and the DOP that this was a problem but the application was pushed through anyway. Bermuda should be at the forefront in protecting its own environment. This decision is a betrayal of that obligation to the people of Bermuda. BEST had hoped to head off delays to the America’s Cup preparation and a public battle. Early talks with ACBDA’s leader Mike Winfield were encouraging, however Wedco’s insistence on linking their insufficiently assessed long term or end use plans to the America’s Cup has resulted in this impasse.”

July 15.  Just over half the population approves of Government’s financial support for the America’s Cup, according to a new poll — but more than a quarter disapproves. The survey indicates that 52 per cent of people agree with Government committing more than $70 million towards the 2017 sailing spectacle, which leaders promise will reap great rewards for the Island’s economy. But 27 per cent of residents disapprove and a further 21 per cent remain on the fence, according to the Global Research poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette this month. Results show 31 per cent of residents “strongly approve” of Government’s financial support of the event, saying it will provide jobs and stimulate the economy. However, 18 per cent “strongly disapprove”, with many claiming it will only line the pockets of the rich while doing little for the average person. Government’s financial commitment to the America’s Cup amounts to about $77 million. This includes $15 million in cash sponsorship under the Host Venue Agreement, as well as a $25 million sponsorship guarantee to the ACEA, the AC Village delivery expenses in Dockyard ($10.4 million), event operating expenses ($12.29 million), and AC Village capital improvements ($14.34 million). A Potential Economic Impact Assessment of the America’s Cup estimates that $242 million will be generated in direct spend for Bermuda’s economy as a result of the event. The largest economic benefit for Bermuda would be via spending by the ACEA and race teams: an estimated $94 million. Some $60 million would be generated by predicted tourism benefits as a result of the exposure the Island would receive before, during and after the event. Both political parties have previously hailed the potential benefits of the America’s Cup. Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons said the America’s Cup provides all Bermudians with “an unparalleled opportunity to shine”, while Opposition leader Marc Bean has said the event will provide a golden chance to showcase Bermuda’s beauty and hospitality that should translate into increased visitor arrivals, accompanied by job and entrepreneurial opportunities for Bermudians. A breakdown of poll results indicates significant disparity in opinion depending on race and age. According to the poll 76 per cent of whites approve of the Government stance compared with 39 per cent of blacks, while 71 per cent of over-65s said they approve of the financial investment compared to 39 per cent of 18- to 34-yr-olds. Each of the 403 residents who took part in the poll was asked to give a reason for their opinion. One person in favour of Government’s financial support said: “I strongly approve of Government’s financial support of the America’s Cup 2017 because it’s going to bring attention and a lot of people will notice Bermuda, which is good for tourism. “It will bring money to Bermuda and open up some jobs for Bermudians getting the infrastructure ready for the race that will be there long after the race is over.” One person against it said: “Money could be used as people are struggling. As an unemployed senior with health issues, financial assistance has been reduced and this is stressful. Medicine is expensive. This America’s Cup thing is like gambling. I can’t say that it will pay. We’re all struggling and all the money is going on those boats. Fix the ferries. Now that’s a boat I can get on.” The telephone poll took place between July 1 and 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 per cent.

July 15.  A Bermuda-based Chinese insurance company is to launch a new healthcare insurance product. TOP Reinsurance Ltd will help structure the deal for the Chinese market and a new reinsurance vehicle will be established on the Island by Guangdong Wing Yue Investment Co, part of China’s Daohe Group, which specializes in investment management. Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) chief executive officer Ross Webber said: “This is a welcome development for the Bermuda market and once again emphasizes the fact our jurisdiction is a hub for innovation — in the risk industry and other sectors. “Bermuda has long been a centre for ground-breaking products and approaches and our global reputation in that area remains strong.” And he added that it was hoped that the Island would do more business with China. The Chinese businesses were advised in Bermuda by insurance managers Kane, professional services firm PwC and ASW Law. The deal was signed in Hamilton earlier this month.

July 15. Wander Hodgson’s poor health had turned her into a walking time bomb. She’d survived a bout with breast cancer but was diabetic and overweight; at her heaviest, she weighed 400lbs. In her early 40s, she decided to do something about it. “I was tired of being really heavy, sick of being overweight and knew something had to change,” the 65-year-old said. “I was a compulsive eater because of some sexual abuse I had been through as a young girl. I used to hide the food under the bed and in the fridge and things like that. On my way home from work I used to stop and buy a pack of six cream puffs and eat the whole thing or eat an entire chocolate bar in one sitting. I used to make pies and cakes and just got bigger and bigger until one day I said I’m tired of this. I have to do something to improve myself.” With the help of a natural diet, exercise and therapy she lost a total of 230lbs. She also got serious about her studies. In 2002, she got a master’s degree in nutrition from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University; a doctorate of naturopathy from the International Institute of Original Medicine in Virginia came two years ago. She put her degrees to use to complete her first book — a collection of her favourite raw and healthy recipes called Wanderous Blessings of Raw Foods. It was inspired by a woman she helped early on in her naturopathy career. “I used to run a health centre in Huntsville, Alabama. I was a medical missionary that taught people about health,” Ms Hodgson said. “I rented a big house and the clients used to come and stay with me. One of those was a woman who used to have cancer. I gave her all raw foods and she overcame it. She was the one who first asked me to write my recipes down in a book, back in 2002 and 2003.” Ms Hodgson credits her natural lifestyle with saving her from two consecutive strokes she suffered in March. “If it weren’t for my diet I wouldn’t be in such a good condition as I am now,” she said. “I had just finished up teaching at Clearwater Middle School last year and as soon as that happened I had an atrial fibrillation that caused the strokes. Apparently it’s genetic. I thought that because I was such a good eater nothing could happen to me, but you can’t ever think that. I couldn’t walk very much at first, but things improved a lot after going to speech and physical therapy. Now I’m able to drive again and because of my healthy lifestyle I recovered very fast. I go walking every morning and go on the beach and go to Horseshoe Bay to go swimming.” Ms Hodgson believes that others can benefit from giving up sweets and processed foods as well. “That’s why I came back to Bermuda,” she said. “I felt that people here were suffering from so many diseases like diabetes. I myself was diagnosed with diabetes in 1987 and my father died from the disease. I believe that you can prevent yourself from getting so many diseases if you just change your lifestyle.” She said there’s a lot of people eating genetically modified foods who don’t even know what they’re putting into their systems. “Sometimes I go to the store and watch people fill up their baskets and my heart hurts because they don’t read the labels and just pick up whatever they feel. They are literally taking in poison and that’s why we’re so sick. We are eating the chips, chocolates and all these things that are killing us. I personally wrote this book from my heart and my own experience to say, ‘You can overcome anything in life if you want to’. I don’t care how good the food is if it’s not good for you then don’t eat it. In my personal struggle I had to ask God for help to overcome my addiction to eating because I was terrible. I was in and out of the hospital, sick because of my diet. I had kidney and liver problems. But as soon as I changed my diet everything began to get better.” Ms Hodgson’s book will be available at the Adventist Book Centre, Brown & Co, Bermuda Bookstore, Better Health and the Metaphysical Book Store for $15. She’ll sign copies of it at the Bermuda National Library on Queen Street, tomorrow from 11am until 2pm.

July 15.  RG Opinion. The early-morning robbery that took place in Warwick on Monday, while not necessarily an eye-opener, was yet another stark reminder that something needs to be done finally about the laws pertaining to motorcycle helmets and their visors. The country has pussyfooted around this issue for far too long in the naive belief that criminals will stop being criminals. Both political parties, as the government of the day, have had a crack at this since the vexed issue became seriously topical four years ago. But then, as now, little or nothing has been done to force our criminal underbelly into any form of rethink that might either serve as a deterrent or facilitate apprehension and summary justice. A spate of criminal activity in the latter half of the Nineties, including murders, prompted an outcry that Bermuda should ban heavily tinted visors on helmets. The groups Colford’s Family Against Violence and Help Save Our Bermuda began an online petition against their use in April 2011, which resulted in the matter being addressed in the House of Assembly. Wayne Perinchief, then the Minister of National Security, sounded bullish a month later when he proclaimed “initially I would expect the police to stop people and advise them not to use tinted visors. But anyone who doesn’t get the message will then have to suffer the consequences”. By the end of the year, his voice was significantly toned down: “While I personally favour the ban, a majority of my peers do not.” The proposed amendments to the Road Traffic Act would have had to go through the transport minister in any case and that position was held by the newly appointed Derrick Burgess. “I’m sure we will see eye to eye on the issue,” Mr Burgess was quoted as saying about planned talks in the new year with Mr Perinchief. “The most important issue at hand is public safety.” Four years later, with the One Bermuda Alliance in government and the Progressive Labour Party out, with countless crimes having been committed by persons whose identities have been masked by full-faced, visored helmets — some in the commission of capital offences — we are told that the possibility of a ban remains off the table. This as recently as last Friday. If it is fine to allow darker windscreens on cars to reduce air-conditioning costs, how can it not be acceptable to draft, debate and pass legislation with a view to making it difficult for those who would do us and our international reputation harm? Anything that hinders their activities is a good thing. But how do we accomplish this and at what cost? Could that have been the stumbling block that has given successive governments pause for thought in bringing to an Act an amendment that could ultimately make our communities feel more at ease? There is always a price to pay. There needs to be for us to get this right. Rather pay compensation to owners of these offensive helmets over the course of an amnesty period to turn them in than pay with the loss of life should the next robbery target endeavor to stand up for himself or herself. For the Bermuda Government to come up with any meaningful legislation, there needs to be a consultation with the Bermuda Police Service. We have commended the police in these pages in recent times and hope their stance of 2015 vintage would be more accommodating than that of the senior officer who offered this 2011 classic while giving a helmet ban the thumbs-down: “If I want to conceal my identity under a crash helmet, a simple pair of sunglasses and a handkerchief tied around my face would do.” Rather simplistic. And, yes, if the criminals want to take that route, let them. Better than allowing them to slip on a black-visored helmet and mix in with the masses who believe it cool not to be able to be seen, when the manufacturer’s intent surely was to protect from the sun’s glare. Legally in Britain, the tint allowed on visors is 50 per cent. The Essential Guide to Protective Gear for Bikers states that “during daylight hours a tint of up to 50 per cent is OK — legal tinted visors will be marked ‘For daylight use only’.” Were that law enforced here, we would not have an issue because the darkest visor would be a see-through that provided the necessary protection from the sun. And at night, while a criminal may still employ a “legal” helmet with visor down to commit a crime, CCTV cameras would have a significantly better chance of leading to an arrest. So to the legislation and the steps required to make this work. First to the businesses who import and sell such helmets — the dealers, cycle liveries, repair shops — cease and desist. Compensation to be paid for stock that has been brought in, which would then be sent to a government facility to be destroyed. Bermuda Customs would be on the lookout for those who attempt to bypass the conventional middle man and “smuggle” their item into the country. With helmet importation frozen and the store owners selling only what is acceptable by law, the next step is to give the public ample time to surrender their frowned-upon items and be in receipt of suitable compensation in return to buy a replacement. So as to head off the inevitable “helmets for cash” frenzy, which opens the door to more theft, persons would be restricted to one helmet each in the amnesty. After this amnesty period of, say, three months, the police would be let loose to fully enforce the new law, starting with confiscating helmets and having them destroyed. Monies gained from the substantial fines for possessing an illegal helmet would help to offset the initial compensation costs. It is to be expected that the Government would come out of this with an operating balance in the red for this initiative, but it is indeed an initiative worth having — and long overdue. Sri Lanka, an island a good bit larger than ours, took the uncomfortable decision this year to ban full-faced helmets for the same reasons — to take a bite out of crime. They, too, huffed and puffed with the legislation, but the difference was that they proceeded and made the helmets illegal in April. While the critics say the Sri Lankan lawmakers may have gone over the top and created safety issues by banning all full-faced helmets, whether or not they were fitted with dark-tinted visors, the result is that they have isolated the criminals and made the process of catching them that much easier. Why should Bermuda resist anything similar that could make our lot better?

July 15.  Reinsurance prices declined in the July 1 renewals, but at a moderating rate. That is the finding of Guy Carpenter & Company in its latest briefing on renewal pricing. It noted that the moderating declines were especially seen in programmes covering US wind storm risk. The company, a global risk and reinsurance specialist, said that overall pricing was down across virtually all geographies and lines of business, but “additional limit placed over the past few months is partially responsible for the stabilization of price declines, particularly for US property”. Guy Carpenter also noted growth in demand for worldwide property catastrophe coverage. “It was hard to imagine based on the two previous years that we would hear a reinsurer reference lack of capacity as a reason for cutting back on a programme, but this did occur at times this June and July,” said Lara Mowery, managing director and head of global property specialty for Guy Carpenter. “There is certainly no capacity shortage overall and reinsurance capital has grown once again. However, the combination of a significant increase in limit purchased and margins that have continued to thin, created a dampening on the market’s response to additional rate pressure, particularly with regard to US wind.” Guy Carpenter said analysis shows demand for worldwide property catastrophe coverage is up around 8 per cent since spring 2014. It said this rise is primarily due to new entities buying coverage and some companies using savings to enhance their coverage.

July 15.  Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling last night expressed his disappointment at new legislation that provides Government with more power over the municipalities. Mr Gosling said that the new Municipalities Amendment Act 2015 effectively demoted the corporation from running the City to becoming a Government advisory body. The Act was passed on Friday after a heated debate with Opposition MPs saying that the new legislation would create “a mockery of a democracy” in which elected officials would not be able to make their own decisions. Mr Gosling told his colleagues at a meeting at City Hall last night that the onus was on the new council to show that the Corporation could still play an important role. “I have made my feelings clear on how I viewed the new legislation. I cannot say that I am in any way anything but disappointed that this Act has gone through, although I certainly see the pragmatism behind it. We made a resolution at the last council meeting forming a committee to draw up of legislative recommendations for the Minister to contemplate. It is very much on our part to show citizens of the capital and the Island that there is a need for a municipality such as us to continue in existence.” On Friday in the House of Assembly Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, had previously cited “bad apples” in the former Hamilton administration as justification for the new Bill. He said the Government’s hand had been forced on the issue, but added that it was in the Island’s national interest. The amended Act allows the minister to assume control of the finances of either corporation if he believes they are being mismanaged, or control of the corporations entirely if he believes they are being mismanaged. The minister is also empowered to give written directions to a corporation, including orders for it to discontinue or restrict activities, and may delegate powers to a representative. At last night’s meeting at City Hall Councillor Nick Swan said: “We need to move forward in our relationship with Government and prove we are capable of looking after our own affairs and wrest some of that autonomy back.

July 14. Two historic Bermuda train carriages could have been rediscovered at a railway workshop in Guyana more than half a century after they left the Island. The two freight railcars along with all the rolling stock and most of the rails were sent to Guyana in 1948 after the Bermuda railway closed. The Island’s fleet was used in Guyana for nearly 25 years until the country’s passenger service ended in 1972 and it was feared that all the Bermuda carriages had been scrapped. But two old freight vans appear to have surfaced again earlier this summer being used by the Guyana Government Transport and Harbour Department for repairs to parts of the ferry fleet. The discovery has prompted hopes of bringing the old carriages back to Bermuda to exhibit. “It is a possibility that one of the carriages could be brought back to Bermuda,” said Edward Harris, executive director of the National Museum. “But at present the National Museum needs a new building that could house that and other large artifact, such as the steam winch from the old St George’s Boatyard. Such a Bermuda Railway artifact would have to be on exhibition inside, given the climate at Bermuda.” The discovery of the Bermuda carriages was reported in the UK-based publication; The Railway Magazine. The article stated: “Upon closure the railway — all the rolling stock and most of the rails — was sold to the authorities in Guyana. After overhaul, the rolling stock was used on the only standard gauge line in Guyana from the capital Georgetown south-east along the Atlantic coast to Rosignol, until this line along with the rest of Guyana’s passenger services ended in 1972. Following closure of the Guyana railway system in 1972 it had always been assumed that all the rolling stock brought from Bermuda had been scrapped — however it has now been discovered that there is at least one survivor. Two former rail vehicles, without power bogies, remain at the old Georgetown railway workshops, which are still used by the Guyana Government Transport and Harbour Department for repairs to components for the ferry fleet.” The Bermuda Railway opened on October 31, 1931. In 1931 the Bermuda Railway had ordered eight 20-ton 120hp petrol-engine-powered bogie coaches, plus six 14-ton bogie first class coaches and two 14-ton bogie freight vans from Drewry Car Co Ltd in the UK. Additional vehicles were supplied in 1932 and two ex-US Army Brill railcars were added to the fleet during the Second World War. In 1946 the private Bermuda Railway company sold the entire operation to the Government that then decided to close it two years later. The railway closed down on May 1, 1948 after extensive use during the Second World War. Simon Horn, who runs a Bermuda Railway Pages website, told The Royal Gazette: “I have suggested to the Bermuda National Museum that is it would be wonderful if one or both of the freight motors could be repatriated to Bermuda. It would make a perfect setting for a display of the Museum’s Bermuda Railway material. Of course it would probably be prohibitively expensive and require some major fundraising, even if the freight motors are in restorable condition.”

Bermuda railway car

See above story.

July 14. Physicians are being asked for their ideas on changes to the benefits under the Standard Hospital Benefit, Bermuda’s basic health insurance package. Alterations to the SHB caught widespread public attention after the health ministry proposed switching mammography coverage over to more stringent guidelines. The move was dropped after widespread criticism. Further changes to the SHB are planned to take effect in April 2016, and the Bermuda Health Council has asked for eligible healthcare providers to give their proposals. An SHB review committee has been tasked with prioritizing the treatment of specific non-communicable chronic illness, end-of-life care and secondary prevention, which is the treatment of a disease or injury that has already occurred, in order to improve patient outcomes, contain insurance premiums and reduce healthcare costs. Proposals have been requested in the following categories:

• Foot care for diabetic patients at risk for amputation;

• Evidence-based steps for chronic kidney disease to prevent or at least delay dialysis;

• Similar processes for cardiovascular disease, to prevent or delay heart attacks and stroke;

• Post-acute care after neurological events or injuries;

• Palliative and end-of-life care in home or hospice settings;

• Non-invasive vascular screening to reduce potentially damaging scans;

• Evidence-based implantation of cardiac defibrillators on the Island, to cut down on referrals overseas.

Details, including eligibility and assessment criteria, are available on the Bermuda Health Council’s website. Completed applications are due by August 23. Final decisions on benefit changes will be made once the impact on premiums has been determined. Successful candidates should be notified by September 23, and approvals in principal will be made by March of next year. The Council is to hold an information session for prospective applicants on July 20, at 5.15pm, at its main office on Wesley Street, Hamilton.

July 14. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has hailed its accreditation by the Destination Marketing Association International. The recognition means the BTA has met “the highest possible standards of destination marketing organizations around the world”, according to a statement issued by the authority. BTA head Bill Hanbury said the authority was “ecstatic to have reached this milestone.” The association is a global trade group with more than 600 members. The BTA said less than 200 such organizations have been given accreditation, out of more than 2,000 estimated to exist worldwide. “For the BTA to attain this prestigious accreditation approval is truly an impressive achievement after only being in existence for less than 18 months,” said Michael Gehrisch, the president and CEO of Destination Marketing International. Accreditation meant the BTA was competently organized and managing Bermuda’s tourism strategy, he said, adding: “Mature destination marketing organizations have difficulty attaining this designation.” Chief operating officer Karla Lacey, who led the application process, accepted the accreditation. The submission included documenting “57 mandatory standards across 16 domains including: governance, finance, human resources, destination development, innovation, sales, marketing, brand management and stakeholder relationships”. Ms Lacey said the BTA had been able to set best practices in place by building itself from the ground up. “It was a challenge starting from scratch while at the same time meeting these enormously high standards, but having now achieved the accreditation it feels like a real coup — something every member of the BTA team and every one of our stakeholders can be proud of,” she said.

July 14. Oracle Team USA sailors will get their first taste of action in the new AC45F catamaran today when the team begin their preparations for this month’s America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth, England. The AC45F is an updated version of the boats used in the previous World Series that have since been modified to foil or fly above water like the wing-sail, foiling AC45 or larger AC72. Kyle Langford, the Oracle wing trimmer, is looking forward to the exciting challenge of coming to grips with the one design catamaran. “We’ll do some training in the new boats which we haven’t seen or sailed in yet,” he said. “That’s one of the great things about sailing; you’re forced to pick up these new skills and adapt to a new boat and learn quickly. That’s the challenge and that’s what makes it fun.” This month’s fleet racing regatta in Portsmouth, home port of British challenger Land Rover BAR, who are led by skipper and former Oracle tactician Sir Ben Ainslie, is the first stage of competition of the 35th America’s Cup and will feature six teams. Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle skipper, can hardly wait to get behind the wheel and start racing around the course. “Competition is really what drives us as sailors,” he said. “For us, we want to get out there and post a good result on the board.” Tactician Tom Slingsby, trimmer Kinley Fowler and bowman Louis Sinclair make the up the remainder of Oracle’s team for this month’s America’s Cup World Series event. Slingsby, who also serves as Oracle’s sailing team manager, acknowledged that team selection was a difficult task. “It was bit of a challenge to select the crew for this event,” he said. “We have a lot of talent and depth among our sailing team. But I think we have a good mix of experience and youth on this crew and we’ve rewarded some of the hard work put in by the guys over the past weeks and months.” The America’s Cup World Series circuit is an early opportunity to put points on the board that carry forward into the next stage of the competition. Overall ranking position in the America’s Cup World Series determines the starting points score of the teams in the America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017. This month’s opening regatta in Portsmouth will take place from July 23 to 26.

July 14. The Devonshire Post Office has been temporarily closed for emergency plumbing repairs. A spokesman for the Bermuda Post Office (BPO) said: “Customers will still have access to their post boxes whilst the repairs are being conducted. The following alternative locations are suggested: Flatts Post Office, Warwick Post Office, Crawl Post Office, Perot Post Office and the General Post Office in Hamilton. The BPO apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and the Devonshire Post Office expects to reopen as soon as the repairs are complete."

