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Bermuda's 2018 December History and Newspaper Reports

Events that made headlines in the twelfth month of this calendar year

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

telecommunicating with Bermuda Online

Benefit of website linkage to Bermuda Online while traveling

See at end of this file all our many History files

Bermuda's only newspaper, the Royal Gazette, is not published on Sundays or Public Holidays but sometimes has some Sunday and/or Public Holiday news online.

December 31, Monday, New Year's Eve

paragraphThe public must hold elected officials to account to address inequality, according to outgoing human rights commission chairwoman Tawana Tannock. Ms Tannock said many people have blamed political parties for divisive rights issues that have dominated headlines during recent years. However she argued voters have a responsibility to ensure those in power tackle matters such as discrimination. Ms Tannock steps down from the HRC today after serving as chairwoman since 2016. During that time, same-sex marriage was made legal, banned again and then made legal once more, although the Government is hoping to ban it through London’s Privy Council in the new year. The Government also passed legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of mental illness. Ms Tannock said: “We have witnessed a growing awareness and appreciation for the rights issues facing Bermuda, evidenced by an unprecedented level of public and stakeholder involvement, inquiries and complaints to the Human Rights Commission and the growing body of human rights related legislative developments and legal precedents. Preferring passion to apathy, while we do not support positions that seek to deny the rights of others, we do appreciate opportunities for dialogue and public participation that serve to advance the discussion on the protection and balance of rights. Over the past six years of my appointment I have often heard blame on divisive rights issues being laid at the feet of the OBA or the PLP and their elected officials. However we should not absolve the voting public of their responsibility for policies proposed and sometimes implemented. If there is an ongoing system of inequality in our Bermuda in an area protected under the Human Rights Act 1981, we have an obligation to ensure that our elected officials are working to address it in a manner consistent with the advancement of human rights. Conversely, we should all share pride in the progress that Bermuda has made over the past six years, which far outpaces many Caribbean nations and other larger jurisdictions around the globe. There have been changes which many thought they would never see in their lifetime (and I dare say, perhaps hoped not to see).” Ms Tannock said 2018 was ending with “an increased awareness of the definition and acknowledgement of discrimination”. She continued: “We can be sure that the task that lies ahead regarding the protection and balancing of rights, while daunting is not insurmountable if we strive to ensure that our neighbour is afforded the same rights and protections due to us.” She thanked activists, human rights defenders and officers of the HRC, and noted the work of deputy chairman John Hindess and commissioners Carla George, Ben Adamson, Carolyn Thomas, Jahan Cedenio, Dany Pen, Quinton Butterfield, Jonathan Young, Jens Juul, Donna Daniels and Kim Simmons. A new team of human rights commissioners is expected to be appointed by the end of January.

paragraphOne of Bermuda’s most popular cricketers was shocked when he was told he was to appear in the New Year’s Honours List. Janeiro Tucker, known as “Mr Cup Match” for his success at the annual match, was awarded the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour — one of six Bermudians recognized in the honours list. Mr Tucker said yesterday: “I was surprised when they called me. Totally surprised. I thought it was for ministers of Parliament and people like Shaun Goater. Professionals. I’m honored.” He added he heard about the award by a phone call on Friday, just hours before the list was announced. Mr Tucker said: “I was wondering if they had the right person. They didn’t really explain it. They just said I was honored on the Queen’s new year’s list. My family are all excited about it as well. To get this kind of recognition is really amazing.” He added: “I got into cricket because of my father and because it was a sport I liked, not to get awards and stuff like that. I don’t play for awards, but it is an honour.” Mike Winfield, the chief executive of the America’s Cup Bermuda Development Authority and a part of the bid team that brought Bermuda the 2017 event, was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire Mr Winfield was surprised to receive the award, especially as more than a year had passed since the island’s successful hosting of the America’s Cup. The veteran hotelier said: “I had a number of different thoughts and feelings at the same time when I heard the news. I was extremely honored by the recognition and at the same time very grateful for the faith that had been put in me. I was given an opportunity to serve the country I love so much and I feel so much gratitude for all the people who have helped me along the way.” Mr Winfield said he was honored to receive the award, but that he was only one part of the team that made the America’s Cup a success. He added: “I think part of this comes from my work with the America’s Cup and the success of the America’s Cup was never due to the work of just one person. It was through a whole team. I’m really accepting this as part of the ACBDA team, not just for myself.” Other Bermudian honorees this year included former One Bermuda Alliance politician Grant Gibbons, former police officer Mark Norman, veteran journalist Meredith Ebbin, and cricket commentator Sean Tucker. Dr Gibbons, who led Bermuda’s America’s Cup bid, was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Mark Norman, who helped bring the road safety programme Project Ride to the island, was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Meredith Ebbin, who writes on politics, education and social matters, was awarded a Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour. Sean Tucker, a radio cricket commentator who will mark 35 years in broadcasting in 2019, was also awarded a Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour.

paragraphHannover Re’s Bermudian-domiciled Kaith Re vehicle has issued a $10 million private catastrophe bond transaction to cover California earthquake risk. The Artemis.bm alternative risk transfer news website reported that the so-called “cat bond lite” transaction was for an unknown cedant. Hannover Re has been busy using its Kaith Re transformer vehicle to facilitate the securitisation of reinsurance and retrocessional risks for investors and cedants. Artemis said that the latest private catastrophe bond, LI Re (Series 2018-1), meant that Hannover Re had now assisted in the issuance of $97 million of securitised risk to investors just in the last week. This is the first LI Re transaction since a year ago and it covers the same risks of California earthquake. Artemis reported that the underlying transaction would be a one-year collateralized reinsurance or industry loss warranty deal, as are most common with private cat bonds. The $10m of LI Re Series 2018-1 private cat bond notes issued through Kaith Re have been listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange.

paragraphA 31-year-old man was arrested yesterday in connection with a gun murder outside a Christmas party at a sports club at the weekend. The news came after Ronniko Burchall, 30, was shot several times and seriously injured as he stood outside St David’s County Cricket Club in the early hours of Saturday. Mr Burchall was rushed to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, but died at 4pm yesterday. The 31-year-old was arrested in St David’s about 20 minutes after Mr Burchall’s death. Acting Inspector Jason Smith said a gunman opened fire at about 1.40am as the club was busy with more than 100 guests. He said: “The suspect left on foot, and it is believed that he ran towards the general area of Cashew City in St David’s.” Mr Smith added that several people who were at the party had been interviewed, but officers wanted to speak to anyone else who might have information. He said: “We would like to speak to any persons who were at the club during the incident. We are equally interested in communicating with any individuals who may have seen or heard anyone acting suspiciously in the Cashew City Road area. Mr Smith added that police were keen to trace a car that drove along Cashew City Road just after the shooting. He said that officers had recovered CCTV footage from the club and asked for anyone else who may have recorded the incident to come forward. Mr Smith confirmed that the shooting was gang-related. The club expressed “sincere regrets” in a statement from the executive management, which was posted on its Facebook page Sunday morning. It said: “Our hearts and minds are currently on those who have been impacted negatively by this event. The executive want to encourage everyone no matter what part of our great island you may reside to join us in directing prayers and positive thoughts to the recovery of the injured young man and to the comfort of his family. The safety of customers was paramount.  We take violent events such as these very seriously and we made sure that every possible measure was in place. Club management as well as security personnel hired for the event acted quickly after the shooting to notify emergency services, make sure the victim received first aid, and kept other party attendees safe. Our event stopped immediately and the venue was closed. The club will not tolerate antisocial behavior. We will continue to strive for the safety of all patrons that come to our facility — that come to our home.” The statement said that the club was helping police with their investigation Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said that he was “deeply concerned” and promised that anyone involved in the shooting would be held responsible for their “heinous act”. Mr Caines added: “The Bermuda Police Service are in the early stages of this investigation and they have my full support.” He said that Pastor Leroy Bean, Bermuda’s gang violence reduction co-ordinator, and the Co-ordinated Crisis Response Team had visited the scene and the hospital, where they “offered support services to the victim’s family and others affected by this traumatic experience”. Mr Caines added: “These occurrences are becoming more frequent and we must all work together to ensure such behavior is not normalized.” Mr Caines said that an increased police presence would be out this weekend and on New Year’s Eve and encouraged those with information about the shooting to come forward. Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister of National Security, said that acts of violence “by a segment of our population has become the norm”. The One Bermuda Alliance MP added: “We can put together plans to tackle the issues, have task forces and programmes as much as we want but until Bermuda is fed up with the behavior and our citizens start to speak up about these individuals, this madness will continue.” He questioned when “the code of silence” would end “so that neighborhoods aren’t held hostage by a few bad apples”. Mr Smith said: “We have many issues in Bermuda that divide us but we cannot continue to make excuses for the small segment that is willing to resort to senseless violence.” Anyone with information that could help the inquiry should contact the Serious Crime Unit on 295-0011 or the confidential Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.

paragraphA man shot dead at a sports club had faced trial for murder and attempted murder. Ronniko Burchall was shot at point-blank range outside a Christmas party at St David’s County Cricket Club in the early hours of Saturday and died of his injuries yesterday afternoon in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Mr Burchall, the goalkeeper for Boulevard Community Club, was one of three men charged with attempted murder in the Supreme Court in 2013. The men, who denied the charge, were accused of shooting another man in his buttocks outside a house on Mission Lane in Pembroke in February of the previous year. Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman ordered the jury to find them not guilty of attempted murder, and the men were tried on a lesser charge of causing grievous bodily harm and using a firearm. A jury cleared all three, along with another man charged with handling a firearm. Mr Burchall faced a murder charge in 2011 alongside his half-brother, Leroy Symons. It was alleged that they were responsible for the shooting murder of Shane Minors, who was 30, outside his home in South Terrace, Pembroke, in the early hours of December 17, 2009. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charge but blamed each other for the killing during the trial. The murder was said in court to have been carried out by Pembroke’s Parkside gang as part of a feud with the 42 gang, also from Pembroke. Prosecutors suggested the victim’s younger brother, Shaki Minors, alleged in court to be a 42 member, was the intended target, as Mr Minors had no gang links. The court heard that Shaki Minors and his girlfriend were the victims of a murder attempt in St David’s the month before his brother was killed. He and his teacher girlfriend, Renee Kuchler, were shot outside the Southside Cinema, which is now closed, but survived the attack. Mr Burchall was claimed in court to be associated with the Parkside and Middletown gangs. He was alleged to have been the gunman and it was further alleged that Mr Symons had aided and abetted him by giving him directions to the scene and showing him how to use the gun. A jury cleared both men of the charges by a unanimous verdict. Mr Burchall was shot at about 1.40am outside the St David’s clubhouse.

paragraphPolice continue to search for a person of interest after a fatal shooting over the weekend, the head of the Bermuda Police Service said this afternoon. Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, also said the public could expect to see a stepped up police presence — including armed officers — on the streets in the days ahead. The update this afternoon comes a day after police announced that a 31-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the murder of Ronniko Burchall. Mr Burchall, 30, was fatally shot as he stood outside St David’s County Cricket Club early Saturday morning. Mr Corbishley said the person of interest knew he was being sought by police, as did his family and friends. He added: “I urge him to turn himself in — to come to us and answer questions.” Mr Corbishley said that police wanted to ensure the person’s safety. He added that there had been an “increase in gang tensions” over the last 72 hours. Mr Corbishley said that police would be taking “robust measures” to ensure public safety tonight and in the days ahead. He added that the BPS would be working with the Bermuda Football Association to keep spectators safe at holiday football matches. Mr Corbishley said that those responsible for Mr Burchall’s murder would be brought to justice. He added: “I won’t tolerate this violence.” Mr Corbishley stressed that police were also examining the “deep-rooted causes” leading to the violence along with Government representatives and Pastor Leroy Bean, the island’s gang violence reduction co-ordinator. He said that questions from the community about what was being done about the problem were right. The Commissioner described policing as “sometimes like an iceberg”. He explained: “People will only see what’s visible on the top.” But he added: “The reassurance that I put across is that the activity that’s taken place through intelligence, and other resources, is considerable. Every single officer and every single member of staff is attending to issues that we currently face.” Mr Corbishley pointed to the introduction of parish constables and a restructure of teams across the service as changes to policing coming in 2019. He added: “We’re changing the service to be more visible, and we’re changing the service to be more responsive to the community.” Mr Corbishley said that the latest murder showed that guns were still on Bermuda’s streets despite the seizure of three weapons this month. He added that the number of guns was “very few” but that to provide a specific number would be “guesswork”.

paragraphDigicel’s group chief executive officer has died while on vacation in his native Germany. The Bermuda-domiciled international telecommunications company revealed that Alex Matuschka Von Greiffenclau died last Thursday at the age of 47. His death came days after Digicel clinched a massive debt restructuring deal with bondholders after a process in which Mr Von Greiffenclau was a key figure. “No words can adequately express our sadness at Alex’s passing or our gratitude for having worked with him,” Denis O’Brien, Digicel’s founder and chairman, said in a note to employees last Friday. “Digicel has lost a committed hard-working and exceptional chief executive.” Digicel, whose operational headquarters are in Jamaica, offers telecoms services in 31 markets, including Bermuda and many Caribbean islands. Mr Von Greiffenclau, who joined Digicel as group CEO in February, had been negotiating with bondholders for about four months as the company grappled with its $6.7 billion debt pile. A deal was announced in the week before Christmas. It involved the majority of holders of $3 billion worth of bonds agreeing to swap their notes for longer-dated securities. Some 96.6 per cent of holders of $2 billion of bonds due in 2020 agreed to exchange their notes for securities that will be due to be redeemed in 2022. Meanwhile, 95.4 per cent of those holding Digicel’s $1 billion of existing 2022 bonds agreed to swap their holdings for notes that will mature in 2024. The Financial Times reported this month that there had been “anxiety about a possible default on the $2 billion bond due in 2020” and that Digicel bonds had been trading for 60 or 70 cents on the dollar. Mr Von Greiffenclau spearheaded an initiative to reduce Digicel’s debt to 5.7 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization from a ratio of 6.7 times at the end of the group’s last financial year in March, the Irish Times reported. The plan involves boosting earnings by 10 per cent to about $1.1 billion for the current financial year, and generating about $500 million from asset sales. Digicel executives signaled to analysts in November that as the sale of noncore assets is dragging on, it may not reach the debt ratio target as originally planned at the end of March 2019. Digicel scrapped plans for an initial public offering of shares in 2015, which could have helped to reduce its debt, on the grounds of market volatility at that time. Mr O’Brien, an Irish billionaire who has taken over as interim CEO, said of Mr Von Greiffenclau: “Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know him on a personal level have lost a dear friend. Over the coming days, we will share our thoughts for a suitable commemoration of Alex and his enormous contribution to the transformation of Digicel.”

paragraphGlenn Blakeney Jr, the hard-hitting and record-breaking batsman, has died after complications from a prolonged struggle with cancer. His father, Glenn Sr, the owner of Inter-Island Communications and former Progressive Labour Party Cabinet minister, confirmed the news this morning. Mr Blakeney said that his son, who would have turned 46 on January 22, had passed peacefully surrounded by close family members at the Stony Brook University Hospital in Long Island, New York. Glenn Jr, officially Glenn Smith Blakeney, came to prominence as a flashy young left-hander with Hamilton Parish Workman’s Club in the late 1980s. He was small of stature but packed a mighty wallop with his willow, giving the impression that Bermuda would be seeing and hearing a lot more about him in future. He did not disappoint. By natural progression in the region, following in the footsteps of leading Hamilton Parish players such as Ricky Hill, Terry Burgess and Corey Hill, he moved a few miles farther east to Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club. It is at Sea Breeze Oval where he took advantage of the broader stage and gained selection for Bay in the Eastern Counties Cup, which propelled him into the reckoning for Cup Match and a Bermuda call-up. He made his Bermuda debut in 1993, but his ICC Trophy Tournament debut did not come until the 1997 tournament in Malaysia, after which he was a regular. In 20 Cup Match innings between 1991 and 2012, he scored 621 runs with an average of 34.50 and a high score of 104. Amid a flurry of runs both here and overseas, Glenn Jr enjoyed a prosperous 1995 summer in England with club side Benwell Hill in the Northumberland County League, in the North of England, where fellow Bermudians Clay Smith, Dean Minors and Greg Foggo also had stints. But it is on home soil where he is best remembered as the only modern-day cricketer to three times amass scores in excess of 200 — 245 for St David’s against Willow Cuts in August 2001, 303 not out for St David’s against Bailey’s Bay in August 2002, and an Eastern Counties-record 218 for Bailey’s Bay against Flatts in August 2011. All of which earned him the moniker “Master Blaster”. Kidney cancer was diagnosed in March 2013 and the young man who had dominated on the cricket field for so long accepted that he was in for another battle. “Brave” was how Glenn Sr described his son’s demeanor over the past few years. The Progressive Labour Party issued a statement of condolences this afternoon, hailing him as “a renowned cricketer of immense talent and commitment. He represented Bermuda both internationally and locally during his career. He was a dedicated member of Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club and St. George’s Cup Match team for many years. His passing leaves a tremendous void in the cricketing community.” The PLP offered “heartfelt condolences” to Mr Blakeney’s wife Twynika and their three children, as well as to Glenn Sr and his wife Gwen, his mother Karen, and his family and friends. The statement added: “Our hearts go out to you all during this most difficult time.” Funeral announcements will be made in due course.

paragraphEvery death at the island’s general and psychiatric hospitals is to be scrutinized to check if it was avoidable or unexpected. The new rules at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute were introduced in an attempt to improve quality of care. Senior doctors and nurses have started to meet every week to review the notes of patients who have died in medical care over the previous seven days and to identify those that need investigation. The Bermuda Hospitals Board will also release statistics every three months on serious incidents that resulted in harm to patients, as well as information on falls, hospital-acquired pressure sores and infections, and other indicators of quality of care. The new measures are part of an improvement plan drawn up under Michael Richmond, who joined BHB as Chief of Staff in August 2017, in partnership with the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement. The safeguards were introduced after it was revealed in July that the island’s general hospital logged 430 incidents resulting in harm to patients over less than five years, with 28 of them falling into the three most serious categories, including 14 deaths. BHB has now released information on six more serious events over the same period, including another four deaths. The hospitals board at first released data that showed only 13 events, including six deaths, between 2011 and 2015, after a public access to information request. It admitted the other incidents after The Royal Gazette complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office that all the records held by the BHB on adverse events had not been disclosed. Dr Richmond said in July “there was no effort to mislead” and pledged that BHB would publish its incident statistics twice a year in the future. But he said last week that the statistics would now be reported every quarter, with the first quality report published on the board’s website in October, for the period July 1 to September 30 this year. Twelve ward-based teams have been set up at KEMH to focus on improvements in the areas of highest patient safety risk, including hospital-acquired pressure sores, falls, medication mistakes and delayed escalation of care. As well as undergoing training and sharing knowledge with colleagues, the teams were designed to improve “harm reporting”, which Dr Richmond said was voluntary and “incomplete”. Staff are encouraged to log all events which did, or could have, caused harm to a patient on the BHB’s Quantros computer system, but some are not recorded. Debra Goins-Francis, the BHB’s general counsel, said an incomplete record was why six more serious events had been identified since the Pati disclosure in July. She added: “The Bermuda Hospitals Board continues to coach and educate staff as to the importance of recording all safety events in our electronic database.” Dr Richmond said the new team reviewing deaths was one way to go “looking for trouble” and get better, as was a recent daylong “laborious” session when a team of medics reviewed the files of every patient admitted to the hospital over the course of a month. He added: “It was roughly about 350 or so patients, going through all of their notes and using a template to determine what were the bad things that had happened. It’s a bit like an iceberg. If you only see what’s above the water, you get a false sense of the quality of your performance. In high-reliability organisations globally, they don’t believe that the iceberg is only the bit above the water and they then go looking for what’s below the water, which they haven’t seen.” Dr Richmond said in the past deaths would be investigated if they were known about by senior management, such as through a complaint or because a member of staff logged a report. He added: “These would be typically the bit of the iceberg above the water, put it that way, which was the stuff that was known about. The ‘unknown unknowns’ maybe weren’t being followed with as much diligence as they might.” Dr Richmond said the new mortality review team was “particularly focused on ... trying to find out where might there have been deaths that were unexpected and avoidable and what are we going to do about it. “That means getting an early root cause analysis undertaken and to determine first of all ‘was there a failure of care at an individual level or a failure of systemic care?’” The BHB revealed details this month about the 34 serious events, including the 18 deaths, that happened at KEMH between 2011 and 2015. The disclosure showed how the patients were harmed and, in some cases, changes made to avoid recurrences. Dr Richmond said that level of detail would not be given in the quarterly reports, which showed only the number of “serious occurrences” that led to the “death or major and enduring loss of function” for a patient. He added: “In terms of public disclosure, what we are trying to do is, increasingly, share information. In terms of the level of detail, at a personal level, I don’t think that it’s something that any organisation would share, great detail, other than by specific request. It wouldn’t be our intention to hide anything and if somebody wanted specific information, which was really around confidential information, then a Pati request is the right way to go.” He added: “We are looking to be totally transparent about our reliable data. What we are trying to do is to be as transparent and as honest as we can.” Dr Richmond said injury figures had to be considered in the context of KEMH dealing with about 40,000 emergency patients a year, along with 8,000 operations and 6,000 patient admissions.

BHB quarterly report

The Bermuda Hospitals Board released its first quarterly quality and safety data report in October, with little fanfare to the public. The board said the four-page report was aimed at providing the public with “good and accurate data to better understand the quality and safety standards at BHB”. A BHB spokeswoman said: “We will be adding to this portfolio of reliable data over time and we welcome questions and feedback to consider as we build on this first report.” The report, which covered July 1 to September 30 this year, included a section on “sentinel events” — defined by Accreditation Canada, the BHB’s accreditation body, as “an adverse event leading to death or major and enduring loss of function for a patient”. The spokeswoman explained: “These are known occurrences from various sources.” There were no sentinel events reported for the three-month period but Chief of Staff Michael Richmond told The Royal Gazette: “We will certainly have one, if not two, but that’s not reported yet. Our goal is to have zero.” The report showed:

• 12 falls that caused injury at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute and the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre

• 22 hospital-acquired pressure sores at KEMH. Of those, one was a stage 4 injury, the most serious kind, three were stage 3 and 15 were stage 2. There were three other injuries where the skin was still intact. The BHB spokeswoman said: “One was ‘unclassifiable’ for this reason, but such injuries are usually at least a stage 3. Two could be evaluated as deep-tissue injuries but had unbroken skin so couldn’t be staged. These are potentially serious if not managed”

• 25 cases where patients were readmitted to KEMH inside 72 hours after they were discharged from inpatient care

The report also gave statistics on infections acquired by patients after they have been admitted to the acute care wing of the hospital, with the rate measured in the number of infections per 1,000 patient days, for the past year. There was a spike in MRSA infections in April and in C. difficile infections between May and July. In KEMH’s intensive care unit, there was an increase in the number of central line-associated bloodstream infections in patients with catheters in July. The spokeswoman said there were no central line-associated bloodstream infections up to June 2018 and from August 2018. She added: “Our infection control department have confirmed that there was only one patient with an infection over the time period reported in the report, represented by the spike in July.” The average length of stay for patients in the acute care wing was seven days between July and September.

paragraphJohn Young grew up surrounded by the tourism industry. Now, he and his wife, Alison, have fallen back in love with the business after they re-launched guest cottage business The Ledgelets in Sandys. Mr Young said: “I have worked in tourism since I was 13 or 14. We are working so hard right now to make sure we deliver what we say we deliver. But when you look at the guest comments or what people write on the guest books in the rooms, it’s all worth it.” Mrs Young added: “They are all just so happy to be in Bermuda. They realize they can fly here with their family in 90 minutes.” Mr Young said his grandparents, John Hinson Young and Nelga Young, started The Ledgelets in 1948 and welcomed guests into their cottages and their own home. The Lantana resort opened on the neighboring property a decade later and the Young family leased The Ledgelets to the operators. The arrangement continued until 1998, when Lantana shut its doors. Mr Young and his cousin inherited the property when his grandmother died in 2013. At the time he and his wife were working at Tucker’s Point, but knew they wanted to turn their attention to restoring The Ledgelets to its former glory. Mr Young said: “I knew something had to happen with it. Ally and I thought about it and we realised that one of the things missing was that authentic, old-school Bermuda charm. It’s something you can’t really find in the hotels. It’s hard to do in a hotel. It’s about people arriving and feeling like they are coming home. It’s home for them.” Mr Young and his family live on the property and also invite guests into their living room for a cocktail or a conversation — the way his grandparents did. He said that one of the reasons vacation rentals had become popular was that such properties were more suited to larger families. Rather than renting several hotel rooms, guests can rent a home or apartment and save money. Ms Young added that many visitors wanted to meet Bermudians and absorb some island culture. She said: “I think the younger generation is art hungry and culture starved. They grew up with Marriots around the world. There has been a lot of talk about how we can do something new, but there’s also the question about how we can make old Bermuda cool again.” The couple added that said there needed to be a widespread commitment to tourism across the island. Mr Young said that problems with the bus system and the high cost of living annoyed guests as much as residents. He added: “When I worked at Tucker’s Point, one of the things I always tried to press on my team is value. The key is really that if people are spending $1, they should feel they are getting $2 of service. People need to feel they are getting more for their dollar.” Mr Young said that one of the reasons they wanted to reopen The Ledgelets as a tourism site was to help support businesses in the area, which include The Bridge Trading Post and fishermen who sell their catches near by. He said: “We want these people to succeed, so we tried to set our prices so our guests can go out and do these things.”

paragraphAn environmentalist has urged the public to pressure the Government to stick to its green promise to ban single-use plastic such as straws. The Progressive Labour Party pledged to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022 in the Throne Speech last month. However, Mr Starling warned that the Government may not carry through with its promise if the public does not show enough interest in the issue. He said: “There’s a risk of any policy not going through if the Government feels that people aren’t advocating for it. If no one advocates for it now, if people just sit back, then the Government will too. It will be moved to the back burner and there’s a risk of it not happening.” Mr Starling, the former executive director of environmental charity Greenrock, added: “The Government will act on what is being demanded. If it can be demonstrated or communicated to the Government that it is popular and people want it quicker, they are going to expedite that. If no one is talking about or advocating for action on climate change, they aren’t going to take action. If you want, advocate. You can demonstrate, we are a democracy still. There’s nothing stopping you from doing a peaceful protest, or even at the next Throne Speech to stand quietly holding a sign that advocates for climate change. The more you see people calling for it in the media, the more civil society is calling for it, the more environmental organisations and scientists are pointing it out, the more likely it is to be expedited.” The Government said its Throne Speech pledge would help protect the oceans and reduce the impact of climate change. The speech added: “To this end, single-use plastics will be eliminated by 2022 and the intervening years will be spent educating the community about recycling and reusable items and encouraging greater sensitivity to the ocean and its importance to our lives.” A charge on single-use plastics will be levied in the next two years. Some Hamilton businesses have already taken action on plastics, including Makin’ Waves, which has stopped importing plastic bags, and Nonna’s Kitchen, which charges for bags and donates the cash to a tree-planting scheme. Department store Gibbons is giving away free reusable and recyclable carrier bags until the end of January. The firm will start to charge $1 for them, with part of the cash going to charity, to try to cut the use of plastic bags. Mr Starling said introducing charges for bags could have economic benefits for less well off families. He said: “It can actually lead to cost savings for them if they bring their own bags. Ten cents may not be much, but it adds up over time. Right now you are paying for your bags. You already are paying, you just don’t have the option not to pay. The companies and retail stores are purchasing the bags for you and putting the cost of the bags into all of their prices to cover the costs, so right now you don’t have the option.”

paragraphIsland stargazers are in for a spectacular celestial sight next month. Jonathan Starling, of the Bermuda Astronomical Society, said that residents would be able to watch a total lunar eclipse in the early hours of January 21. A lunar eclipse takes place when the moon passes directly behind Earth and into its shadow and creates what is known as a “blood moon”. Mr Starling explained: “It’s called a blood moon because the sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere and hitting the moon makes it appear red.” Total lunar eclipses last for a few hours, unlike a total solar eclipse, which last only for a few minutes because of the smaller size of the moon’s shadow. Lunar eclipses are also safe to view without eye protection, unlike the solar equivalent. Mr Starling said that remote locations around the island would be the best place to view the eclipse. He added: “Ideally, I’d go for somewhere without a lot of artificial lights so your eyes can adjust and you can appreciate the beauty of it all.” Mr Starling said that he was considering setting up a viewing event for the eclipse. He added that he planned to put the astronomical society on a more organized footing next year and that anyone interested in the stars should visit the group’s Facebook page.

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December 29

paragraphBermuda’s first domestic partnerships ceremonies have taken place between both same-sex and opposite sex couples. Civil unions became an option after legislation was enacted in June and four people have been appointed to officiate over the ceremonies. A government spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that two women formed a domestic partnership in October, an opposite sex couple did the same earlier this month and two men were scheduled to form a domestic partnership before the end of the month. Three of Bermuda’s four domestic partnership officers were appointed last month after an advert invited members of the public to apply for the roles. Kendaree Burgess, the executive director of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, was among them. She said: “My preference is that marriage equality would be the way that the law would go and that has come to pass, so I’m actually more thrilled that that’s available and I’m curious as to what the role of the domestic partnership officer will be now that there is marriage equality.” Ms Burgess explained she found it “bothersome” that people might want a civil union. but not be able to have a ceremony because of a lack of officers. She added: “I decided to put myself forward as someone who would be happy to be there to serve in that capacity.” Ms Burgess joined others in a training and information session that included a mock ceremony, which she said was “fun and funny” but also a useful opportunity to ask questions. Ms Burgess admitted she would be anxious conducting her first ceremony, despite experience in speaking to large audiences. She said: “I think I will be just as nervous as the people I’m joining at my first one. It’s one thing to conduct a speech in a business situation but to join two people together, in theory for the rest of their lives, is a very serious occasion, not one to be taken lightly. I think I will be nervous and probably emotional at my very first one.” Derek Fisher, a personal trainer, was also appointed. He believed “the more experience you get with it, and the more natural you become with it, the better flow that you have”. He aimed to make people feel at ease. “The whole objective, where you’re going to have two people that are embarking on another chapter of their lives, a happy chapter, everybody should look back on that — whether it’s a domestic partnership, whether it’s a traditional marriage — with a degree of fondness,” he said. Alex Potts QC, a partner at law firm Kennedys, was also registered in the new role. He said: “Legal qualifications are not necessary, but they do seem relevant.” Mr Potts said he looked forward to “my invitation to the party afterwards”. The Minister of Home Affairs approves the appointment of domestic partnership officers. An advert for applications said: “Interested persons must be of good standing and be well versed with the contents of the Domestic Partnership Act, 2018.” The Registrar-General and assistant Registrar-General can also officiate at domestic partnership ceremonies. There were 14 same-sex marriages on the island from May 2017 up until the Domestic Partnership Act came into force at the start of June, as well as a further six on Bermuda-flagged ships. The Domestic Partnership Act 2018 banned same-sex marriage and has been the subject of a long legal battle in which, most recently, the right of gay couples to wed was restored. Banns posted in the Official Gazette showed one marriage between two men was scheduled since then. The Court of Appeal last month dismissed the Government’s claim that former chief justice Ian Kawaley was wrong to strike down parts of the Act on the grounds they were against the Constitution. The Government later lodged notice with the Court of Appeal to ask permission to take the case to Bermuda’s final court of appeal, the Privy Council in London.

paragraphBermuda is set to ring in the new year with music, dancing and the traditional onion drop in St George’s. The Corporation of St George will have its countdown to 2019 in the town’s Kings Square on Monday. Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, said it was important to keep the tradition going. She added: “This brings the Olde Towne alive.” Ms Francis said the party in the East End was “a great way to end the Christmas season and start the new year”. The free event will include food and novelty stalls and performances by Sinead the Flower, BLAC and Live Wires. Nadanja Bailey will act as MC. Entertainment is scheduled to begin at 8pm, with the onion drop at midnight. Rosewood Bermuda in Hamilton Parish and Perrier Jouet Champagne have teamed up for an all-inclusive dance party at the hotel’s Camden Ballroom with music by DJs Rusty G, PM and Tom Fleming. Doors open at 9.30pm, admission is $150 and includes a four-hour open bar, a Perrier Jouet champagne toast and snacks served after midnight. The Corporation of Hamilton will not hold a new year’s event this year. A spokeswoman for the corporation said it planned to alternate between a new year event and a Christmas Boat Parade. There will still be traditional festivities in the capital. Pier 6 is hosting an all-inclusive new year’s event with a range of DJs and an open bar. Admission is $100 and the doors open at 9pm. Cosmopolitan Nightclub on Front Street will have a New Year’s Eve Privilege Celebration with an open bar for Hennessy cognac and Ciroc vodka until midnight. Organisers said the dress code was “glamorous” and admission would cost $45. The Dog House will also ring in 2019 with a special event, with will start at 9pm with $10 admission. Huckleberry Restaurant at Rosedon and Marcus’ at the Hamilton Princess are offering special New Year’s Eve dinners. The Crown & Anchor bar at the Hamilton Princess will celebrate the new year with live music from Working Title. Savvy Entertainment will hold a New Year’s Eve celebration at The Shed on Cross Island at Dockyard with a range of artists including DJ Ale Mora. General admission is free, but people who want to go must RSVP to get tickets at denzil@totalprobermuda.com. VIP tickets for the event cost $250. The Fairmont Southampton hotel will have several options for New Year’s Eve, including a four-course meal at Waterlot Inn with pianist Tony Bari. DJ Craig Looby will provide entertainment at the Boundary Sports Bar & Grill and Mike Hind and the Kennel Boys will perform at the Jasmine Cocktail Bar.

paragraphA man was fighting for his life today after he was shot outside a sports club in the early hours. A police spokesman said his condition was “gravely critical” in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The man was standing outside St David’s County Cricket Club when another man walked up and shot him at close range at about 1.40am. It is understood the incident was gang-related. The spokesman added: “The suspect left the area and the victim was taken to the hospital via the ambulance.” He said police wanted to talk to people who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area around the time of the shooting. The East End sport venue expressed “sincere regrets” for the incident, which happened at its annual Christmas party. A statement from the club’s executive management was posted on its Facebook page this morning. It said: “Our hearts and minds are currently on those who have been impacted negatively by this event. The executive want to encourage everyone no matter what part of our great island you may reside to join us in directing prayers and positive thoughts to the recovery of the injured young man and to the comfort of his family.” The statement said that the safety of customers was “paramount”. It added: “We take violent events such as these very seriously and we made sure that every possible measure was in place.” The statement said that club management as well as security personnel hired for the event acted quickly after the shooting to notify emergency services, make sure the victim got first aid, and keep other party attendees safe. Our event stopped immediately and the venue was closed. We will not tolerate antisocial behavior. We will continue to strive for the safety of all patrons that come to our facility — that come to our home.” The statement said that the club was helping police with their investigation. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said that he was “deeply concerned” and promised that anyone involved in the shooting would be held responsible for their “heinous act. The Bermuda Police Service are in the early stages of this investigation and they have my full support.” He said that Pastor Leroy Bean, Bermuda’s gang violence reduction co-ordinator, and the Coordinated Crisis Response Team had visited the scene and the hospital where they “offered support services to the victim’s family and others affected by this traumatic experience”. Mr Caines added: “These occurrences are becoming more frequent and we must all work together to ensure such behavior is not normalized.” Mr Caines said that an increased police presence would be out this weekend and on New Year’s Eve and encouraged those with information about the shooting to come forward. Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister of National Security, said that acts of violence “by a segment of our population has become the norm”. The One Bermuda Alliance MP added: “We can put together plans to tackle the issues, have task forces and programmes as much as we want but until Bermuda is fed up with the behavior and our citizens start to speak up about these individuals this madness will continue.” He questioned when “the code of silence” would end “so that neighborhoods aren’t held hostage by a few bad apples”. Mr Smith said: “We have many issues in Bermuda that divide us but we cannot continue to make excuses for the small segment that is willing to resort to senseless violence.” Anyone with information that could help the inquiry should contact the Serious Crime Unit on 295-0011 or the confidential Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.

paragraphYoung Bermudians could “easily” replace hundreds of work permit holders in the building trades, an industry leader has claimed. Will Irvine, the executive director of the Construction Association of Bermuda, said teenagers were ripe for training and that he aimed to present trades careers as an attractive employment option. He explained: “Construction is giving out hundreds of work permits a year and there is a population there that can easily be trained in a period of time that will allow them to work in that work-permit category.” Now, Mr Irvine and Simon Tully, the organization's new president, have joined forces with the Government to boost the sector. Mr Irvine hopes parents, teachers and companies would join the campaign. He said: “It just doesn’t make sense to have foreign workers when there’s an underemployed population of capable individuals, so we can’t think of that as an option.” Mr Irvine added that a balance between having enough workers on sites and taking the time to grow local talent had to be struck. As a country, Bermuda needs to decide what’s the priority — making sure the companies have labour? They can bring that in from overseas and all that additional cost of flights and accommodation is absorbed into the cost of the business ... the priority is servicing that industry. If the priority becomes servicing our population of young people then everybody focuses on that and we start to train our local kids in that industry. If we’re reinvesting money, time and effort into our own population, then that becomes a priority, not so much making sure we have a fleet of foreign workers, and it will start to sustain itself. The priority so far is allowing business to continue and there’s nothing wrong with that but it shouldn’t have to be the only priority. We’ve got to look after ourselves.” Mr Irvine said the average age of experienced craftsmen and women in the construction industry was well into the 40s and in about 15 years that expertise could be lost. He added: “We are missing a trick by not creating a legacy behind them. If you make a decision at 16 to pursue trades, you’ve got two more years of senior school left. You get your basic foundation, so either you can do an apprenticeship programme or go straight into the college. With that you’re getting on-the-job training and work experience, you’re getting paid for that while you are living at home and then once you qualify you can go out and support yourself, get your apartment and start building your life, while your friends are still at university, racking up debt. People really need to stop and think about that as a realistic option, there are lots of technical learners — office jobs aren’t for them.” The CAOB has also teamed up with the Department of Workforce Development to create structured apprenticeship programmes that include qualifications for several trades. The organisation was also looking at how technical training could be expanded in Bermuda’s public high schools to capture talent early. Mr Tully said: “Everybody has to go to school but instead of sitting in a classroom learning French, for argument’s sake, why aren’t you in a classroom setting learning how to scale plans? The removal of trades schools in Bermuda was a terrible blow to any sort of advancement. I would like to see, within the next Budget statement, that there is going to be educational consideration towards establishing a trade school that will utilize empty government properties, so you’re not spending money to try to build something new. Utilize what we have to try to reinvigorate trades in Bermuda.” Mr Tully backed the return of an apprenticeship training council and highlighted the importance of ensuring tradespeople are qualified. He said: “That’s where we have to move forwards with Bermuda, because you reasonably expect your accountant or your lawyer to have pursued their further development but you’re not worried about the guy that might flood your house, or create some spark and a fire? It’s bizarre that seems to be acceptable and we need to try to temper that. We’re out to try to right the wrong that people will just go and learn on the job. There is something to be said for that, because that is also part of it. It won’t all be classroom or lab work but let’s try to figure out how we encourage young people to get into the trades. With bachelor’s degrees the supply is outstripping the demand, but in the trades it’s the opposite way around. There is not a steady supply, but the demand is there and you earn a decent living.” Mr Tully said Bermuda could follow the example of the UK and the United States, where apprenticeship programmes were successful, and that local businesses must also invest in the industry’s future. “You have to have somebody to mentor them within the company. Companies have to have the buy-in to say, this kid wants to learn. If you’re going to help them move forward in the trade, you’re going to have to train them. Don’t just use them as the next piece of muscle.” A spokeswoman for the Department of Workforce Development said its partnership with the CAOB included partial funding for construction scholarships and an annual grant for programmes that promoted the sector. The department also arranges presentations for school students and in the community to highlight the need for trades workers and give information about apprenticeship opportunities.

paragraphBirdwatchers have spotted an unfamiliar sight in the skies around Bermuda. Karen Border, the president of the Bermuda Audubon Society, confirmed that a brown pelican was visiting the island. She added: “It has been seen by a few Audubon members, mainly off the North Shore.” Ms Border said brown pelicans were occasional visitors to Bermuda. She added: “We get them every two or three years or so.” Brown pelicans are grey-brown with yellow heads and thin white necks. The large seabirds have very long bills with an elastic throat pouch used to capture fish. They can measure up to five feet in length with a wingspan of up to 7½ feet. Females are slightly smaller than male birds. Ms Border said the bird was a common sight along the eastern coast of the United States. She added: “This one was probably just blown out here in one of the recent gales.” The brown pelican is found along the Atlantic Coast from Nova Scotia, Canada, down to the mouth of the Amazon River. They also live on the Gulf and Pacific coasts. Ms Border said the Bermuda bird should be able to fend for itself before it flies home. She added: “Hopefully it is still around and will be included in the Christmas bird count.” The annual count is scheduled to take place today. The brown pelican is the national bird of three Caribbean countries — Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Sint Maarten. It is also the state bird of Louisiana.

paragraphOpinion. By Barry Ritholtz, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and is the author of Bailout Nation. "This is the time of year for annual reckonings and predictions by strategists and analysts, illustrating little more than that they know what pleases their employers and that their powers of prognostication are nonexistent. And yet, full of bravado and confidence, they explain what stocks to buy, when a recession will come along, what the Federal Reserve is going to do, and when the market is going to tank. Truth be told, that last one is less of a prediction these days and more a case of real-time reporting. These forecasts are, for the most part, exercises in futility. But first, a reminder: the problem with forecasts goes beyond their mere lack of accuracy. My critique is with the underlying cognitive and philosophical failings that are associated with the entire forecasting industry: a lack of humility, the assumption of a skill set clearly not in evidence, and most damning of all, a failure to recognize the randomness of the world at large. Most insidious are the forecasts designed to separate the suckers from their dollars. So, in order to remind you why you should be ignoring the 2019 forecasts, let’s consider some of the more egregious predictions of 2018: 

Bitcoin: the spectrum of predictions ran from the sublime to the criminally negligent to the utterly insane. It got so bad that a website was set up to track all of the Bitcoin prophesies. My colleague Nick Maggiulli notes that chaotic systems can’t be predicted, as they are subject to the Three Body Problem (and its variants). Fundstrat’s Tom Lee’s 2018 forecast for $25,000 Bitcoin was reduced last month to $15,000 by year-end. The cryptocurrency was trading close to $4,000 yesterday. As foolish as that sounds, it was modest compared to the rest of the asylum. Michael Novogratz forecast that “$40,000 was possible by the end of 2018”. Kay Van-Petersen of Saxo Bank predicted Bitcoin would rise to $50,000 to $100,000 by the end of this year. John McAfee, the eccentric tech entrepreneur, has called for $1 million Bitcoin by 2020. Analogizing crypto to the internet, Tim Draper doubles McAfee, coming in at $2 million. All of these are notable not just for being wrong, but for their sheer recklessness.