July 14. Bermuda’s insurance marketplace attracted 45 new companies during the first half of this year — some of them major players. Financial regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority said this was on a par with 2014, when 44 new insurers and intermediaries were registered in the January through June period. Three of them were Class 4s — a category which requires a minimum $100 million of capital. The biggest was ABR Re Ltd, the joint venture between Ace Ltd and money-manager BlackRock, which started with almost $800 million. The regulator also reported an increase in captive insurer formations, driven by new business from Canada and Latin America, while the insurance-linked securities sector continued to thrive. Shelby Weldon, the BMA’s director, licensing and authorizations, said: “One of the new Class 4s — which was a result of the partnership between one of the world’s largest global reinsurers and one of the world’s largest asset management firms — initially capitalized at approximately $775 million, while another new Class 4 subsidiary initially capitalized with $300 million. “The ability to attract over $1 billion of capital in just two new Class 4 reinsurers speaks to the continued significance of the Bermuda market. In addition, an increase in the number of new insurance intermediaries setting up in Bermuda — increasing from eight to 11 year-on-year — also demonstrates Bermuda’s attractiveness as a global insurance marketplace.” In a statement released today, the BMA said Bermuda’s life insurance (Long-Term) sector attracted one new Class E and three new Class C firms. On the captive side, registrations for Class 1, 2 and 3 insurers increased from seven to ten year-on-year, with new companies including captives from Latin America covering the risks of predominantly Colombian parents and Canadian captives covering property and general liability risks. “The Authority is pleased to see that the jurisdiction’s efforts to promote Bermuda’s captive sector — particularly in growth regions of Latin America and Canada — have resulted in an increase in new captives registered during the first six months of 2015,” Mr Weldon said. “It is also important to note that these are quality captives, writing quality business.” Fourteen new special purpose insurers (SPIs) registered in the first six months of the year, compared with 16 in the same period last year. One of them was Panda Re, a catastrophe bond issued by China Re to cover Chinese earthquake risk. The BMA said there were other China-related start-ups and that these newcomers were significant. “During the first half of 2015, the Authority noted a number of newly registered insurers expressly designed to facilitate the Chinese insurance market,” Mr Weldon said. “Attracting business from China has been an objective for the jurisdiction for many years. The formation of these insurers is an important milestone in this regard.” The BMA said investment fund registrations were up 15 per cent during the six-month period. The regulator registered 39 new investment funds, including 12 Class A and B exempt funds and 12 institutional funds, compared to 34 fund registrations in the same period of last year.

July 14. An investment firm executive yesterday said telecoms group KeyTech had failed to provide investors with up-to-date financial information in its bid to take over TV provider CableVision. And Michael Moseley, executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Lines Overseas Management (LOM), added that it appeared KeyTech had undervalued CableVision with its $13 a share offer. Mr Moseley said: “The thing that’s annoyed us is we have clients who hold stock, which we hold on their behalf, and they haven’t provided any financial statements. We got a proxy, the merger document itself and a covering letter, but there were no financials in there.” Mr Moseley was speaking ahead of tomorrow’s special meeting, at which shareholders will be asked to approve the takeover offer. He added that, after LOM contacted KeyTech, the firm was provided with 2012-13 figures for CableVision, but not the most recent year-end results. Mr Moseley said: “There has been nothing for the last 18 months — how the shareholders are expected to take an informed decision with no up-to-date information is beyond me.” He explained that, based on the 2013 results, taking the shareholders’ capital and dividing it by the number of shares, the value worked out as $15.90 per share. But that figure does not take into account CableVision’s property, plant and equipment, which is likely to be worth tens of millions of dollars more, he added. Mr Moseley said that telecoms firms were increasingly providing entire packages, spanning internet, TV and phones. “I think the way the industry seems to be working, they are setting themselves up to compete with Digicel, the other competitor on the Island. From KeyTech’s point of view it’s probably a very good deal because it allows them to compete with Digicel.” But Mr Moseley said: “As our clients are minority shareholders, they are not too impressed with the price being offered. I think they’re just trying to push it through. If they can get it for $13 a share, they will probably ride roughshod over the minority shareholders.” KeyTech, the majority shareholder in CableVision, last week announced a bid to take full control of the cable firm through its subsidiary Wansunt, The proposed deal envisions a merger with Connect Ltd, wholly owned by Wansunt, which was made up of telecoms players North Rock and Logic, also controlled by KeyTech. A letter from the board of CableVision to shareholders backed the takeover bid. But one small CableVision holder said the shares should have been valued at between $25 and $40 each — and claimed that KeyTech wanted “all of the smaller shareholders out”. The letter from CableVision said the board had rejected an earlier $12 per share bid and told shareholders that if they were not satisfied with the final offer, they had a month to apply for a court ruling to set a price for their shares. Wansunt, Connect and CableVision all share the same registered officer address, 30 Victoria Street in Hamilton. Corporate services firm Quorum in March this year wrote to minority shareholders on behalf of an undisclosed client offering $6 a share. 

July 14. Commercial fishermen are calling for tougher regulations on recreational fishing as they battle to protect their livelihoods. Those who fish for a living say they are struggling to make ends meet — often forced to take a second job — while they are being undercut by people selling fish illegally on the roadsides and to restaurants. They want recreational fishermen to face stricter bagging limits, policed at the docks, with a tagging system on fish sales to ensure all stick within the rules. However, it is feared this could upset traditionalists who believe families should be allowed to go fishing for fun without any regulations. Former fisherman Rick Vesely, who has been both a recreational fisherman and commercial fisherman and has now become a carpenter, told The Royal Gazette that illegal fishing is putting a toll on earning fishermen. “The commercial guy is doing this for his livelihood — to put bread on the table and to send his children to school,” said Mr Vesely. “The recreational guy has a nine-to-five job, has a boat that he is going out to spearfish, and nine times out of ten the fish that he spears will end up on our dinner plates in a restaurant somewhere because he knows a chef. We even have recreational guys selling it through the commercial guys. It cannot be addressed so I have been trying to get a tag system in place.” Currently, recreational fishermen are subject to the same bag and size limits on inshore catches as the commercial fishermen who are subject to a $10,000 permit. If new limits were introduced on recreational fishermen, the Department of Fisheries wardens would then be able to catch offenders by waiting at the docks and checking their boats. Full-time commercial fisherman and lobster fisherman Dean Jones said: “Putting bag limits on recreational fishing would be the easiest thing to police. You put a limit of say two wahoos and two tunas for recreational, then if they see them with more at the dock, it is easy.” One third-generation fisherman who took on a second career, in part to supplement his income, said: “There is no reason why recreational fishermen should be out on the edge catching 20 wahoos in a day if they don’t have a licence to sell them. Why would you need 20 wahoos? That is more fish than one person can eat in two years. Why are they allowed to do that?” That man said of the state of the industry: “Fishing is in my blood — my father and my grandfather were fishermen. But even my dad would say for a young man trying to start his life out of that industry, he might as well take a gun and shoot himself in the head.” Commercial fishermen are not free from blame, with many accused of breaching the bag and size limits of fish that are subject to restrictions. Under the suggested tagging system, commercial fisherman would buy a certain number of tags in a year that must accompany any fish they sell; buyers would be prohibited from purchasing any fish without the tag. But, with fishing off the dock with your child a cherished Bermuda tradition, Chris Flook, former collector of specimens for the Bermuda Government, warned of a potential backlash with changing legislation. “All the commercial fishermen want recreational fishermen to have a licence and most sane societies do that,” Mr Flook said. “Here, the big argument is how you stop a traditional, cultural activity of taking your children down to the rocks to fish. It’s a sticky wicket. It could be dealt with through extra regulations as long as it could be enforced.”

July 13.  Bermuda must wait a few more weeks to find out whether its insurance regulation will be deemed equivalent to the new standards being introduced in the European Union. Legislative changes passed by the Senate last week addressed the recommendations of EU bureaucrats on what had still to be done for “third-country equivalence” with Solvency II in a report six months ago. The amendments, under The Insurance Amendment (No 2) Act 2015, which include the definition of the requirement for a commercial insurer to have a head office in Bermuda and legal authority for new public disclosure requirements for commercial insurers, will now be reviewed by the EU body that deals with insurance matters. Achieving equivalent status with the enhanced EU regulations will mean that Bermuda international insurers doing business in the EU will not be competitively disadvantaged. The drive towards equivalence that has been led by financial regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority is supported by major industry groups. Seamus MacLoughlin, speaking for the Bermuda International Long-Term Insurance and Reinsurance Association (BILTIR), said: “With last week’s action on a package of substantive and technical amendments Bermuda has completed the legislative and regulatory action that positions Bermuda to meet the caveats on the equivalence assessment as published January 30 by European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). “These legislative changes are now being reviewed by EIOPA at the request of the Commission. The Commission will make its final recommendation in the fall.” Bradley Kading, of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR), explained why equivalence was worth pursuing. “Equivalence findings of third countries help promote transparent and comprehensive regulation of non-EU groups with European Union (EU) business operations and encourage cross border reinsurance trade which promotes greater competition and value for EU consumers in insurance markets. ABIR members are strong supporters of the BMA’s efforts to be found fully equivalent under Solvency 2, but the real beneficiaries are EU commercial consumers which will benefit from open insurance markets.” Robert Paton, of the Bermuda Insurance Management Association (BIMA), said: “Jeremy Cox and the BMA team are to be commended for timely adoption of the final economic balance sheet regulations and public disclosure legal mandate, as these were considered to be key elements of Solvency II equivalence." The legislative amendments also amended the existing economic balance sheet rules to expand the framework to life/long term insurers, made technical amendments to the Bermuda Solvency Capital Requirement formula and spelled out financial condition public disclosure requirements. Bermuda’s equivalence application covers the commercial insurance market, both life-health and property-casualty. Based on the definition of “commercial” it excludes most captive insurers.

July 13. A tropical storm has formed off the US East Coast, but the system is already moving away from the Island. Tropical Storm Claudette was yesterday afternoon about 640km (346 nautical miles) north-northwest of the Island, and moving in a northeasterly direction at around 24kph (13 knots). While the system boasts sustained winds of 85kph (45 knots) extending 110km (59 nautical miles) from the storm’s centre, Bermuda Weather Service said it has already passed its closest point of approach.

Tropical Storm Claudette

See above story

July 13. Would-be merger partners Axis and PartnerRe said they would sweeten the deal for shareholders in a bid to stave off a hostile bid by Italian investment giants Exor. And the two Bermuda companies said on Friday that meetings of shareholders in the two firms to vote on the deal would be delayed by two weeks as a result. A statement issued jointly by the two firms said: “PartnerRe and Axis Capital are committed to ensuring that common and preferred shareholders benefit materially from the combination of the two companies. “The companies will communicate enhancements to their amalgamation agreement in the near-term.” But the statement added that “there can be no assurance that the companies will reach agreement on any enhancements to the terms of their amalgamation agreement.” Both companies have recommended that their shareholders back the $11 billion, all-share merger over Exor’s $6.8 billion cash bid for PartnerRe. But a spokesman for Exor said: “By postponing its own shareholder meeting, PartnerRe continues its attempts to rescue an inferior transaction that is the result of a flawed process. Exor remains committed to bringing its offer to fruition for the benefit of all PartnerRe shareholders.” Exor, which had earlier raised its original $6.4 billion offer for PartnerRe, last week unveiled enhanced terms for both common and preferred shareholders in the target firm. Preferred shareholders — a crucial voting bloc — were offered a 100 basis point increase in the dividend rate and call protection for five years on all three series of preferred shares, which Exor said would provide preferred shareholders with “certainty of income for a significantly extended period.” The Italian, firm, controlled by the billionaire Agnelli family, said it would also limit capital distributions to around two-thirds of earnings for five years. Also among the new terms was a “go shop” provision, which would allow PartnerRe to look for third-party bids up to August 31, even after signing a deal with Exor. Exor also said that during the period allowed for PartnerRe to look for another buyer, it would reduce the termination fee to $135 million. The PartnerRe and Axis termination and expense reimbursement fee, payable if either side walks away from the deal, was set at $315 million.

July 13. Illegal fishing has spiked as families have been hit by Bermuda’s struggling economy, according to government’s head fisheries warden. Fishermen are calling for better enforcement of the fishing laws — and the public are urged to act as witnesses — amid concerns the practice is putting their livelihoods at risk. John Edmunds, the head fisheries warden, told The Royal Gazette: “There has definitely been a noticeable increase in illegal fishing with the downturn in the economy. We have had a spike in spear fishing in the past couple of years. “I don’t know if it’s people just trying to feed themselves or get some more money for their families. Wherever there is an economic incentive, people will do what they think they can get away with.” In one incident earlier this month, a spear fisherman got away with killing 42 parrotfish, a species protected under the Fisheries Act, just off Cooper’s Island. Scott Barnes, a commercial fisherman, said: “When these people catch and sell fish illegally it affects us. It affects the people who are supposed to be selling fish with licences — the commercial guys for sure. We pay an annual fee so we are able to sell fish.” Mr Barnes said that Bermuda would benefit from a stronger policing presence on the water. There are five fisheries wardens employed to police illegal fishing in Bermuda. Mr Edmunds said that, while they do everything they can to prevent the offence taking place, the public can play a key role in helping them. “The public are our eyes and ears,” he said. “We like to get information that is timely — often I get a call from someone saying, ‘Last week I saw this or that.’ Well last week is no good to me. If you see something happening give us a call, we work seven days a week. If you have a camera take photos — anything from an evidentiary point of view — that can help us and it would be greatly appreciated. If you see someone doing something illegal it is probably better to either call us, the Police or Bermuda Radio [297-1010] — they are a great asset.” Mr Edmunds said some “red flags” to look out for are people swimming close to the shore with a spear: it is illegal to spearfish within a mile of the shoreline unless the species being caught is a lionfish. He added: “There is still lots of illegal fishing outside of spearing — we are still finding illegal fish traps, like the old fish pots. “We do have a programme going on now with legal traps for lionfish which is experimental. If you see anything near the shoreline, in the Great Sound or along North Shore or people pulling basketlike devices along the side of their boat, that is probably an illegal fish pot. We keep finding them in various areas around the Island — lobster pots are only allowed to be in the water from September 1 to March 31.” Mr Edmunds said that the warden’s main line of attack was working on deterrents such as boarding boats and checking catch. In 2011, legislation was amended to double the maximum fine for illegal fishing to $50,000. Mr Edmunds said that had helped the situation. He said: “We had a successful $10,000 fine a couple of years ago on the illegal harvesting of top shells and that had a huge effect. I was getting called out every two minutes with people illegally harvesting them, then we finally got a person and caught them red-handed with 500 something top shells. We have now noticed a substantial drop in illegal harvesting of top shells.” Anyone witnessing illegal or suspicious activity should call the wardens at any time on 535-4615 or 705-3474

July 13. Criminals are trawling the streets of Hamilton in trucks at night and “shopping” for bikes to steal, police have revealed. The disturbing trend that has been caught on police CCTV comes as vehicle crime figures have increased dramatically across the Island. So far this year 297 cars, bikes and trucks have been stolen, while 42 motorcycles have been taken in just the past two weeks. The 15 cars that have already been stolen in 2015 has already outstripped the 13 cars that were stolen during the whole of 2014. “I want to reassure the public that there is not someone out there jumping into cars and hot wiring them,” said Inspector Robert Cardwell, head of the roads policing unit. “All of the cars that have been taken have been stolen using the keys, that shows cars are being stolen when the opportunity arises to criminals. This can be people leaving their keys in their cars or burglars targeting a residence and then stealing the car as a means of getting away with bigger and more loot.” In just the past few weeks police have dealt with cases where keys have been cut for specific bikes that are then stolen, while some vehicle crooks look to make money from insurance scams and selling the parts on. Insp Cardwell said: “Another trend we have noticed is we have seen two guys on a bike looking for a specific bike to steal. Once they identify the bike, one guy gets off and they put the key in. Somehow they have managed to get a key for that specific bike cut. We later discover that the bike was in the repair shop just two days before where there was obviously an opportunity for that key to be cut. We are presently looking at how many other cases there are like this. Last Thursday police descended on a chop shop where bikes are stripped down and parts are sold on, while the frame and the engine are dumped. We arrested three men and found four stolen bikes. One of the bikes recovered belonged to one of the men arrested so there is an insurance fraud going on here too. The person will get $4,000 for the bike as well as the money for the stripped down parts." Insp Cardwell told The Royal Gazette that vehicle theft is an Island-wide problem and not confined to certain parishes. So far this year Police have made 27 arrests in connection with vehicle crime, while last year 79 suspected vehicles crooks were detained. “Motorcycle theft trends increase over the summer months,” said Insp Cardwell. “So it’s bad now but we can expect it to get worse as we get deeper into the summer months and it will taper off once the holiday is over. This year we have seen motorbike thieves using the city to shop for motorbikes in trucks. They lift the bikes on to the trucks and then drive off. This was captured on our CCTV just a couple of weeks ago. The difficulty we face when thefts are caught on camera is identifying the individuals involved; they often wear helmets or hoodies.”

July 13. Bermuda Tourism Authority head Bill Hanbury received a “guaranteed” bonus for his first year in office — but Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell has said the amount awarded was confidential. Shadow Minister Zane DeSilva told the House of Assembly that Mr Hanbury had been paid $100,000, but Mr Crockwell said he could not confirm that figure. The specific terms of incentives paid to staff at the BTA were private and could not be revealed, the minister said in response to parliamentary questions from Mr DeSilva. However, Mr Crockwell invited the shadow minister to make a Public Access to Information request on the issue.

July 13.  Premier Michael Dunkley has a 17-point lead over Marc Bean in newly released approval ratings from Global Research and Strategy Group. The Premier achieved a rating of 48 per cent, compared with 31 per cent for the Opposition leader, in the poll carried out in June. Mr Dunkley has a disapproval rating of 39 per cent, against 57 per cent for Mr Bean. A breakdown by race shows the Premier scored a 79 per cent approval rating from white voters and 32 per cent from blacks; Mr Bean had 5 per cent from whites and 46 per cent from blacks. The poll of 403 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 per cent. It comes after the release of a Profiles of Bermuda poll, carried out between April and May, which showed Mr Dunkley and Mr Bean both had an approval rating of 47 per cent.

July 13. Michael Dunkley had a favourability rating of 50.9 per cent, just edging out Marc Bean’s rating of 48.9 per cent, in a new poll by Profiles of Bermuda. Both the Premier and the Opposition leader achieved a job approval rating of 46.9 per cent in the survey, carried out between April 15 and May 10 this year. Mr Bean’s favourability rating was down from the 56.3 per cent recorded in 2014. A year ago, then-Premier Craig Cannonier had a rating of 40.3 per cent. Among white and other voters, 75 per cent said they favored the Premier, as well as 60.1 per cent of those aged 55 and over. Mr Bean had support of 64.1 per cent of black voters, and 56.8 per cent of those in households that earned less than $50,000 per year. The survey was conducted among 407 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 per cent.

July 13.  World-renowned opera singer Jon Vickers, who spent much of his life in Bermuda, has died at the age of 88. The Canadian-born tenor, considered by many to be one of the greatest opera singers of the 20th century, passed away in Canada on Friday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Mr Vickers moved to Bermuda in 1973 with his Bermudian wife Henrietta and three of their five children, Kenny, Johnny and Wendy. The family initially lived in Tucker’s Town and both boys went to Saltus Grammar School while Wendy attended Bermuda High School. The father-of-five traveled across the globe in his professional capacity but Bermuda remained his home until 2009 when he returned to his native Canada. His daughter-in-law, Jane Vickers, who married Kenny Vickers, described her father-in-law as a devoted family man who always put his children first. “I met Kenny when I was just 15, so Jon was like a father figure to me growing up. They moved into Blue Horizons when they first got here so they could be close to the airport and Jon would spend as little time as possible travelling. His family meant everything to him. His children would go by boat to meet him when he arrived at the airport. Jon loved everything about Bermuda. He loved the people and the water. And he loved the privacy the Island and its people afforded him.” Mrs Vickers said her father-in-law was a “larger-than-life character. At Christmas time dozens of people and children from Christ’s Church would descend on the family house to sing hymns. Jon would play the piano and keep everyone entertained. He loved children and he loved spending time with his family. When he laughed you could hear it at the airport.” Marjorie Pettit, the former Saltus music teacher, described Mr Vickers as a “delightful man” who would always come and watch his children in musical concerts. “I initially got to know Jon through the Philosophical Society but I also knew his boys through Saltus. He would always come and support his children when they were involved in concerts. It was a little nerve racking for me to know that this giant of the opera scene was in the audience. Jon was a very kind man and always encouraging. In his professional life I’m sure he was very business-like, but in Bermuda he was always very down to earth and easy to speak with. He did not stand on his high stool. He understood the difference between the professional and amateur scenes.” Mr Vickers was a stalwart of Christ Church in Warwick for several decades. Former session’s clerk Danny Mannus said: “Jon was like a one-man choir in our 8pm evening service, when we did not have a choir. He was always approachable and very popular in church. He would give the most fantastic sermons.” Mr Vickers was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1926 and was the sixth of eight children. In 1950 he was awarded a scholarship at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he studied for five years. He was invited to audition for London’s Royal Opera House in 1956, where he made his debut the following year. Mr Vickers’s career spanned three decades and saw him sing some of opera’s most challenging roles in the most celebrated locations. Bermudian poet and lecturer Paul Maddern, a close family friend, paid tribute to Mr Vickers saying: “Jon Vickers’s great legacy will be his integrity. He recognized the urgent need for responsible guardianship of all that is worthwhile in the production and reception of art. Of all they accomplished together, I’m certain Jon and Hettie would rank their children’s intellectual inquisitiveness, strength and decency as their greatest achievements.” A statement released by his family described Mr Vickers as a “deeply religious and private man.” The statement added: “His family and dearest friends remember him for his ringing laughter, warmth, and generous spirit. A man of the land who was most at home on his farm, surrounded by nature and his family, he had an abiding search for the truths and essences of life.” Mr Vickers was a recipient of many honours and awards and held seven honorary degrees, two Grammy awards and in 1969, was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada. Receiving the Molson Prize in 1976 and the Evening Standard Award in 1978, he was named to the Academy of Vocal Arts Hall of Fame for Great American Singers in 1985.

July 13. Bermuda is to acquire privacy legislation to protect people online and offline, Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons told the House of Assembly. A draft of the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) “sets out how organizations, businesses and the Government may use personal information”, Dr Gibbons said. The framework is a complement to the recently launched Public Access to Information Act, which restricts access to personal details even as it provides for public access to the Government’s information. The draft has gone out for public consultation until August 17. There will also be two public information sessions on the legislation, which includes “provisions for the protection of children’s personal information, as well as prohibiting the use of personal sensitive information”, the minister said, telling MPs that adopting privacy legislation would bring Bermuda in line with other jurisdictions. “It details a set of internationally accepted privacy principles that reflect accepted standards of good business practices for the use of personal information.” Various attempts have been made to implement informational privacy law in Bermuda; this model has drawn on legislation in Canada, the United States, Europe and elsewhere. The Act will cover information in both manual and electronic form, and will require persons within organizations that handle personal information to be appointed to implement PIPA models. Among the details deemed “sensitive” will be information such as race, ethnicity, disability and political views. Organizations will be required to notify persons of the purpose for which their personal information is used — and such information will not be kept for longer than needed. PIPA will also cover the rights of individuals to delete their personal information. Information must also be protected, with the level of security relevant for the type of information held, and any security breach that could adversely affect an individual must be reported to both an appointed Privacy Commissioner and the affected person. Dr Gibbons told Parliament that there had been considerable change in this sector of law over the past decade. The Government considered privacy “a key priority”, he said, and felt the time was now right to bring in laws protecting individual personal privacy while allowing for the conduct of business and the operation of the Government. Explanatory notes inside the draft state that there has been considerable interest and movement in privacy law over the last decade, particularly due to the advancement of technology. “The scale of data sharing and collecting has increased dramatically,” the notes state. “Technology allows both private companies and public authorities to make use of personal information on an unprecedented scale in order to pursue their activities. Individuals increasingly make personal information available publicly and globally. Technology has transformed both the economy and social life. Due to all this it is recognized that building trust in the online environment is a key driver to economic development. Lack of trust makes consumers hesitate to buy online and adopt new services. This risks slowing down the economy and growth.” It continues to state that 97 per cent of those who took part in a recent survey considered the protection of their personal information as important. The notes state that the draft model has been prepared so that an application for European Union (EU) adequacy could be made, allowing the unhindered transfer of personal information between Bermuda and any EU member state. “This would increase economic opportunities for international business operating from Bermuda by helping to satisfy privacy compliance requirements and placing them on a level playing field with other jurisdictions."

July 11. Jennifer Attride-Stirling has been appointed to permanent secretary for Health, Seniors and Environment. “This is a really exciting opportunity and I’m deeply honored to have been selected — I’m looking forward to bringing my energy and expertise to the new position,” Dr Attride-Stirling, the former CEO of the Bermuda Health Council, told The Royal Gazette. “Public service is a calling and I have every confidence that, together, we will make a positive difference. There is a lot of work to do, but there’s a fantastic team at the ministry and I feel well placed to hit the ground running.” Dr Attride-Stirling has worked in a number of roles in the public health arena over the past decade: she was responsible for moving the Health Council from a start-up in 2009 to a highly respected and trusted watchdog. She was also responsible for corporate, statutory and financial performance and provided advice to the Ministry of Health. In a statement yesterday, Derrick Binns, Cabinet Secretary and head of the civil service, gave his congratulations. “Dr Attride-Stirling’s experience, academic achievements and skills together with an extensive background in health administration make her the ideal candidate for the position of permanent secretary.  She will bring to the post a focus on policy and regulation development, with an overview for change management, communications, analysis, governance and strategic planning.”

July 11. Opposition MPs launched a scathing attack on the Bermuda Government’s bid to strengthen their stewardship of the Corporation of Hamilton, citing allegations of serious wrongdoing. They branded the move to debate the Municipalities Amendment Act 2015 yesterday in the House of Assembly as “scandalous”, “odious” and “arrogant” in light of the bribery accusations contained in an affidavit made by developer Michael MacLean. The affidavit, which relates to Mr MacLean’s continuing legal battle with the Government over plans to develop Hamilton waterfront and Par-la-Ville car park, became the focus of the debate with Progressive Labour Party deputy leader David Burt suggesting that the One Bermuda Alliance cabinet was “tainted in corruption”. The claim was swiftly rejected as “absolute nonsense” by Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development. During a heated five-hour debate that ultimately ended with the Bill being passed, PLP MPs rounded on Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy. “If these allegations are proven that the minister got embroiled in the waterfront case and sought to improve his position financially, and now he is arrogating to himself the power to control the land lot of the waterfront, this is scandalous,” said Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott. “We are accommodating or facilitating deeply concerning powers to a minister in relation to a matter under investigation.” Attorney-General Trevor Moniz interjected that there was no such investigation, adding: “There is a civil court case and an affidavit has been filed.” Dr Gibbons later told the House that further affidavits that denied the allegations in Mr MacLean’s affidavits had been prepared. Mr Burt said that members of the OBA backbench should feel “ashamed that they allowed their Government to bring this Bill here today. It’s important we remind the public why we are here and why is it necessary for Michael Fahy to give himself more control of the corporation,” he said. “This is because they messed it up in the first place — it all has to do with Jetgate, the waterfront, extortion, bribery and tapes. To have the audacity to bring it here today; the current Premier knew of the existence of these tapes, contacts the developer to discuss the tapes and then denies he ever spoke to him. This is the wrong Bill, the wrong time and brought by a government under a cloud. It is something that we should not in any way, shape of form be proceeding on.” Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, had previously cited “bad apples” in the former Hamilton administration as justification for the new Bill. He said the Government’s hand had been forced on the issue, but added that it was in the Island’s national interest. The amended Act allows the minister to assume control of the finances of either corporation if he believes they are being mismanaged, or control of the corporations entirely if he believes they are being mismanaged. The minister is also empowered to give written directions to a corporation, including orders for it to discontinue or restrict activities, and may also delegate his powers to a representative. Opposition leader Marc Bean condemned the move as arrogant, saying the legislation was inextricably linked to allegations of bribery surrounding the waterfront deal for Hamilton. Walton Brown said the statute would create a “mockery of a democracy” in which elected officials would not be able to make their own decisions. “There is a cloud cast over everything involving the OBA Government, the corporation and developers,” he said. “We don’t support this change. We don’t support this Bill, in part because of the cloud that has been cast over it.” Finance Minister Bob Richards, however, said that the PLP’s accusations of practices causing “the potential appearance of corruption” were ridiculous. “If pigs had wings, they would have the potential appearance of a 747,” he said. PLP MP Glenn Blakeney said the controversies plaguing the OBA threaten foreign investment. “There needs to be an atonement, and the people who may be culpable need to remove themselves and do themselves and their country the honour if they are at all responsible,” he told the House. Shadow Minister of Tourism Zane DeSilva, meanwhile, listed several of the controversies that the OBA has become embroiled in, including the allegations made in the leaked affidavit. “[OBA MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin] said several times if you give her any evidence of any wrongdoing she will say to her people, get cracking.  Some of the evidence that has been presented this week talks about Cabinet papers being bandied about among members of the public sector. These are serious allegations.” Wayne Furbert urged OBA members to listen to leaked recordings purportedly containing a discussion involving Sen Fahy and a member of the public discussing previous legislation. “I heard a tape, a discussion between Stephen DeCosta and Michael Fahy on the amendment we debated in Parliament in 2013. It’s on Facebook. We were tricked, Mr Speaker, with the amendment to do with the actual waterfront property. How can I trust the same minister today? How can I trust the same minister to bring an amendment when I don’t know what’s behind it? It was all about, How do we get a piece of it? That’s what it was all about. We need to pause. We definitely need to pause on this Bill to go and at least read that information, listen to the tape and ask if we are doing the right thing.” The Bill was passed on party lines nonetheless, by 18 votes to 16.

July 11. In a first for the Island, the tugboat Faithful has been piloted by a Bermudian on its voyage to get assessed in the United States. The trip, captained by first class branch pilot Nicholas Maynard, is part of an ongoing training programme at the Department of Marine and Ports to have Bermudians take the helm. “When Captain Nick was in charge, not only did we have a Bermudian who was qualified there for the first time, he also discovered numerous flaws in the process that we were able to correct,” said Lieutenant Commander Richard Russell, director of Marine and Ports. Lt Cdr Russell said he had faced some resistance having a Bermudian take charge of the tug, but that Pilot Maynard captained the Faithful at his insistence. “He has met the international requirements and is the only Bermudian qualified to do that particular crossing. The Bermudianisation of Marine and Ports is the vision of Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell and Permanent Secretary Franic Richardson," he added. All the vessels owned by the Department have to be certified after an out-of-water survey at least once every five years, Pilot Maynard explained. “The problem is that we used to do this in Bermuda with a slip in St George’s that had the capacity to take the tug out of the water — the slip in Dockyard isn’t able to,” he said. “We don’t have that slip any more. The only way now is to take the tug overseas, in this case to Jacksonville, Florida.” Pilot Maynard took the Faithful across in April and brought her back this week. It took about four days to make the crossing. The tug had a Bermudian captain when it was first delivered to the Island, but has been taken overseas by foreign delivery crews ever since, making the trip a milestone for the Island. “One stipulation by law is that it has to be done in good weather,” Pilot Maynard said — although the vessel was light and the Faithful was facing into the waves. "Coming back across was lovely. We had ten-knot, 15-knot winds at the most. It was a nice, smooth ride back home.”

July 11. The Ministry of Public Works has advised the public to conserve as much water as possible to reduce the impact of low rainfall. “This will also ensure that the limited water can be distributed fairly across the Island and provided to those most in need,” a statement said. According to Bermuda Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Torgerson, the Island is in a “dry spell” and needs rain to prevent an “extended dry spell” — although there is an increasing chance of rainfall over the next five days. Mr Torgerson said the 24.2 inches of rainfall recorded this year is 3.8 inches below the normal 28.0 inches. While the deficit is not unusual, he added that since the end of May “our past 90-day rainfall index as compared to the 30- to 40-year climatological normal has fallen from 80 per cent to 61 per cent.  This is categorized as a “dry spell” that will turn into an “extended dry spell” if it falls below 60 per cent. However, there is an “increasingly high probability of significant rainfall” of up to one inch or more during the next five days because of a temporarily displaced Bermuda-Azores high. But the longer range outlook shows a re-strengthening of high pressure from our east, which would tend to place us back in a drier period. As the tropical season wears on into September and October, Bermuda stands the best chance of receiving increased rainfall from passing tropical cyclones, and occasional substantial convective shower and thunderstorm development.” Earlier this week, the Bermuda Water Truckers Association warned residents that they could find themselves with empty tanks if a shortage in water supplies is not dealt with soon. Vice president Russ Ford told The Royal Gazette that a shortage of rainfall and customers panic-buying water, along with closed and poorly maintained water truck outlets, is impacting supplies. However, a government spokeswoman insisted that “this is not the result of any maintenance issues — it is the result of dry weather conditions and heavy demand.” Raphael Simons, of Triton Water Services, yesterday said the amount of truck loads distributed is not unusual for this time of year, but he added that nothing had changed in terms of supply and that “the demand is certainly still there”. Mr Simons added that supply been a problem for years and that the infrastructure has not been altered to keep up with demand. In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Public Works recommended the following water conservation measures:

• do not order more water than is necessary; carefully control the flow of piped water into your tank to avoid overfilling; check and quickly repair leaking faucets, toilets, and water appliances; minimize the number of times you flush the toilet;  use well water for toilet flushing; take quick showers, not full baths; use a basin of water at a time instead of letting a tap run for brushing teeth and shaving; do not let water overflow or run after use; minimize use of washing machines and dishwashers;  wash full laundry loads or set the washer to appropriate load size; do not wash cars; reduce the watering of lawns and outdoor plants.  For more information contact the Water Section of the Ministry of Works and Engineering at 278-0570.

July 10. The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s board has given its 100 per cent backing to CEO Bill Hanbury and his 39-strong team to fulfill its mission of turning around the Island’s tourism industry. The board also defended giving Mr Hanbury a guaranteed performance incentive for his first year as part of his pay package when he became CEO in January 2014. It comes as the authority’s tourism forecast for the next five years predicts an increase in spending of about $100 million by visitors from 2014 to 2017.The report, which will be made public on July 15, highlights the need to drive up air lift and boost on-Island spending in order to hit that figure. “The CEO’s performance incentive was guaranteed in year one only,” said deputy chair Jessica Mello. “The rationale behind that is that it’s about a six-month lag between the time potential leisure visitors see our marketing and arrive in Bermuda and several years for group visitors. So it would be illogical to base the CEO’s performance in year one on the work of his predecessors. The BTA spent 2014 putting in place marketing, sales and product to drive year two results. So it’s not until year two that we can actually measure the CEO’s performance. It is worth noting that the CEO’s salary is below the median for like-sized Destination Marketing Organizations internationally; around 42 per cent of CEOs earn less, 58 per cent earn more than he does.” The board’s chairman David Dodwell said he was confident that the hard work and dedication of the BTA’s staff would pay off. “The first year, 2013, was all about setting up the new structure of the organization and the passage of the BTA Act and 2014 was the transitional year. We have now changed almost every single relationship that the Department of Tourism had and that has taken a long time because of existing contracts. Expectations are very high and we sometimes expect things to happen overnight. I’m extremely optimistic we will get there. There has been more hotel developers in Bermuda in the last couple of years than the last 20 and these are brand names. There is a concerted effort to get more airlift and our focus is very much on increasing spending in Bermuda.” Philip Barnett, who chairs the board’s compensation committee, hailed the work of the BTA for helping the Island to secure the America’s Cup, which will make a large contribution to tourism figures in coming years. “As a board member I am significantly impressed by the team that has been created here and the way we are moving forward.  It’s very reassuring to me to see the organization running efficiently and I believe we are in a great place to use everything we have created to move the needle. There are performance incentives throughout the organization. In Bill Hanbury I believe we got the best candidate.”

July 10.  A US-based asset management firm yesterday slammed the board of takeover target PartnerRe for their handling of a bid by Italian investment giants Exor. And Tom Sandell, the CEO of Sandell Asset Management, has written to PartnerRe chairman Jean-Paul Montupet accusing the firm of not acting in the best interests of shareholders by backing a plan to amalgamate with insurance and reinsurance firm Axis. Exor has offered $6.8 billion in cash for PartnerRe, against an all-share $11 billion merger proposal by Axis. Mr Sandell said that PartnerRe’s refusal to give Exor a list of preferred shareholders, who make up around 40 per cent of the shareholder vote, was “unreasonable.” Mr Sandell added: “We believe the board is doing this in order to protect the Axis transaction in disregard of the shareholders’ best interests. We find this action egregious in today’s corporate environment of increased shareholder engagement and to constitute an international failure to conform to current corporate best practices. This conduct is particularly outrageous in light of Exor’s improved and superior offer which includes, among other things a 100 basis points increase in dividends for PartnerRe shareholders, call protection until 2021 and five years of capital distribution limits. We fail to understand how the board’s refusal to disclose to Exor the identity of PartnerRe’s preferred shareholders so that Exor could directly contact such holders in order to fairly allow them to consider the Exor offer is consistent with your fiduciary duties to such shareholders and the board’s stated desire to maximize value for all shareholders. We strongly urge the board to release this information to Exor.” Mr Sandell, whose firm has a holding of around one per cent in PartnerRe, added: “While we continue to understand the importance of maintaining a cordial relationship with Axis, we would once again like to remind the board that its first and foremost duty is to the company’s shareholders, its true owners, who should be given the simple opportunity to fairly evaluate all legitimate strategic alternatives presented.” Consistent with out own duties to our investors, we will not hesitate to exercise the rights available to us to hold the board accountable.” Exor, which has built up a 9.9 per cent share in PartnerRe, making it the biggest single shareholder, said it intended to retain PartnerRe as a stand-alone company and keep existing management and staff. The Axis-PartnerRe deal would create the world’s fifth largest reinsurer and the two companies have said joining forces would save $200 million a year — with some of the savings from redundancies among the combined Bermuda-based staff of around 130. And the two reinsurance firms — near-neighbors on Pitts Bay Road in Pembroke — would also probably require less office space.

July 10. Bermuda’s banks are prepared to lend customers cash — but on tougher terms than the boom years in the run up to the 2008 financial crash. Bank of Butterfield chairman and CEO Brendan McDonagh said: “There is no doubt that following the global financial crisis, prior to which many banks had over-lent to their customers, banks have tightened up their lending policies. “That is not a bad thing as long as people continue to have access to lending facilities they need and can afford. Lending has to be based more on earning ability, versus asset value.” Mr McDonagh was speaking as he joined HSBC CEO Richard Moseley and Clarien Bank CEO Ian Truran for a round-table discussion organized by professional services firm KPMG. Mr Moseley added: “This jurisdiction has returned to what can be termed as a more pre-bubble environment. Our approach as a bank is to lend in a sustainable way, which is important for both business and individual customers and shareholders. We are helping people think through their business and learn to use management information more effectively. This will materially reduce the risk of having more difficult dialogue in the future.” Finance Minister Bob Richards took a swipe at the Island’s banks in his 2014 Budget statement and said their lending practices were “at odds with Bermuda’s national economic interests.” And he added that the banks had lent money too easily in the run-up to the recession — then slashed loans in the aftermath of the crash, cut interest rates on deposits and laid off staff. Mr Truran said: “Being largely Bermuda-focused and strongly residential lent, we have our challenges. It is in our best interest to work with our customers, who want to work with us, but there comes a time to deal with hard times and we have been going through such times for the past couple of years. We are, however, certainly open to good new lending proposals.” Mr McDonagh added: “Lending by banks is key to helping expand the economy. If there is demand for financing for feasible projects, Bermuda’s banks will be there to supply the credit. But to be clear, it is not the supply of lending capacity by banks that will generate economic activity, it is the demand for lending by people who have realistic business cases. It is important that we are diligent in assessing the creditworthiness of projects in order to help support growth in our economy.” Mr Moseley said: “Only where customers are confident to leave their funds with banks by way of deposits are banks subsequently in a position to lend these funds out. So banks have a very important role in terms of supporting the right borrowers to make those investments through a combination of equity and debt. We are very happy to play our role as a debt provider, but it is important that there is an appreciation that this is a combination of a good business plan and the right mix of equity and debt.” Mr Turan added: “We want to lend but we cannot simply say ‘yes’ in all cases in the challenging environment in which we find ourselves. We want to see Bermuda on an upturn and we want to be part of the expansion to come.”

July 9. By James Paul Sabo, CPA. "An ongoing issue for US citizens and resident aliens and foreign nationals whose US investment portfolio is in the name of a foreign bank or investment advisor is whether the proper amount of US income tax is being withheld and if it is over withheld can they obtain a refund. Under what circumstance is US income tax withheld? Any person who realizes US source income is subject to US income tax on such income (with some exceptions). The Internal Revenue Service is cognizant that when such US source income is being sent to a person who lives outside the US the chances of such person filing a US income tax return and paying income tax on such income is remote. So the above noted Code Sections were passed requiring that the disbursing agent withhold a 30 per cent income tax. If the individual files a US income tax return the 30 per cent withholding can be claimed as a credit. And if the actual income tax is less obtain a refund. How does the disbursing agent know when to withhold? They do not unless you inform them. If a disbursing agent does not know if the recipient is a US citizen or a foreign national they are inclined to withhold 30 per cent on the payment. Why? If they fail to properly withhold they are then required to not only send the 30 per cent tax that should have been withheld to the IRS but they are also subject to 100 per cent penalty of the amount that should have been withheld. So if the income to be disbursed is $10,000 and they fail to withhold they owe the IRS $6,000. I do not know how much a disbursing agent is paid for each payment but it likely pales in relation to the consequences for failure to withhold. How are they informed? We frequently are asked why am I being asked to complete a Form W-8 or Form W-9? Answer, to allow the disbursing agent to know if income tax should be withheld from a payment to you. US citizens and resident aliens are asked to complete Form W-9 and this informs the disbursing agent that as the recipient is a US citizen or resident alien that withholding is not required. Foreign Nationals are asked to complete Form W-8 and this informs the disbursing agent that withholding is required (with some exceptions). How does the IRS know what the disbursing agent did? The disbursing agent will send the US citizen a Form 1099 (with a copy to the IRS) indicating the amount of income paid and the type of income (dividend, interest, capital gain, etc) and the foreign national will usually receive a Form 1042-S (with a copy to the IRS) indicating the amount of income paid and the type of income (dividend, interest, capital gain, etc) and the amount of income tax withheld. So if I am a foreign national and receive a Form 1042-S I do not have to file? Technically, yes. Prior to deciding that you are not going to file a US income tax return because you do not have to we recommend that you first review the Form 1042-S you received to ascertain if proper withholding, or, more likely over withholding has taken place. Given the dire penalty for making a mistake we have noticed that disbursing agents have been over withholding. So you may actually have a refund due you and the only way of obtaining it is by filing a US income tax return and requesting a refund. Please note that you only have three years in which to request a refund. Thereafter, the IRS gets to keep the money. If I do not receive a Form 1042-S how do I know that the proper tax was withheld? You likely do not. An issue for both US citizens and foreign nationals is a situation where your portfolio is purchased in the name of a local bank or investment advisor. As far as the disbursing agent knows they are the owners and all statements go to them with their identification number on Form 1042-S. This creates several problems. We have seen individuals receive monthly statements from their local bank or investment advisor showing only net dividends after withholding. But if the statement does not mention withholding a US citizen will report the net amount and will in essence pay tax on the amount twice. We have seen other statements where both the gross income and withholding are shown but when the US citizen claims the withholding tax as a credit the IRS rejects the claim because they have no knowledge of withholding for that social security number. Refunds of US income tax withheld. Internal Revenue Code Sections 1441 to 1443 which deal with withholding on payments of US sourced fixed or annual or periodical income to foreign persons and Internal Revenue Code Sections 1471 to 1472 dealing with withholding on certain payments to nonparticipating foreign financial institutions and certain non-financial foreign entities are being changed and the IRS will no longer process a refund or credit claim where the withholding agent has failed to deposit the tax withheld. The IRS will process a refund claim by matching your social security number or individual tax identification number with the number on Form 1042S. If there is no match there is no refund. Pursuant to the requirements relating to practice before the Internal Revenue Service, any tax advice in this communication is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (I) avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any tax related manner." The tax advice given by this column is, by necessity, general in nature. You should, of course, check with your own US tax consultant as to how specific transactions affect you since tax advice varies with individual circumstances. James Paul Sabo, CPA, is the President of ETS Ltd., PO Box HM 1574, Hamilton HM GX, Bermuda. Questions should be sent to: jsabo@expatriatetaxservices.com

July 9. The Opposition have questioned whether the One Bermuda Alliance has stalled on controversial reforms to the Island’s criminal justice system. However, OBA senator Georgia Marshall said the delay was testament to the Bermuda Government’s attention to the host of objections raised to the legislation. The Disclosure and Criminal Reform Act and Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure Act have repeatedly drawn fire from both the Opposition and the Bermuda Bar Council over constitutional issues since the two bills went before the House of Assembly. The legislation is essential for an overhaul the Island’s “archaic” administration of criminal justice, according to Attorney-General Trevor Moniz. However it was passed over for debate for the third time yesterday in the Upper House, at the request of One Bermuda Alliance senator Georgia Marshall — leaving Diallo Rabain, the Opposition Leader in the Senate, wondering whether it would be debated at all. “I think the chances of it passing the Senate are very slim as it stands,” senator Rabain said. “Too many people have spoken out against it. The Government should withdraw the bill and go back to the drawing board; it’s going nowhere.” Sen Rabain pointed out that the Senate will meet only two more times in the present session, adding: “With all the oppositions the bills are getting, it seems unlikely it would even survive if passed into law, with the legal challenges that can be brought against it. They need to admit they made a mistake.” Sen Marshall acknowledged that “various entities” had made submissions to the Attorney-General on the reforms, adding: “We’ve been criticised for not being responsive and not listening. This is an instance where we have got it right. We have to be mindful of any objections that are being raised.” She added: “Personally, concerning those objections — I don’t see it. I think people have a popular belief that the right to silence is the same as what we see on television, within the American context, which is not the case in Bermuda. There is no constitutionally guaranteed right to remain silent. The constitution says we have a right to be informed when arrested of what our legitimate right to silence is.” Asked if the reforms would be debated in the current Senate, Sen Marshall said: “I’m ready to proceed as soon as the Attorney-General is satisfied that we are ready to go. It’s on the order paper. To be honest, there is no immediate rush — we need to get this right. We need to fix our broken system.”