Gold: before all the gold bugs migrated to Bitcoin, the precious metal was where they went to make their bad forecasts. Peter Schiff has been forecasting gold at $5,000 an ounce since at least 2010, based on his prediction of a huge surge in inflation. (It now trades at about $1,238.) Neither occurred. Jim Rickards, former general counsel at Long-Term Capital Management, came up with a $10,000 price target. To be fair, he said the same thing would happen by the end of 2017. Jim Rogers one-upped everybody, declaring in August that “gold could turn into a bubble”. It hasn’t. But the sun still has another 5 billion years of hydrogen left, so perhaps one day it might.

Markets: stock forecasts typically come from strategists at bigger firms, covering a modest range from a little too bullish to a little too bearish. Career risk tends to keep equity strategists more circumspect than the Bitcoin and gold crowd. Typically, these forecasts are for continued gains or solid growth, or softness and modest corrections — but that’s before we get to the outliers. My favourite cranks are way outside that broad range. There are too many to note, but perhaps the most notable offender is former Reagan White House budget director David Stockman. He has been more than perennially bearish — he predicted a market crash in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Good rule of thumb: if you make the same call very year, even if it eventually comes true, you get no credit for it. Even the official guardians of the economy — central banks — do little better. My advice when you see a forecast: mark it down on a calendar or reminder programme (I use the app Followupthen.com), then come back to it a year later. This lets you review how good or bad it was. It’s a great exercise in accountability. Most of the time, the results reveal why spending too much time either paying attention to — or making — forecasts is mostly wasted effort."

paragraphTashun Simons is continuing to carve his path in the footballing world, albeit an unconventional one for a football-mad 24-year-old. While the majority of young men his age can only dream of walking out on a football pitch in an international encounter, Simons has already fulfilled those aspirations, not as a player but as an official. After becoming the first Bermudian football official in more than a decade to be named on the Fifa International Referees List last year, the former Young Men’s Social Club striker, took a step further to emulating his idols Pierluigi Collina and Howard Webb by being selected as a referee’s assistant for two matches in the Concacaf Nations League: St Lucia against Haiti, and Grenada against Sint Maarten. Simons has been rewarded for his performances by being included on next year’s Fifa International Referees List as well. “The experience was great,” Simons said. “The standard of football was a step above officiating local games in Bermuda and I felt really good to be involved. In the second game I had a big call to make not to give an offside decision and I doubted myself a little. However, after looking at the review video, the assessors said I made the correct decision as did the elite assessors within Concacaf, which made me feel good. It’s one of those situations that can keep you up at night but thankfully everyone agreed I made the right call.” Like many players within the game, Simons admits to going back and watching highlights of himself, but while some would do so purely for vanity reasons, for officials, reviewing your performance serves a far greater purpose. “Some clubs in Bermuda video their matches and so when I have the chance I will go back over the highlights and assess my own game,” added Simons, who referees local senior games. “With the international games, everything is watched and analyzed, every situation, every call. It may not be anything significant but we watch it all back and do debriefings. Every refereeing team gets assessed collectively and individually. Based on those assessments at the end of the year you are given a grade and based on that they will select you for the next Fifa list. It is an assessment process with every match. We are assessed from the minute we walk in the door, from the way we conduct ourselves to how we handle the match. That’s why I’m so interested in analyzing my matches; it’s all about learning.” As well as the pressure of being judged by assessors, Simons also has to deal with the pressure of being scrutinized by every player, manager and fan for every call he makes, or decides not to make. But while to most the aggravation would not seem worthwhile, Simons deals with that added pressure with a maturity belying his years. “When I have a decision to make, you can’t please everyone, half of the crowd won’t be happy but you just have to stick to your knowledge of the law and stay true to what you know,” he said. “Once the match starts, I feel like one of the players, you have that nervy first five minutes but then you grow into the game and it’s down to business. Everyone who watches football thinks they’re an expert and that can be interesting when you’re officiating a match and the players, managers and crowd all have their own opinions. I called an offside recently in a match and a player on one of the benches was pretty vocal about his opinion. I just had to stick to what I knew and deal with it. Over the past few years the game has changed massively. We get new amendments all the time as officials and you just have to revise it and learn the new rulings. The game is faster, the laws are becoming more difficult but you just have to keep working at it and rely on knowing the laws. Once you know that and can apply it correctly, you should be fine. We are the keepers of the law and we have to know more than anyone else on that pitch. If I find any player, manager or fan who knows as much about the laws of the game as I do, I’d be surprised. It’s funny because most of the guys playing in Bermuda are close to my age and I tell them when I cross that line I’m in charge. The majority of the time players respect us because we are the authoritative figure and as long as I am approachable and explain my decisions most of them are perfectly fine towards me.” Simons, who will be eligible for his full Fifa referee badge when he turns 25 next year, is focusing on gaining more experience at international level as he aims to fulfil his dream of officiating at a World Cup. “I’m preparing for next year, which is coming thick and fast,” he said. “The most immediate aim is to be selected for more Nations League matches in March. After that we have the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers. There’s a lot of things that could happen and a lot of opportunities for me to be involved in. Ultimately, I want to be the man in the middle for a World Cup match but for now I just want to be the best assistant referee that I can be. Domestically, I am refereeing already but for Fifa it is different. If I’m on the Assistant Referees List I can’t be nominated as a referee for that next cycle. At the end of any year you could be nominated as a Fifa referee and if you are accepted you can be added to that list for the next year.” While that dream of emulating his idols on the biggest stage may be a little way off just yet, Simons is content with being an inspiration to any young person in football in showing them that they are alternative routes in the game. “I’ve had some young people come up to and ask for advice and say I want to be like you,” Simons said. “Playing was good but I’ve had some amazing experiences as an official. People I don’t even know, recognize me as the referee, which is funny. This is my path and I will try my best to go as far as I can,”

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December 28

paragraphSix Bermudians have won awards in the Bermuda part of the British New Year Honours List, it was announced tonight. Grant Gibbons, an island businessman and former One Bermuda Alliance politician, became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Dr Gibbons led the Bermuda Bid Team that won the right to host the America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017. He is the chairman of insurance firm Colonial Group International. Mark Norman and Michael Winfield were made Members of the Order of the British Empire. Mr Norman is a former member of the Bermuda Police Service where he was involved in the Police Road Safety Department. He was a major force behind the introduction of road safety scheme Project Ride to the island. Mr Norman became the coordinator of Outward Bound Bermuda is 1989 and later became executive director when OBB became a registered charity. Mr Winfield, who was the chief executive of the America’s Cup Bermuda Development Authority and also a member of the bid team, has worked in a number of positions in the island’s hospitality industry. He was the manager at the Southampton Princess and president and chief executive at Cambridge Beaches. He served as a Government senator from 1990-1996 and was the Senate Leader from 1994-1996. Mr Winfield won the Hotelier of the Year award in 2001. Meredith Ebbin, Janeiro Tucker and Sean Tucker were awarded the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour. Ms Ebbin wrote about politics, education and social issues for The Royal Gazette, Mid-Ocean News and Bermuda Sun. She served as the editor of The Bermudian magazine from 1999 to 2003 and as executive officer of the Bermuda Media Council. Janeiro Tucker, a cricketer, captained the Bermuda team in the first One Day International against Canada in 2006. Better known as ‘Mr Cup Match’, he is the annual event’s most prolific run scorer. He has recorded five centuries including a top score of 186 in 2001. Sean Tucker, a radio cricket commentator, will mark 35 years in broadcasting in 2019. He has inherited the title of “The Voice of Summer” from the late CV “Jim” Woolridge. The Bermuda awards were announced by John Rankin, the Governor, tonight.

paragraphLondon’s Privy Council will hear a dispute between the Bermuda Bar Council and a law firm that it has refused to recognize. Walkers Global had set up a licensing agreement with Bermudian firm Taylors to become Walkers Bermuda. But the Bermuda Bar Council challenged the application on the grounds that it believed the proposed licensing and loan arrangement would result in the company being controlled by non-Bermudians. The firm has now gone to the Privy Council to determine the proper interpretation of the law. Walkers Bermuda was incorporated as a local company in 2015, but the Bermuda Bar Council refused to give the company a certificate of recognition. The Bar Council argued the agreement between the firms would break rules requiring local companies to be controlled by Bermudians. Walkers Bermuda appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which heard the firm’s sole director and 99 per cent shareholder had Bermudian status, while the 1 per cent shareholder was a member of the Bermuda Bar and holds a permanent residency certificate. Then Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ordered the Bermuda Bar Council to issue a certificate of recognition to Walkers Bermuda in 2017. His written judgment said it was “a bridge too far” to say the law prohibited licensing arrangements such as the one proposed. He added: “It is easy to see that the Bermuda Bar Council would be assisted by legislative support to regulate, either itself or through an appropriate minister, the terms on which foreign legal brands can be used by local professional companies.” The matter was later brought to the Court of Appeal, who found last May that the Bar Council was “entitled to have serious doubts” about control of the firm. Their judgment added: “This decision and that of the Bar Council have been based on the material presently before us and it. That does not mean that the position is immutable.” The Government announced plans to “liberalise” policies to allow international law firms to operate in Bermuda earlier this month. However, Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, said the new rules would include measures to protect jobs and create opportunities for home-grown lawyers.

paragraphBermuda is expected to receive an extra 68,000 cruise ship visitors next year, according to the Government. Next year’s cruise ship schedule includes 192 calls to Bermuda, which is estimated to bring 544,000 passengers, a rise of 14 per cent on the 2018 figure. Zane DeSilva, Minister of Tourism and Transport, said the increase in passengers is expect to generate $7.9 million in tax revenue and increase visitor spending. He said: “We have another growth year for cruise ship calls to Bermuda and we look forward to welcoming approximately 544,000 cruise ship passengers in 2019. Be assured, though, that our Government is very mindful of the big picture: the increase in cruise passengers, year over year, the need to balance air and cruise arrivals, and the challenge of providing the necessary infrastructure to serve all of our visitors.” The minister added: “My ministry is working diligently to attract more business for Hamilton and St George’s.” Kevin Dallas, Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO, said the body is still working to increase the number of ships in the cooler months. Mr Dallas said: “The long lead time of the cruise ship industry means the Bermuda Tourism Authority has accounted for next year’s cruise passenger’s growth in the National Tourism Plan. Our focus between now and 2025 is better balance in Bermuda’s cruise business with more calls outside the summer months, increases in what cruise passengers spend on-island and, perhaps most importantly, growing the number of vacationers who arrive by air.” Next year’s cruise ship schedule includes five inaugural visits to the island, including calls from NCL Pearl, NCL Jade, Celebrity Edge, Spirit of Discovery and the Adventure of the Seas.

paragraphInsurtech investments rose to $1.3 billion in the third quarter, double the amount for the previous quarter, according to a report by Willis Towers Watson. While individual investment rounds were larger, the number of transactions reported declined 20 per cent to 57, according to the risk adviser’s new Quarterly Insurtech Briefing. The third quarter saw eight transactions over $40 million, up from six, and the continued active participation of re/insurers. The pipeline of insurtech partnerships remains “very strong”, the report stated. Among Bermuda-based re/insurers mentioned in the report are Hiscox, whose partnerships with Hi Marley and Eigen Technologies are highlighted. Hi Marley is described as an intelligent conversation platform, specifically designed for communication between insurers and their customers. Eigen is a research-led artificial intelligence company that specializes in neuro-linguistic programming for financial-services firms. XL Catlin, now Axa XL, also partnered with Slice, a New York-based start-up focused on the on-demand and gig economies, to offer cloud-based, on-demand cyber insurance for US small to medium-sized businesses. The briefing adds that many insurtech companies are deploying parametric structures, which unlike indemnity-based insurance pay out a predefined sum based on a trigger chosen as a proxy for an actual loss. Parametric products align the interests of insurers and insureds in a way which traditional indemnity covers do not, by removing the parties’ respective incentives to manage down or inflate claims. Parametric insurance is also substantially simpler than indemnity products, since it does not require costly claims handling. With parametric insurance, frictional costs can be very low. Some insurtech firms have acknowledged these benefits and combined technology and information within parametric or event-based insurance structures to address existing inefficiencies or coverage gaps. They use a combination of third-party and proprietary data, advanced sensors, and the capabilities of the internet of Things to develop a new paradigm of insurance offerings for the connected world. The briefing refers to several examples, including the use of parametric structures earthquake, travel disruption, flash flooding and horticulture risks. “The impact of parametric insurance can be much more profound than simply lowering frictional costs and mitigating the potential for fraud,” Rafal Walkiewicz, chief executive officer of Willis Towers Watson Securities, said. “First, the use of parametric insurance encourages conversation around risk mitigation. Second, the simplicity of parametric insurance facilitates a decoupling of the various functions of the industry value chain and it allows for modularization.” Magdalena Ramada, Willis Towers Watson senior economist, said: “When automated correctly, besides being increasingly economical to deploy, parametric products are an important tool to access underserved segments and bridge coverage gaps. Their underlying policy structure and digital nature fundamentally reduce the complexity and frictional costs of traditional insurance, allowing for the simplicity, scalability and flexibility needed to cater to most of these markets.” In the report, Dr Ramada adds: “Data from drones, satellites, smart devices and wearables can deliver automation in many parametric insurance products. They can further help to improve the efficiency and pricing accuracy of indemnity-based insurance. They can increase the pool of insurable people and enable pricing and products that adapt with people and businesses’ needs and behavior. That is not the future, it is the present.”

paragraphEnstar Group Ltd has completed its acquisition of a US subsidiary of fellow Bermuda-based company Maiden Holdings Ltd. Enstar, a company that specializes in acquiring and managing companies and portfolios in run-off, said last night it paid out $272.4 million to buy Maiden Reinsurance North America, Inc. Maiden Re North America is a diversified insurance company, domiciled in Missouri, that provides property and casualty treaty reinsurance, casualty facultative reinsurance and accident and health treaty reinsurance. As previously disclosed, the transaction included novation and retrocession agreements pursuant to which the company’s subsidiary, Cavello Bay Reinsurance Ltd, assumed certain Maiden Re business in exchange for a ceding commission. The $272.4 million represents the adjusted purchase price less the ceding commission. At closing, Enstar assumed approximately $1.3 billion of net loss and loss adjustment expense reserves and unearned premium reserves. Enstar is a market leader in completing legacy acquisitions, having acquired over 80 companies and portfolios since its formation in 2001. Enstar’s active underwriting businesses include the StarStone group of companies, an A- rated global specialty insurance group with multiple global underwriting platforms, and the Atrium group of companies, which manage and underwrite specialist insurance and reinsurance business for Lloyd’s Syndicate 609. Enstar Group shares gained $2.34, or 1.46 per cent on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange yesterday, while Maiden Holdings rose four cents, or 2.7 per cent, to close on $1.52.

paragraphArbitrade Ltd’s claim to have ‘title’ to more than $15 billion of gold bullion has been supported by a company that is acting as its precious metals procurement agent. A representative of Sion Trading FZE told The Royal Gazette: “I can’t speak on behalf of Arbitrade, but Arbitrade has title to it [the bullion], end of story. I don’t know what the contract or deal between it is, but they have ownership of it.” In October, a subsidiary of Arbitrade acquired the $6.5 million Victoria Hall office block on Victoria Street. The vacant building will be the global headquarters for the cryptocurrency exchange and coin company. Len Schutzman, chairman of Arbitrade, said last month the company had title to 395,000 kilograms of bullion, a total that would be worth $16.2 billion in today’s rising gold market. The company will use the bullion to back a number of crypto tokens it has planned, including one called “dignity” that is in circulation. However, Arbitrade has not said who has given it title to the gold and under what conditions, nor where the gold is, or the name of the “independent public accounting firm” that it says has verified the account. It has stated the reason for this is because it is legally bound by non-disclosure and privacy obligations. In June, Sion Trading FZE of Dubai was identified in a conference call by Arbitrade as “one of the only licensed gold traders on the Dubai Gold Exchange,” and as its partner in securing title to what at the time was said to be $10 billion of gold. The bullion was to be audited by “a major auditing firm that operates in Bermuda, Dubai and the US”, and be stored in a Brink’s vault in Dubai. As Arbitrade paid off the bullion debt, through revenue from crypto mining operations, the gold would be shipped to a vault in Bermuda. Subsequent checks by The Royal Gazette showed that Sion Trading was not a member of the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange and had no affiliation with it. It holds a commercial licence in the Ras Al Khaimah economic zone of the United Arab Emirates, where its activity is listed as trading non-manufactured precious metals. Its address is a “flexi desk” at the Rakez Business Zone. Sion Trading is a subsidiary of Scotia International of Nevada Inc, a mining equipment supply company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Two weeks ago, Sion Trading announced it had secured a precious metals contract with Don David Gold Mexico to purchase “metal dore” from its Oaxaca Mining Unit. It said it planned to allocate precious metals, including those bought from Don David Gold Mexico “to further enhance Arbitrade’s existing gold assets”. In a press release, a member of Sion Trading’s senior management, said: “We are pleased to support Arbitrade with precious metals procured from respected mining companies and known sources.” When contacted by The Royal Gazette, a representative for Sion Trading, who verified their position but asked not to be identified for security reasons, said Arbitrade’s gold deal was “doable”. He said: “Sion Trading has already put together that gold for Arbitrade. They are utilizing that as of now. There is gold from Gold Resources, and there is a bunch of other clients coming on board. Gold miners are very private people and they don’t really announce what they have going out.” Arbitrade has said an independent public accounting firm has confirmed the Safe Keeping Receipts totaling 395,000kg of gold. Regarding the use of SKRs, the Sion Trading spokesman said: “The SKR gives you ‘title’ to your bullion, and part of that receipt is the genealogy behind it, which people don’t generally give out because there are a lot of security issues pertaining to it. You don’t want to put a sign outside your door and say you’ve got gold in your safe and you go to work nine-to-five.” Don David Gold Mexico is a wholly owned subsidiary of Colorado-headquartered Gold Resource Corporation. The Royal Gazette contacted Greg Patterson, vice-president corporate development at Gold Resource Corporation, to confirm the details of the Sion Trading press release regarding the precious metals contract with Don David Gold Mexico. He confirmed it was accurate and also pointed out the final paragraph, which stated that Don David Gold and Gold Resource Corporation, its subsidiaries and affiliates “disclaim any responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release, including any or all proposed plans that Sion Trading has or may have relating to precious metal dore sold to Sion”. It also said: “Gold Resource Corporation and its subsidiaries have no affiliation to any company or entity referenced in this release beyond the sale of dore to Sion Trading. Furthermore, Gold Resource Corporation and its subsidiaries are not affiliated with and have no direct or implied association with any cryptocurrency.” Arbitrade has said it will back each of its three billion dignity tokens with $1 worth of gold. The token peaked in value at about 29 cents in May, but has declined and is now valued at less than ½ cent per token on CoinMarketCap. The Royal Gazette has asked Arbitrade a number of questions, including a request for more clarity on the gold deal. A representative for Arbitrade has confirmed the questions are being dealt with.