July 9.  The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer has launched a fresh crackdown on tax avoidance and tax cheats. George Osborne beefed up the UK tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with an extra $1.29 billion million over five years to track down tax evaders. And he promised to get tough on multinational companies that use complex multi-jurisdictional tax arrangements to cut their tax bills. The new diverted profits tax (DPT) amounts will tackle big multinationals with aggressive corporate structures. The DPT, announced in December, will levy a 25 per cent tax on profits that have been artificially moved outside the UK. Mr Osborne said: “Our new diverted profits tax is aimed at large multinationals who artificially shift their profits offshore. “I can confirm that we will legislate for it next week and bring it into effect at the start of next month.” The chancellor added: “In 2010, City bankers boasted of paying lower tax rates than their cleaners; the rich routinely avoided stamp duty; and foreigners paid no capital gains tax. “We’ve changed all that … Let the message go out: this country’s tolerance for those who will not pay their fair share of tax has come to an end.” Mr Osborne also used the UK emergency budget statement to close a loophole that allowed UK residents who were officially non-domiciled to avoid paying tax on earnings overseas. A total of around $92 million will be earmarked for serious and complex tax crime investigations, targeting the rich individuals and companies. Mr Osborne said it was hoped to treble prosecutions in this area, raising more cash for the public purse. Mr Osborne said, in addition to a prosecution push, HMRC’s “name and shame” lists would be widened to include serial users of failed tax avoidance schemes. He added: “These people should have nowhere to hide.” And he pledged to claw back more than $10.7 billion with a crackdown on tax avoidance and loopholes. But Mr Osborne also promised to cut corporation tax to 19 per cent in 2017, and then 18 per cent from 2020 in a bid to attract more business to the UK. The 18 per cent figure will be one of the lowest in Europe and down from 28 per cent when he took over as Chancellor in 2010. Mr Osborne says the move was an advert to tell the world Britain is open for business. Non-domicile tax status will be abolished for those who have been in the UK for more than 15 of the last 20 years. Individuals who live in the UK and were born to UK-domiciled parents will also be ineligible for the status.

July 9.  Mangrove Bay Post Office closed today to allow urgent repair work on its air conditioning unit. Bermuda Post Office advised alternative post offices are available in Southampton or Warwick from 8am to 5pm. The BPO said Mangrove Post Office expects to reopen as soon as the repairs are complete.

July 9. Veendam and her 1,400 passengers leave Bermuda today for the last time in 2015 much to the disappointment of retailers and businesses in the capital. The Holland America liner has completed six trips between Boston and the Island this year and a further four are scheduled for the 2016 cruise season. However stores and restaurants hope that Veendam will return more frequently in 2017 and Government can secure other cruise ships to stop in Hamilton in the long term. Paula Clarke, chair of the retail branch of the Chamber of Commerce said: “It is disappointing that the Veendam will not be back again in 2015 and that her schedule for this year has finished. Apart from the obvious positive impact a cruise ship on Front Street has on retail sales, tourist excursions, bar and restaurant sales, their presence on Front Street add vitality and vibrancy to the City of Hamilton. They are in themselves a tourist attraction, hotel guests are enthralled by the closeness and largeness of the ships docked in Hamilton Harbour.” The ship had been a regular caller between 2010 and 2012 and was the only regular caller to dock in Hamilton. She was initially supposed to call in St George but the liner was deemed too big to transit Town Cut and therefore berthed in the city. Holland America pulled Veendam out of Bermuda at the end of 2012 and she returned to the Island this year for the first time in three years. Ms Clarke added: “Ideally, a good cruise season would see cruise ships in Hamilton Harbour every week of the season. We understand that the six trips this year and the three trips next year were all that could be scheduled for the Veendam and there are size issues that prevent many cruise ships coming into Hamilton. However we are hopeful that in 2017 the Veendam will visit Hamilton more frequently and other ships will stop in the city as well during the cruise season. Bermuda’s doors are open and we would very much welcome more ships in Hamilton.”

July 9. Telecoms firm KeyTech has launched a bid to take full control of TV provider CableVision. KeyTech subsidiary Wansunt, the majority shareholder in CableVision, is bidding for 100 per cent ownership of its shares with an offer of $13 per share to minority holders. The proposed deal envisions a merger with Connect Ltd, wholly owned by Wansunt which was made up of telecoms players North Rock and Logic, also controlled by KeyTech. A letter to Cablevision shareholders backed the takeover proposal. It said that the CableVision board had considered its position as a stand-alone company and consolidations in its telecoms industry rivals on the Island like Digicel. The letter added: “We have also considered the fact that, due to the level of capital expenditure required to fund the company’s planned network expansions and improvements, the company is unlikely to be able to declare and pay dividends for a number of years without capital injections from its shareholders. Further, there is no guarantee that, even with high levels of capital investment in the company’s infrastructure, the company will continue to succeed and operate with a profit in such a challenged market. After due consideration of the merger and the resulting benefits to the company in terms of access to telecommunications assets, expertise and capital that might not otherwise be available to the company, we have determined that the merger is in the best interests of the company and its future survival and growth.” But one small shareholder said the offer undervalued CableVision shares — which she estimated were worth between $25 and $40 apiece. The shareholder said: “KeyTech wants all of the smaller shareholders out.” Now shareholders will be asked to vote on the proposal at a special general meeting to be held at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute next Wednesday. The letter told shareholders that the CableVision board had rejected an earlier $12-a-share bid by Wansunt. And it told small shareholders that if they were not satisfied with the offer, they had a month to apply for a court ruling to set a price for their shares. Wansunt, Connect and CableVision all share the same registered office address, 30 Victoria Street in Hamilton. CableVision declined to discuss the proposal. CEO Terry Roberson said: “I am unable to discuss any specifics regarding the items that will be voted upon at the SGM on July 15.” But the proposed merger agreement said that Connect shares are all registered in the Wansunt name. Wansunt already owns more than 80 per cent of CableVision shares, with the rest in the hands of a group of minority shareholders. Corporate services firm Quorum in March this year wrote to minority shareholders on behalf of an undisclosed client offering $6 per share.

July 9. The latest ambitious stage of the project to restore the Railway Trail is taking shape in Smith’s with final preparations being made for a bridge to be built over Store Hill. Four of the original old concrete pylons are being raised and restored while a brand new fifth pylon has been constructed to take the weight of the bridge sections. The team behind the ongoing initiative to reconnect the old trail between Dockyard and St George hopes the new bridge section will be put in place within the next six weeks. “The new pylon has been specially made thanks to D&J Construction and has been built in a Lego blocks formation,” said Mike Murphy, who together with his son, Tucker, has been at the forefront of the scheme. “The older pylons have all been restored and raised so that the bridge sections can be placed securely on top. The bridge sections, which are similar to the ones we have used in Bailey’s Bay, have not been assembled as yet. We are just waiting for the contractor to finish the preparation work and then we should be good to go.” Over the last six months teams of volunteers have conducted a series of major clear-up operations of the stretch of trail leading up to Store Hill from Flatts. Mr Murphy told The Royal Gazette that the project’s organizers were looking for volunteers to take part in a further clear-out of the section that will take place on July 18. “We hope that when the bridge is in place bikers will be able to start using the trail as an alternative route to town. It opens up the trail all the way to Flatts which we believe is good news for walkers and cyclists.” The project to restore Bermuda’s Railway Trail began back in 2011 when it was spearheaded by Tucker Murphy, but it has also been made possible due to generous donations from across the community. In June 2012 his family’s foundation entered into public/private partnership with the Department of Parks to improve the trail. Last March the charity Friends of the Bermuda Railway Trail was formed to help fund the improvement project.

July 9. By Ross Webber, chief executive of the Bermuda Business Development Agency. "In an era when the global regulatory landscape is shifting so rapidly, it is no wonder many are caught off guard by mixed messages about the state of compliance and tax transparency among international financial centres. The European Commission’s announcement last month of a new blacklist of territories deemed “unco-operative” by certain EU member states did no one any favors. Not the EU, which had to backtrack after a barrage of criticism from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that disavowed its claims. Not EU member states, some of whose old (as opposed to up-to-date) records were used to compile the list. Not Bermuda, which saw its long-respected reputation tainted before a global audience. And certainly not the general public, who would be forgiven for scratching their heads in disbelief such misinformation, retractions and finger-pointing could be played out at top bureaucratic levels. The problems are manifold, from the arbitrary and ill thought-out process used in the public dissemination to the blacklist’s actual content. Indeed, in a response two days after the compilation was released, the OECD revealed a number of countries identified in the exercise were “either fully or largely compliant” with its own Global Forum standards on tax co-operation and information exchange. One of these is Bermuda. The affair raises important points. First, the worldwide authority on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes is acknowledged to be the OECD’s Global Forum, not the EU. In Bermuda’s case, five of the 11 member states the EU said nominated it for non-co-operation had themselves failed to complete bilateral information exchange agreements with the Island. And at least one — Poland — had already signed a 2013 bilateral Tax Information and Exchange Agreement (TIEA) and no longer tagged Bermuda with any negative rating. Poland later confirmed that affirmative status with Bermuda’s government, as did Latvia — rendering Bermuda’s inclusion on the blacklist entirely meaningless. The Island presently has 83 treaty partners, including 41 TIEAs and Model 2 agreements with the US and the UK under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Second, in the interest of true transparency, it would be helpful for EU members to clarify their own country’s status of compliance with Global Forum standards. Bermuda was the first offshore jurisdiction to be admitted to the OECD “whitelist” in 2009, the same rating as the UK and US. In addition, Bermuda has a head-start over some other member states in having the European Commission recognise its insurance regulation as provisionally equivalent to Solvency II standards. It is among just seven far larger nations, including Canada and the US, to have secured this status so far. Third, for a balanced global debate on tax, transparency and compliance matters, it would be beneficial to differentiate between British Overseas Territories, for they are far from a homogenous bloc when it comes to regulation and tax co-operation. Bermuda has earned recognition for its high standards in this regard, achieved through decades of work to meet international rules on transparency and information exchange. Failing to appropriately distinguish between overseas territories could be costly to the UK and Bermuda is a fitting case in point. The UK’s own Office for National Statistics calculates Bermuda businesses and investors support 500,000 jobs worldwide, including 70,000 in the UK. The Island is among the UK’s top three non-European trading partners in key service industries like reinsurance, finance and shipping, and the UK maintains a steady trade surplus with the territory. With eight of its largest worldwide trading partners, Bermuda transacted almost $50bn in two-way trade in 2013, benefiting globalization generally. Law-abiding companies contribute to the generation of international jobs, household incomes and national output through their operations in Bermuda. Indeed, Bermuda’s value to global economies should not be underestimated. As one of the world’s top three insurance centres, the island covers insured losses for homeowners, businesses and governments around the world. Bermuda-based insurers and reinsurers paid 62 per cent of insured liability claims for the UK’s largest peacetime catastrophic explosion, the 2005 Buncefield oil terminal inferno, and 9 per cent of US September 11, 2001 claims. UK consumers and businesses benefit from lower domestic insurance premiums thanks to Bermuda companies. Notably, the Island provides more than one-quarter of capacity at Lloyd’s. Bermuda will continue in its active support of the G20 in tackling corruption, tax evasion, terrorism financing and money laundering, because we fully support its goals. In turn, we expect the G20 to treat Bermuda fairly, recognizing the equivalence of its OECD tax standard compliance with its own. Most importantly, let us encourage communities engaging in the tax and transparency debate to differentiate between compliant financial centres that add value — like Bermuda — and those that do not. This is in the clear interest of the UK, Bermuda and indeed many global economies. That dialogue cannot start soon enough to deepen trust and certainty, key preconditions for legitimate business in any jurisdiction where the rule of law prevails."

July 9. Halfway through its term in office, the One Bermuda Alliance’s election promise of creating 2,000 jobs in five years has proved a tough act to follow. Although OBA backbencher Leah Scott characterized it as “a hopeful and optimistic promise”, she conceded that it was taking longer than Finance Minister Bob Richards may have expected. However, she said that at the time “we had not yet had a look under the hood.  When we did get a look under the hood, we recognized there were quite a few things that we needed to correct and remedy in order to create an environment of confidence that would attract foreign direct investment.” Ms Scott defended spending controls, debt reduction and “pro-growth economic policies to stimulate foreign investment and restore confidence in the economy. We remain hopeful and optimistic, but the reality is that it is taking a longer time than both the Government and the people of Bermuda anticipated,” she said. The Southampton East Central Member of Parliament said the mood within the OBA remained “generally optimistic” on the jobs front. “We have seen positive economic growth,” she said. “We’ve seen some huge hires with the Hamilton Princess, 45 people at Pink Beach, and more than 200 Bermudians have been involved in the America’s Cup work to date at Dockyard, together with some 38 companies.” She said the 2013-14 annual report of the National Training Board (NTB), debated in the House of Assembly last Friday, had highlighted “many positive employment indicators.” That report showed 450 companies and 3,000 candidates registered and using the NTB’s online recruitment service, Ms Scott pointed out, while 735 Bermudians took training and development programmes here and overseas. “The NTB has placed some 241 people in jobs over the period April 2014 to March 2015. So clearly this Government is moving forward in its promise to create an environment that will promote economic and job success for Bermudians.” Even so, surveys show Bermuda’s unemployment at record levels. The latest Labour Force Survey suggested 3,486 people were out of work in 2014, while the most recent employment brief, issued last month, showed 800 jobs lost as of August 2014. The Labour Force Survey was launched in 2009, at which point 1,700 people were found to be out of work — a considerable climb on the 1,000 people without jobs recorded by the 2000 Census. As raised in the latest sitting of the House by Rolfe Commissiong of the Progressive Labour Party, some of the Island’s decline in the number of jobs extended back to earlier in the decade rather than being attributable to the recession of 2008: outsourcing and technological disruption played a role, he said. “That may be part of why we are not seeing job growth as we had thought,” Mr Commissiong added. The 2012 Labour Force Survey recorded 3,305 people unemployed in 2011, which dropped to 2,569 recorded for 2013 before surging back. Mr Commissiong agreed the Island’s present numbers could well be approaching the 4,000 mark — although actual survey details from the Department of Statistics will not be available for months yet. Of particular concern was the broadening racial disparity in unemployment, Mr Commissiong said. “It shows that the unemployment level for black Bermudians was at 12 per cent, and four per cent for white Bermudians. That’s a major disparity. What was interesting to me as well is that most economists globally posit that anything below five per cent represents full employment.” The racial dimension of Bermuda’s unemployment was acknowledged as “significant” this January by Mr Richards, when the Labour Force Survey showed that the number of black people in work in 2014 dropped by five per cent on the previous year, while the number of white people employed had risen by nearly six per cent from 2013. Meanwhile, on June 25, the Bermuda job market employment briefs showed financial intermediation taking the hardest hit in last year’s job losses, when Bermudian jobs fell by 671 and jobs for non-Bermudians, excluding spouses of Bermudians and holders of Permanent Resident’s Certificates, declined by 122. Construction dropped below 2,000, its worst in 20 years — a drop that remains in effect, according to Construction Association of Bermuda head Charles Dunstan, who estimated last week that around 1,800 people were employed in that sector. The report accompanying the employment briefs said business services, as well as the transport and communications sector, also represented significant casualties. The latest numbers registered with the Department of Workforce Development were requested but were not provided by press time. Note: The Island’s metrics for tracking unemployment have been criticised as woefully outdated. However, a spokesman for the Department of Statistics said the two main surveys were time-consuming to compile. “The Employment Survey is a census of all business establishments that collects key characteristics of jobholders and reported vacancies,” he said. “In contrast, the Labour Force Survey is a sample household survey that gathers information on the profile of employed persons and persons who are not working. The data collection period is extensive for both as the process entails a number of steps, a few of which include following up with non-respondents, data entry and cross-checking the data for quality control. These steps are some of the factors that affect the timing of the Employment Briefs and the Labour Force Survey Report releases.” The spokesman pointed out that preliminary results from the Employment Survey came out yearly in February’s National Economic Review. Independent senator James Jardine told this newspaper that payroll tax submissions could be used to compile quarterly indicators of unemployment, but the spokesman maintained those reports still did not track numbers out of work. “Payroll tax is charged under the authority of the Taxes Acts on every employer and self-employed person based on the remuneration paid, given or assessed by any employer or self-employed person to every employee or deemed employee that is liable for payroll tax under the Acts,” he said. “Unemployment data are sourced from population and housing censuses and the Labour Force Surveys.”

July 9. Consumers paid 1.2 per cent more for goods and services in May than they did at the same time the previous year. But the consumer price index dropped 0.2 per cent between April and May — despite an 8.5 per cent jump in the cost of healthcare. Government statisticians, however, said the increase in the cost of health insurance, medical care and medicines was offset by a 10.7 per cent year-on-year fall in the cost of fuel and power. And the level of inflation for May fell by 0.6 percentage points from the 1.8 per cent level recorded for April. The food sector saw an increase of 0.4 per cent in May, with an 8.6 per cent hike in the price of locally-caught fresh wahoo, a 7.3 per cent increase in the cost of iceberg lettuce and a 6.7 per cent jump in the cost of cantaloupe cited as the reasons. Rents rose by 0.1 per cent in May as average rental prices for rent-controlled properties logged a slight increase. The fuel and power sector fell 2.6 per cent in May, with consumers paying 2.7 per cent less for electricity due to an eight per cent fall in the fuel adjustment rate. The cost of transport and vehicles fell by one per cent in May after a 0.4 per cent increase in April. The average cost of airfares fell by 8.8 per cent, while the average price of premium fuel went up by 4.3 per cent. The cost of tobacco and liquor was unchanged month on month, although the price of spirits rose by 0.2 per cent. The cost of a round of golf and tennis matches fell by 10.2 per cent, although a 1.7 per cent increase in the cost of TVs and a 1.6 per cent increase in the cost of boat repairs and maintenance meant the education, recreation entertainment and reading sector remained static in May.

July 8. Efforts are being made to oust Marc Bean from his position as leader of the Progressive Labour Party according to sources within his own party. Members have pointed to poor poll results and a string of controversies including Mr Bean’s continuing court case reportedly linked to an incident involving former One Bermuda Alliance senator Toni Daniels. One senior member of the PLP told The Royal Gazette: “I am aware of efforts being made to replace Mr Bean as leader of the party.” This newspaper’s most recently commissioned poll, in May, showed Mr Bean had a 27 per cent favourability rating, compared with 34 per cent for PLP deputy leader David Burt, 48 per cent for Premier Michael Dunkley and 32 per cent for Deputy Premier Bob Richards. At that time, 36 per cent of people said they would vote OBA in a general election, compared with 33 per cent for the PLP. While Mr Burt is seen by many as the most likely candidate to replace Mr Bean, some are said to be keen for a more experienced politician to take the reins. Shadow Tourism Minister Zane DeSilva is also said to have had ambitions for the top job for some time. The next PLP leadership contest is not due until October 2018 but according to sources a special delegates conference could be called before then if a majority of MPs want a change in leadership. Last October, Mr Bean received a leadership challenge from Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown, but he was overwhelmingly endorsed by delegates, winning by 85 votes to nine at Devonshire Recreation Club. But members are said to have grown frustrated that Mr Bean has continued to court controversy, including the accusation by the OBA that he verbally threatened MPs in the House of Assembly, which led to a motion of censure against him in May. Such incidents, said one member, have distracted from the party’s attempts to establish itself as a credible Opposition capable of taking over the Government. Another source close to the party said that some older members have said they will not vote in the next PLP leadership election if Mr Bean is in the seat. The source said: “They can call a special delegates conference. It is not just a question of changing a leader — they feel that the PLP has now reached a crossroads where it has to talk about a change in leadership and their present outlook in terms of how they are moving.” That source said Mr Bean was initially popular because his outspoken manner was seen as a direct contrast to former Premier Paula Cox, who lost the 2012 general election. “So they almost went the other way,” the source said. Mr Bean declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper yesterday.

July 8. More than 70 per cent of the population oppose independence for Bermuda according to the latest poll by Profiles of Bermuda. The survey found that seven in 10 voters were against independence, which is a very similar figure to both 2012 and 2014. When it came to race whites and others were more strongly opposed to independence than blacks. Black support for independence stood at 25.8 per cent, while for whites and others it was 8.8 per cent. The 2015 poll was conducted among 407 registered voters between April 15 and May 10.

Bermuda Flag

Bermuda flag, see above story

July 8. There are fewer filled jobs and those who are employed are doing a reduced number of working hours per week than at any time in the past four years, figures show. The employment survey report released by the Department of Statistics calculates the Island’s unemployment rate at 9 per cent, a rise of 2 per cent on 2013. Last year’s rate was based on data from the labour force survey, while the 2013 number was calculated from information gathered by the household expenditure survey. Much of the information in the report was made public in last month’s job market employment brief, including the headline figure of 33,475 jobs filled, down 800 on the previous year and 6,708 lower than the 2008 peak. The total number of jobs filled by Bermudians was down almost 700 year-on-year, at 23,833. The average working week shrank from 36 hours in 2013 to 33.3 hours last year. However, wages have risen. The median annual earnings before deductions is now $63,897, a rise of more than $3,000 year-on-year. The median earnings figure for Bermudians is $59,357, which is up roughly $2,000 on the previous year. The report was compiled from data collected last August, which showed that the occupation with the most advertised vacancies was limousine and motor bus driver, with 34. Vacancies for professional accountants and executive secretaries numbered 24 and 21 respectively. In terms of rankings, for men the leading occupation last year was chef de partie/cook, with 508 jobs, followed by managers, on 440, and heavy-truck drivers on 391. For women the leading occupation was executive secretary/personal assistant, with 684 jobs, followed by senior clerk, on 493, and cashier on 487. For Bermudian men, the leading occupation was heavy-truck driver, with 371 jobs, followed by security officer, on 309, and managers on 252. For Bermudian women the leading occupation was executive secretary/personal assistant, with 595 jobs, followed by cashier, on 473, and senior clerk on 468. The largest percentage of summer students found employment in the retail trade and repair sector last year, landing 115 jobs, followed by hotels and public administration, both providing 68 jobs for students.

July 8. The body responsible for issuing liquor licences has vowed to crack down on those who deliberately flout and abuse the system. Senior Magistrate Juan Wolffe, who chairs the Liquor Licensing Authority, told The Royal Gazette the authority had noticed significant abuse of the system particularly involving occasional licences and members’ club licences. He said a culture had developed where some thought applications would be rubber-stamped even if they were late or deficient. Mr Wolffe added that while the authority was keen to work with applicants to help them understand the law, the authority would not tolerate flagrant abuse of the system. “Unfortunately there is a great deal of flouting and abusing of the liquor licensing system, particularly when it comes to occasional liquor licences and members’ club licences.  We have also heard of premises selling to minors and persons who are not TIPS certified serving alcohol. We want to rein in this abuse. We do not want to inhibit entrepreneurship but there will be zero tolerance for deliberate abuses of the law.” The authority’s new membership was formed at the beginning of the year and is made up of nine members, three members for each district, as well as Mr Wolffe and deputy chair Peter Barrett. Mr Barrett acknowledged that parts of the 1974 legislation are out of date and said the authority hoped to provide recommendations on improving it. “At present there is no penalty for late submissions of an application,” said Mr Barrett. “But if there was to be a $50 late fee you can be sure that the applications would be in on time. This must have been overlooked and we want to submit proposals on how the act can be improved.” The authority has also dealt with cases where individuals have been granted members’ club licences, which impose the least amount of restrictions on a licence, when they were not a members’ club at all. “We will be asking members’ clubs to prove to us that they are bona fide members clubs,” said Mr Wolffe. “We want to see their subscription books, their financial statements and ensure they really are members’ clubs. This is an area that we will be clamping down on.” Liquor licences have to be submitted by March 14 to provide enough time for the necessary paperwork and hearings to take place for the licences to be issued by May 31 when licences expire. Mr Wolffe urged applicants to read the Liquor Licensing Act online and understand the different types of liquor licences available. He added: “One of the problems is that people think they can get liquor licences for any old party. This is not correct it has to be for a social, benevolent or charitable purposes. We hope to increase the amount of enforcement by Police who have the ultimate sanction of shutting down an establishment but that is a last resort. There are a slew of enforcement measures that include a criminal conviction and fines, although the fines are quite paltry and do not provide a huge deterrent at present. What is important is that licensees have in mind consequences like undue noise, traffic flow problems, accumulation of trash and any disruption caused as a result of the misuse of alcohol and that these can jeopardize your licence.”

July 8. A computer issue forced the temporary grounding of United Airlines flights in the United States today, however the impact on flights to Bermuda has been minimal. The airline has blamed a, “network connectivity issue” which caused delays to around 90 flights. Airport general manager Aaron Adderley — who is part of a delegation in Chicago due to speak with United executives today — said they have been told the problem has been fixed. “They advised that the internal computer issue had been resolved,” he said. “However, there was the likelihood that, as the system ramped back up again, there would be potential delays that would have a domino effect throughout the day as they look to get their flight network back to normal. As expected, the Newark to Bermuda service has been affected with a roughly 90-minute delay.” Mr Adderley, along with Premier Michael Dunkley, Tourism Development and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell, Cabinet secretary Derrick Binns, and Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury, traveled to Chicago today to speak with airline officials. A spokeswoman said the delegation had hoped to discuss the airline reinstating winter flights to the Island and increasing airlift in advance of the 2017 America’s Cup.

July 8. Agreeing to host the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in October would a “no-brainer”, according to one Bermuda golf official. The exhibition event was supposed to be played at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles this year, however, the PGA of America are moving the event because of Donald Trump’s comments on illegal Mexican immigrants. Trump and the PGA of America met on Monday, and both groups said they mutually agreed not to hold the Grand Slam of Golf in Los Angeles from October 19 to 21. Trump said because of the backlash over his comments he does not want the PGA of America to deal with any consequences. “I have great respect for the PGA of America and everything they stand for,” Trump said. According to one Bermuda official, the Island could be ready at “a moment’s notice” to stage the two-day tournament, which was held here between 2007 and 2014 at Mid Ocean Club and Port Royal Golf Course. While Bermuda officials would not say if they had spoken to the PGA about stepping in at short notice, the Bermuda Tourism Authority did say that the announcement “definitely got our attention.” Jordan Spieth already has qualified for the 36-hole event by winning the Masters and US Open, while Martin Kaymer will be the alternate as the defending champion after his play-off win over Bubba Watson at Port Royal last year. The PGA said it was exploring options on where to move the Grand Slam, along with its annual PGA Junior League Golf Championship that also was to be held at Trump National Los Angeles. “The PGA will comment further at the appropriate time,” it said in a statement. NBC, Univision and Macy’s are among several businesses that already have cut ties to Trump over his comments. The real estate mogul stood by his remarks, issuing a new statement on Monday in which he said the Mexican Government is “forcing their most unwanted people into the United States” and claimed that in many cases, those people are “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc”. On Monday, ESPN announced it was moving its ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic from Trump’s course in Los Angeles to nearby Pelican Hill. “Diversity and inclusion are core values at ESPN and our decision also supports that commitment,” ESPN said. Trump’s relationship with golf goes beyond the PGA of America, which also has its PGA Championship scheduled for Trump National in New Jersey in 2022. The US Women’s Open is to be played at his New Jersey course in 2017. The PGA Tour stages a World Golf Championship at Trump National Doral outside Miami each year. The PGA Tour and USGA have declined to comment on the future of their tournaments going to Trump courses, except for distancing themselves from Trump’s remarks in a Golf Channel interview that he has received support from the golf industry because “they know I’m right.” The Ricoh Women’s British Open is to be played this year at Turnberry, the links and resort on the West Coast of Scotland that Trump purchased and now calls Trump Turnberry. LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan has said there are no plans to change the venue. Trump said losing the Grand Slam of Golf this year will give him time to rebuild the Los Angeles course that fronts the Pacific Ocean. 

July 8. New visitor arrival forms at LF Wade International Airport are helping to report more accurately on industry performance, according to Bermuda Tourism Authority. A press release states that data collection is improved in three key areas:  Accommodation: the new arrival form now asks whether the visitor intends to stay in a vacation rental. Vacation rentals is a growing category of lodging for visitors worldwide. Bermuda is no exception. Other categories of accommodation choices remain on the form. Primary Purpose of Visit: the new arrival form provides five additional choices for purpose of visit. If the passenger is visiting family and friends he/she is asked whether it’s for personal or vacation reasons. If the passenger is here for America’s Cup he/she is asked whether it’s for business or leisure purposes. A fifth new choice allows the passenger to choose destination wedding if he/she is here for that purpose. In all, there are now 11 choices in the primary purpose of visit category. Repeat Visitation: the arrival form now asks if the current arrival is the visitor’s first trip to Bermuda. The new form went into effect in April. Lamar Caines, the BTA research assistant who led the transition to the new form, stated: “The new form allows us to better assess the impact the BTA is having on visitor air arrivals. The BTA’s mandate is to grow air arrivals in two specific categories: vacation travel and group travel. This new form allows us to monitor these categories more accurately and when we report visitor numbers it will give the public a clearer view of the BTA’s performance in these areas.” Bill Hanbury, the BTA’s CEO, said: “It’s very important to the tourism industry to make these improvements in data collection. Traditionally business air arrivals as well as visiting friends and relatives are reported in the performance data when really the BTA has very limited influence on business people and friends and relatives who come to Bermuda. Now the form will give visitors here on business the option to tell us whether they’re here on individual business or as part of a group participating in a conference, meeting or incentive trip. These are categories the BTA will monitor closely because our business development managers in New York are working to grow specific categories of group travel. This is just one way the new form improves measurement and accountability.”

July 8. Early detection and prevention is the key to tackling chronic kidney disease in Bermuda. Nephrologist Raphael Loutoby said that while chronic kidney disease (CKD) is on the rise both locally and internationally, efforts could be made to address the issue. Speaking to the Hamilton Rotary Club yesterday, Dr Loutoby said: “Early detection and prevention helped to reduce the burden of chronic diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The same can be done for chronic kidney disease.” He said that CKD is becoming more common throughout the world, with end stage renal disease rising locally by around 15 per cent per year. “CKD has been growing steadily because of multiple reasons,” Dr Loutoby explained. “The ageing population by increased life expectancy, epidemic of type two diabetes, epidemic of worldwide obesity. The westernization of the lifestyle and people’s eating habits have made some populations more vulnerable to these things. This is now a global issue and some populations are affected more than others. When I was a medical student they used to tell us that you can get type one diabetes when you are about 10 years old or even younger and type two diabetes when you are in your late 40s or mid 50s if you are a little bit obese. All of that has changed now, with the way people eat and their lifestyles its very common to see youngsters of 15 to 18 years old with type two diabetes. This is a major health concern. Type two diabetes and hypertension is fuelling kidney disease. This is a problem the planet is facing.” He also noted the financial cost of CKD, saying that around $30 million a year is spend on dialysis locally. Despite the growing threat of the ailment, Dr Loutoby said medical experts are using their experience tackling other chronic ailments to address the issue. One important element is early screening, which he said could make a major difference if cost effective. Another element in the battle is preventive care, encouraging healthy lifestyles so that patients never develop CKD. “A healthy lifestyle is very important, exercise on a regular basis, not eating too much salt or sugar and working with doctors to keep diabetes under control if you have it,” he said. “If you know that you have high blood pressure you should work with your physician to keep it under control because it can help decrease CKD. Sometimes in Bermuda you may find it difficult to eat fresh food. The concept of an urban garden can help this. We can also learn from the initiative of First Lady Obama and the White House Garden which she has shared to different high schools and communities to encourage them to eat better and exercise more.” He also called for the launch of a national renal registry to help give information to the medical community and policymakers about the causes of CKD, and antismoking campaigns and rules limiting smoking could also have a positive impact as smoking has been linked to kidney damage.

July 8. The trend towards telecoms companies offering one-stop shop residential internet services in Bermuda gathered pace this week when Bermuda Telephone Company (BTC) rolled out its Complete Home Internet service. In doing so it has joined a growing list of firms offering customers streamlined internet connectivity comparable with what is available in other countries. BTC was bought by Digicel Bermuda last month and has now added internet service to the internet access it previously provided. In a statement it said the move would be “a breath of fresh air to customers that historically might have faced the inconvenience of multiple calls to different companies in the event of technical or service questions.” By bundling together internet service and access, BTC is the latest company to market itself as a one-stop shop provider. Other companies with a sizeable share of the market who are offering single billing, one-stop options include Logic, Digicel Bermuda, Bermuda CableVision, WOW and LinkBermuda. CellOne and TBI are not marketing one-stop shop packages on their websites, although TBI has partnered with WOW, allowing the latter to offer a service and access bundle. The shift in the internet landscape locally has gathered momentum during the past year. For many years the residential internet market place was fragmented due to regulations forcing customers to pair up an ISP (internet service provider) with an access provider, such as BTC or Bermuda CableVision. That meant dealing with two companies and receiving separate monthly bills for the two internet connection components. The issuing of Integrated Communications Operating Licences in April 2013 opened things up and allowed firms to start bundling internet service and access together, giving customers the convenience of dealing with a single provider and receiving a single monthly bill. Results from a survey published by the Bermuda Regulatory Authority in April showed that 85 per cent of respondents said they would prefer having one provider for both internet access and service. Last month, when Bermuda CableVision launched an internet service and access plan, CEO Terry Roberson said: “Bermuda residents have grown accustomed to paying two companies for their internet service. For years, they have paid one company for access and another for service. We’re delighted to be taking advantage of new industry rules and offering customers a truly combined experience — one bill, one service — at an affordable price. Anyone who has ever been stuck between their access and service providers when trying to get customer support will appreciate how much easier it is to deal with one company.” This week BTC CEO Robin Seale, in announcing the firm’s new one-stop shop service, said: “We are delighted to extend the choice everyone in Bermuda has for internet providers today with the launch of Complete Home Internet from BTC.” The Royal Gazette contacted CellOne and TBI to ask if they would be offering one-stop shop services, and was awaiting responses at press time.

July 7. Premier Michael Dunkley is set to meet with United Airlines executives tomorrow to discuss reinstating winter flights. The meeting — set to take place in Chicago — will also involve the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, Shawn Crockwell, Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns, airport general manager Aaron Adderley and Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury. A Cabinet spokeswoman said this evening: “Bermuda would like to see United Airlines have a winter presence on the Island. Part of the aim of the meeting is to re-engage in conversation with United about reinstating winter flights — at the very least at a reduced schedule. Also the Bermuda delegation will discuss increasing airlift to the Island for the upcoming America’s Cup.” Mr Dunkley and Dr Binns will later travel to Toronto, joining with leaders of the British Virgin Islands, Grenada and Aruba at the Toronto Global Forum, Pan American Edition. There, the Premier is scheduled to discuss Bermuda’s role as a financial services destination, the Island’s contribution to shipping and aircraft registers, the value of interconnectivity and Bermuda’s recent strides in energy reform. He is also expected to share his views on Cuba’s changing role in the region. Organized in collaboration with the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada, and programmed to coincide with the Opening Ceremony of the 17th edition of the Pan-American Games, the 2015 Toronto Global Forum will place special interest in discussing the role of the Americas in major decisions and reforms related to the current global economic context.

July 7. West End residents were awoken early yesterday morning as police carried out a series of raids, seizing guns, drugs and cash. According to Acting Assistant Commissioner Sean Field-Lament, a total of 13 adults — eight men and five women — were arrested in three simultaneous predawn raids, while more arrests could be forthcoming. In addition to suspected drugs, drug paraphernalia and a large quantity of cash, officers recovered three firearms and ammunition. “Earlier this morning, police executed multiple search warrants issued under the misuse of drugs act in the Beacon Hill Lane/Railway Trail area in Sandys and Tele Lane, Warwick Parish,” Mr Field-Lament told a press conference yesterday afternoon. He added that the operation was part of a protracted transnational organized crime operation investigating money laundering and drugs. It was a well-planned, well-executed raid on multiple residences at the same time involving in excess of 50 officers.” He also confirmed that officers discovered a “grow operation” during the searches. “The investigation is currently ongoing, and we expect in due course that people will be appearing before the court,” he said. “I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the residents of the affected neighborhood for any inconvenience caused by this morning’s activity.” Yesterday afternoon, police retained a heavy presence in the Beacon Hill area with numerous uniformed officers talking to residents. One member of the public, who asked not to be identified, said he was woken up by the nearby raid. “I was in bed when I heard shouting and banging from down the road,” he said. “I think it was a little after 4am. I looked outside and saw a load of cops. I had no idea what was going on. It was surprising. This is a pretty quiet neighborhood. We’re a stone’s throw away from the police station and I believe there are a few officers who live nearby.” Asked what he thought about the discovery of the firearms, he said: “It’s disturbing. Obviously we’ve all heard about the gang stuff, but this was a shock.” Another resident said she was glad to see the police make the bust, although she was surprised that it happened so close. “It’s not how I imagined my morning,” she said. “I’m glad they got the guns because that’s the last thing we want in this neighborhood. This stuff needs to get dealt with.” Another said she had been concerned by the number of police at the scene, saying: “When you see that many cops you always think the worst. I was looking online to see if someone got killed, and that’s the last thing you want to think about.” Premier Michael Dunkley said the operation was important, adding: “The early indications are that the results are significant. “This Government fully supports the Police in the work they have to do to keep Bermuda safe. I will not comment on the specifics of this case except to say that any operation that removes firearms and drugs from the streets is a success.” Shadow Public Safety Minister Walter Roban also congratulated the police service for the successful operation, saying it might provide some relief to the public in the wake of the recent shooting at Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club, along with the other firearms incidents that have shocked the Island in recent years. “Any operation that takes guns off the streets should be well received by all of the public. Any effort that shows that we have an effective service that can work with international services and carry out an operation of international significance here in Bermuda is a good thing. It could also provide additional revenues to the confiscated assets fund, which could be used in positive ways.”

July 7. A London-based private-equity group is reportedly in talks to buy a unit of law firm Appleby. Sky News in the UK reported that Bridgepoint is seeking to take over Appleby’s Fiduciary and Administration business, part of which is based in Bermuda. Insiders say the deal, reportedly worth around $370 million, could be agreed by as soon as this week, according to Sky. Appleby specializes in offshore services for corporations and wealthy individuals and has operations in the Cayman Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, the British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Isle of Man. Neither Appleby, nor Bridgepoint were willing to comment to Sky News. In Bermuda, the unit Bridgeport is seeking to buy comprises Appleby Services (Bermuda) Ltd, Appleby Management (Bermuda) Ltd and Appleby Securities Ltd, according to the firm’s website. Between them these divisions offer corporate administration services, private client and trust business, back-office services for Bermuda-registered companies and trusts, and Bermuda Stock Exchange listing services. The unit is also a significant player in Bermuda’s booming insurance-linked securities market. Appleby could not be reached for comment last night.

July 7. Coral expert Thad Murdoch has warned that Bermuda’s reef system would end up a flat, algae-covered rockscape if parrotfish were fished to any great lengths. He was speaking after the Fisheries Department found more than 40 speared parrotfish, a protected species, on the seabed. Mr Murdoch, who has been a coral reef scientist for 23 years and who is chief scientist for the Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis and Monitoring programme, told The Royal Gazette: “Parrotfish eat the algae that grows on the reefs and the algae competes with coral for space. If we didn’t have parrotfish the algae would dominate the reefs. That is bad because corals grow new reefs but algae doesn’t so our reefs would erode and their capacity to stop storm damage or to provide habitat for other types of fish and everything else that lives on the reefs would go away. Other countries that have wiped out parrot fish from their reefs end up with really flat reefs with no coral and loads of algae. Eventually the reef surface erodes deeper and deeper, time and storm damage increases. Parrotfish have a much more important role living on the reefs than they do dead on a plate.” Fisheries wardens reported a person acting in a suspicious manner while snorkeling on Wednesday morning in the area of Cooper’s Island. The snorkeller would not respond to enquiries or show his face, simply showing his empty hands and swimming off. The wardens retraced his path and found a spear with a string with 42 recently speared fish on the seabed in shallow water — plus another recently speared fish floating on the surface. It is understood that as the wardens did not see the man in the act they were unable to reprimand him. Parrotfish have been protected under Bermuda law since 1993 and the Fisheries Act 1972 provides for a fine of up to $50,000 for violations involving species listed under the Fisheries (Protected Species) Order 1978. Spear fishing requires a licence, and is not permitted within one nautical mile of the shore unless the fish is a lionfish for which special permissions have been granted as they pose a threat to Bermuda’s native and endemic fish species. Spear fishing is limited to two fish per species per day except for rockfish for which one per boat per day is permitted. Founder of the Bermuda Spear Fishing and Free Diving Association Odilio Angeli said he was shocked to hear of the news. He warned offenders that his organization, which has 200 members, actively seeks out illegal fishing practices around the Island. He said: “I just can not believe it, I am absolutely shocked. We condemn this. We do what we can to protect the reefs — we report to Fisheries if we see any illegal traps or fishing. This year I found a rockfish in a pot and we freed it. That was the only time I saw an illegal fish pot.” Weldon Wade, spear fisherman and founder of marine conservation organization Bermuda Ocean Explorers said: “My phone has been ringing off the hook this morning. Seeing this, as a person who is trying to conserve and protect the marine environment, it is very shocking. It makes all spear fishermen look bad. So many of us are trying to deal with the lionfish problem. It is too bad we have people hunting protected species. We don’t even know who it was. Enforcement always seems to be a problem.” The fisheries wardens said that given the quantity of fish involved, it seemed likely that they had been intended for sale. A spokesman said: “The public and restaurateurs are reminded that purchasing fish, particularly speared fish, from anyone who is not a registered fisherman is an offence under the Fisheries Act, and that simply being in possession of dead parrotfish puts them in violation of the Fisheries (Protected Species) Order as well.”  Anyone with information regarding this incident, or other illegal fishing activity, should contact the fisheries wardens on 705-3474 or 293-5600, or send an e-mail to fisheries@gov.bm.

July 7. A ground-breaking Bermuda-based African catastrophe insurance pool has been praised by the leaders of the G7 group of industrialized nations. The news came as the African Risk Capacity (ARC) pool is set to add five more nations, bringing the total to nine. Chairman of the ARC Ltd board of directors and former CEO of the International Finance Corporation, Dr Lars Thunell said: “For ARC to be held up by G7 leaders as the model for disaster risk management in developing countries is testament to its winning formula. “ARC has broken new ground in combining science, political ownership and risk pooling to address catastrophes and food insecurity, and showcases the benefits of African Government-led initiatives to build resilience to climate risk.” This year, ARC is expanding its catastrophe insurance pool with Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mali, The Gambia and Zimbabwe expected to join the pool for 2015/16 growing seasons. In its first year, the pool insured Niger, Senegal, Mauritania and Kenya for $129 million in total losses, reinsuring $55 million in the international markets. With the additional five countries expected to join, the total coverage is set to rise to $192 million this year, with over $70 million reinsured. ARC Ltd CEO Dr Simon Young said: “The ongoing programme of awareness and capacity building being implemented across Africa by ARC Agency, together with the success of ARC Ltd in its first year, have encouraged more countries to join the pool which has in turn increased the diversification benefits of the risk pooling, providing a win-win for all stakeholders.” The G7 group, which includes the UK, US, Canada and Japan among its members, pledged at a meeting last month to insure up to 400 million more people in developing countries against climate change risk by 2020. Dr Richard Wilcox, who led the team that established ARC, said: “If the G7 translate their commitment into real action we can achieve the target. In Africa, the capacities, technology and national demand are in place to reach $1 billion in coverage by 2020. If the G7 initiative brings the traditionally-funded international actors, like the UN humanitarian emergency system, into the risk management framework, we can readily double that coverage to $2 billion by 2020.” ARC target is to sign up between 20 and 30 African countries over the next four years. It wants to offer tropical cyclone and flood risk cover within the next year and in the longer term to set up a platform to issue climate change catastrophe bonds. ARC has also got a mandate to look into insuring African countries against outbreaks of infectious disease, like the killer Ebola virus. Global insurance reinsurance broker Willis Group Holdings, which has an office in Bermuda, won an insurance industry transaction of the year award for its work in setting up ARC Ltd on the Island, the second award in connection with the fund. Bermuda beat of competition from Switzerland to become the home of the fund, set up by African Risk Capacity, a specialized agency created by the African Union to help member states better weather extreme climate conditions.

July 7. A kiosk staff shortage left an estimated 150 people lined up waiting to buy tickets at the Hamilton Bus Terminal. Some tourists in the line, who were visiting Bermuda from the Veendam cruise ship, told The Royal Gazette they had been waiting for about 25 to 30 minutes to purchase their three-day transportation passes. The long queue started from the kiosk and stretched to the top of the terminal entrance on Church Street. A Government spokeswoman said that only one cashier was available in the kiosk because of a shortage of staff at the Department of Public Transportation and that there are usually two to three working at a time. One couple, Rich and Amy Roberts, visiting from New Hampshire, were standing close to the back of the line. “We’re waiting to buy the all transportation passes and we’re in a little bit of a rush to get to the beach,” said Mrs Roberts. Steve Dacorta, visiting from Boston with his family, prefers to take the bus to a taxi. He said: “We need more ticket sellers, this is nuts. We’ve been here before and we’re trying to go to Dockyard for the day; we like to ride the bus. I’ve read about the taxis being expensive which is why we’d rather take the bus.” Valarie Descombes, from Montreal, said: “The bus system here is a good system and we like the ferry as well as we’ve visited once before, but we’d rather not wait in long lines.”