paragraphCalendars that show Bermuda public holidays have the wrong date for next year’s Bermuda Day after it was changed from May 31 to May 24. Government said the switch was made because tourism chiefs highlighted the advantage of the tie-in of a long weekend with the United States Memorial Day holiday. The change was announced by John Rankin, the Governor, in the Official Gazette last week, but it came too late to change many of next year’s calendars. Fraser Hunt, the manager at Hamilton’s Flying Colours gift shop, said most 2019 calendars were printed up to a year ago. He added: “It will definitely add some confusion, but I’m sure the date will be heavily advertised and people will probably figure it out. We’ve been selling the calendars all year but you might have some people that, once they hit May and turn their calendar over, they might say, ‘What’s going on here’?” Mr Hunt said some of the calendars in his shop listed May 24 as the public holiday but others had May 31. Shakeem Simmons, the assistant manager at the Stationery Store, checked his stock and found the later date was the one marked as the day off. He said: “We may get some queries about it.” An amendment to the Public Holidays Act 1947 was tabled last year which changed the traditional holiday to the last Friday of May. The Progressive Labour Party government said it would cut absenteeism and reduced productivity in schools, businesses and other organisations when the celebration fell before a weekday. This year’s Bermuda Day celebrations were held on May 25. Government House said last week that the Governor announced the recent change at the Government’s request, “given that in 2019, May 24 is in fact on a Friday”. A government spokeswoman released a statement from the Bermuda Tourism Authority which said: “Aligning the observance of Bermuda Day with the US Memorial Day weekend will make it easier for our visitors to join us out here and immerse themselves in this unique celebration of our cultures.” Andrew Simons, at the time a One Bermuda Alliance senator, pointed out during a debate on the 2017 change that when May 24 did land on a Friday, the final Friday of the month — and the holiday — would be May 31. This was expected to mean the Bermuda Day holiday would never again be held on May 24. Mr Simons suggested an alteration of the wording from “last” to “fourth” Friday, but the plea was ignored. He said yesterday he had also considered the proximity to National Heroes Day, which is the third Monday in June, and its related weekend of celebrations when he made the suggestion. He added: “It was a pretty straightforward clarification that was just ignored because nothing that they were saying was really in conflict with making it the fourth instead of the fifth. It was just a certain stubbornness there, maybe.” Mr Simons said if the idea had been to put distance between the monarchy and Bermuda by a move away from the date of May 24 “that logic has been unwound by this recent move to change it back”. Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, added: “Why couldn’t have this been decided much earlier by Government? This last minute approach is unnecessary and indicative of a Government that not only rushes legislation through but lacks adequate forward planning.”

paragraphA mother and son pulled off a double win in a prestigious literary awards competition. Florenz Maxwell was awarded the Children and Young Adult Fiction prize in the 2018 Bermuda Literary Awards for her novel Girlcott. Her son, Clarence Maxwell, won the Cultural Merit prize for his Pembroke, part of the Architectural Heritage series published by the Bermuda National Trust. Ms Maxwell said her son’s win brought her more happiness than her own. She said: “I was very proud of him, because I know how hard he works. I was just really thrilled about that.” Ms Maxwell’s book is about Desma Johnson, who turns 16 at the time of the pivotal 1959 Theatre Boycott. Ms Maxwell said: “It sort of disrupted her birthday plans. Through this disruption, and her disappointment, she found out what Bermuda was like as a segregated community.” Ms Maxwell was a member of the Progressive Group, the organisation behind the theatre boycott, that led to the breakdown of segregation. But she emphasized that the book’s main character was not based on her. Ms Maxwell said: “It’s not an autobiography, in that sense of the word. It’s difficult to explain to people that when you write fiction, it’s not an autobiography. It’s a combination of activities that have been a part of your life. It’s like knitting — you just put the pattern together.” She added that the only thing she shared with Desma was their skin colour. Ms Maxwell explained: “I wanted a dark-skinned girl as the main character because many of the books about our people have not been positive.” Girlcott was awarded second place in the 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Ms Maxwell, who was born in Pembroke and now lives in Warwick, said it was too early to say if another book was planned. She added: “Whenever anybody asks me that I tell them I’m still in the delivery room. Women know what that means.” Lucinda Spurling, a film-maker, and Jonathan Smith, a former commissioner of police and ex-Progressive Labour Party senator, were among the other writers given awards. The competition, held every five or six years, was organized by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs. The winning entries were:

• Non-Fiction: Island Flames by Mr Smith.

• Drama and Screenwriting: Me and Jezebel by Ms Spurling.

• Children and Young Adult Fiction: Girlcott by Ms Maxwell.

• Brian Burland Prize for Fiction: Fried White Grunts by Colin Duerden.

• Cecille N. Musson Prize for Poetry: Pilgrimage by Paul Maddern.

• Cultural Merit: Pembroke, by Dr Maxwell.

• Founder’s Award: Bermuda, Chained on the Rock by Cyril Packwood.

Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports, said that the awards recognized “talent, hard work, research, time and dedication”. She added: “The writing of a novel, or a book of poetry, stems from a desire to tell a story about the world we inhabit, in a way that holds meaning for its inhabitants. As the minister responsible for culture, I am delighted to have a mechanism through which to reward excellence in this area.” The Bermuda Literary Awards began in 1999 to honour Bermuda’s writers. Books are eligible if they have been published after the previous awards. The Cultural Merit prize was added this year for “books or scripts that are notable for contributing to the preservation of Bermuda’s culture, heritage, folklife or history”. A Drama and Screenwriting prize was also added. Each winner gets a $2,000 prize and they will be presented with their awards in February.

paragraphA film-maker’s latest stunt video could be on its way to becoming an online sensation. Andrew Kirkpatrick added: “Our hope is to get one million views which in our books means it has gone viral.” He was speaking after his latest project — “World’s First Zip ‘N’ Slide — Bermuda” — was posted on YouTube on Christmas Day. The three-and-a-half-minute video shows men and women being rocketed into the sky from a slip-and-slide launch ramp and also splashing down in Hamilton Harbour from an overhead zip line. The video had notched up more than 7,000 views by last night. Mr Kirkpatrick, 35, said he believed the stunt was the first of its kind. The Warwick resident added: “We did a quick search for similar content but couldn’t find anything out there like ours, hence the name. It’s all about eye-catching titles when it comes to snagging the eye of browsers and I think that title piques your curiosity.” Mr Kirkpatrick said the video — shot in Pembroke’s Point Shares — was recorded over about five days in a one-year period. He explained: “Certain days the weather was poor or people were off island for one reason or another.” The video was shot and edited by Mr Kirkpatrick’s video and photography production company Burnt House Productions, co-owned with Nhuri Bashir. The pair have published video projects for 15 years. Mr Kirkpatrick said the works were passion projects. He added: “I would eventually love to get paid for producing these stunt videos — however it takes a bit of money to purchase the equipment needed to create these stunts, so it’s not cheap.” He said a successful TV series could be created around future projects and that there were “a few ideas circulating” for the follow up. Mr Kirkpatrick added: “What I will say is were are looking to create a Guinness World Record from it.” He said that the latest stunt was the brainchild of two friends, Spencer Butterfield and Mike Wilson. Mr Kirkpatrick said that each idea for a new video project always started with a conversation about something “cool to do”. He added: “The next thing you know you’re hurtling through the air from that crackpot idea.” Mr Butterfield, 37, said that the initial idea was to do something to showcase the island. He explained: “We were trying to have it done before America’s Cup so that with all the visitors on island it would be an attraction.” However, construction took longer than expected and the project was not completed in time for last year’s boat races. Mr Butterfield added: “People have loved it.” He said that he hoped the video would inspire new visitors. Mr Butterfield added: “Hopefully, there’s people on the cold East Coast or in the UK that look at it and say ‘wow — I could be in Bermuda pretty quickly. There’s some pretty cool footage of the harbour and it shows Bermuda as a beautiful place, so hopefully it’ll drive some tourism.” John Singleton, of Above Bermuda Productions, provided the aerial and drone footage used in the video.

paragraphA 26-year-old woman was jailed for nine months yesterday after she admitted a bid to smuggle more than $45,000 worth of cannabis resin to Bermuda. Magistrates Tyrone Chin heard that Sheneal Harris was arrested at the airport with 457.49 grams of the drug. Harris, of Pembroke, at first denied the offence but changed her plea before trial. She told the court she used cannabis to treat chronic back pain. Harris said: “I understand my wrongdoing. I’m really sorry and I’m not going to do anything like that ever again.” She added that since the incident she had passed several courses at Bermuda College and aimed to become a nurse. Harris told the court: “Doing time would really put it back.” Cindy Clarke, for the prosecution, said a sentence of between six months and one year, along with a period of probation, was appropriate. But Mark Daniels, the defence counsel, argued that a sentence suspended in part or whole was a suitable penalty. He said Harris had admitted guilt and regretted her actions. Mr Daniels said: “She took a stupid gamble and she lost.” He said Harris was a young woman who wanted to get her life together after a difficult upbringing. Mr Daniels added a “short, sharp shock” might be appropriate. Magistrate Tyrone Chin also ordered that Harris should serve two years on probation after the jail term.

paragraphVenture down to Bernard Park on any given weekend and little would you know that you could be rubbing shoulders with a former World Cup silver medal-winner. Unbeknown to most, fans, officials and players alike, hiding in plain sight among the Bermuda Netball Association senior league, is former England captain Naomi Taylor, who is using her skills and experience to help improve the island’s netball scene. “People don’t know my background,” Taylor said. “I haven’t really told anyone, my boyfriend didn’t know for the first six months, it just never came up in conversation. It always seemed a funny thing to broach, like, ‘Hi, I’m Naomi and I used to be England’s captain’!” Despite her modest demeanor, Taylor’s achievements are certainly nothing to be ignored with success following her through every stage of her sporting career, helping to build the foundations of the wave that the England netball women’s team are presently riding. Having grown up on the island of Guernsey, in the English Channel near the French coast, Taylor moved across to Bath and demonstrated her prowess from an early age as part of the full-time high-performance programme, captaining both her university and the British University team, as well as playing in the Netball Superleague for Celtic Dragons. Taylor was on the move again in the following years as she helped co-ordinate a sports programme in Zambia, Southern Africa, with government agency UK Sport, before returning to England and more notably the netball court, taking part in three Indoor Netball World Cups with her most memorable moment as captain coming in 2014. Having beaten one powerhouse in the form of South Africa in the semi-finals, Taylor and her England team-mates battled bravely but narrowly missed out winning gold, going down to a 45-30 defeat to the highly-fancied Australia. “That silver-medal moment was incredible and really helped to push the sport on,” said Taylor, who, four years on, like many in England were gripped to their screens to watch their nation, including some of Taylor’s close friends, overcome Australia to win Commonwealth Games gold on the Gold Coast in April. For me then, it was a little like what we are seeing in England now following the Commonwealth gold. You have to achieve results for people to take notice and listen. Back then it had an impact on the game, domestically, and that will have an even bigger impact, especially with a home World Cup coming up in Liverpool in 2019. Over the last few years they have beaten some of the best teams in the world but the Commonwealth gold is a huge defining moment, with armchair fans now loving the sport. Just for people to be discussing netball is a huge step forward.” Following on from her own medal success, Taylor somewhat surprisingly took a step away from playing and turned her attention to coaching, taking up a role with Superleague side Surrey Storm. “After winning that silver medal at the World Cup, I stopped playing really,” explained the 32-year-old. “I got an injury and after trying to play through it for a little while I just thought I was done with it. I got involved with Surrey Storm as assistant coach first of all and loved it. It was a different route for me to go down but still meant I could be involved in the game and that was the main thing for me.” Fast forward to April 2016 and an opportunity arose for Taylor to move to Bermuda to work with children with special needs. On arrival, Taylor conceded she had reservations about getting involved with netball again before being introduced to the Robin Hood team by a housemate. “I wasn’t going to play when I moved over here,” Taylor added. “I lived with a girl who coached Robin Hood and so got roped into it a little. She’s since left the island, so I coach Robin Hood. I’m fully back involved with the sport now.” Despite many not knowing the true extent of Taylor’s playing credentials, she has been able to pass on her expertise not only to her Hood team-mates but also to the senior national squad where she has featured for Bermuda. Having played and coached on the island for the past three years, Taylor has watched the game in Bermuda come on leaps and bounds, particularly within the youth leagues, largely down to the hard work of the BNA “I’ve noticed a massive difference over the past three years here in the standard,” she said. “The people behind the scenes are putting in so much work with the youth side of things and it is really showing. They’re really trying to create a new culture to how Bermuda plays netball and that’s brilliant. England are probably ten years behind Australia in terms of development and infrastructure and Bermuda are perhaps a little bit further behind that, but the country is certainly heading in the right direction.” However, despite the promising progression, Taylor conceded that for all the positives within the junior game, the culture surrounding the senior side of netball still has a lot of work to do to ensure a bright future for the sport in Bermuda. “We need a senior team for the younger players to aspire to be like, but unfortunately no one really seems to know who these players are,” Taylor added. “There are some outstanding players here, but there’s a bit of a disconnect between the seniors and the youth. Unfortunately, the senior side of the game is arguably behind the junior side of things, which isn’t ideal. The juniors is where your future players will come from but you need to have a set-up in place for them to come into and want to be involved. We have great under-21 players and then a group of women over the age of 35, but that in-between age group is the key to having a strong national senior team. The impact here is greater as well because it’s a smaller pool of players to choose from. The issue we have is that you lose a lot of girls at college age because they go off to study and then that under-21 group gets ripped apart. What we need is that age group of 22 to 23-year olds, when they return, to want to still be involved in the game. However, we have to be realistic and be aware that these women have jobs, families and other responsibilities, so to give up their time and dedicate themselves to netball for free is hard. That’s why the youth set-up is so important because if you can get the younger players to buy into something at a young age then there’s a good chance they will carry that through with them. There has been a culture here that other sports are seen as giving you the opportunity to go further, but in the three years I’ve been here the growth has been promising and there are things we are doing to help continue that growth.” One such initiative which Taylor has used her connections and helped implement is to send youngsters over to England to train with Superleague side Wasps Netball, a move which she hopes can help replicate the impact of English players going away to play and learn in Australia. “Every year a player from here will get the opportunity to go over and train with Wasps in England,” she said. “We are trying to open the eyes of those young players that netball can give you opportunities. We also have a player at Hertfordshire University at a high-performance centre and so it is about networking and creating opportunities. We want it to be similar to the English girls going out to Australia and coming back better players. There is no reason on a smaller scale why Bermuda can’t do something similar to what has happened in England and here you can make names out of players who are so relatable within the community.” Taylor’s input has already started to show rewards as, alongside the tireless work of Kimale Evans, president of the BNA, and Gina Benjamin, the national team coach and BNA vice-president, the Bermuda senior team have regained their world ranking, with opportunities in the new year to improve their placing further. “They are 29th but we need to play a number of games next year to keep that,” Taylor added. “In comparison, the United States are 33rd in the world and although they’re relatively new to the game, when you compare the sizes of the two nations, Bermuda have a good starting point to improve. Being around the national squad has been really refreshing and being part of netball is great again for me personally. When I played in Guernsey, we didn’t have the opportunity to play as a nation but here, Bermuda can go away to the Caribbean next year and play in tournaments for world ranking points. That is an incredible opportunity to continue growing the game. Making those strides forward is certainly achievable and with all the hard work being done I think we’ll keep seeing improvements.”

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December 27, Thursday

paragraphBermuda has lost almost 40 acres of tourism-zoned land due to the conversion of vacation properties to homes. A review of the draft Bermuda Plan found that condominium development at hotels and the conversion of former hotels and guesthouses to apartments had cut into the land designated for tourism. The review said that 483 homes stood on tourism land by 2016, with seven per cent of them created in the previous ten years. The review added: “Although a number of tourism establishments had already been converted to residential uses when the Bermuda Plan 2008 was being drafted, the Ministry of Tourism at that time only supported the rezoning of one tourism zoned property to a residential zoning. In the new Bermuda Plan, the 13 tourism properties which are zoned as tourism in the Bermuda Plan 2008 will be rezoned either fully or partially to a residential zoning to reflect their current use.” The report listed Sandsong Villas and The Breakers and Sea Cliffs in Warwick, the Wharf, Harbour Gardens, Loughlands, Salt Kettle guesthouse and White Sands in Paget and Palmetto Gardens in Smith’s and Somerset Bridge House in Sandys as properties that will be completely rezoned from tourism to residential. The Harmony Club in Paget, Pink Beach in Smith’s and Tucker’s Point in Hamilton Parish will be partly rezoned to account for the residential use of some sections. Southlands in Warwick will be rezoned from a mix of tourism, residential and open space reserve to a park, while this site of the former Waterloo House hotel in Hamilton, now offices, will be rezoned from tourism to commercial. The report said some land in St George’s will be rezoned as part of the St Regis hotel project. It added officials would monitor the growth of vacation rentals, most of which are based on residential land. The review said: “Current planning policy permits tourism accommodation within residential areas providing there are no detrimental impacts and the new Bermuda Plan will continue to support this. Vacation rentals are a growing and important part of Bermuda’s tourism economy, and it is necessary for Bermuda to legislatively define vacation rental property to remove bureaucratic restrictions and develop a light-touch regulatory approach.”

paragraphRoadside sobriety checkpoints will be in effect in six parishes from next Friday to New Year’s Day. The Bermuda Police Service announced that they will be stationed in Hamilton, Devonshire, Pembroke, Paget, Warwick and Southampton. The previous set of checkpoints took place last weekend.

paragraphBermuda is expected to receive a dozen more cruise ship visits in 2019 than it did in 2018, according to the newly released Cruise Ship Schedule. Dockyard will see an extra 16 visits throughout the year, with a new one scheduled for the Great Sound, but both St George’s and Hamilton are expected to receive fewer cruise ship visits. Penno’s Wharf is scheduled to receive 12 visits, compared to 15 in 2018, while Hamilton will receive 15 visits compared to 17 this year. According to the 2019 Cruise Ship Schedule, Bermuda is expected to receive 108 visits from regular callers next year — two more than in 2018. There will be three additional visits by the Norwegian Escape, along with one less visit from the Celebrity Summit. And the island is expected to receive 84 visits from occasional callers — ten more than this year. Two cruise ships — the Ventura and the Aurora — are scheduled to visit Bermuda in February, a month that had no cruise ship visits in 2018.

paragraphAxis Capital president Albert Benchimol has been appointed to the Lloyd’s of London council. He will be an external member from February 1. Mr Benchimol, is also chief executive officer of Bermudian-based Axis Capital Holdings Ltd, and has led the company since 2012. Lloyd’s has appointed Victoria Carter as a working member of the council, and said that Michael Watson, currently on the council, has been re-elected as an external member.

paragraphBermuda is leading the way in the insurance sector’s growing alternative capital market. 

2018 December 27 Alternative Capital Market

The large insurance losses sustained as a result of hurricanes in 2017 resulted in more alternative capital being placed in the Bermuda insurance market. Commenting on that trend, Craig Swan, the BMA’s managing director, supervision (insurance), said: “The steady growth of alternative capital within the Bermuda insurance market, particularly following the 2017 losses from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, indicates that Bermuda continues to be a trusted centre for insurance risk securitisation. The aggregate exposure of non-life (re)insurers backed by alternative capital was approximately $51.9 billion at year-end 2017, while gross written premiums was $3.9 billion. Bermuda’s share of total capacity was approximately 58 per cent of the global alternative capital market.” To put the island’s share in to context, the global market in 2017 was $89 billion. Catastrophe bonds and collateralized reinsurance are the two dominant forms of alternative capital in the Bermuda market. At the end of last year, cat bonds accounted for $19 billion of the island’s alternative capital total, while collateralized reinsurance valued at $28.5 billion accounted for more than half of the total capacity. Other forms of alternative capital structures include sidecars, longevity and mortality bond/swaps and hybrid securities such as preference shares. Geographically, the assumed risks for Bermuda’s alternative capital vehicles was 40 per cent in the US. Although the risks were split across nine lines of business, property catastrophe, including property retrocession, accounted for 94 per cent of the gross written premiums to the end of 2017. Gross written premiums in 2017 totaled $3.9 billion. The information for the BMA alternative Capital Report 2018 was gathered from the alternative capital schedules and statutory financial returns submitted to the authority by June 30. The BMA has also released its annual captive report, offering year-on-year comparisons to the captive/special purpose insurers report of 2017. Mr Swan said: “Although not yet significant in premium size, the greatest year-on-year percentage increase was experienced by the cyber-risk line of business which saw an increase in premium of $26.3 million (rising to $42 million) a nearly twofold increase in premiums written.” He added: “These reports provide further insight and transparency about how Bermuda’s innovative (re)insurance market continues to evolve and develop.”

paragraphMore than 130 athletes from four universities will be in Bermuda to train at the National Sports Centre next month. Howard University. Stevens Institute of Technology, William and Paterson University and Ramapo College are all set to send student athletes to the island in January. Nicholas Askew, head coach for Howard University’s record-holding swim team, said the group intends to take full advantage of the NSC’s facilities to strengthen their skills. Mr Askew said: “Bermuda is a beautiful country with an amazing culture and we were immediately attracted to the opportunity when it became available. Having the opportunity to train in such an awesome facility, engage the community, and connect with alumni were all wins for us. Howard has a strong alumni network in Bermuda. We are excited to bring a little piece of HU to the island and potentially connecting with all of them. We think they will be happy to see our programme and the success that we are having.” The Howard University swim team, which includes a Rhodes Scholar finalist, an Olympic swimmer and an NCAA qualifier, are scheduled to leave Washington DC for the island on January 6. When they arrive, swimmers from the other universities — all based in New Jersey — will already be on the island and training. Jack Bond, CEO of Allsports International, who helped organize the visits from the New Jersey schools, said: “I first fell in love with Bermuda many, many years ago when our company arranged spring break for college students. After that we arranged vacation travel for the New Jersey state teachers to Bermuda. The island is one of the most beautiful and friendly that I have ever visited. In the last several years our company has moved from vacation travel to arranging programs for college athletic teams. To me, it was the perfect spot to add to our destinations. I am sure that the training experience will be far above anything else the teams have ever had.” The visits are part of an agreement between the BTA and the NSC, which allows teams to use NSC training facilities at little or no cost if the team’s size and length of stay provides an adequate economic impact for the island. Hazel Clarke, director of sports and business development at the BTA, said: “Hosting four university swim teams simultaneously, at this time of year, is further evidence that we have a great opportunity to successfully activate our training camp strategy and leverage our partnership with the NSC. These types of events help us to solidify Bermuda as a leading sports training destination similar to Florida and Arizona." Representatives from the Danish swim team, SwimMac Carolina, St Andrews College, Indiana University and Germantown Academy have all come to Bermuda to train at the NSC as part of the BTA partnership.

paragraphPolice have identified Mary Brady as the woman killed yesterday in a collision at Vesey Street, Devonshire. A police investigation is under way into the 70-year-old woman’s death. Ms Brady was found at 12.24pm trapped beneath a car, a police spokesman said. Bermuda Fire and Rescue were on the scene and extricated her from under the vehicle. She was transported via ambulance to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead at shortly before 1pm. Police offered condolences to Ms Brady’s family and friends.

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December 26, Boxing Day Public Holiday

paragraphGombey troupes were out in force around the island today for their annual post-Christmas performances. Kent Henry, the president of Place’s New Generation Gombeys, said that Gombeys and Boxing Day were synonymous. He added: “In Bermuda, it is something that we have always done.” Mr Henry, 55, a drummer with the troupe for the last 30 years, looked back on a childhood surrounded by Gombeys in the Roberts Avenue, Devonshire, area. Bermuda’s Gombeys are an African tradition with Caribbean, Native American and British elements, and their practices are passed down by generations. The word “Gombey” derives from a Bantu word for “rhythm”. Mr Henry said that about 20 dancers and drummers were expected to take part backed by a support group of about the same size. He added that the troupe had been preparing for the last two months. Mr Henry said: “Boxing Day is the longest day.” The troupe started its day with a performance at the Hamilton Princess Hotel. “It’s a celebration of culture, it’s a celebration of Bermudian culture — it’s a celebration of life, really,” Mr Henry said. “The music and the dancing — once it gets to you, you feel it. It’s a spirit that goes with the Gombeys.“

paragraphA year-end bash, the Syzygy Festival, will promote designated driving as well as offering ferry and bus travel to keep the island’s roads safer. Syzygy, set for this Saturday, will run from 6pm to 3am. It will be held at the former BAR Land Rover headquarters at Dockyard, which is now the concert venue The Shed. Alex Marshall, show promoter who will perform under the stage name Fiyah Marshall, said organisers had partnered with Cada and the Bermuda Road Safety Council for the event. “Anyone that comes to the show will be able to have a designated driver who gets to have free soda and water,” Mr Marshall said. “We noticed there was a different vibe on the island because of roadside testing, so we want to encourage people not to drink and drive.” With the help of Marine and Ports, fast ferries will carry 350 people from Albuoy’s Point to the venue at Cross Island, with a late return to town. Tickets for transportation must be purchased online at the site ptix.bm. The site also lists mini buses that are available from St George’s town square and the roundabout by the St George’s bridge. Ferry tickets will be $15 each, and buses are $25. The line-up of soca and reggae stars will include international headliners Bunji Garlin from Trinidad and Sizzla Kalonji of Jamaica, alongside other top stars like Orlando Octave, Marlon Asher and Pressure Busspipe.

paragraphA 70-year-old woman was reported dead this afternoon after an accident on Vesey Street, Devonshire left her trapped beneath a car. A police spokesman said the woman was seriously injured when police and fire officers arrived at 12.24pm and extricated her, taking her to the hospital for treatment. No further information will be given until the next of kin has been notified. The Roads Policing Unit would like to speak with anyone who may have seen the collision, with witnesses asked to contact 295-0011.

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December 25, Christmas Day Public Holiday

paragraphHoliday revelers hit Elbow Beach this morning to celebrate Christmas. Hundreds of merrymakers mingled on the sand wearing a mix of Santa hats, swimwear and festive sweaters. Barbara McCreight, 73, said she and her husband Ernie had been taking part in the annual holiday event “for ever”. The Southampton resident added: “It’s a tradition — Christmas is not the same if we don’t come here.” Mr McCreight said this was the 47th year the pair had made the Christmas Day trek to the beach. His wife added: “The first time there was nobody here.” She said that the atmosphere of the event was what kept them coming back over the years. Ms McCreight explained: “I can’t think of another thing that would beat this ambience.” The pair were joined by their children and grandchildren. Kiran Shah, the McCreight’s son-in-law, said that he enjoyed the inclusivity of the day. He added: “Anyone can come down. It’s a celebration — it’s lovely family time.” Mr Shah, who has lived in Bermuda for the last 15 years, said the beach event had become part of his family’s tradition as well. The 44-year-old Southampton resident was accompanied by his three children — Tristan, aged 8, Annabella, aged 6, and Sienna, aged 3. He encouraged those who might be in attendance for the first time to “relax and enjoy the vast diversity and array of people from the community”. Mr Shah added: “I think that just coming and watching is the best way to enjoy.”

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December 24, Christmas Eve

paragraphChristmas Message from Governor John Rankin. "Christmas is a time when we reflect on what has occurred over the past year and also look forward. In particular, we think with fond memory of those events which have brought us together with families and friends. As ever, people enjoyed celebrating both the annual Bermuda Day Parade and, of course, Cup Match, two important events in the calendar which mark this island’s history and heritage and which are rightly much anticipated by families across the island each year. We also had the chance to celebrate a new event in April: the World Triathlon Series. This was a top-class event which I know included not just much professional organisation but also enormous voluntary effort. Athletes and visitors alike enjoyed a warm Bermuda welcome from the community. And Flora Duffy made history with her wonderful performance earning the gold medal. We can all be proud of her achievement and coming out of that successful event, Bermuda is scheduled to host further World Triathlon Series events over the next two years and in 2021 will host the World Triathlon Series Grand Final. 2018 also marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. A recorded total of 544 Bermudians served in that dreadful conflict. They came from the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps, the Bermuda Contingent Royal Garrison Artillery or joined the Allied Forces independently. We remembered the contribution made by these brave soldiers through a number of events on 11 November — with church services of Remembrance, the annual Parade on Front Street and local church bells being rung across the island. The day’s events culminated in a beacon lighting ceremony which took place on the grounds of Government House later that evening to mark the light that came into the world with the armistice following four years of war. Bermuda is rightly proud of its veterans, both then and now. They and their families deserve our respect for their service and for making, in some cases, the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our way of life. I also know that we can learn a lot from our elders. Intergenerational learning, as it is called, promotes greater wellbeing, understanding and respect between different generations. It’s more than just a simple exchange of knowledge and skills between the young and the old. It also shows a commitment to collaboration and respecting cultural differences. In my visits to the island’s seniors’ homes, I always enjoy speaking with the residents and hearing stories from their childhood about growing up in Bermuda. I encourage the island’s young people to take a moment — indeed more than a moment — to sit down and speak with their grandparents, or great-grandparents, to learn what they can about their family history, the history of the island and the lessons they have to pass on. During the year I attended many events involving Bermuda’s young people. I was especially pleased to join members and staff of the Mirrors Programme in the spring clean-up of Fort Cunningham on Paget Island. I was able to discuss with a number of the participants their voluntary work both at Fort Cunningham and elsewhere. It was fascinating to learn about the remarkable history of the fort and to meet so many people giving back to their community. One of the issues which I find young people are passionate about is the environment and particularly the risks we face from pollution and climate change. I was pleased to speak at the Ocean Risk Summit held in Bermuda in May. The Summit was an opportunity to bring together leaders from business, Government and the scientific community to help identify risks to our oceans and to generate new and dynamic solutions to help tackle the environmental challenges they face. One of the most significant risks to the oceans today is that of plastic. The elimination of single-use plastics was an initiative which all of the team at Government House took to heart this past year. We have virtually eliminated all such plastics from events at the House and in our day-to-day operations. As part of this initiative, I asked the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides to let me have their ideas on how to reduce pollution and, in particular, plastic pollution in Bermuda. I received many letters with excellent ideas and I was pleased to host young people from the two groups at Government House and present them with wind-up radios, including mobile phone chargers, in recognition of their imaginative solutions. I would encourage all of us to do what we can to reduce plastic waste and in 2019 look to reducing, recycling and reusing as much as possible. By doing so we can help to protect this island and make our own contribution to tackling a global problem. And going back to what we can learn from our seniors, many of them, like my own parents, grew up during the Second World War era where food was rationed, and “reuse” was not just the catch word of the day but an essential way of living. Finally, this year I have again been pleased to visit parishes across Bermuda, meeting members of Parish Councils, children and teachers in primary, middle and secondary schools and attending churches. Churches of many different denominations but filled with people who share their belief in God and a sense of service to others. And I have been equally pleased to meet those of other faiths, from the Jewish community, the Muslim community and others of different faiths and indeed none, who also share that sense of service to the community and are an integral part of who we are. I hope that at this Christmas we can all take a moment to give thanks for the values we share and the good things we have, living together with tolerance and respect on this beautiful island. I wish all of you and your families a very happy Christmas."

paragraphChristmas Message from Premier David Burt. "There is always an atmosphere of excitement around Christmas: the same excitement the shepherds experienced over two thousand years ago when Jesus was born. His birth symbolizes the very essence of this season and, in that familiar story, read in churches and sung in carols, we find hope, promise and peace. The traditions of this season fill Christians, those of other faiths, and nonbelievers, with joy as we look forward to the opportunity to spend time with friends and relatives. In Bermuda we have many traditions that make this holiday unique and truly special for each one of us. Many families enjoy a special dish made with love and attention while others marvel at the energy children find in eager anticipation of what might be under the Christmas tree. Some find their way to our beaches while other look forward to following our Gombeys throughout our neighborhoods. For some families, Christmas will be a joyous time as many will celebrate their first Christmas with a new addition to their family, while for many there will be a sense of loss, as they remember the family who are no longer with them. In either situation of joy or sadness, the most important gift that we can give to our fellow man and woman is love. Let us embody the spirit of the season in all days, loving thy neighbour, looking out for the sick and shut in, and extending the hand of friendship to those less fortunate — opening our hearts and homes to families who need assistance. A special part of this time of year is the opportunity to catch up with those students studying abroad and who are preparing themselves for careers here at home. Their diligence and the investment of their parents is inspiring and matches the hope and promise of the season. We wish all of our students, both here and overseas, well. As 2018 draws to a close we can look back on this year with thanks that Bermuda was spared a hurricane and despite the many challenges our island faces internationally we continue to have a vibrant economy. There is a sense of expectancy in Bermuda and I look forward to 2019 and the promise that the new year will bring. It will be another year of very hard work and Bermudians from all walks of life will continue to work together to build a better and fairer Bermuda. In the era of social media and communication devices which find their way from work to the dinner table, I urge you to take some time to disconnect from the virtual world and reconnect with your family, friends, and neighbors in the real world. As we enjoy this holiday season, whatever you plan to do, be safe, share love, have fun and please don’t drink and drive. May God bless you and your family, and from my family to yours, merry Christmas and a happy new year."

paragraphChristmas Message from Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier. "Merry Christmas everyone, from my family and the entire One Bermuda Alliance. At a time of year when we celebrate the birth of a child whose life has provided so much hope and inspiration, I find myself observing the uniqueness of our community. I am thankful for the wonderful qualities that make Bermudians so special. With this in mind, this Christmas, and in the days and months to come, I encourage you to look towards your future with hope. Your circumstances may not be ideal; you may have lost your job or even a loved one this year and no, the headlines won’t always look promising, but I encourage you to see yourself, one another and this beautiful country of Bermuda through the lens of hope. Determine to see the best in situations and people — because it’s there. God saw it and sent a tiny bundle of hope into a sleepy little town called Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ. He remains an unshakeable beacon of promise and light for all who dare to believe. As a people, we can’t continue to be divided as our politics suggests. Instead, we can collectively put our shoulders to the wheel of adversity and press forward with our own unique strengths. I believe in the power of this community. We are resourceful and resilient — made up of a diverse array of decent, hardworking individuals, striving to get through life and together, with God’s help, we will, if we never give up on ourselves, each other or on Bermuda. This Christmas, exchange the gift of hope! Merry Christmas Bermuda."

paragraphBermuda is expected to receive a dozen more cruise ship visits in 2019 than it did in 2018, according to the newly released Cruise Ship Schedule. Dockyard will see an extra 16 visits throughout the year, with a new one scheduled for the Great Sound, but both St George’s and Hamilton are expected to receive fewer cruise ship visits. Penno’s Wharf is scheduled to receive 12 visits, compared to 15 in 2018, while Hamilton will receive 15 visits compared to 17 this year. According to the 2019 Cruise Ship Schedule, Bermuda is expected to receive 108 visits from regular callers next year — two more than in 2018. There will be three additional visits by the Norwegian Escape, along with one less visit from the Celebrity Summit. And the island is expected to receive 84 visits from occasional callers — ten more than this year. Two cruise ships — the Ventura and the Aurora — are scheduled to visit Bermuda in February, a month that had no cruise ship visits in 2018.

paragraphInsurers and reinsurers in Bermuda need to step up their cybersecurity defences and strategic planning. The Bermuda Monetary Authority has carried out an assessment of the level of technology risk that faces the island’s commercial insurance and reinsurance business, and has identified areas of concern. It discovered that while some businesses have levels of cybersecurity and procedures in place, gaps exist and there is a need for “significant enhancements” in a number of key areas. It comes in the wake of a number of high-profile cybersecurity incidents elsewhere, including the Marriott data breach, where the Starwood reservation database was subject to unauthorized access during a four-year period — a breach that came to light in September, and which may result in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars for the company. In its Cyber Report 2018, the BMA said: “Most (re)insurers have made efforts to enhance technology risk resiliency, however, much work remains to be done before the BMA can achieve a level of assurance that the possibility of large-scale cyber attacks and financial and reputational loss is effectively mitigated.” The boards of some commercial insurers approve technology risk strategy and policies and have those matters as a standing item for meetings, but the BMA said that practice needs to be consistently implemented across the broader market. The regulatory authority noted that while some insurers and reinsurers have appointed chief information security officers and data privacy officers, other have not. Around 60 per cent of commercial insurers have commissioned third-party cybersecurity risk assessments, and most have indicated they provide ongoing cybersecurity and data privacy training to staff. However, the BMA said: “The effectiveness of the training, including social engineering and penetration testing, and tracking, was assessed as generally being inadequate.” Penetration testing is when an outside individual or team is tasked with finding ways to breach the cybersecurity of a company in order to highlight weaknesses. Incident response, recovery plans and procedures to restore systems and assets affected by a cybersecurity event were either not present, or not updated and regularly tested, the BMA discovered. It said a number of commercial insurers do not have formal incident response communications plans. The findings were deduced from the answers to questions the BMA included in the 2017 year-end commercial insurer capital and solvency return filing. The information request is being enhanced of the 2018 filing to include all financial services sector entities in Bermuda. In February, the BMA sent a message to licensed companies reminding them that they “are required to have robust policies, procedures and controls in place to identify, assess and manage cybersecurity risks on an ongoing basis”. The BMA has adopted the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, from the US, to help it assess the standards and methodology being used by businesses. While the authority recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” approach to cyber-risk, it said business must assess risks and create policies and procedures to mitigate those risks, and ensure that employees are properly trained and equipped from a cybersecurity perspective. It also expects board of directors to evaluate technology risk facing their business — including information security, cybersecurity and data privacy and have incorporated those factors into their “enterprise risk management process”. The Cyber Report also looked at the growth of cyber insurance in Bermuda, and at the end of last year the filings showed 37 Bermuda commercial insurers and 15 groups were writing direct cyber insurance. Gross written premiums for cyber-risk stood at $845 million at the end of 2017. Insurers provided data on their worst-case cyber-risk loss scenarios from direct cyber-risk coverage. The results showed there would not be significant impact to the companies’ statutory capital and surplus, with the average gross and net impacts of 5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. However, the BMA believes that much larger losses could arise from “silent cyber” contracts — that is, cyber exposures on other liability insurance policies where cyber losses are not explicitly excluded.

paragraphFestive beachgoers have been urged to play their part in keeping Bermuda’s coast trash-free. The call came as a team of community-minded businesses and volunteers prepared to help people celebrate the holiday tomorrow without leaving a trail of debris. The Christmas Day party at Elbow Beach, in Paget, is expected to see visitors in Santa hats meet family and friends to enjoy the contents of their coolers. Beachgoers have been offered parking by Coral Beach and Tennis Club on the Horizons property and they will be assisted by St Paul’s Anglican Church volunteers. Police announced that a Community Action Team would be on hand to direct traffic. A police spokesman warned that vehicles parked illegally on South Road have caused delays and traffic hazards in the past, adding: “We are asking for the motoring public not to block residents’ driveways and entrances to businesses.” He wished the public a safe holiday on behalf of Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner, as well as the staff of the Bermuda Police Service. Keep Bermuda Beautiful pointed out yesterday it does not host the event but will provide dozens of extra trash bins on the beach as well as in the parking lot to dispose of picnic debris. On Boxing Day, KBB volunteers will return to the beach to carry the bagged trash and bins up to the parking lot. Members of the public were invited to join the clean-up from 10am until noon. The charity said there was 2,000lbs of trash from the same event in 2017, when all glass bottles and metal cans were successfully separated for recycling. A waste collection team from the Department of Parks will remove the bags of trash so that as quickly as possible the beach can be clean for the rest of the holiday period. Beach visitors were urged to bring an extra trash and recycling bag from home and do their part to keep the islands’ beaches litter-free. Anne Hyde, the KBB executive director, said: “Christmas Day at Elbow is the closest thing we have to a Leave No Trace event. “I am so happy that this crowd is respectful of their surroundings and, when there are plenty of bins, no one litters. KBB would like to thank its community partners who have come together to provide all the ingredients for a clean and safe party.”

paragraphA water outage has hit the area of Cedar Park and Mary Victoria Road in Devonshire. A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works said at 5.30pm that a team had been sent to restore service. Wayne Caines, the Acting Minister of Public Works, said: “I have made resolving this situation my number one priority and my team and I will endeavor to have the water back up and running as soon as possible. I appreciate the inconvenience this causes and ask the Cedar Park and Mary Victoria Road residents to have patience as we effect repairs.”

paragraphFamilies were urged to look out for Santa Claus tonight after his flight plan was shared with airline authorities. Father Christmas and his reindeer were expected to cover thousands of miles across the skies with a little bit of magic that would see him complete his journey by midnight. The epic trek will allow the generous gift-giver to deliver presents to well-behaved boys and girls all over the world. British Airways was among the airlines that received an early peek at the flight plan for December 24, which meant its pilots would be prepared to look out for Rudolph’s beaming red nose. The detailed chart showed the approach for landing Santa’s sleigh back at the North Pole, having completed deliveries around the world. It showed that on approach to the destination, the sled will descend to 2,500ft on a track of true North between Santa and Claus. The sky-borne mode of transport will make its way towards ground on the final stages of its approach from Coming to Town. However, if conditions are too poor to land then Santa will climb back to an altitude of 2,500ft before turning right at Mslto. That will lead to Kssng where he will hold until the weather improves. Rudolph’s nose will help steer the festive team to a safe landing. The plan warns that reindeer and elves will be on the runway and that reindeer games could slow down ground operations. Other aircraft pilots were advised to look out for the blinding red nose. British Airways were handing over the rights to the call-sign SANTA1 today to Santa Claus and his sleigh. His route via the North Pole is 14,930 nautical miles and on the airline’s jumbo Boeing 747s, that would take around 32 hours. Thanks to Santa’s magic, however, he was expected to complete the journey just before midnight. Simon Brooks, British Airways’ senior vice-president sales, North America, said: “We’ll be cheering on Santa and his reindeer on December 24 as he flies around the world. He has priority over the skies that night so customers traveling should look for the sleigh and wave to Santa.”

paragraphA local firm that was part of the construction of a new power station at Belco has left the job, a spokesman for the power company said. But the departure of Somers Construction is not expected to impact the building of the North Power Station’s buildings, tanks and underground utilities. The $107.5 million deal, settled in July, had Somers subcontracted by the general contractor, Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S to perform the civil works portion of the job. The Royal Gazette understands that Somers staff stopped work on the project after a meeting last Thursday. The spokesman said: “It was by mutual agreement that BWSC and Somers Construction Limited decided not to continue working together. All of the local subcontractors that were working on the site when this agreement was made have agreed to continue to work directly with BWSC. The spokesman added: “Work on the NPS will continue as scheduled during the holidays and into the New Year.”