July 6. Family members have paid tribute to a “generous, outward-going, non-judgmental” woman after the passing of Diana Douglas Webster on Friday. Ms Douglas Webster, actress and mother of Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, was born into a high-standing family of Bermudians in 1923 and was known locally as Diana Dill. While she moved to the United States, the Island always held a special place in her heart. The family has roots in Bermuda dating back to the 1630s and they began running the Ariel Sands property in Smith’s as a hotel in 1954. Susan Mary Attride-Stirling, Ms Douglas Webster’s niece and goddaughter, described her as “an absolute riot. She loved playing practical jokes. After one of the big Dill parties in the ‘70s, my father Laurence [Diana’s brother] had been on the piano until four in the morning with everyone singing. Diana called up my mother [Mary] at 7 o’clock in the morning pretending to be Bermuda Home and Garden magazine to say she would be there in half an hour to take photographs of the house for the magazine. It freaked my poor mother out but they all had a good laugh.” Ms Attride-Stirling said her aunt was a huge supporter and advocate of Amnesty International — Ms Attride-Stirling’s mother-in-law Lucy Attride-Stirling started the Amnesty chapter in Bermuda and the pair got on “like a house on fire.” “She was a general supporter of most liberal causes,” she said. “And as a godmother she was kind and generous, very loving and supportive.” Ms Douglas Webster was the daughter of Ruth Neilson and Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Melville Dill, who was a former Bermuda Attorney-General and commanding officer of the Bermuda Militia Artillery. She married Hollywood actor Kirk Douglas with whom she had two children — Joel and Michael. The marriage was a tumultuous one and ended in 1951 when Mr Douglas’s career took off with the 1949 film Champion  She went on to marry actor/producer and novelist Bill Dared and they remained together for 37 years until his death in 1992. It was with Mr Darrid that she built her cottage in Ariel Sands and came to visit the Island to relive her childhood days. Ms Douglas Webster’s great-nephew Patrick Dill said she often talked fondly of Bermuda: “When she remarried to Bill they lived on the east coast for years and she would come down to Bermuda occasionally. She loved Bermuda, you know. Bermuda was her home. She used to live at New Bold Place on the waterside next to Devonshire Dock. She was the younger, by quite some years, of six kids and her brother Laurence tried to make her feel special. He would do things like climb up on the roof at Christmas time and go ‘ho, ho, ho’ down the chimney but what he didn’t realize was that it scared the crap out of her.” Mr Dill said his great-aunt was very excited about her son Michael’s plan to redevelop Ariel Sands. “When we first started looking at redeveloping the hotel — Michael started putting money back in years ago — that was very exciting for her. Ariel Sands was where she would go when she was growing up, it was the place they used to go. They would take picnics and that sort of thing when they were younger so it was a special spot. She was extremely kind, she was very generous and no matter how crazy you were she would always listen to you. She was non-judgmental and had a way about her that was very regal but she was someone who could relate on many different levels to many different people. She had no real bones about whether you happened to be Charlton Heston or whether you happened to be Patrick Dill — there was no change in the way she talked to people. It’s funny because she dated Errol Flynn for a while and was friends with lots and lots of famous people but she was just full of fun and really down-to-earth.” At the age of 79, Ms Douglas Webster married Donald Webster, the former chief of staff under President Richard Nixon, at Devonshire Parish Church where her parents married. The reception was held in Ariel Sands property. Her book In the Wings: A Memoir was published in 1999 and came about following a request from Michael, who wanted a frank and personal memoir for his own son Cameron. In the book she recalls her great-uncles born in Northern Ireland who, while on their way to Virginia, “stepped off the boat in Bermuda and decided to stay”. She wrote: “They were ardent royalists and remained so during the tenure of Oliver Cromwell, one of them reportedly fighting a duel in Devonshire churchyard defending the king’s name.” Patrick’s cousin Matthew Dill added: “She didn’t spend a whole lot of time here in her later years. Since [Bill] passed away she hasn’t been back a whole lot but she talked about Bermuda all the time. Her wishes were for her ashes to be scattered in Bermuda so I expect there will be a memorial service here at some point in time.”

July 6. NEW YORK (Bloomberg) — It shouldn’t have gotten this far. That’s the view of equity managers overseeing more than $3.7 trillion, who say the game of chicken between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and creditors threatens lasting damage to a European stock rally that earlier in 2015 added as much as $2.17 trillion to share prices. “The market right now hasn’t priced in a potential ‘no’ vote,” said David Joy, the Boston-based chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial, which oversees $815 billion. “If we get one, we’re going to see another round of downside volatility in excess of what we saw on Monday. The move would be more violent.” The Euro Stoxx 50 Index tumbled 4.2 percent on June 29 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index had its biggest plunge in more than a year after Tsipras unexpectedly called for a referendum on austerity measures proposed by Greece’s creditors. Concern the vote may bring the nation one step closer to an exit from the euro pushed equity volatility to a three-year high. Greek pollsters are forecasting a narrow win for the “no” side. The crisis in Greece underscores the limitations of the European Central Bank’s efforts to shore up confidence in the currency union and contain the risk of contagion to other countries in the region. Credit Suisse Group AG estimated that the probability of Greece leaving the euro would be 75 percent with a “no” vote, according to a note on Friday. “It would raise the question of the solidarity of the European Monetary Union,” Joy said. “If all of a sudden one member leaves, it does create a precedent, and maybe suddenly casts some doubt on the long-term future of the monetary union.” Stocks in Spain and Italy took the biggest hits in the week following the referendum announcement, dropping the most among developed markets with losses of more than 5 percent. A measure of stock swings for the region jumped 21 percent in five days. The Euro Stoxx 50 is now down 10 percent from a seven-year high in April. So far, the market reaction hasn’t been as bad as in 2010, when Greece received its first bailout. That year, the gauge tracking 50 blue-chip companies in the euro area tumbled as much as 17 percent in less than six weeks. The crisis contributed to an 11 percent drop in the S&P 500 and a 16 percent plunge in the MSCI All-Country World Index. Goldman Sachs Group said in a July 2 report that equity volatility caused by a rejection of the bailout terms will be short-lived as the ECB intervenes, allowing investors to refocus on Europe’s economic fundamentals. A “no,” which Syriza’s leader has been campaigning for, could trigger a decline in the Euro Stoxx 50 to 3,150, or 8.5 percent below where it closed on Friday, strategists at the New York-based bank wrote. That’s a scenario that should spur investors to buy Italian, Spanish and German equities, they said. Acceptance could send the gauge back up to 3,830, near where it traded at the April peak, according to the note. A rejection of the bailout may not help Tsipras’s hand in negotiations, said Asoka Woehrmann of Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management Investment in Luxembourg. “No one knows how to interpret a ‘no’ vote,” said Woehrmann, chief investment officer at Deutsche Asset & Wealth, which manages about $1.25 trillion. “I doubt that a ‘no’ vote will soften the institutions’ tone,” he said of creditors. “This was the very last trump card Syriza could play.” It’s because of mistakes from both sides that the situation spiraled into such a deadlock, according to David Kelly of JPMorgan Funds, which oversees $800 billion. “Europeans are very unfair and unkind to Greek people by forcing them to a level of austerity where they really couldn’t manage,” said Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds in New York. “Having said that, the way that Syriza has negotiated with Europe leaves European governments very distrustful of Syriza.” If voters turn down the bailout terms, Greece wouldn’t leave the euro immediately but may begin to print its own currency to keep its financial system afloat. The country might soon run out of cash and be unable to make a 3.5 billion euro ($3.9 billion) bond payment to the ECB due on July 20. The central bank would then withdraw emergency liquidity to Greek lenders, and the probability of the country leaving the euro would climb even higher, Credit Suisse said. “There is no blueprint for how a country exits the euro and redenominates,” said David Lafferty, chief market strategist at Natixis Global Asset Management in Boston. The firm oversees $900 billion. “That’s going to create all kinds of uncertainty in Europe.”

July 4.  A slightly darker tint on car windscreens is to be allowed, along with the use of hands-free technology such as Bluetooth, under legislation coming to the House of Assembly. The announcement came from Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, who said tinting stood to be increased from 30 per cent to 24 per cent. Tinted windows can reduce fuel costs for air conditioning, Mr Crockwell said, while permitting “qualified hands-free communication devices” will bring the Island’s Motor Car Act “closer to meeting the needs of the 21st Century road user. We have all seen the increase in the use of technology in our daily lives and the hands-free technology has advanced to functions that traditionally required the use of ones’ hand are now executed by voice. This has proved to be very beneficial, particularly in the transportation industry.” Many vehicles now coming into the Island are already equipped with Bluetooth, the minister said, adding that the legislation will not apply to motorcycles. The possibility of a ban on tinted helmet visors, which have been used by perpetrators of gang violence, remains off the table but is “something we will continue to take a look at”, he said.

July 3. Throughout this week, Bermuda Hospitals Board has been handing out data and information about the services it provides, how it operates and how well it performs. “Know Your BHB!”, running in the lobbies of the new Acute Care Wing and General Wing of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, has given facts and figures to give an insight into the volume and variety of work needed to keep Bermuda’s only hospitals running. It is the first “Hospitals Week” initiative since 1983. Board CEO Venetta Symonds said: “Not many people will think about how much work this department has to do in order to keep front line care services stocked with all the linen needed. Trust has to be built through transparency and accountability, and also a better understanding of what it takes to run the hospitals and how we are performing. People may not realize that BHB revenue has declined over the last two years. There is a lot of concern that BHB pushes up the cost of premiums and healthcare on the island, but BHB has successfully reduced its impact on costs for the last two years. We hope that will raise informed questions about how our community health and utilization impact costs. The data we are sharing about disease prevalence on our inpatient cards very clearly demonstrates the impact of high diabetes rates on hospitalization. And while we absolutely appreciate that the hospitals do cost a lot to run, we hope the data will provide evidence of the volume of our operations. We provide tens of thousands of different types of treatments, undertake over three million lab tests, and thousands of diagnostic tests both at home and as outpatients. We will continue to regularly report on the information we are sharing this week. The more people know about how we operate our volumes and our performance data the better they can judge the quality of our services.”

KEMH services

July 3.  The first-ever China catastrophe bond has been set up in Bermuda. The $50 million Panda Re bond, listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX), will be used by sponsor China Re to cover earthquake losses across the mainland People’s Republic of China. BSX president and CEO Greg Wojciechowski said: “The BSX is delighted to welcome the Panda Re deal to listing on the exchange. “This deal, which is the first time that China Re has accessed the capital markets, could signal an opening for the insurance linked securities (ILS) market through geographic risk diversification, and I am delighted that Bermuda was chosen as the venue and platform for this to occur. The fact that Bermuda was that platform for this new security speaks to the comfort and acceptance that Bermuda has achieved in this industry segment.” The catastrophe bond has the effect of transferring $50 million of earthquake risk to the capital markets. China Re said the listing was a continuation of its internationalization strategy and innovation development. The firm added the Panda Re cat bond was also a sign of the “important progress” made by the Chinese insurance industry. China Re chief financial officer and chief actuary Chen Sen said: “Panda Re has been a very successful first step into using alternative risk transfer mechanisms to strengthen and diversify our risk management strategy and that of our risk transfer partners.” The firm used top catastrophe risk management specialist RMS’ China earthquake model to calculate the risk metrics for the bond. Mr Sen said: “RMS was an obvious partner for our first foray into the capital markets. Not only are they widely trusted by international investors to conduct catastrophe risk analysis for new regions and new risks, the RMS China earthquake model is central to our view of earthquake risk.” Mr Wojciechowski said: “Bermuda is the ‘world’s risk capital’ and has emerged as a centre of excellence for the creation, support and listing of ILS structures. “Bermuda’s regulatory framework, the level of industry experience here, the sophistication of our service infrastructure coupled with our nimbleness and innovative approach to creating commercial solutions for our global clientele has resulted in our ability to excel in this niche industry segment.” And he added: “Certainly our work has not gone unnoticed with many other locations seeking to emulate the Bermuda platform. It’s this platform built on solid industry experience and critical mass which is important in supporting new initiatives in the market and attracts the attention of those looking to enter the space.”

July 3. Don’t expect interest rates to bounce back sharply any time soon. That’s the advice from HSBC’s global head of fixed-income research Steven Major, who expects predicts that the US Federal Reserve will not starting raising rates until December. London-based Mr Major, who visited the Island to make a presentation to HSBC Bermuda clients, has a reputation for making accurate calls on the direction of bond yields, after being one of few experts to correctly predict that US Treasury rates would fall in 2014. He expects the US 10-year bill to close this year with a yield of 2.5 per cent. In afternoon trading yesterday, the yield was 2.36 per cent. US interest rates impact Bermuda in multiple ways, including bank lending rates and the profitability of Bermuda’s large insurance sector, which invests much of its pool of capital in fixed-income securities like sovereign bonds. Mr Major’s assessment is that we should not expect big moves to happen any time soon. The road to relative normalcy after years of accommodative monetary policy since the global financial crisis in 2008 will be a long one, he predicted. “The shifts in monetary policy will move at a glacial pace,” Mr Major said in an interview. “It’s taken seven or eight years to get here and we might be close to starting a seven- to ten-year descent.” The US central bank, known as the Fed, is likely to be tentative in raising interest rates, despite the economic growth and job creation seen in the US, where the unemployment rate is now 5.3 per cent. “If there is unambiguous evidence of wage inflation, then they will raise rates — but later rather than sooner,” Mr Major added. Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen and her board would be very keen to avoid a U-turn scenario — starting to raise interest rates this year, only having to cut them again next year, he added. That was a mistake made by Sweden’s Riksbank, which raised rates to 2 per cent in 2011 as a pre-emptive strike against the inflation it expected and by October last year, it cut the rate to zero after inflation failed to materialize. Mr Major said history would be no guide as to what will happen next, given the unprecedented nature of the monetary policy of recent years. He anticipates a slow and unconventional policy tightening cycle, which he says has been signaled by Ms Yellen. In a report entitled “Steeped in Pain”, published last month, Mr Major and his fixed-income team at HSBC state: “The Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle should be an unconventional one, the legacy of years of highly unconventional US monetary policy. “Its policy rate is likely to increase slowly and remain at a very accommodative level for a prolonged time period after lift-off.” Normally, when the Fed raises its funds rate, it leads to a flattening of the yield curve, meaning that the difference in the yield between short and longer-term duration becomes less. However, during the upcoming tightening cycle, Mr Major expects the yield curve to steepen. ‘Term premium’ — the component of yield not fully explained by real GDP and inflation — will have a major influence, he argues. “Based on our analysis of the links between tightening cycles and the curve slope, the two-to-ten-year curve spread is quite flat and could steepen 50 basis points to 100 basis points,” the report states. “This reflects the negative term premium in long-term yields.” The impact of the tightening will have an impact on stocks, as well as bonds. Mr Major advises: “If the Fed’s attempts to normalize policy produces a bout of nervousness among investors then equities could become extremely volatile. Faced with this turbulence, investors might instinctively gravitate towards safer, low beta stocks with resilient earnings. “However, our work on equity duration suggests they should be doing exactly the opposite. If investors react to higher bond yields by becoming risk averse then we would use this as an opportunity to increase weightings in short duration equities.” HSBC includes materials, capital goods, financials, luxury goods and IT, as short duration equities, which have a high beta and low, volatile dividend growth.

July 3. No detail, it seems, is being overlooked in the quest to promote Bermuda far and wide as the jurisdiction of choice for international business. To a casual observer it might appear that Bermuda’s knack of securing guest speaker slots and face-time with key industry figures at major conferences happens by magic, or luck. And perhaps it is merely a fortuitous coincidence that drinks being served at industry reception events include Gosling’s rum. However, in reality it is the behind-the-scenes endeavors of the events team at the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) that ensures everything falls into place in the right way and at the right time to promote Bermuda effectively to business decision-makers. Nicole Conrad Morrison and Sophie Burt are at the forefront of those efforts. They work as a team initiating and overseeing arrangements for Bermuda to have a presence at business conferences, forums, meetings and road shows around the world. The BDA’s calendar of conference and events this year stretches to three pages. In total there are 35 events on the list. Choosing which events to attend is something that is decided in collaboration with the BDA’s business development managers, its focus groups and input from industry executives. “When we decide on a conference we always like to have speaking slots to promote Bermuda, its people and talents. We always try to get speaking slots on the panels so we can showcase Bermuda,” said Ms Conrad Morrison, who is the BDA’s conferences and events manager. “Often we have booth to represent the jurisdiction. It’s important that Bermuda is represented. And we try to target groups, so if we go to a conference we might arrange a series of business development meetings before or after the event and we host a reception with those people. It’s a way of reaching a larger scope of people than just those at the conference.” With such an extensive list of conferences and events on the calendar this year, keeping track of things and ensuring Bermuda is represented and plays a part is a major undertaking. Missing one event could mean foregoing an opportunity to attract new business to the Island, a point underlined by the success of two BDA-hosted road shows in Canada earlier in May which attracted three insurers to Bermuda. In April, the RIMS conference in New Orleans attracted some 10,000 risk management professionals and other senior executives and decision-makers. The BDA events team was instrumental in coordinating media interviews for Bermuda executives and scheduling appearances by Premier Michael Dunkley, Government ministers and officials from the Bermuda Monetary Authority. The BDA team does a lot of long-term coordinating and planning ahead of events. The 2016 RIMS conference is still 10 months away, but Ms Burt has already visited the host city San Diego to secure accommodation and check on arrangements. Ms Burt is a former BHS student. She showed a flair for organizing events at school and was encouraged to pursue a career in events management. “I’m good with people, being organized and giving attention to detail,” she said. She achieved a Batchelor’s degree in event management at the University of East London, England. While living in London she saw much of the pre-planning and behind-the-scenes organizing work for the 2012 Olympic Games. Returning to Bermuda, she worked at Capital G Bank in marketing and events before joining the BDA in an administrative role. Her event management abilities were soon spotted and led to her becoming an events coordinator, working closely with Ms Conrad Morrison. Attention to detail is a crucial attribute in event management, said Ms Conrad Morrison. The aforementioned Gosling’s rum served up at Bermuda-hosted receptions is one example. “It’s very important for my team to produce high quality conferences and events, to reflect the level of sophistication and the respected global reputation of our jurisdiction,” she said, explaining this was reflected through promotional and marketing materials. “We also use these opportunities to promote Bermuda vendors. We serve Gosling’s signature drinks at our receptions, giving guests a taste of Bermuda, in addition to providing local products, reflective of Bermuda, as giveaways. We feel strongly about promoting Bermuda as a whole, with those vendors also benefiting from the targeted international guests that attend our BDA functions.” Ms Conrad Morrison has been producing events for 20 years, having started out in the fashion industry as a creative producer for a retail chain store in Canada. She progressed to TV production work with a number of broadcasters, including CBS, where she honed her production management skills. She has also worked in advertising and marketing, creating her own company which led her doing work for the BDA’s predecessor, Business Bermuda, producing a video newsletter and working with corporate clients. She is now the BDA’s conferences and events manager. “It made sense for me. We are here to help Bermuda and grow Bermuda. That’s something that attracted me to working with the BDA.” She said she is good at dealing with details. “You have to be, especially when you are dealing with a lot of people, whether producing an event and hiring people to be speakers or presenters,” she explained. "It’s about pulling all the elements together to produce an event. That’s where my strength lies, getting it all together; taking it from first initial steps to completion of the final product.” The team also work with event producers to bring conferences to the Island. This year they helped bring The Regulatory Compliance Association’s Symposium 2015, the Transcontinental Trust’s Bermuda Forum, and the Global Fund Forum to the Island. In September 2016, the BDA will host the Alarys Congress, an event that will be attended by hundreds of risk professionals from across Latin America to the Island. “We are organising that event from scratch,” said Ms Conrad Morrison. Supporting one another helps Ms Conrad Morrison and Ms Burt to stay on top of the busy schedule. “We delegate, so Nicole will take one event and I’ll take another and we work well together. We know each other’s strong suits,” said Ms Burt. She said that team support extends all the way through the BDA, with colleagues helping one another whenever needed. “The positive feedback we are getting proves we are doing the right things,” she said. “The team helps a lot and I love what I do. Every day is different.” Ms Conrad Morrison said she enjoys working for the BDA for a number of reasons. “We have a fantastic group of talented and committed staff who are passionate about what they do. Each is highly skilled in their respective field and bring enormous dedication to their roles. I’m passionate about what I do — overseeing the conferences and events for our organization. Most importantly, at the BDA we are helping to grow our community. We are here to promote Bermuda as a world-class financial centre, and in turn, we are bettering our Bermuda. What we do each day will hopefully result in businesses setting up in Bermuda, thus creating jobs and building our economy — and we have already seen results. We have an important job here and each staff member is key to its success.”

July 3. Alternative reinsurance capital is growing at a faster rate than traditional reinsurance capital. That trend has been identified in an analysis of the market by Aon Benfield, the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon. Total reinsurer capital reached $580 billion globally in the first quarter, a rise of 1 per cent since the end of 2014. However, despite a small decrease in the overall value of the catastrophe bond market, alternative reinsurance capital climbed 3 per cent to $66 billion during the same period as sidecars and collateralised reinsurance gained. A number of catastrophe bonds matured during the first quarter, resulting in the cat bond market dipping to $22.1 billion at the end of March, down from a 2014 year-end peak of $26 billion. The issuance of $2.96 billion in new cat bonds between April and the end of June brought the value of outstanding cat bonds to $23.47 billion. The reinsurance market was boosted by an increase in reinsurance purchases by two US government entities, Florida Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. In 2011, Florida Citizens had $580 million of private risk transfer, but since then its private market capacity has grown and stands at approximately $4 billion, according to Aon Benfield’s estimates. The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund this year secured $1 billion of reinsurance excess, its first private market coverage since its inception in 1994. The positive impact of these purchases, together with the growth in the alternative reinsurance sector was slightly offset by a contraction in shareholders’ funds in a number of major reinsurance companies. This was party attributable to the weakening of the euro. Global insurer capital has increased 1 per cent since the start of the year, and is estimated at $4.2 trillion. Capital growth this year has been notable in Japan and China. Natural disaster insurance losses for the first half of 2015 were roughly $14 billion, less than half of the 10-year (2005-2014) average of $33 billion. Aon Benfield, in its “Reinsurance Market Outlook” report for June and July, noted: “The US remains in the midst of a record-setting stretch without a major hurricane landfall (above Category 3)”. The last such event was Hurricane Wilma in 2005. The arrival and forecast strengthening of El Nino, a warming phase in a cycle of ocean water in central and east-central areas of the Pacific Ocean, may herald an increase in insured losses in the Asia Pacific region. El Nino years have historically seen higher insured losses as a result of an eastward shift in the landfall locations of tropical cyclones, with Japan and Korea generally experiencing more typhoons. Elsewhere, forecasters expect hurricane activity in the Atlantic to be below average this year as a result of cooler sea surface temperatures in main storm development region and expected above-average wind shear in the upper atmosphere, factors linked to the distant El Nino phenomenon.