paragraphKairo Morton has created software that could help X-ray scans identify lung cancer, designed an app to track fishing nets in the ocean and worked alongside software developers at a leading international company. Not bad for a 15-year-old. Kairo, a former Somersfield Academy pupil, was picked out as one of the rising stars at the Code 441 Hackathon at Axa XL last Friday. He began developing his skills in computer science at Somersfield Academy, but some of his most exciting work came on a computer science camp at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology this summer. Kairo told The Royal Gazette he created software which could identify lung cancer in X-ray scans with 80 per cent accuracy. He said: “It used artificial intelligence to determine if a given X-ray displayed cancerous lungs.” Jahde Eve, the founder of the non-profit organisation Code 441 that hosts the hackathon, described Kairo as “a superstar”. Although this was Kairo’s first appearance at the hackathon, his keen interest in computer science goes back six years. He said: “At Somersfield, we had a robotics programme. So starting in P5, when I was 9, I began programming, and ever since then I’ve just been building on my knowledge and pursuing my passion.” Kairo is now a junior at George School, a boarding school in Pennsylvania. He said: “AP computer science is the class I’m taking now. We also have a really strong robotics programme that I’ve been involved in”. Kairo participated in the hackathon because it featured an artificial intelligence component. He said: “My main goal is to do software engineering and AI specifically. It’s what I want to spend my life doing.” Kairo also took part in the 2016 Fishackathon in Georgia, in which he had to develop an app with an environmental focus. He said: “I created an app that allows people to identify fishing nets based on diameter and size. You can then target where fishing nets are being lost in the ocean and which big industrial fishing companies are losing their nets. So scientists can pick up a piece of fishing net and it goes through a database, and then they can find out where it came from.” While at Somersfield, Kairo also completed a work-shadowing at Sompo International, formerly Endurance. He said: “I had to do my own research to find out where software developers work in Bermuda, and Endurance was one of the main places, so I e-mailed them and asked if I could shadow them for a day or two and they said yes.” Kairo, who also took part in a computer science camp at Oxford University last year, intends to study computer science at university and then make a career out of it. He added: “There are practical uses for AI in every industry. It can help so many people. What humans can’t see, AI can pick up. It can help augment people’s abilities to be the best they can be, making the world a better place overall.”

paragraphA chef hoped diners would engage with strangers when he served Christmas dinners to those less fortunate last night. Michiko Campbell welcomed crowds of people to share in the festive atmosphere and enjoy meals outside the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton. It was the fourth time he staged the event, which returned after work commitments meant the 29-year-old was unable to offer it in 2017. Mr Campbell hoped people were encouraged to interact with others. He said: “It was our first time adding tables, we wanted to create the atmosphere of community and bringing people together. This was probably the most common thing to do — have long tables so everybody can sit together. People are interacting with people they probably don’t even know. You get a lot of different emotions, people come with a lot of different burdens so we’re here to listen as well.” Mr Campbell said free meals were served to “everybody and anybody in need” and others supported the cause by giving cash donations. The creator of the all-purpose seasoning Chiko’s Smokey Rub added: “I feel there’s a lot more interaction this year, a lot more warm feeling. People are coming out to support it but you do see people less fortunate than others.” His target was to provide 800 dinners that included turkey, ham, vegetables and cassava pie.  More than 200 meals were delivered to residential and nursing homes for seniors and people with special needs before the event started yesterday. Mr Campbell explained: “I was always supported for my small business, Chiko’s Smokey Rub, so I thought, why can’t I support somebody else? We have a lot of people all year round who go without hot food, or have to go to Salvation Army or other places just to get food to fill their belly, so why not put on an event? My twin brother Machai, who died ten years ago, we always wanted to do a small event of giving back. Once I decided to do it, it has just been full on.” Among those enjoying the food was Rose James, of Southampton, whose family has been friends with Mr Campbell’s family for years. She said: “We just thought we would come and support Chiko and what he’s doing for the community. It’s a very nice atmosphere and nice to see the community coming together.” Ms James added: “It’s marvelous that he’s doing something of this magnitude for the community. I wish him much success.” Shirley Smith, 75, of Devonshire, heard about the event through word of mouth. She said: “With all the torment and uncertainty in the world, it’s a good thing that good-hearted people think enough to bring things like this together.” Another happy diner was Wyndham Smith, 63, of Warwick, who described the meal as “one of the best” he had eaten. He added: “It’s so nice that they do this.” Mr Campbell thanked the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club for offering the space in front of its venue. He was also grateful to companies that sponsored the event as well as the 36 volunteers assisting last night. Mr Campbell hoped the money raised would come close to or surpass the $3,000 total from 2016. The recipient of the charity donation from this year’s event had yet to be confirmed but previous donations have gone to charities or to medical patients struggling with costs.

paragraphAn East End businesswoman was found dead in a home in St David’s on Saturday. Selena Minors, 51, was discovered at the property in Cove Valley Lane shortly before 4pm. She was remembered yesterday as someone who helped others and acted like a “second mother” to young people in her community. Ms Minors, a St David’s Islander, was the owner and operator of Selena’s restaurant in St George’s before it closed about two years ago. Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, said yesterday: “She will definitely be a miss. This is very sad.” She said Ms Minors had two children and ran Selena’s for more than ten years, becoming “instrumental” in community events in both St George’s and St David’s. Ms Francis recalled how the businesswoman held a fundraising event for her birthday in August to help a mother whose son needed medical treatment overseas. She added: “She was very community-minded and she was about ensuring that her community would succeed. She used to assist in any area that she could. The Facebook comments have been pouring in to say how much she was like a second mother to a lot of the young people in the community. She was a very personable person, she really was concerned about people and ensuring they could fill out their full potential.” Ms Francis added: “There are many people that are shocked and saddened by the news, especially around Christmas time. Our heartfelt, sincere condolences go to her children, siblings and grandchildren.” Ms Minors was renowned for her cooking and worked at a string of restaurants including the Halfway House, Wok and Specialty Inn before opening her own business on Mullet Bay Road. Her community work included an annual Causeway BBQ Throwdown & Block Party which gave passionate barbecuers a chance to showcase their skills. Kim Swan, the Progressive Labour Party MP for St George’s West, said: “I’m very saddened by the news of Selena’s passing.” He remembered Ms Minors’s barbecue cookouts as being “very popular”. Mr Swan said: “She was an entrepreneur but she had a tremendous spirit of helping.” He added: “She was a good businesswoman and she ran a good business establishment. What struck me was that although she was a business person she took her organizational skills to help the community as well.” Mr Swan said: “She did things that helped other people’s children. She was well-loved and well-liked and respected. My wife Cindy and I express our sincere condolences to her family, to her friends and to the community that mourns her passing.” Mr Swan pointed out that people in St George’s had “endured quite a number of deaths recently”. He added: “2018, when it comes to persons passing on, has not been very favourable for us in that regard.” Police said on Saturday that Ms Minors was found in an unresponsive state and foul play was not suspected but an investigation into the death was launched.

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December 23, Sunday

paragraphA second man was arrested after police seized three firearms and drugs with a street value of nearly $1 million. Officers launched a two-day operation in the Curving Avenue area of Pembroke last week. Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley said several search warrants were carried out in a number of communities and told a press conference last Friday that one person was in custody. A BPS spokesman said today that the investigation continued. He added: “Two men have been arrested in connection with this incident and a court appearance is anticipated in the near future.” Anyone with information was asked to call police on 295-0011 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 800-8477.

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December 22

paragraphBermuda’s traditional May 24 holiday has been moved — to May 24. John Rankin, the Governor, was asked by the Government to announce that the public holiday will not be on Friday, May 31 in 2019 but will instead be marked a week earlier. It means the celebrations will take place on the traditional Bermuda Day date despite legislation introduced a year ago that suggested it would never fall on that date again. A government spokeswoman said yesterday the change came after the Bermuda Tourism Authority had asked to align next year’s holiday with the United States Memorial Day weekend. The Progressive Labour Party government tabled amendments to the Public Holidays Act 1947 in November 2017 that changed the fixed date of May 24 to the last Friday of the month. Andrew Simons, then a One Bermuda Alliance senator, pointed out during a debate on the switch that when May 24 did land on a Friday, the final Friday of the month, and in turn the holiday, would be May 31. Mr Simons suggested altering the wording from “last” to “fourth” Friday but the plea was ignored. A list of public holidays on the Government’s website yesterday maintained that Bermuda Day, seen as the unofficial start to the summer, would be marked on May 31 in 2019. However, a proclamation by Mr Rankin, published on the Official Gazette this week, stated: “I do hereby declare that Friday, the thirty-first day of May 2019 shall not be kept as the Bermuda Day public holiday and that Friday, the twenty-fourth day of May 2019 shall be kept as the Bermuda Day public holiday in lieu.” Government House said yesterday: “The Governor was pleased to make this proclamation at the request of the Government given that in 2019, May 24 is in fact on a Friday.” The Government spokeswoman said: “This alteration to the public holidays for the coming year has been made in consultation with the Bermuda Tourism Authority.” She provided a comment from the BTA, which said: “Aligning the observance of Bermuda Day with the US Memorial Day weekend will make it easier for our visitors to join us out here and immerse themselves in this unique celebration of our cultures.” The Bermuda Day holiday originated from a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday. It was renamed Bermuda Day in 1979, based on recommendations by the Pitt Report into civil unrest in the 1970s, but the date of the holiday was unchanged. Zane DeSilva, when he was minister of social development and sport, said last year the amendment meant the holiday would be celebrated over a long weekend rather than sometimes falling on a weekday. He believed then it would allow for better planning and added: “There has always been a complaint that the absentee rate for schoolchildren and employees is higher when the holiday is celebrated during the week. We also feel that with this change there can be more planning with regard to the parade.” The amendment took effect before this year’s Bermuda Day celebrations, which were held on May 25. Government was asked for comment yesterday but none was received by press time.

paragraphTwo volunteers at the Grateful Bread feeding programme proved you are never too distinguished to roll up your sleeves and help the community. David Burt, the Premier, and Leo Mills, an acting magistrate, dished out food to the homeless and needy at a community action dinner programme on Thursday. At least 200 people attended the festive event, organized by staff at Canterbury Law, at Astwood Hall, Pembroke. The Premier, who was volunteering with his wife, Kristin, and two children, Nia and Edward, said: “We feel that it is important to teach our children the spirit of the Christmas holiday. “It is a wonderful programme and we have supported it before. It reminds you of the incredible amount of work that remains to be done but also that this is a time to bring happiness and joy to people. It’s seasons like this that you show the true Bermudian spirit and all the country pitches in.” Mr Mills described the event as “a shining example of the way in which the community comes together” and he added: “It is a wonderful gesture and a wonderful testimony to the love and grace of the community as a whole. It’s great to be a part of it. This is my second time at the ‘rodeo’ and I have enjoyed it immensely.” The food drive was the 23rd of its kind organized by Grateful Bread since January 2017. A complimentary turkey dinner with all the trimmings was served and free items were given out, including clothes, household necessities and toiletries. One woman, who asked to be named as Mrs Minors, said she takes leftover food to those in her neighborhood who are out of work. “It is a blessing for lots of people,” she said. “This is a time for people to get together. Some people are alone and they don’t want to eat alone so they come out and enjoy the atmosphere. Most times I take food home for my neighbors who are struggling. They don’t have their own place — they are living with someone and do odd jobs in the neighborhoods.” Stacy Wilson, who attended with her family, said: “Even with a job some people can’t afford to get by. You come to something like this and everyone helps each other. Bermuda is expensive but Christmas is even worse, sometimes you can’t afford gifts. I hold part-time jobs so it is very hard for me — the money I make goes on my rent and just groceries so I struggle.” Larrita Adderley, who was attending the event for the second time, added: “I love it. I know what it feels like — the struggle. I was on Financial Assistance, I’m off it now. I volunteered for 11 months at a nursery and from that I got hired so I have been doing that for two years but it is still expensive out there. This helps a lot.” Organizer Juliana Snelling said that volunteers were now delivering food plates to people on the streets. She said: “I had tried to go out in the van and bring them here but some can’t walk and some don’t want to come here. So last month, for the first time, we started packing up what was left and taking it out.” Residents of senior homes Westmeath Home and Matilda Smith Home received special invitations to this year’s dinner. The next dinner will be held on January 31 at the same location. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact co-ordinator Suzi Outerbridge on 296-8444 or e-mail jsnelling@canteburylaw.bm or souterbridge@canteburylaw.bm.

paragraphPolice seized three firearms and drugs with a street value of nearly $1 million in raids in Pembroke this week. One person is in police custody after two days of activity in the Curving Avenue area, Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley told a press conference today. Mr Corbishley said several search warrants were carried out in several communities this week. The raids took place on Wednesday and yesterday. He said police hope to make further arrests after the guns are analyzed for DNA. Ballistics tests will also be conducted to see if these firearms have been used in previous shootings, Mr Corbishley said. The drugs were a combination of cannabis, crack cocaine and others. Mr Corbishley said: “This represents the most significant firearms recovery with three firearms and just under $1 million worth of drugs being taken off Bermuda Streets.” Two of the firearms were found in the same location. He praised the hard work and dedication of police officers carrying out intelligence-based operations but said work would continue in these communities. “This, however, is not a time for us to be complacent, but it just highlights the work that has to be done to make the community safer. The guns and drugs removed from the street will impact the ability of criminals to cause harm, distress and the loss of life. I want a vacuum in the drug market. I want drugs to be off my streets. I want to reduce the amount, the availability and the access that young people have to drugs. I call on people to trust the police and to share information with the police to make communities safer. I want people to feel confident in the Bermuda Police Service, confident that they can contact us, confident that we will keep it confidential. The communities where these firearms were found are good communities. They are communities with different people: seniors, young people, families, law abiding.” He said it was still early to confirm if the find was related to any gang operations. Six firearms have been seized so far this year by the police. One firearm was recovered by the police last year, three in 2016 and seven in 2015. In total, 22 have been recovered in the past seven years.

paragraphTwo teenagers have been convicted of the murder of Lyrico Steede, a 17-year-old Bermudian student who was fatally stabbed in Nottingham, UK, on February 13. A jury at Nottingham Crown Court has found three other teens guilty of manslaughter. Kasharn Campbell, 19, and Christian Jameson, 18, were both found guilty of murder. Manslaughter verdicts were returned for a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, as well as Remmell Campbell-Miller, 18. Mr Steede, who lived with family in Nottingham, was attacked in a park in Stock Well in the Bullwell area of Nottingham after being chased. He managed to reach a residence, where police found him seriously injured with wounds to his face, arm, leg and back. Mr Steede died in hospital five days later. The five will be sentenced on January 25. The case made headlines in Britain and devastated Mr Steede’s family in Bermuda and the UK. Nottingham, an East Midlands city about 130 miles north of London, has become host to a small community of Bermudians abroad. Known as Rico, Mr Steede was the only son to his father Jermaine and mother Keishaye. He had two sisters, Lexxs and Legecy. Family described him as “an extremely quiet, but happy and humble child”.

paragraphAnti-gang leaders Wayne Caines and Pastor Leroy Bean rolled up their sleeves to remove graffiti from a wall in Pembroke. Mr Caines, the Minister of National Security, and Mr Bean, the gang violence co-ordinator, took action against the gang-related graffiti in the area of North Terrace yesterday. They were helped by Progressive Labour Party MP Michael Weeks and PLP stalwart Shirlene Bascome, while Rowe Spurling Paint Company donated the paint. Mr Caines said: “The Neighbours were very upset. We could not stand by and allow the graffiti to stand over the Christmas holiday, so we borrowed clothes from a neighbour and painted the wall. I ask the persons responsible and remind all of Bermuda to participate in positive activities and work together to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for all.” Mr Caines said the Police Community Action Team would attend the neighborhood yesterday."

paragraphExperts from the United States made a surprise appearance at an event teaching schoolchildren technology skills yesterday. Seventy-five pupils gathered for the fifth annual Code 441 Hackathon at Axa XL, where they tackled subjects from simple coding to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Jahde Eve, 28, organized the event to try to give young people, including those who are not academic, a chance to gain an edge in the technology industry. The panel of guests included David Burt, the Premier. Mr Eve gained two tutors after tourists Maria Hwang and Mark Santolucito, visiting from New York, found out about the hackathon through The Royal Gazette. Ms Hwang, 34, and Mr Santolucito, 28, explained they were eating at the Hamilton Pastry Shop on Thursday when they noticed a discarded copy of the Gazette. Ms Hwang, a professor of computer science at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, said: “After we read the article, we looked up the Code 441 website and contacted Jahde. We’re both in computer science, and people in our field are normally always interested in motivating other people to become involved in computer science and not to be scared of it. We’re educators, so it always comes naturally that we want to participate in something like this.” Mr Santolucito, a computer science PhD student at Yale University, said: “On vacation, you want to do things that are fun and that you feel good about, and of course the opportunity to teach children computer science, that’s perfect.” Mr Santalucito gave a machine learning crash course to advanced students while Ms Hwang guided beginners. Ms Hwang said: “For me, it’s really important that people who don’t go through the traditional course do have an opportunity and can study computer science. It’s prevalent that females aren’t in the field, they feel like they don’t belong or that they can’t do it, so it’s very important for me to try to break that cycle.” Another volunteer, Andrew Pang, 24, a friend of Mr Eve, travelled from New York. He said: “It’s important that these children get to a place where they can help make the changes that they want to see happen in the world by learning these different languages to instruct the computers.” TN Tatem Middle School pupil Jayden Symons, 11, was on the course for beginners. He described the course as “extremely excellent” and added: “We’ve been learning about coding and how to fix bugs in the computer. It was very fun and enjoyable. It’s a great experience for me and the other young people that came.” Mr Eve’s parents, Wendell and Marilyn Eve, have been attending the hackathons as volunteers since its inception in 2013. Wendell Eve said: “He’s always said that he wanted to come back to Bermuda and give back to the children, especially those that may not get the opportunity to do things like this otherwise. Each year I see more and more children coming, so it’s working.” The project is sponsored by Hamilton Insurance Group, which has pledged to boost the digital literacy of Bermuda’s young people.

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December 21

paragraphThe Government has to get its accounts in order after “significant arrears” were found in financial statements covering a seven-year period, the Auditor-General said in a hard-hitting report released yesterday.  Heather Thomas said that 34 government organisations were at least one year behind with their financial statements at the end of the 2017 financial year — equivalent to 134 years. She added: “This is unacceptable, and, in my report, I urge Government to take all necessary steps to correct this situation.” Ms Thomas warned that the Government was “making decisions without knowing the combined financial position of all the organisations that make up the Government”. She said: “It is not providing the House of Assembly or the public the analytical information that would help them understand Government’s financial statements and its financial condition. There are no effective long-term plans for reducing the annual and accumulated deficits or the associated debt, the unfunded liabilities of its major pension plans or the size of taxpayer indebtedness, all of which continue to grow unsustainably.” Ms Thomas said that each year of inaction worsened. She added: “And the problems are serious.” Ms Thomas said a plan to cut debt and the deficit should become “the highest priority”. She was speaking as her office published its scrutiny of Government departments for the financial years ended from March 2011 to March 2017. The time frame spanned the last One Bermuda Alliance government and almost two years of the previous Progressive Labour Party administration. Ms Thomas reported on all seven years in one document and added seven recommendations, as well as responses to the recommendations from the Ministry of Finance. Ms Thomas highlighted qualified opinions and disclaimers of opinion that suggested “all is not well” in the 183-page report. She said there had been “pockets of improvement” in government accounting, but that documentary support for amounts recorded in the financial statements were not available. Ms Thomas said the Government should consolidate all its finances from this financial year, and tackle the unfunded liabilities of its pension funds and health insurance. Other recommendations included acting on the advice of the Sage Commission on government spending and efficiency, and dealing with businesses that had defaulted on tax payments. Ms Thomas, who became Auditor-General in 2016, said that at the start of her term, the office had not completed an annual report since 2010. She added that Heather Jacobs Matthews, her predecessor, had faced “significant challenges”. Ms Thomas said that the lack of documentary support for transactions and delays in the preparation for audit of financial statements meant that in the short term, “even with significant effort to bring financial statements up to date, there are likely to be many more opinions qualified or disclaimed”. She added that the Commission of Inquiry set up in 2016 to look at failures to comply with government financial instructions had taken up “significant” staff. Ms Thomas said that, while the Auditor-General’s office had kept within budget over the seven-year period, the workload required more staff. She added the office should be “organised differently”, with more senior auditors and “at least two posts” delegated to performance auditing. Ms Thomas said that ministers who ran departments which were in arrears should take “all possible steps to bring financial statement preparation up to date as soon as possible”. She added that her office and the Public Accounts Committee should work together better to ensure the ship of state was kept on an even financial keel.

paragraphA total of 161 applicants based in Bermuda have applied for 27 jobs listed on a careers site for financial technology firm Bitcarbon, the company’s founder and chief executive said last night. Cormac Kinney, an American entrepreneur and software designer, said there had been 172 applications altogether for the posts listed on careers.bitcarbon.com. Mr Kinney added: “We are encouraged by the response thus far and look forward to beginning application reviews in the coming weeks. Our jobs require many of the same skills needed for careers in the insurance industry, such as arbitration, member services, financial accounting and risk management. Because of that, our hope is that extensive training won’t be required for the majority of the roles. Since Bitcarbon and the Diamond Standard Exchange have not yet submitted the final application for approval by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, I must restrain my natural enthusiasm to share more of our plans.” He was speaking after the Opposition leader claimed the country’s fintech sector had still to produce jobs for Bermudians. Craig Cannonier said a response by David Burt, the Premier, to a parliamentary question on the number of Bermudians employed in the area was “tantamount to zero”. Mr Cannonier earlier asked Mr Burt how many jobs had been created as a result of 44 incorporations of fintech companies in Bermuda. He also wanted to know the job titles and the number of Bermudians employed in the industry. A response to Mr Cannonier’s question was on the House of Assembly Order of Business for December 7 but the written answer he received was dated December 17. Mr Burt told Mr Cannonier then that job creation was a matter for the private firms involved and there was no obligation for the Government to collate the figures. He also said that the query did not seek information on “a question of fact within the official cognizance of the minister” as set out in House Standing Orders, the rulebook for the House of Assembly. Mr Burt added: “There is no means by which to properly determine a ‘direct result’ in this case.” He also directed the Opposition leader to a website for fintech firm Bitcarbon where he said “one such company has listed 27 jobs they intend to fill in Bermuda”. Mr Cannonier told The Royal Gazette: “The Premier has decided he’s not answering the question and uses a clause to essentially say that there is no means by which to properly determine a direct result in this case.” He added: “What Mr and Mrs Bermuda want to know is, where are the jobs? And this answer is tantamount to zero. Zero jobs have been created, but this Premier is not willing to be transparent, is not willing to be direct about the answers to this question.” Mr Cannonier added that Mr Burt’s suggestion to look at job adverts was also “not answering the question. This should be concerning to Mr and Mrs Bermuda. If this is the direction that we’re going, then the Premier has challenges on his hands. If we’re going in the direction of creating a third pillar, fintech, then it is incumbent on this government to keep its finger on the pulse of what’s going on.” Mr Burt told MPs last Friday there were now 52 financial technology companies licensed in Bermuda, but that they were held back by “complications to banking within this particular sector”. He said last night: “The Opposition leader may not like the rules in the House of Assembly, but they exist and apply to him like every other MP.” Mr Burt added that there had been “positive economic signs” over the past year, including new incorporations in international and island business. He added: “Where indicators are not performing as this economy needs them to, we are working with those sectors to repurpose and retool individuals for the jobs that will come in this economy.” Mr Burt accused Mr Cannonier of trying to “bash new companies before they’ve even had the chance to commence operations”. He added: “We committed to growing this economy for more and more Bermudians to participate and share in that growth and these incorporations are a critical step towards fulfilling that promise.” The Premier tweeted on Monday that Mr Kinney had visited the Cabinet Office. Mr Burt told followers that Mr Kinney discussed plans for the company’s Bermudian-based fintech business and encouraged Bermudians to visit the online jobs list. The positions advertised for Hamilton included receptionist, staff accountant, customer support managers and assistant to the executive team.