July 3. Corporation of Hamilton programmes could be restricted due to the grim financial situation left behind by the previous administration, according to Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling. While the Mayor said the corporation is still “looking under the hood”, he told The Royal Gazette financial statements for 2014 — set to be released next week — do not paint a positive picture. Mr Gosling, who was elected as Mayor two months ago, listed a number of costly bills racked up by the “Team Hamilton” regime, led by former Mayor Graeme Outerbridge from May 2012 to May 2015. These included more than $1 million on legal actions and a further $250,000 on the ill-fated Conference of Black Mayors. In addition, the corporation is facing a $1 million drop in parking revenue and has the cost of an $18 million loan guarantee looming over its head. “It might restrict a lot of the programmes that we had been envisaging,” Mr Gosling said. “From something as simple and uninteresting as providing fail-safe protection for our sewage, enabling us to have better sewage treatment, to the prospect of the services the corporation is able to offer. In the time that we have been here we have had numerous meetings with the minister overseeing the municipality, Michael Fahy, his permanent secretary and legal counsel. Though government might not work at the pace at which I would like it to, we are certainly moving in the right direction and hopefully we are going to minimize the impact of this.” Asked about the issues facing the corporation, Mr Gosling noted the Par-la-Ville Hotel loan which the Corporation had guaranteed. “It’s common knowledge that the $18 million guarantee that the corporation put up for the benefit of the Par-la-Ville development has been called,” he said. “While the guarantee was limited at $18 million, it does not mean that we are not liable for interest rates on top of that. We are accumulating debt right now at the equivalent of about $3,500 per day because of our inability to pay. We do not have the cash to even make a significant payment on that. We are looking at a number of possibilities to come up with a financing scheme to the approval of our creditors.” He also said that court rulings have cost the corporation more than $1 million per year in parking fees and penalties, a “significant percentage” of the municipality’s revenue stream. Asked if the financial issues would impact the ability to sponsor events such as the Santa Parade and Harbour Nights, Mr Gosling said the corporation only really began to sponsor such events financially fairly recently. Previously, he said the city had sponsored the events with “in kind” assistance. “In 2009 with the beginning of the recession we said you guys need some help and rather than removing two barriers at no cost to you, a little cash might be of better use,” he said. “That was the first time we started those things. It might go back that way. We are going to be doing some presentations to the council next month in terms of the upcoming budget. That part of the budget is, in a way, so small. What we really need to look at and fully justify are the services which we are providing and get the council to look at that. We are not getting into the nitty-gritty, we’re staying at the higher level and letting the experts that have all those letters after their names make the determination about how to spend that money.” Mr Gosling said the corporation has been in talks with the America’s Cup team, saying that the event could provide a massive boost to both the City and the Island. “We have been negotiating with the America’s Cup and they are going to be making some significant demands not only on the Corporation but also on the people who live and work within the City and I hope that sooner rather than later information will come out about what the impact is going to be with the series. I personally think that it’s going to be so jaw-droppingly phenomenal that whatever minor impact it has on us over those three, four days things are taking place in Hamilton Harbour, we will suck it up and enjoy it. It’s an experience we will tell our grandchildren and anyone else. If we do not embrace this thing then years down the road we only have ourselves to kick.” Asked if the event might help the city create new capital assets, Mr Gosling said: “We will need to provide things; they will need to provide things. With some of the items that they provide for the servicing of the racing yachts or the mega yachts, it might be the old pragmatic thing of one hand washes the other. The America’s Cup will most certainly be helping to provide the city with capital investments in order to enhance what we can provide.”

Hopes of recovering some conference money. Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling said that the Corporation of Hamilton is hoping to recover some of the money spent on a controversial conference which has yet to take place. Speaking yesterday, Mr Gosling said the previous administration had spent “about $250,000” on hosting the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM), explaining: “There was a sponsorship fee with the Conference of Black Mayors and there were also some deposits that were made to local hotels for the various activities and bookings associated with the conference. “We are hoping to recover some of that money from some of the local service providers and accommodations from the deposits.” The conference was originally set to take place last October, but legal disputes over the leadership of the organization left the event in doubt. While executive director Vanessa Williams had claimed to be in charge of the organization during talks with the corporation, a United States judge found that Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson was the rightful head of the group. It revealed that Ms Williams had been fired by the NCBM after the scale of the group’s debt under her management was exposed. Ms Williams reportedly failed to cooperate with an internal audit of the organization, which revealed that she had spent $600,000 of NCBM funds on personal expenses. However, Ms Williams continued negotiations with the Corporation for a Bermuda convention, claiming that the NCBM had changed its name to the Conference of Black Mayors (CBM) but the new body was the same organization. Despite the issues, government expressed its support for the event, with Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy saying he was satisfied with the discussions he had with Mayor Graeme Outerbridge. The event was later delayed until April, but Sen Fahy said in January that it was “highly unlikely” the event would ever take place. Asked for an update Mr Gosling said: “I have absolutely no information. I haven’t inherited any information. The people who were organizing it on a local level have not been in contact with the corporation at all. “As far as I know the hotel bookings — and that contract was never signed — the rooms which were held for the conference were released some time ago.

July 3.  Tech firm Fireminds has won a country partner of the year award from industry giants Microsoft. The company was chosen by Microsoft after showing excellence in innovation and customer service based on Microsoft technology. Phil Sorgen, corporate vice-president of Microsoft’s worldwide partner group, said: “Fireminds’ dedication to providing outstanding value for our mutual customers is a prime example of the excellence we see in our talented community of Microsoft partners.” Fireminds CEO Michael Branco said: “I’m very proud of our software development and cloud solutions teams who have deployed a number of cloud-based solutions which have resulted in us being recognized by Microsoft as an award-winning partner.” The firm was founded in Bermuda 14 years ago to work on web and software development, as well as cloud solutions and e-commerce. It now has 30 staff, with teams based in Bermuda, Canada and Europe.

July 3.  A family-owned Bermuda insurance firm has notched up an incredible 200 years in business. CNA Butterfield was founded in 1815 — the year the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo — and is still going strong. Nathaniel Butterfield, a direct descendant and namesake of the founder, who also started the Bank of Butterfield, said: “The main ingredient is luck. That and treating our clients well and having a vested interest then. It’s luck and doing a good job.” The firm, based at White Hall on Hamilton’s Park Street, started after merchant Nathaniel T Butterfield became an agent for the Phoenix Assurance Company of London — which was absorbed by insurance giants RSA more than 30 years ago. Nathaniel T Butterfield went on to establish himself as a banker and later founded the Bank of NT Butterfield. The two companies split in the 1920s, when the bank went public and the insurance arm stayed in family hands. Newest staff member Sara Corday, who joined just under a year ago as a trainee underwriter, said: “It’s a small company and mainly property insurance. We know our clients and they know us. It’s passed down through generations and by word of mouth. It’s a very personal touch — about knowing our clients and keeping them happy. We’re looking forward to another 200 years.” And the firm’s approach seems to work — generations of the same family have insured their possessions since the original Nathaniel opened for business in 1815. Mr Butterfield, who followed his father into the firm in 1992, said: “It’s definitely true, but we can’t say who it is.” The company’s staff now consists of Than Butterfield, his son Nathaniel Butterfield, Kaye White Todd, who has been with the company for nearly 30 years, and Ms Corday. The company, through a link-up with Lloyd’s of London, specializes in property insurance, including buildings, contents, personal possessions, domestic and dock liability as well as freezer food. It also provided commercial insurance cover for businesses, personal travel insurance and marine cargo insurance. Ms White Todd said: “I truly believe that since we are a smaller company it lends itself to us being able to provide insurance with a personal touch. Our clients know if they call to speak to us, we’re available. If they have a question, we’re available. They know that the person they spoke to during the policy’s inception will be the same person they speak to at renewal and during a claim. I think the clients like this. We know our clients and they know us.”

July 3.  A “family friendly” restaurant planned for Shelly Bay will not bring late-night entertainment, and will not section off areas of the public beach, prospective developer Tom Steinhoff said last night. Introduced by area MP Wayne Furbert of the Progressive Labour Party, Mr Steinhoff fielded questions from residents who said they had been unable to study plans for the derelict beachside building. A resident of nearby Radnor Road, Mr Steinhoff said he enjoyed the beach with his children and had no plans for significant structural changes to the building — or to introduce loud music. The restaurant will have a liquor licence, plus a beach concession to rent chairs, umbrellas and water sport, and bring in picnic benches. Mr Steinhoff said he also looked forward to hosting events such as weddings and having sunset entertainment out on the deck. Asked if he planned to make parts of the beach off-limits, the Snorkel Park owner said: “It’s public land. I have no intention of stopping people walking in front.” Mr Steinhoff said he envisaged having the establishment up and running by April 2016.

July 2. The start of the America’s Cup World Series is only a few weeks away, and the LandRover BAR team have been getting in some practice. Portsmouth will play host to the first event in the series, which will ultimately help determine who races in the final in Bermuda in 2017. Ben Ainslie’s side were joined by Emirates Team New Zealand, who put their AC45F through its paces on the Solent.

July 2.  NEW YORK (Bloomberg) — Evan Greenberg just took deal-making to the next level. The chief executive officer of property-and-casualty insurer Ace Ltd (with Bermuda companies) on Wednesday announced a $28 billion deal for rival Chubb Corp (also with Bermuda companies). It’s the biggest acquisition in the industry since the 2008 government bailout of American International Group, the insurance giant formerly led by Greenberg’s father, Hank. After the busiest quarter for insurance deal making in at least 12 years, the magnitude of this latest takeover is going to drive even more “M&A fever” across the industry, according to Cliff Gallant of Nomura Holdings. Insurers from WR Berkley to Hartford Financial rallied on the news amid takeover speculation. The scale gained through acquisitions is crucial for insurance providers struggling with falling policy rates and curtailed profitability. Reinsurers have been merging in droves and insurance broker Willis Group just struck a more than $8 billion transaction for consultant Towers Watson & Co. Now, property-and-casualty providers are getting in on deal making in a big way, too. “The management teams of virtually every large property-casualty company will be having a conversation today about whether they should be more active acquirers,” said Paul Newsome of Sandler O’Neill & Partners. “These are two well-run companies that probably could have done very well on their own but they’re trying to build something even bigger.” Ace shares rose as much as 9 per cent on the news of the takeover. That may embolden other competitors to consider acquisitions, said Josh Stirling of Sanford C Bernstein & Co. While Ace is offering a higher-than-average premium to buy Chubb, its bid values the provider of coverage for mansions and yachts at about 1.7 times book value. That’s a discount to what high-quality businesses in the industry have typically commanded, according to Newsome of Sandler O’Neill. Would-be sellers may want to take that into account and not wait around for too high a price. That’s especially true for smaller insurers, which may face greater pressure as market leaders get even bigger. “It actually lowers sellers’ expectations for what they can get,” the Chicago-based analyst said. “I probably need to reassess what I’m holding out for because I’m never going to get that big price-to-book multiple now. If a much-vaunted, well-regarded shop gets 1.7 times book value, what should the mid-cap company that lacks scale and is kind of struggling get?” AIG, Allstate and Travelers are among insurers that could look to make a big purchase. Their smaller property-and-casualty peers surged on speculation they could be targets. WR Berkley and Bermuda-based Arch Capital Group Ltd both rose the most since 2012 on an intraday basis, while XL Group surged the most since last July and Cincinnati Financial climbed the most since December. All are valued at less than $15 billion. Hartford Financial, with a market capitalization of $18 billion, surged as much as 5.9 per cent. “There is now literally no deal that cannot be contemplated in P&C,” Todd Bault, an analyst at Citigroup, wrote in a report yesterday.

July 2. Discarded glass and plastics bottles strewn along the coastline have become a death trap for one of the Island’s most endangered animals. Earlier this summer, wildlife ecologist Mark Outerbridge and British student Helena Turner embarked on a pioneering new project to monitor and protect the Bermuda skink. The pair’s findings that included dozens of skink carcasses trapped in empty bottles paint a worrying picture for the future of the mainland population. “It’s a real problem, especially along the coastline, which is of course where most of our skinks are found,” said Dr Outerbridge. In one of the worst locations in Southampton, we were finding that one bottle in three had a dead skink in it. The number of skink remains that we found in a bottle varied from one to five. There was one bottle which had the remains of five skinks in it. The trouble is that the remnants of the liquid in the bottle attract insects that in turn attract skinks. Then once they get trapped in the bottle and die, other skinks are then attracted by the smell of the dead skink. These bottles are death traps to skinks, or what we call lethal litter. We really need people to think before they discard their bottles and not to just leave bottles of beer and other drinks on the shoreline because the damage it is doing to the mainland skink population is very significant.” Dr Outerbridge and Ms Turner spent two weeks trapping and tagging Bermuda skinks at various locations across the Island. It was the first time that very small Passive Integrated Transponders (also known as PIT tags), which are placed just under the skin, have been used to help to study the Bermuda skink population. The initiative is part of an ongoing partnership between Conservation Services and Chester Zoo in England and is designed to provide the first comprehensive archive of skink data across the Island. Dr Outerbridge added: “The overall survey went very well, overall. Over the two months we captured nearly 400 skinks at various locations across the Island. The majority of those were found on Castle Island and Southampton Island. In fact, I would say that they made up about half of the total number captured. The skink populations on the small islands around Bermuda seem to be very healthy, but we did have much more difficulty finding species on the mainland. That is obviously because they face more threats on the mainland from cats to rats and, of course, the lethal litter.” Ms Turner, who is taking a Master’s at the University of Kent about Bermuda skinks, and Dr Outerbridge took a raft of measurements from each captured skink, as well as a genetic mouth swab that will form part of the new skink database. She has now returned to the UK where she will continue to collate the data that will then be shared with experts in Bermuda.

July 2. Parents have written to Government complaining about inadequate consultation over extensive teacher transfers that they fear could cause disruption in Bermuda’s schools. The Bermuda Parent Teacher Student Association says the shake-up, including principal transfers for at least six schools, should have been phased in over the past three years to make it easier for schools to cope. One school, Clearwater Middle School, will undergo six changes, including the principal and vice principal. The BPTSA also claims Government came “nothing near” to the consultation it is required to conduct before making decisions on personnel transfers. Harry Matthie, the chairman of the BPTSA, wrote to the Ministry of Education on behalf of his members: “The BPTSA would like to voice its concern about wide-ranging personnel transfers, as announced by the Ministry of Education. “Since 2012, transfers have been unduly blocked, and now that the Ministry has decided to make transfers, the effect could be more disruptive than productive. There was a missed opportunity to phase in personnel rather than a ‘shake up’. Indeed, one school will be subject to approximately six changes. That cannot be conducive to creating, or maintaining, an environment that is consistent with advancing the learning of our children. The BPTSA will make a more complete statement after we have investigated the supposed ‘involvement’ the Ministry says they gave to individual PTAs. It should be said, though, that our initial investigations have turned up nothing near to the ‘consultation’ Ministry is duty bound to conduct before deciding on personnel transfers. We continue to look into these matters, and will keep our parents informed.” Last week, principal transfers were announced involving Prospect Primary, Port Royal Primary, Heron Bay Primary, West End Primary, Paget Primary and East End Primary, to take place in September. Principal transfers have not happened since 2012. Parents were given more input in the administration and reform of Bermuda’s public schools earlier this year under the Education Amendment Act 2015. That legislation aimed to improve communication, parental involvement, transparency and accountability in Government-run schools. It was motivated by a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court in 2012 that overturned the Ministry of Education’s attempt to transfer two popular principals against the wishes of parents and students. The Department of Education did not respond to The Royal Gazette’s questions about the BPTSA letter, but referred to a comment made when the transfers took place. It said: “In an effort to strengthen parental involvement in the schools, the PTAs at each respective school were involved in the transfer of school principals; and all anticipate working together with principals as a team during the upcoming school year, to ensure a school environment that supports excellence and academic achievement for our students.”

July 2. Former Premier Alex Scott believes that the motion to censure House of Assembly Speaker Randy Horton is already doing a tactical job “just by sitting there.” Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean told The Royal Gazette this week that he was purposely delaying the motion against his party colleague, which he described as a “thunderstorm” hanging over the House. Mr Horton upset many in his party by accepting the Speaker role, effectively costing the PLP a vote in the House, shortly after the One Bermuda Alliance won the 2012 General Election. Mr Bean has suggested the lingering threat of censure hanging over Mr Horton was causing anxiety for the OBA. Mr Scott, the PLP leader and Premier from 2003 to 2006, yesterday offered some thoughts on the tactics behind Mr Bean’s move. “When the Opposition is, by definition, the minority in Parliament, the more serious they feel an issue is, the more technical they may become,” Mr Scott said. “Because their benches are smaller, they may choose a moment when the Government has insufficient or equal numbers, so that they stand the best chance of bringing the full weight of their motion to fruition. “I am not aware of the details and tactics of the Opposition, so the observation I make speaks to why an issue may lay on the order paper.” Mr Scott said that “as opposed to being neglectful” to let the motion be delayed, it may be a very tactical move. “This is the Westminster system — it is trying to bring your motion to the fore at the best possible time,” he added. “All things considered, the Speaker is probably going ahead with limited or little concern about the motion. But the fact that it sits there and the Opposition seems to be considering a propitious moment to bring it may get the Speaker’s attention, and equally may occupy the attention of Government benches, and thereby the motion becomes partially successful just by sitting there.” Mr Bean’s motion, brought to the House in March, claims Mr Horton breached parliamentary procedure by refusing to hear a point of order and a point of privilege by the Shadow Finance Minister, David Burt. Mr Scott said it was not unusual for a motion to be kept back over Government business. “Without speaking to the merit or demerit of the issue itself, I will observe that, on occasion, matters can lay on the order paper for the duration of the session. It is not a unique thing necessarily,” he said. Some have said the clash between veteran MP Mr Horton and Mr Bean was reflective of a split in the party on age lines. Mr Scott said: “There is always a generational dimension to political parties. The old order passes away but the new members generally are very respectful. It is the nature of change and evolution that the current and new members try on things for size, learn how to manage Parliament and Parliamentary rules and seek, from time to time, advice from those who have been there previously. It is like a child leaving home — he or she does not always return to seek parental approval or advice. There comes a moment in time when they feel we can stand down.”

July 2. A contractor involved in the construction of the new hospital wing has raised concerns about the standard of fire stopping carried out on the project. Rammy Smith claims under qualified workers were used on certain parts of the new building to meet the deadline for its opening. Mr Smith’s firm, Bermuda Coatings Company (BCC), was hired by BCM McAlpine to supply and install the fire stopping for the new Acute Care Unit at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. He has written to the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) and BCM McAlpine outlining his concerns about the standard of work done, but both have refuted his claims. The hospital says it has been reassured by Paget Health Services that all the work undertaken on the building has been to appropriate standards, while BCM McAlpine said it was confident that all work on the new wing had been completed properly. Mr Smith told The Royal Gazette: “We will not and cannot sign off or certify this project unless and until those areas in question are all identified and rectified and brought up to code as detailed in Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) designs. “I would like the record to show that neither BCC or our suppliers, Specified Technologies Incorporated, will be or can be held responsible in the event of a fire. UL designs are independently tested and strictly monitored and this is for a reason. The general contractor must be held accountable, especially in light of being a public-private partnership and a public building, designed and built to save lives. I do not make these accusations without base or lightly. This is a matter of public safety and the public should be concerned.” Mr Smith is urging the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service to conduct a further inspection of the property. “I am in no way calling into question the professionalism and intent of the Bermuda Fire Service, who have done and always have done a good job. We have a great relationship, which is still intact. I find it odd that no one from my team was asked to be present during final inspection.” Mr Smith provided photos to this newspaper which he claims show substandard work that was not completed by his firm. He says that his firm’s BCC tag is present on materials because his company was responsible for sourcing the materials, but not the work that has been completed. But Michael Ewles, chief executive officer and vice president of BCM McAlpine told The Royal Gazette that all fire stopping work had been completed to the required standards. “There have been several claims made by Mr Smith which we believe to be unfounded and these are the subject of ongoing legal proceedings. BCM McAlpine is confident that the works carried out at the KEMH redevelopment were completed to the required standards and all work has been inspected and passed for occupancy by the relevant Bermuda statutory bodies. While there is little we can add due to the ongoing legal process, we do note that the fire stopping at the KEMH redevelopment is one of the first projects in Bermuda to individually tag every penetration within the facility. This new process was instituted by BCM McAlpine to assist with the quality and compliance of the fire stopping. Every penetration on both fire-rated walls and non-fire-rated walls were tagged in the same manner, as we utilized the same materials and details for acoustic penetrations in the non-fire-rated walls. It is important to remember that not all walls within the new Acute Care Wing are fire-rated walls and are not subject to UL design requirements. Of the photos referenced by Mr Smith, two clearly show tags that demonstrate that the work was carried out by Bermuda Coatings — Mr Smith’s company. Any penetrations completed by our own forces were tagged as ‘BCM’. Further, neither of the two photos whose tags can be identified are in walls which require a fire rating under the National Fire Protection Association of Bermuda Building Codes. There is no tag visible on the third photo, so we are unable to determine its location.” A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokesperson said: “Paget Health Services (PHS) is responsible for ensuring there is appropriate fire-stopping in the new Acute Care Wing that meets Bermuda codes. BHB received the letter from Bermuda Coatings Company Limited recently and forwarded it to the General Manager of PHS. We have been reassured that all work undertaken has been to appropriate standards, and has been checked and certified as required by Bermuda law.”

July 2. A spike in demand for reinsurance in Florida is helping parts of the property-catastrophe reinsurance market to stabilize, according to broker Willis Re. The view, expressed by Willis Re Global chief executive officer John Cavanagh, comes as reinsurers are wrapping up one of the key periods on their calendar, the June 1 and July 1 renewals, which include much North American hurricane coverage. Prices for catastrophe reinsurance have been pressured in recent years by increasing competition for traditional reinsurers from third-party capital in the form of collateralised reinsurance and insurance-linked securities like catastrophe bonds, combined with a period of relatively light catastrophe claims. But Willis is seeing signs that even the third-party capital is pulling back from some business in the soft market. “Despite pricing remaining under intense competition in non-peak areas where traditional reinsurers still dominate, after a relentless period of rate reductions, early signs of pricing stabilization are starting to emerge in peak property catastrophe zones. The swell in capacity from collateralised reinsurance markets, which has recently played a major role in driving pricing in the peak zones, appears to have abated. A number of these markets have shown pricing discipline by cutting the capacity they are prepared to offer as the market has continued to soften.” Mr Cavanagh added that “the notable increase in demand for Floridian catastrophe capacity” had also been a factor in the stabilization in the peak property-catastrophe zone market. With the North Atlantic hurricane season now under way, the June 1 and July 1 2015 renewal season offers reinsurers some hope that even if the predicted low level of hurricane activity is realized, the outlook for 2016 might not be quite as bleak as may have been inferred from the recent January and April 2015 renewals. Reinsurers’ market values had held up better than the outlook for the business might imply. The reason for this was the merger and acquisition “frenzy” continued to heat up. Some of the combinations were creating uncertainty among the insurers who buy reinsurance to transfer some of their risk. Some of this activity is throwing up unexpected combinations, making it difficult for reinsurance buyers to judge the value to them over the medium-to-longer-term of some of the potential merged entities. It is important for those driving M&A deals to articulate a clear message about the value they can deliver to their clients, as opposed to the current focus on the value to each company’s own shareholders and management.”