Police boat GuardianparagraphThe $1.7 million white elephant flagship of the police fleet is up for sale. A police spokesman said the Australian-built MV Guardian was on the market because “the cost of maintaining it outweighs the benefit of retaining it”. The boat, which spends most of its time tied up in Dockyard, was bought 12 years ago as a replacement for the old Blue Heron. The spokesman said the BPS hoped to get funding to buy a more versatile replacement. It is the hope that the Bermuda Government will see fit to allocate funds to purchase a new boat for the Bermuda Police Service in the upcoming Budget. The Guardian has been used in its time for various offshore drug interdiction operations and as a command platform for major on-water events such as the America’s Cup, Non-Mariners event and holiday weekends.” A police spokesman refused to release the annual cost of running the boat without a public access to information request. He earlier said the cost to maintain the vessel could not be given because the cost “varied from one year to the next”. An advertisement for the boat, published last week in The Royal Gazette, did not list a price. However, it said that duty of up to 35 per cent of the sale price would have to be paid, with the tax level based on the future use of the boat. Michael Dunkley, a former One Bermuda Alliance premier and national security minister, said he was not surprised to see the Guardian up for sale given the changing nature of marine police work. He added that the Government had been clear about increasing the maritime role of the Royal Bermuda Regiment. Mr Dunkley said: “Government is probably developing, or has already developed, a plan about how they could do it and what they need and a vessel like the Guardian might not be the best suited for that.” Mr Dunkley, however, stood by his past criticism of the decision to buy the boat. “It’s clear that from the time it was brought in until the end point, it probably didn’t get the use that it really needed because it really didn’t fit into what they needed. I think other vessels would have been put to much better use.” The 54-foot patrol boat, designed to carry a crew of four and up to eight passengers, arrived in Bermuda in 2006. The Guardian, based on a class of boats built for the New South Wales Water Police in Australia, was said to have a range of about 230 miles and high-tech communications equipment, including GPS. The Blue Heron was only equipped with radar and a radio. Police said when the boat was commissioned that it would be the island’s main search, rescue and surveillance vessel. A police spokesman said: “It will come with a very high standard of finish and is well equipped to perform its day-to-day duties. Primary roles include maritime patrol of the territorial waters of Bermuda, ports and harbour security and search and rescue.” The purchase, however, was later criticized for being poor value for money. The Guardian suffered technical problems only months after it arrived and the Government said in 2008 that the boat was rarely used. The Royal Gazette reported at the time that the vessel had been out of port for fewer than two days a month, partly because officers were not comfortable piloting it due to a lack of training. The Government came in for more criticism when it was revealed the boat was taken out of the water as Hurricane Bill approached in 2009. However, the police said the boat was never intended to be used during hurricanes.

paragraphThe British Airways flight from London to Bermuda was among hundreds cancelled yesterday amid security fears over illegal drone flights at London's Gatwick airport. But BA flew an aircraft to Bermuda from London Heathrow to transport passengers booked to leave the island last night. Bermudian mother Lisa James said her two daughters were at the Gatwick Hilton hotel last night and not sure if they would be able to continue on to Bermuda today. She said: “I’m now here in Bermuda and I’m waiting to hear any update from BA or anyone to say if their flights are going to be cancelled because I don’t know. They are 16 and well-travelled, but a delay or cancellation could put them in a precarious position." Ms James added she was in regular contact with her daughters. “The worst-case scenario is they fly from Heathrow or they are transferred back to Manchester and go through New York,” she said. A spokeswoman for the airline said yesterday: “All flights at Gatwick airport have been cancelled following reports of drones flying over the airfield Wednesday night and Thursday morning. We take the safety of our customers and crew extremely seriously and, like most airlines at Gatwick airport, we have cancelled flights including BA 2233 to Bermuda. The spokeswoman added: “Passengers are advised to keep checking the ba.com website for the latest time of departure from Bermuda. Our airport teams are working to minimize the disruption for our customers at what we know is a very important time of year.” She said that BA had offered passengers scheduled to travel to or from Gatwick yesterday and today a range of rebook and refund options. She added that passengers should check ba.com for the latest information about their flight before they leave home. The disruption of flights, which Sussex police said was deliberate, also affected Wednesday’s flight from Bermuda to Gatwick, which was diverted to Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport. More than 110,000 passengers were affected by the mass cancellations and more flights were expected to be disrupted elsewhere because of the knock-on effect of the Gatwick closure. The shutdown was ordered just after 5pm Bermuda time on Wednesday, when two drones were spotted flying “over the perimeter fence and into where the runway operates from”. The runway reopened for a short time around 11pm Bermuda time on Wednesday night, but was closed again about 45 minutes later after “a further sighting of drones”. The airport said yesterday morning that another drone had been spotted. Sussex Police said the drones were not terror-related, but that the incidents were a “deliberate act” of disruption using “industrial specification” drones. The BBC reported that more than 20 police units were looking for those responsible. Anyone convicted of flying a drone in the airport’s restricted airspace could face up to five years in prison. The British Army was also called in to deploy specialist equipment.

paragraphChristmas started early at a nursing home yesterday as volunteers from a professional services firm delivered hampers of food and gifts to four resident war veterans and widows. Janet Whitwell-Caisey, the director of nursing at Westmeath home in Pembroke, said the presents handed over by PwC had “brightened the day”. She added: “They are veterans, so it’s nice for them to be appreciated and thought of.” Ms Whitwell-Caisey said that resident Harry Kromer “just lit up when he saw the chocolate”. The PwC team also called on the Mayflower Apartments near Hamilton and other homes. The veterans’ giveaway was organized by the Bermuda Legion and backed with $2,500 from PwC’s staff donation committee. The programme has grown over the years and now 90 people across Bermuda receive gifts and a Christmas visit. Carol Everson, welfare caseworker for the Bermuda Legion, said: “The personal visits are well appreciated, and we get many thank-you responses.” Ms Everson added that the PwC team “provided excellent Christmas cheer and the Bermuda Legion is very grateful for their kindness”. Staff at Lindo’s Market in Devonshire collated all the gifts and Giorgio Zanol, president of the Lindo’s Group, gave the Bermuda Legion a discount.

paragraphA charity that provides transport for seniors and the disabled is looking for a new driver. Project Action has launched a recruitment drive after long-serving Ernest “Shuby” DeGrilla retired for health reasons and as it started its end-of-year fundraising drive. Cindy Swan, a cofounder of the organization's bus service, said Mr DeGrilla’s departure was a “sad day”. She added: “Shuby, as he’s affectionately called, went above and beyond the call of duty to transport seniors. We send our appreciation to Shuby and his family for lending us him, and pray for God’s blessings for him. We are at present interviewing for the very large shoes that will have to be filled.” Project Action needs about $110,000 each year to keep its service running, and has appealed to the public for sponsorship. Ms Swan said the charity hoped to have a full-time driver for door-to-door service early in the new year. She added: “We will still be offering rides for rest homes in the evenings to see the Christmas tree lights — we have volunteer drives to keep that service going.” Day trips include taking seniors to medical appointments. Patients on dialysis who have no other way to get around require round trips to the hospital three times a week. Ms Swan said: “In an ageing community like Bermuda, the onus is on the community to meet the needs of this fast-growing segment. We’d like to thank Rubis, which has provided free diesel for the past 20 years. We could not have continued without them.” She also thanked Dawn Simmons, Project Action’s new board member. Ms Swan added: “We are in the process of seeking a new driver and ask anyone interested to call us.”

• Cindy Swan can be contacted at 535-9801. Rose Douglas, Project Action’s administrator, is at 297-5044 or bermudaprojectaction@gmail.com. Donations can be made to Butterfield Bank account #2000606028225100.

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December 20

paragraph“Significant arrears” persisted in the Bermuda Government’s finances for a seven-year period, according to the Auditor-General, Heather Thomas. Ms Thomas this afternoon published the results of her office’s work for each government organisation covering the years ended 2011 to 2017, under both the Progressive Labour Party and One Bermuda Alliance administrations. She pointed to qualified opinions and disclaimers of opinion which suggest “all is not well” and said sufficient, appropriate documentary support for amounts recorded in the financial statements was not available. Ms Thomas also said there had also been “pockets of improvement” in accounting for the public purse. The reports can be viewed online here. In addition, the material sums up four special reports by the Auditor-General released during that period. Ms Thomas said she had set out the Auditor-General’s strategic focus, with commentary on the office’s administration. She said that, at the start of her term as Auditor-General, the office had not completed an annual report since 2010. A statement follows: "This was due to the significant challenges that my predecessor faced in her tenure and special investigations that were reported on. I wanted to bring this aspect of the office’s work up to date at my earliest opportunity. However, I decided that it was neither feasible nor a good use of public money to produce seven separate reports covering the seven years from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2017. Consequently, my single report covers the work of the office for the seven years ended March 31, 2011 to March 31, 2107. During the period covered by my report, the office completed audits and provided audit opinions on 298 annual financial statements of Government-controlled organisations, funds, parish councils and aided schools’ capitation grant accounts, of which 133 were qualified opinions or disclaimers of opinion. In addition, as at March 31, 2017, there were 45 more audits at various stages of completion and the resultant audited financial statements were issued between April 1 and December 31, 2017.” The Auditor-General noted that the significance of qualified opinions and disclaimers of opinion is explained in her report. She added: “But in a general sense, they mean that all is not well and that, typically, sufficient, appropriate documentary support for amounts recorded in the financial statements is not available. This is not surprising, given the time that has passed between transactions taking place and the financial statements being prepared for audit. In the short term, even with significant effort to bring financial statements up to date, there are likely to be many more opinions qualified or disclaimed.” The report concludes that, while there have been pockets of improvement, significant arrears continue to exist across the Government. Ms Thomas explained that “There are 34 organisations falling under my mandate that were at least one year behind with their financial statements as at March 31, 2017. In total, these organisations had an arrears of 134 years of financial statements. This is unacceptable, and, in my report, I urge Government to take all necessary steps to correct this situation.” During the period covered by the report, the previous Auditor-General issued a report to the House of Assembly regarding the results of the audits of the Consolidated Fund financial statements. That report included instances of serious non-compliance with Financial Instructions and related rules. This led to the then-Premier establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the matters arising under section 3 (Audit Observations and Recommendations) of the Auditor-General’s Report. Ms Thomas said: “My report explains that my staff and I spent a significant amount of time from April 2016 to December 2016 assisting the work of the Commission.” In her report, the Auditor-General explains that since assuming her responsibilities as Auditor-General, she has given much thought as to where she plans to focus her efforts over the coming years. Ms Thomas said: “I have concluded that I can best serve the people of Bermuda and the officials they elect to represent them in Parliament by focusing on three broad areas:

The Auditor-General acknowledged that these areas of focus are essentially the same as those adopted by her predecessor. “I believe they continue to make sense,” said Ms Thomas, “And they are consistent with the approach taken by Auditors-General across Canada and the Commonwealth.” Regarding the administration of the Office, the Auditor-General said that she was pleased that the office’s spending was within its allocated budget for all seven years covered by her report. “I believe that over the period covered by this report (the seven years ended March 31, 2017), the Office has been resourced adequately,” Ms Thomas said. The challenge for Ms Thomas is to fill the posts for which the office has been funded. “For example,” said the Auditor-General, “at the end of March 31, 2017, we had four vacancies. In the context of the size of the Government, that may not sound too bad. However, in the context of our ever-increasing workload (two to three new government entities are added every year) together with the fact that we have only 14 funded posts for professional audit staff and students, it is very significant.” The position of Auditor-General is established under the Bermuda Constitution Order. The specific mandate and responsibilities of the Auditor-General are set out in the Audit Act 1990, and include carrying out audits of Government and its organisations and reporting to the legislature. The mission of the Office of the Auditor-General is to add credibility where appropriate to the Government’s financial reporting and to promote improvement in the financial administration of all Government Ministries, Departments and all other entities for which the Government is accountable to Parliament.

paragraphSix further members of watchdog groups to scrutinize public spending were announced in the Senate yesterday. Members of the Upper House will join MPs in three parliamentary oversight committees to hold ministers and their departments to account in an effort to get value for money. Joan Dillas-Wright, the Senate president, said the infrastructure and transport committee, which deals with home affairs, public works, transport and regulatory affairs, would include senators Michelle Simmons, an independent, and Dwayne Robinson, a One Bermuda Alliance member. The education, health and welfare committee, which includes social development and sport, will have Marcus Jones of the OBA and Ms Dillas-Wright in the group. James Jardine, an independent senator, and Anthony Richardson, a government senator, will serve on the central policy, security and economic growth committee, which also deals with the Cabinet, finance, tourism and legal affairs. Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House, announced the new groups and their MP members on Monday. He planned to meet the committees during recess to explain their roles and responsibilities. Mr Lister added: “Hopefully we’ll get them started early in the new year.” The oversight committees were recommended in the 2013 report by the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission, appointed by the former OBA administration. The Progressive Labour Party pledged to introduce the watchdog groups in its 2017 General Election platform.

paragraphComplaints to the Department of Immigration about suspected breaches of immigration law have reached 115 to date in 2018, Wayne Caines, the national security minister, revealed yesterday. There were 150 tip-offs to the department in 2017, Mr Caines added, as he issued a reminder on procedures for reporting immigration violations. “I recognize there has been a level of sensitivity about reporting breaches,” Mr Caines said, emphasizing that anonymity was part of the process. It takes two to three months to investigate a legitimate complaint. As well as relying on the public, the department uses tip-offs from other government departments as well as the police. Anonymous calls can be made to 296-5202, and the department can be e-mailed at immigrationcomplaints@gov.bm. The public can visit the department at 30 Parliament Street in Hamilton to speak with a compliance inspector, or send in details on a suspected breach. Mr Caines said: “If you see an individual or company in breach of the law, take on the responsibility to do the right thing, and file a report.”

paragraphJudith Hall-Bean has been appointed chairwoman of the Public Service Negotiation Team. Former chairman Jonathan Smith has stepped down due to work commitments. Minister for the Cabinet Office Walton Brown said: “I anticipate that Mrs Hall-Bean will bring significant expertise and professionalism to the role, having served as lead negotiator for the Government during the course of her career at the most senior levels of the public service. “The public is aware that the PSNT is responsible for leading our union negotiations. I wish to thank Mr Smith for his service to the PSNT and acknowledge his dedication and commitment to the negotiations process. This Government will continue to work with the unions to settle outstanding issues related to the terms and conditions of service whilst simultaneously cultivating improved organizational performance as we work towards a future-forward Government for the people of Bermuda.” Vincent Hollinsid and Orrin Simmons are the other members of the PSNT.

paragraphSome borrowers in Bermuda with residential mortgages, commercial loans or corporate loans will pay more interest after the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates. In response to the quarter percentage point hike in the US, Butterfield Bank said it is adjusting its interest rates on fixed-term deposits and loans. However, Clarien Bank is keeping its rates unchanged, while HSBC Bermuda has not announced any change and said if there is any impact on its rates, these “will be communicated through our usual channels”. The Fed’s interest rate hike was the fourth this year and the ninth since 2015. It lifted its interest rate by 0.25 of a percentage point, to a target range of 2.25 to 2.5 per cent. It is now estimated that the Fed will raise interest rates twice in 2019, rather than three times as was previously forecast. The change in sentiment is said to be because of concerns about slowing growth in the US and elsewhere. Bermuda has no rate-setting central bank and the island’s lenders have frequently followed the Fed’s lead. In September, when US rates last rose, Butterfield increased its lending rates in line with the Fed’s 0.25 percentage point change. Reacting to the Fed’s latest increase, Butterfield said the base rate for Bermuda dollar residential mortgages and consumer loans will increase by 0.25 per cent to 5.5 per cent. The base rate for Bermuda dollar corporate loans and US dollar loans will increase by 0.25 per cent to 6 per cent. The loan rate increases take effect on December 27, while the Bermuda residential mortgage interest rate changes will be made on March 19. For savers, there will be an interest-rate increase of between 0.1 per cent and 0.25 per cent on Bermuda dollar and US dollar fixed-term deposits with terms of 90 days or more. Those changes will take effect on December 27. Clarien Bank’s base lending rates will remain unchanged. Its Bermuda dollar base rate for personal mortgages stays at 4.5 per cent and 4.75 per cent for commercial mortgages. In September, the bank also left its base lending rates unchanged after the increase in the Fed Funds rate. Ian Truran, chief executive officer of Clarien Bank Limited, said: “The decision not to increase base lending rates reflects our commitment to constantly assess overall market conditions globally and the impact it has on our local economy. We are intensely mindful of how base lending rate changes impact our clients, and after carefully analyzing several different factors including the rise in the US Federal Reserve rate, it has been determined that we will not increase our base lending rates at this time.” Clarien recently announced increases in its deposit rates, which it said was “providing clients with a broad range of products at competitive rates to secure and grow their savings”. In a statement, Clarien said it will continue to review lending and deposit rates and make adjustments as needed “to ensure it provides a superior range of financial planning solutions for its diverse range of clients”. An HSBC spokesperson said: “HSBC Bermuda considers multiple factors [including but not limited to, the Fed rates], in our ongoing reviews of the Bank’s lending and savings rates. Any impact on the rates will be communicated through our usual channels.” Butterfield Bank said anyone seeking information regarding rates and payment terms should contact its Consumer Credit department on 298-4799. Information regarding Clarien Bank rates is available at clarienbank.com. 

paragraphCatastrophe risk modelling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that the direct cyber-incident losses for the Marriott breach will be between $200 million and $600 million. AIR’s loss estimates are based on the assumption that 500 million records were stolen, as Marriott has reported. This month, Marriott said that in early September it received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database. Marriott engaged leading security experts to help determine what occurred. It learnt that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014. Marriott recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information and took steps towards removing it. Last month, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database. AIR said the range of loss estimates it has announced reflect the uncertainty about the data that was stolen, such as whether an encryption key has also been stolen along with encrypted credit card data; and said there is additional uncertainty, as some of the records may be duplicates. Scott Stransky, assistant vice-president and director of emerging risk modelling, AIR Worldwide, said: “AIR’s new probabilistic security breach model shows that this type of event is not unprecedented, even though an event of this magnitude hasn’t previously happened to a hotel chain. In fact, the largest recorded breach for a US-based hotel chain prior to this event was less than 1/50 the size in terms of the number of records stolen. There are more than 300 simulated events in our model that cause higher losses for US-based hotels.” AIR’s loss estimates are based on an analysis performed using its Cyber Model. These estimates are subject to uncertainty and are not based on actual policy or loss data reported by Marriott. AIR said the net financial impact to Marriott will be partially mitigated by the cyber insurance and other liability insurance coverage they reportedly have, which are not accounted for in these estimated losses.