July 2. Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club have expressed their sympathy for the victim of this morning’s shooting. The club put out a statement this evening condemning the actions of “heartless individuals who seem intent on destroying what few pillars of our community we have left.” A group is gathering at Bailey’s Bay tonight to hold a vigil for the 40-year-old Hamilton Parish man who was gunned down inside the clubhouse a little after 12am. “First and foremost the management, executive and members of Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club’s thoughts and prayers are with the victim of this senseless act,” the club’s statement read. While we continue to try and provide a safe and healthy environment for our members, and the community as a whole, we are still not immune to the actions of the very few heartless individuals who seem intent on destroying what few pillars of our community we have left. We at Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club take a hard stance against any anti-social behavior on our property and continue to try and improve our infrastructure to aid in these efforts. Once again the strength of our togetherness is being tested. We as a country have to face hard truths about guns, violence and anger in our communities and we challenge the rest of our community to stand with us as we seek answers and take action. If anyone has any information we encourage you to come forward and work with the police to apprehend the suspects. We will not let this event define us.” Bay’s appeal comes as the victim remains in a critical condition at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s intensive care unit. Police have appealed for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area of Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club to contact the main Police number at 295-0011. Alternatively, call the independent and confidential Crime Stoppers hotline 800-8477.

July 2. Judge Carlisle Greaves has thanked lawyers on both sides of the Bar for their support throughout his last decade in the Supreme Court as he prepares to stand down. He will sit as a judge in criminal trials and hearings until October, when he will step down as a Puisne Judge. Yesterday, Mr Greaves took the opportunity of his last arraignments session as the judge in charge of the criminal division of the Supreme Court to thank members of the Bar for their assistance. “I wish to thank you all for the support I have received. We have come a long way,” he said. “When I first started we were very much in a state of backlog. But within nine months of my appointment we were able to turn that around. For the next 10 years there has not been a backlog at the Supreme Court. We set out certain policies that have been complied with, whereby trials are heard within three months of the arraignment, and only exceed that period in exceptional circumstances.” Mr Greaves said that being part of the effort to successfully reduce the backlog in criminal trials in Bermuda’s Supreme Court was something he was very proud of. "I hope that in the future people abide by this system. It is not perfect, but it works well for Bermuda. I want to thank everyone for their assistance. It could not have been done without everyone in the court. As a result we have been able to achieve what we have achieved.” Defence lawyer Saul Froomkin QC praised Mr Greaves for his work in Bermuda, while prosecutor Nicole Smith added her thanks to the outgoing judge. “Speaking on behalf of the Defence Bar I want to thank you for your ten years of service,” said Mr Froomkin. “We wish you the best in your next endeavors.” Ms Smith added: “The Crown would like to thank you for your service and wish you luck and much blessings going forward.” Justice Charles-Etta Simmons will take over Mr Greaves’s position as supervising judge of the Supreme Court’s trial jurisdiction from today. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley said yesterday: “I have every confidence that she [Justice Charles-Etta Simmons] will maintain the high standards of efficiency in managing the Criminal List which her colleague Justice Carlisle Greaves has set since his designation as Supervising Judge on April 4, 2013. Justice Greaves will, of course, continue to sit as a Puisne Judge.”

July 1.  Plans for Shelly Bay Beach are to be revealed this evening as prospective developer Tom Steinhoff lays out his proposals for the site. The 7.30pm meeting at the beach was brokered by Hamilton Parish Members of Parliament Derrick Burgess and Wayne Furbert, of the Progressive Labour Party. Mr Furbert said that while Mr Steinhoff, who owns Snorkel Park Beach, had last month declared a $1 million plan for an establishment at the beach, area residents still did not know what was in store. He added that the PLP government had approved a plan in 2012 for the site to get taken over, but nothing had come of this. Mr Furbert said he was in favour of the development, but added: “I am a bit concerned about whether he can get a return on his investment.” Bringing a liquor-licensed business to an area popular with families could prove risky, he said: “It’s not Horseshoe Bay — it’s a big gamble.” The two MPs encouraged constituents to come out tonight to get informed and voice their opinions.

July 1.  Bermuda-based Meritus Trust Company Ltd has been short listed for the “Independent Trust Company of the Year” category of the 2015/2016 Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Private Client Awards. STEP is the leading worldwide professional body for practitioners in the fields of trusts, estates and related services. The STEP Private Client Awards highlights excellence and innovation among private client solicitors/attorneys, accountants, barristers, bankers, trust managers, financial advisers and insurance professionals worldwide. Michelle Wolfe, managing director at Meritus, said: “The nomination underscores our vision, which is based upon a philosophy of independence and reinforces our position as a leading provider of trust and private client services. “Having received the STEP Caribbean Trust Company of the Year award in 2013, being short listed for the 2015 global STEP Independent Trust Company of the Year award is a reflection of the growth and development of our company.” The firm’s general counsel Randall Krebs said: “This acknowledgment is recognition of the collective aspirations of our dedicated and motivated fiduciary team to create a premiere boutique trust company in Bermuda.” Winners of the 2015 /2016 award will be announced at a ceremony on September 8, 2015 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, in London.

July 1. Insurance firm Ace has agreed to buy out a major US-based insurer in a $28.3 billion deal. The move means Ace, which has Bermuda-incorporated companies and an office in Bermuda, will have a 70 per cent stake in New Jersey-based Chubb (also with Bermuda-incorporated subsidiaries) after the deal closes. The new firm will use the Chubb name — ending the Ace brand. The acquisition will position Ace to compete with rivals like AIG and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway by boosting Ace’s presence in the high net worth market covering mansions and yachts. And it will add operations selling workers’ compensation and commercial vehicle insurance to Ace’s array of products. The combined firm is also expected to save around $650 million within its first three years where Ace and Chubb overlap. Ace chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg, who will take the same role in the combined operation, said: “This transaction advances our strategy in a meaningful way and represents an outstanding opportunity to create significant value over a reasonable period of time for both Ace and Chubb shareholders ”We are combining two great underwriting companies that are highly complementary. We will make each other better and create a unique company in a class of its own that has greater growth and earning power than the sum of the two companies separately.” He added: “We will be well-balanced with greater presence and capabilities in product areas that have less exposure to the commercial property and casualty cycle. We have complementary product strengths — where one of us is not present, the other is. Where one of us is strong, the other is even stronger. Where there is overlap in product, generally one of us is more present at the large end of the corporate market while the other is serving the smaller or mid-market segment.” Mr Greenberg said that the ability to share data and insight into the various market segments would also enhance the joint business. "Finally, we will benefit from each others complementary cultures, including a shared passion for underwriting discipline and outstanding claims service. Operating under the Chubb name, with sustained long-term underwriting profit and a larger invested asset base that will benefit from rising interest rates, we will take advantage of the growth opportunities and significant efficiencies to be gained between us. Together, we will grow more substantially and at a faster rate, producing greater earnings than we could achieve as two separate companies.” Chubb chairman, president and CEO John Finnegan, who was slated to retire next year, will become executive vice-chairman for external affairs in North America and take a major role in work to merge the two operations. He said: “This is a compelling transaction for all Chubb and Ace stakeholders. We are confident that it will deliver strong value to Chubb shareholders, including an immediate premium and participation in the future growth and profitability of a well-positioned combined company. We’re pleased that the combined company will adopt the Chubb brand and view this as an affirmation that both companies share a commitment to the attributes of quality and service the brand represents. We look forward to working together as we create a best-in-class global franchise in property and casualty insurance.” The purchase price is equivalent to more than $124 a share for Chubb investors — a 30 per cent premium on the share price just before the deal was announced. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. The combined firm will be based in Zurich, Switzerland, where Ace is headquartered. And Mr Greenberg — who has made several acquisitions since he took over the reins at Ace in 2004 — predicted the rash of mergers and takeovers in the market would continue amid increased competition.

July 1. Work to replace a sewage plant responsible for a “terrible smell” at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute is due to begin this month. Neighbors of the Devonshire facility have complained about the odor for several years and raised concerns it was likely to get worse in the summer heat. A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman said: “We have listened to MWI neighbors who had been in touch recently about the odor and we have already increased the chemical treatments to address the smell. “We will continue to try and address the odor of the old plant during the build out of the new plant, as it will continue to operate until the new equipment is brought online in the fall.” Brendan Lambert, who lives about 100 meters from the existing sewage treatment plant on Devon Spring Road, said the stench had been a problem since he moved there five years ago. “It seems like it’s getting stronger — we get the full effect of it around evening time. It smells like something that comes from the toilet, like raw sewage. The strong odor forces the family to keep their windows closed and the air conditioning running just to keep the air fresh. I would like to see the problem sorted out not just for my family, but we have a lot of kids who play here and it’s a very unhealthy smell.”.] Floyd Blankendal, who has lived on Devon Spring Road since 2010, said: “It’s a terrible smell throughout the day.” Mr Blankendal added that while the plant smells in winter, it was especially bad in the summer, when he keeps his windows and doors open to let in a breeze. He said that the odor seemed to be getting worse over the past couple of years. A female resident, who lives nearby but asked not to be named, said that there was often a “terrible scent coming from that vicinity.” Barbara Brown, the manager of The Barn thrift shop, which is opposite the sewage plant, said the smell came and went, adding: “It’s not pleasant for the shoppers but people are understanding.” BHB announced that the contract for the new sewage plant had been awarded to Bermudian company BESCO in November last year. A statement at the time said that the new unit, “a submerged, high-performance, aerated filter sewage treatment plant, has a filtered vent to eliminate any minor odor emissions. The new plant will utilize a proven technology in Bermuda and will produce a clean effluent, which poses no threat to the environment.” The BHB spokeswoman said all relevant permits for the new sewage plant had been received and construction work was expected to start this month. “We appreciate our neighbors’ ongoing patience as we complete the project,” she added.

July 1. Just three months into Government’s fiscal year, the costs of servicing the enormous public debt have totted up to more than $840 per Bermudian man, woman and child. The figure is calculated by dividing Government’s total debt servicing costs equally over 12 months of the fiscal year and dividing again by the number of Bermudians identified in the last Census. It shows the impact at a personal level of a small country carrying a public debt of more than $2 billion and the urgency which our leaders must show to keep this burden from spiraling out of control. 

July 1. Improvements will be made to the embattled Watford/Cavello ferry route, the director of the Department of Marine and Ports Services, Richard Russell, has pledged. Passengers on the green route service complained to The Royal Gazette last week about unreliable bathroom and air conditioning facilities, cramped conditions and consistently late arrivals. Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Mr Russell outlined plans for three new generators that would deal with the air conditioning problems, a new staff timekeeping policy to be presented to the Bermuda Industrial Union, and the replacement of the Tempest vessel with the larger Serenity. Regarding the lateness of the vessels on the route, Mr Russell pointed to staff shortages due to Department budget constraints — the full ferry service staff force of 72 has been reduced by 16. Issues of staff lateness and sickness also played a part, he said. Administrative actions are being taken with existing staff members turning up late, while a stricter policy is being put into place in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). “Nobody has been let go of since I have been here due to lateness,” he said. “Staff may turn up late or even worse they don’t turn up at all. “They go sick and because of the CBA they can go two days without producing a doctor’s certificate. We do have a standby crew in the mornings but because of staff shortages we don’t even always have that standby. There is a hiring freeze. A week or two weeks ago, we put out a timekeeping policy for our staff members. We are now more specific — looking at five minutes, ten minutes, half an hour lateness … it is that specific and the necessary actions will take place.” Mr Russell said that the new policy could still be violated, adding: “It is quite an extensive process to lose your job — there are verbal and written warnings and there are several stages of punishment from stage one to four, after which you can lose your job. It takes quite some time to get you to a stage four — if you are shrewd you can avoid it, reports of lateness only stay on your record for a certain amount of time.” Mr Russell said the air conditioning difficulties were being caused by the generator tripping. “A plan is afoot. We have ordered three new generators of a higher output capacity.” Discussing overcrowding, one senior Marine and Ports source said: “We only have one 350-passenger vessel and especially on the peak cruise ship periods, the greater demand is towards Dockyard for the tourists, so we try to meet the greatest demands. The 5.20pm service never approaches 200 so the vessel we provide is adequate although not as comfortable as the commuters are used to — we would put the Cecil Smith on that run but during the season we have to meet our demand.” Mr Russell and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell have agreed to meet disgruntled commuter Sallie De Silva to discuss concerns.

July 1. A portion of the Southlands property in Warwick will this Autumn become a new community garden, it was announced this afternoon. The project was described as another step toward the South Shore property becoming a national park. Kuni Frith-Black of the Friends of Southlands said that the announcement comes two years after a pledge to reopen the quarry gardens, located on the west side of the property. “It has taken some time to get to this point, but we were determined to see this project through,” she said. “It will be a community garden, an educational garden that will open this fall where the public will have the opportunity to have plots where they can grow vegetables. The gardens will also work as an education centre for our youth. We are very much encouraging youth participation. We will be putting in herb gardens and many trees that fruit such as loquat and mulberry. We are looking to make this a total educational experience for locals and tourists alike.” Stuart Hayward, chairman of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, said the announcement was a victory for those who had been involved in the prolonged campaign to protect the property from development. “It’s been eight years and counting, so we are pleased to reach this juncture — the launch of the Friends of Southlands Community Gardens venture,” he said. “Bermuda has less than 400 acres of farmland, so any project that activates farming and helps develop food producers is to be welcomed.” Premier Michael Dunkley said: “This was a promise this government made and this is a promise this government kept. At times thinks might seem to move a little bit slower than we would like, but if you stick to it things get done. I’m excited to see the plans, I’m certainly excited to see the completed project and I think there will be more initiatives like this. If we stick to it we will get more on the ground, we will get more open and we will get more Bermudians paying attention to the environment.” Minister of Public Works Craig Cannonier said it was a great pleasure to break ground on the project, saying: “In our 2013 Throne Speech, this Government committed to the creation of a Southlands National Park. Recognizing the importance of preserving this area, we began with a process of public consultation that will culminate in the creation of the national park. This community garden will be the beginning of the transformation of what was once a property plagued by illegal dumping, scrambling, vandalism and ruin to a property that will gradually be returned to its former glory. This garden will increase our sense of community ownership. It will foster the development of community spirit and it will bring people together. This is also a great educational tool and an opportunity to connect to our environment. Southlands is a natural location of a project of this sort.”

July 1. A “thunderstorm” hangs over the House of Assembly as Opposition leader Marc Bean continues to delay a motion of censure against Speaker of the House Randy Horton. Mr Bean told this newspaper he had every intention of carrying through with the motion against his Progressive Labour Party colleague — but says it has been on hold due to a combination of political tactics and advice from within his party. On May 15, the day he was temporarily suspended from the House himself, Mr Bean warned: “Next week will be the last week that Randy Horton will be a Member of Parliament in this House.” Asked for an update on his motion yesterday, Mr Bean told The Royal Gazette: “The motion will be carried out at the will and pleasure of myself and the mover of the motion, [Shadow Attorney-General] Michael Scott. We will decide when to bring it, when we feel it is the appropriate time. As the leader of my party, I was emotional at the time because I was illegally censured. If anyone violated your rights, wouldn’t you be a little angry? I am human and showed a little emotion and I had plans to bring the motion that week but, on further reflection and advice, we decided we could hold it a little longer because there is still information that is out there and forthcoming, and so we will be patient. You can sum it up as political tactics — the same way they [the OBA] used tactics to censure me on a bogus charge — these are tactics, too. I won't explain the purpose of our tactics but my thinking hasn’t changed. It could come this Friday, it could come next week or it could come in three weeks.” Mr Horton, an MP since 1998, upset many within his party by accepting the Speaker role shortly after the One Bermuda Alliance won the 2012 general election: a move which effectively costs the PLP a vote in the House. Suggesting Premier Michael Dunkley is anxious about the potential ramifications if Mr Horton can no longer continue as Speaker, Mr Bean said: “Why is the Premier so concerned about the motion? He keeps raising it in the House. That is the gist of the matter. Do you think it is the OBA’s interest for him to be kept in? That should be the focus. There should be a cloud hanging over the House — there is a thunderstorm hanging over it.” Last month’s motion of censure against Mr Bean was brought by OBA MP Mark Pettingill after the PLP leader was accused of “verbally threatening” Government MPs when telling them: “I’m going to take you out”. During a heated session, Mr Bean defended his words putting them in a political context. Mr Bean’s motion against Mr Horton, brought to the House in March, claims that the Speaker breached parliamentary procedure by “bringing democracy of these Islands of Bermuda and its Parliament into disrepute by suppressing debate”. This, Mr Bean argues, was due to the Speaker refusing to hear a point of order and a point of privilege by the Shadow Finance Minister, David Burt. Asked yesterday whether there was a split within his party over the censure motion against Mr Horton, Mr Bean replied: “I can’t speak for individuals — no one has expressed any disagreement.” Asked whether everyone in his party agreed with it, Mr Bean said: “Not everyone in the PLP but any objective, non-biased individual — anyone who has any semblance of knowledge of Parliamentary procedure.”

July 1. RG Opinion. Tim Hodgson. It was as remarkable and powerful a piece of presidential oratory as many of us have witnessed in our lifetimes, a transcendent moment in a profoundly transformational period in modern history. Barack Obama, coming off a watershed week in his presidency, used his funeral oration for slain South Carolina legislator and clergyman Clementa Pinckney to comfort both the grieving family as well as a horrified nation. But he also used his address to lead, to inspire, to motivate — and, hopefully, to persuade. The president’s eulogy spoke to the urgent need for deeds, not more words, to combat vestigial racism in an America born in the original sin of slavery and heir to the hateful legacies of Jim Crow, segregation and systematic political and economic disenfranchisement. Coming as it did in the immediate wake of the momentous US Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, it’s clear the president’s remarks extended well beyond the need to simply revisit fixed positions and obsolete attitudes on race. President Obama’s central argument was not just persuasive but indisputable. It was as compelling a case as has ever been made for forging new ways of thinking and behaving, finding new ways of acting and interacting which can affect genuine change in a changing world. “It would be a refutation of the forgiveness expressed by families [of the Emanuel AME church shooting] if we merely slipped into old habits, whereby those who disagree with us are not merely wrong but bad; where we shout instead of listen; where we barricade ourselves behind preconceived notions or well-practised cynicism,” said the president. “Reverend Pinckney once said, ‘Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history — we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history. What is true in the South is true for America." Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other. That my liberty depends on you being free, too. That history can’t be a sword to justify injustice, or a shield against progress, but must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past — how to break the cycle. A roadway toward a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind — but, more importantly, an open heart. That’s what I’ve felt this week — an open heart. That, more than any particular policy or analysis, is what’s called upon right now, I think — what a friend of mine, the writer Marilyn Robinson, calls ‘that reservoir of goodness, beyond, and of another kind, that we are able to [draw upon] in the ordinary cause of things.” The power of persuasion is at once one of the most formidable but intangible at a president’s disposal. It is nowhere enumerated in the US Constitution. But this informal ability to mobilize public support and mould and reshape public opinion is one of the most potent tools in the presidential arsenal. As Harry Truman — a robustly persuasive individual who used this power to tremendous advantage — once argued: “All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking to get [people] to do what they are supposed to do anyway.” So the ability to exert moral suasion, to convince individuals, the country and sometimes the entire world of the righteousness of a cause or the necessity of a particular course of action, is always a hallmark of successful administrations (and always conspicuous by its absence from the failed ones). Soaring eloquence and flawless charisma of the type possessed by President Obama are helpful when it comes to rallying support. But they are not always necessary. Truman, for instance, was nothing if not a plain-spoken man, his language entirely bare of rhetorical flourishes and conspicuous ornamentation. But he communicated with the same passion, integrity and cast-iron sense of conviction as the current president — and conviction is an indispensable prerequisite when it comes to persuading people to do what needs to be done. The ability to deploy the power of persuasion, the ability to use high office to exert moral suasion, is not unique to the American presidency. It’s a tool available to the leadership of all countries, a means of exerting leverage to further high-principled goals, a means of setting the tone of national thought and debate — and setting the bar for social responsibility to new highs. For what’s true of the US South and America in general is also true, in a minor-key way, of Bermuda. Too often we are still shouting when we should be listening; too often we are still barricading ourselves behind the iron doors of fixed opinion and antiquated prejudice rather than engaging the new forces shaping our fluid and dynamic world. Societies and social mores are never static. Both are constantly evolving. Perfection might be elusive but it is nevertheless something to always be pursued. And the animating principle of most western cultures in the post-Second World War era has been a constant striving towards improvement. The focus, even in tiny Bermuda, has been on empowering the powerless, on ensuring the full participation in society of those who have been traditionally marginalized or oppressed or ignored. While full equality can never, of course, be legislated, ensuring full equality of opportunity and full equality before the law can and must be a primary objective of all enlightened communities. But in Bermuda as in the United States and other countries, the forward march of progress has often encountered inertia, inflexibility and, sometimes, outright hostility and sabotage. In the past we have been lucky to have had leaders who have persuaded, encouraged and sometimes shamed Bermuda into accepting the need for accelerated social change in an ever-changing environment. From Sir Henry Tucker to Dame Lois Browne-Evans to Sir John Swan, from Dr EF Gordon to Dr Pauulu Kamarakafego (Roosevelt Brown) to Dr John Stubbs, we have not lacked for either inspiration or direction at the watershed moments in our development. But that is far from the case right now. When it comes to not just shouldering the full burden of our racially divided past but overcoming its legacy, when it comes to extending full civil and legal rights to people whose lifestyles we may not approve of, when it comes to accepting the legitimate aspirations — and contributions — of those we are often too quick to label as interlopers, Bermuda is lagging behind. We have too few leaders who are prepared to take the lead on these matters. Rather, we have too many opportunists who cheerfully engage in provocation and polemics deliberately designed to further divide us rather than to bring us together. We have too many political adventurers who seem entirely more intent on exacerbating social tensions for short-term gain at the polls rather than in binding up our wounds for the long-term good of Bermuda and all Bermuda residents. And, finally, we have far too many complacent fence-sitters who, in the celebrated words of one of President Obama’s predecessors, “hold fast to the clichés of our forebears”, who “enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” There have been some small signs of hope this indolence may be giving way to a growing recognition of the need for not just persuasive leadership but meaningful action on all of these fronts. Last week’s sensible, sensitive and largely consensus-driven Senate discussion on the routinely divisive issue of race relations is one such example. It would be heartening to think other, similar initiatives may soon follow. For Bermuda must ultimately accept that justice does indeed grow out of recognition of ourselves in one another, that freedom is not divisible, that lazy but deeply ingrained habits of thinking and behaving cannot be allowed to permanently obstruct progress. Until we do accept — and act upon — these realities, we ourselves will not embark on what the American president has rightly called “the roadway to a better world.”

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