paragraphInsurance and reinsurance companies in Bermuda are doing a little more to make the festive season more enjoyable for Bermudians in need. Many of the companies that make up the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers donate funds and time during the year to help charities and organisations on the island, and an extra effort is being made as the holidays begin. Kevin O’Donnell, president and chief executive of RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd is the chairman of Abir. He said: “Abir’s most significant contribution to Bermuda is the more than $840 million direct economic impact to the Bermuda economy including millions in charitable contributions to local organisations. And at this time of year, companies and employee groups are doing a little extra to make the holidays brighter for Bermudians in need.” Abir members companies and broker advisers are helping to make this season brighter for others. Among them is Argo. This month its Bermuda office is supporting 77 children through the Foster Parents Association Angel Tree programme. Axa XL Bermuda office, a division of Axa Group holds a Kids Holiday Party each year at O’Hara House for children related to employees and request that each adult brings a gift suitable for children ranging in ages from newborn to 16 years old. The gifts can include clothing, toys or gift certificates. At the end of the party, the children happily help Santa load up the gifts in a truck and they are given to the Coalition for the Protection of Children’s “Toys for Tots” campaign. Also following the Axa acquisition this year, team members held a sale of XL Catlin branded merchandise for employees in the Bermuda office and raised more than $7,500, the proceeds equally distributed to seven local charities chosen by our colleagues. Meanwhile, Axis is giving back to the communities they call home. Working closely with its Bermuda charity partners — including Meals on Wheels, Adara and the Bermuda Cancer and Health, among others — to contribute time and resources to help friends and neighbors have a safe and enjoyable holiday. Over the last ten years, Axis has donated over $7 million to more than 80 local charities in Bermuda. Guy Carpenter and Company, as a part of MMC Bermuda, have supported Big Brothers Big Sisters charity through a ‘Shoebox Giveaway’. Volunteer staff members participate and are assigned a child, between the ages of 5 and 17, to present a shoebox to, filled with gifts for the holiday season. MMC has also agreed to supplement their staff members’ donations by giving each recipient gift cards, which total $2,500. This year MMC Bermuda will donate 87 shoeboxes to local children in need, which is their way of embracing the spirit of giving. Young people will then be invited to the offices, where they will find Santa handing out presents, get to sample refreshments and mingle with staff. PartnerRe is celebrating its 25th anniversary and another Dollars for Hours initiative: 2,000 students have donated 26,600 hours to local charities for a total donation of close to $3 million to Bermuda’s secondary schools. In addition, the PartnerRe 5K — Women helping Women — is Bermuda’s largest all-female sporting event and raised more than $35,000 to support Family Centre this year. RenaissanceRe staff are bringing cheer to 45 children by supporting the Foster Parents Association of Bermuda and Big Brothers Big Sisters with their Christmas Angels programme. Dozens of RenaissanceRe staff selected anonymous children as “angels” and went out to purchase toys, clothes, electronics and sporting goods from the children’s wish lists this year. RenaissanceRe and its employees are also assisting 100 vulnerable seniors by supporting those enrolled in Age Concern’s Hardship Programme. Dozens of RenaissanceRe staff, along with corporate support, will financially contribute 100 gift bags containing toiletries and also donate blankets — all items identified by Age Concern as very important at this time of year. John Huff, president of Abir, said: “As Abir marks its 25 years of innovation, growth and leadership, we celebrate the tremendous generosity of its member companies to the Bermuda community during the holiday season.”

paragraphA couple who posted 20,000 booklets on “the way to happiness” around the island this month insisted their motives were separate from the controversial Scientology movement. Don and Dee Pearson, who said they financed the printing and mailing of the booklet, written in 1980 by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, plan to return in February to send out more copies of the booklet. Mr Pearson admitted the couple were believers in Scientology. But he said: “We are not selling anything, we’re not trying to get anybody to do something for us. Dee said, this island has been very good to us, and if I ever get a chance, I want to give something back. Let’s see if we can share something valuable to us.” Mr Pearson admitted that he would “probably not” have heard of the booklet, produced by Scientology-backed The Way to Happiness Foundation, if he had not joined the movement. He encountered Dianetics, Hubbard’s belief system, decades ago as a student of psychology at California State University in Fresno. He added: “If I wasn’t already interested in Dianetics, how would I have come across this?” However, Mr Pearson, an American married to a Bermudian who has visited the island for close to 40 years, said the couple had no ulterior motive to their mailing campaign, which included three nights of seminars at the Fairmont Southampton, with the final one last Friday. He added that the events, which were free and involved no follow-up for guests, attracted about “a dozen” at a time. Mr Pearson insisted the booklet, which the couple had printed on-island, was non-religious, and some of its 21 precepts, such as “Do Not Murder”, might seem “obvious”. But he added: “Sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious.” Mr Pearson said he had noticed a rise in violent crime on the island over the course of the couples’ visits. He added: “The moral challenges of violent crime and drugs have hit Bermuda like they have hit places all over the world. This could be a way to get people to maybe consider changing their minds a little.” Mr Pearson, who works for a software firm in California, refused to say how much it cost to print and post the almost 21,000 booklets, but said the couple had paid the expenses themselves. He added: “Our goal was the whole island. We just couldn’t afford it. We figured we would break it into two years.” Mr Pearson said the couple planned to organize another series of seminars next February. He added: “We have a lot of family here with a lot of viewpoints, and they know what we’re like. We’re not selling anything, and we’re not trying to force someone to change their mind.” The Church of Scientology media relations department wrote to The Royal Gazette in response to an article last Wednesday. A spokeswoman said: “The church proudly supports The Way to Happiness Foundation, as it does several other secular social betterment and humanitarian programmes”.

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paragraphThree watchdog groups to scrutinize public spending will start work in the new year, the Speaker of the House of Assembly said. The Parliamentary Oversight Committees will hold ministers and their departments to account in an effort to get value for money. Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House, announced the new groups and some of their members during a special House sitting on Monday. He said: “I’m going to meet with the individual committees during the time of recess to walk them through the process and the roles and responsibilities that they will have. Hopefully, we’ll get them started early in the new year.” They were among recommendations in a wide-ranging report on spending in 2013 and were promised by the Progressive Labour Party before it took power last year. MPs from both parties and senators will form the committees, which cover areas including health, education, transport and security. Derrick Burgess, Lawrence Scott, Kim Swan and Tineé Furbert from the Progressive Labour Party, as well as shadow education minister Cole Simons, will sit on the Infrastructure and Transport Committee. A watchdog for education, health and welfare will include PLP backbenchers Neville Tyrrell, Michael Weeks, Christopher Famous, deputy Opposition leader Leah Scott and her One Bermuda Alliance colleague Jeanne Atherden. The central policy, security and economic growth committee’s MPs will be Renée Ming, Michael Scott and Scott Simmons — all PLP backbenchers — alongside Sylvan Richards, the shadow minister of planning and environment, and Susan Jackson, the shadow Minister of Health and seniors. Mr Lister said he expected the Senate members on each committee to be announced at today’s sitting of the Upper House. He told The Royal Gazette yesterday that the Public Accounts Committee had traditionally had oversight of government spending. Mr Lister added: “Their guidelines and the structure that they operated under was more the ability to look at an item after the dollars had been spent, after the expenditure had already been made. The new oversight committees have the ability to question funds and operations of ministries and government agencies as it is actually happening.” As well as spending, the committees can monitor performance and whether specific projects or programmes are on course to meet their objectives. The oversight committees were recommended in the 2013 report by the Spending and Government Expenditure Commission, commissioned by the former OBA administration. The PLP pledged to establish the committees inside its first 100 days in power in its 2017 General Election platform. Lovitta Foggo, then the Minister for Government Reform, told MPs in October last year she was a “fierce advocate” for the committees, although their introduction was a matter for the Speaker. David Burt, the Premier, said in July — a year after the PLP’s landslide victory — that the establishment of the groups fell under the scope of the House of Assembly. He added: “From the government perspective, we’ve done our bit of it.” Mr Lister said yesterday that Parliament’s Standing Orders — the rules that govern the House — had not covered oversight committees, so amendments had to be approved. He added it had also taken time to create a framework for the implementation of the groups. Mr Lister said the way similar committees operated in other jurisdictions was also considered. He added: “It’s no real hiccup as far as the government process of it. It’s something that’s totally new and there are different forms based on the different Parliament styles that we were doing a full assessment on and making sure we found what fits best for Bermuda.”

paragraphA year-long closure of a section of a road so construction of a new power station at utility firm Belco has already affected businesses in the area, it was claimed yesterday. Business owners in the area of Cemetery Road said the work did not need the closure of a section of Cemetery Road in Pembroke for so long. David Rowntree, owner of window specialists TreeCon, said: “I understand they have to provide electricity, but to close the road all day, I don’t think it is necessary. He added: “It interferes with the flow of traffic that normally would flow through here all day.” He pointed out that the construction being carried out by Belco is near St John’s Road and the site could be accessed from there. Mr Rowntree said: “I have no idea why they have to close this road.” He added the road was also used by drivers to avoid traffic congestion during peak hours. Mr Rowntree said that businesses were only notified of the closure after the affected areas were blocked off. He added: “I only knew about it when I saw it in the newspaper and I got an e-mail on Monday.” Jennifer McCarron, owner of the Animal and Garden House, said she was not aware that the road would be closed for 12 months until she saw a story in The Royal Gazette. She added: “It would have been helpful if it were advertised prior.” Ms McCarron said she has seen a decline in customers “as soon as they put the signs up”. She had been told by a Belco representative that the road would be closed but not for how long. The closure order affected Tribe Road between St John’s Road and Cemetery Road and a section of Cemetery Road between Cemetery Lane and the bridge to Gorham’s. The areas are closed to pedestrians and traffic from December 10 to January 2020. One woman in the area, who asked not to be named, said the closure would not have a major impact on pedestrians or drivers. She added that Cemetery Road was most often used only as a shortcut and that road users would take alternative routes. The woman said: “This is like a short cut. I don’t think it will affect traffic, it is rarely used.” She added: “It’s not major. The important thing is to let people know it is closed.” Saltus Grammar School, which is just outside the affected area, said it had advised parents of the closure and asked them to make alternative plans for peak-hour traffic. A school spokeswoman said it had not yet received any complaints, but would monitor the situation. She added: “We are yet to see if there will be a major impact.” Belco signed a $107.5 million deal to fund the construction of the new North Power Station in July. It said at the time that the construction of the new plant would result in the removal and disposal of nine older engines and the commissioning of four “new, more efficient engines”. Belco added: “The cost for maintenance and fuel will be less. The replacement generation will also lead to better system reliability, cleaner operations for the environment and a significant decrease in the vibration and noise levels currently experienced by nearby residents.” The firm said yesterday it would reveal more about the extent of the work and the need for the road closures later this week. The customer service centre at Belco will shut for the Christmas break at noon on Monday and reopen on December 27. Customers can make payments on Monday afternoon at the Money Shop in the Washington Mall, All Talk in St George’s and MarketPlace in Somerset. Customers can also pay online with a Mastercard at belco.bm or online through their bank account.

paragraphA group set up to support public schools has called on the public to help ease a shortage of classroom supplies. Support Public Schools hopes people will be inspired by the donation of $1,000 to every primary school on the island by the Green family, owners of the Hamilton Princess, after they were contacted by the organisation. Juliana Snelling, founder of SPS, said: “We are all acutely aware of the urgent need that our public schoolteachers have for state-of-the-art classroom supplies and resources. We are so grateful for the generosity of the Green family and we hope that their magnanimous act inspires others to support our public schools. Bermuda is a small place but that just means that this initiative and the public’s generosity can make a real impact and help to enrich our classrooms.” Schools spent the cash from the Greens on items such as colour printers, write and wipe clocks, mini football nets, art supplies and comfy floor seats. The group contacted the family of tycoon Peter Green after they learnt they had given scholarships to Bermudian university students. Alexander Green, one of Mr Green’s sons, said: “We’re pleased to be able to help Bermuda’s public schools and support their teachers in their mission to provide a first-class education for children.” Support Public Schools has generated $85,000 worth of assistance for primary schools since June. SPS was founded to enlist the help of members of the public who wanted to support public schools. Teachers are asked to identify what they need, from board marker pens to musical instruments to language-learning software. The specified equipment is bought at discount prices from Hamilton-based retailers AF Smith and Phoenix Stores. Second-hand supplies, games, puzzles and paper are also welcomed

paragraphDecember 2018 stamps of Bermuda's RAF heroesBermuda’s wartime air heroes will be honored tomorrow with a special stamp series issued to mark the 100th birthday of the Royal Air Force. The four stamps from the Bermuda Post Office highlight Rowe Spurling, who fought in the First World War, and Geoffrey Osborn, Hugh Watlington and Alan “Smokey” Wingood, who served in the Second World War. Major Ben Beasley, Second in Command of the Royal Bermuda Regiment and a former RAF officer, said Bermuda made significant contributions to the war efforts in the air. He said: “It’s great to see the Bermuda Post Office honour our airman veterans, especially as this year marks not only the 100th birthday of the RAF, but also the end of the First World War, when airpower became a significant force for the first time. It is a fitting tribute to their service and sacrifice.” Horst Augustinovic, who sits on the stamp design advisory committee, said authorities in Britain had sent some designs to commemorate the anniversary, but none had a Bermuda theme. He added that the committee decided to come up with designs that reflected the island’s contribution to the RAF. Mr Augustinovic said: “They submitted some proposals, but they were all British planes. There was really no specific Bermuda connection. I thought with Bermuda having produced a number of pilots who flew in both world wars, we could Bermudianise it.” He said he had met three of the pilots highlighted on the stamps while the fourth, First World War pilot Mr Spurling, had created a fascinating career. Mr Augustinovic added: “It was not just by the story of how he became an ace by absolute chance — he was lost, he tried to land in a German airfield and they didn’t see him because of the sun and he managed to shoot down five planes and become an instant ace. He was also an intriguing fellow in the Second World War. He was ferrying flying boats from Catalina to England, but he got involved as a contraband officer and he often made hilarious comments in his reports.” Mr Augustinovic said he knew Mr Osborn, who was a top pilot and fellow stamp collector honored for risking his life to pull injured crew members from a crashed bomber. He added that Mr Watlington and Mr Wingood both made a name for themselves outside of combat. Mr Augustinovic said he had spoken to relatives of the late pilots, who were excited to see their wartime heroics immortalized. He said: “I think stamps are a good way to recognize their contributions because they are permanent. They will for ever be in catalogues and collections worldwide.” Major Beasley also highlighted the contributions of RAF Flying Officer Grant Ede, the first Bermudian to die in the Second World War, and Airman Philip Lamb, who continued to serve even after he was injured in an air raid. He said: “The harrowing experiences that those who served in the RAF will never been known to most, yet we live in a free world because of what they gave, along with their sailor and soldier counterparts. Little remains in Bermuda of our contrition to the war in the skies save for some graves in the West End, a dilapidated building on Darrell’s Island, and the RAF ensign that flies at the Cenotaph.” Major Beasley added: “I am extremely proud to be a Royal Bermuda Regiment officer and a former RAF officer, and I hope that in some small way my duties can honour the important role my country and my countrymen played in the darkest of times.” The RAF was formed in 1918 by a merger of the British Army’s Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. About 20 Bermudians flew in the First World War, and another 80 were trained at the Bermuda Flying School during the Second World War. Many of the island-trained pilots joined the RAF, while others flew spotter aircraft for the Royal Artillery or signed up with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Four Bermudian veterans will be featured on the Royal Air Force anniversary stamps.

paragraphThe island is to host a major international conservation conference next year, according to the Bermuda National Trust. The BNT won a bid for the International Conference of National Trusts 2019, which is expected to bring 150 representatives of conservation groups around the world. The forum, from March 27 to 30, marks the group’s 18th conference. According to a Trust statement issued this afternoon, it was last staged in Bermuda 30 years ago. It will coincide with the fourth Caribbean Conference of National Trusts, allowing trusts from around the region to discuss issues. Alana Anderson, the president of the BNT, said the trust was “delighted”. She added: “It’s particularly meaningful for us as 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the formation of our Trust. In addition, it’s a boost for Bermuda — not just the fact that the conference will bring visitors to our island in March, but because it attests to the fact that we are recognized as an island with a strong history of conservation and respect for our environment. We look forward to showing our visitors what Bermuda has to offer and how we have taken care and improved upon the natural beauty of the island. It will provide a valuable opportunity for us to learn from our peer organisations around the world.” Bill Zuill, the BNT’s executive director of the Bermuda, said the conference would focus on diversity and inclusion, which was “a topic of relevance to national trusts everywhere”. The conference, titled “Arms Wide Open — Strategies for Engaging with Diverse Communities”, will be based at the Fairmont Southampton Resort with sessions to be held off site including at the Dockyard and St George’s World Heritage Site. So far, delegates to the conference are signed up from 32 countries — Aruba, Australia, Bermuda, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, France, Fiji, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, St Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Sri Lanka, St Helena, Tanzania, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Virgin Islands, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe. Bermuda residents who wish to take part can either sign up for a full delegates’ pass which includes evening entertainment for $800, or they can sign up for a Bermuda delegates’ pass, which entitles them to attend all daytime events, for $500. Residents can register for the conference at into-icnt.org/. Speakers so far include:

paragraphThe winners of the 2018 Dr Stanley Ratteray Memorial Christmas Short Story Contest were presented with their prizes at the offices of The Royal Gazette this week. The Adult category was won by Richard Voaden for his tale of A Gust from the Past. Runner-up was Alexander Winfield, with Cullen O’Hara third. In the 18 and under category, Brianna Mawer’s Message In a Bottle nabbed the top prize. Sierra Brangman was second and Kristy Sanchez third. And in the heavily populated 13 and under category, Asher Mello came out on top with A Pink Sand Christmas. Second was Ava Gibson and third was Roxy Crockwell-Laurent. The short stories, including honourable mentions from each category, will appear in The Royal Gazette on Friday as part of the Christmas Greetings supplement.

paragraphA rest home has been ordered to tighten its procedures after an elderly resident was found lying at the side of a busy road. The woman was returned to the home, where staff were not aware that she had gone missing. Now the Government’s Ageing and Disability Services, which regulates the sector, has ordered the St Moritz Seniors Residential Home in Southampton to boost security, carry out staff training and make other changes in the wake of the “high-risk” incident. The incident came to light after Krista Tatem, a dementia care specialist, stopped to help the elderly lady, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, as she lay on the sidewalk on South Road in Southampton. Ms Tatem said she returned the woman to the nearby privately run home. She added: “I went up there and there was no one around. I went in and asked if they were missing anyone. The woman said ‘no’ and then she saw my car and she could see her through the window.” Ms Tatem said she was shocked at the treatment of the elderly woman by Elizabeth Perret, the operator and administrator of the home, after she took her back to St Moritz. She added: “The staff member had her arm hooked under the lady’s arm but the way she was holding her hand had her wrist twisted under. I was saying should we just slow down but she dragged her in. The lady was saying that the staff member was hurting her hand. I told her I was a dementia care specialist but Ms Perret talked over me saying ‘I know how to handle my residents’ and just dragged her off.” Ms Tatem added: “I said to the staff member, ‘That woman does not need to be dragged down the hall kicking and screaming. We had a heated exchange. I said I was going to report her and I left.” Ms Tatem posted an account of the incident on Facebook and was later contacted by officials from ADS. She spotted the elderly woman, who was surrounded by a group of people, on Thursday afternoon as she drove past the junction of South Road and St Anne’s Road. Ms Tatem stopped to help and decided to try nearby care homes in case the woman had wandered off. She said: “She was covered in debris — she must have tumbled. I rolled down the window and asked the people there if she was OK. Then I asked her what her name was and she couldn’t tell me — she was babbling. She could have been hit by a car — she may not have the spatial awareness or to be able to identify that it was a road she was on, she might not have realised how close she was to the cars. It was very dangerous.” Ms Tatem said she was contacted by ADS to thank her for helping the elderly woman. She was also told that “corrective and preventive guidelines” had been issued to the home and that officials would contact her again in the new year. St Moritz was also told to contact the woman’s family, make sure it complied with minimum staffing levels and to carry out a risk assessment and make changes to care plans if needed. A government spokeswoman added that “heightened oversight and intervention” at the home would continue until all the recommendations had been implemented. A spokeswoman for the health ministry, which runs ADS, said it became aware of Ms Tatem’s Facebook post the day after the incident. She added: “Immediate action was taken to contact the complainant and investigate the matter.” Ms Perret declined to comment on the incident yesterday.

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December 18

paragraphAn education campaign will be rolled out to help local companies understand their responsibilities under new “economic substance” laws. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, admitted work was needed to make sure people know what they must do to abide by the legislation, which will come into effect next year. MPs passed a revised version of the Economic Substance Act 2018 during a special sitting of the House of Assembly yesterday. Bermuda was among more than 40 jurisdictions required to approve legislation by the end of this year to address the European Code of Conduct Group’s concerns about tax avoidance by multinational companies. Members heard that not only will residents be affected by the tougher controls on global businesses, but that local companies will also be subject to the new rules. Mr Dickinson said: “This Bill will impact Bermuda’s business community and by extension Mr and Mrs Bermuda in several ways, by imposing an obligation on an entity, domestic or international, involved in relevant activities as defined in the Bill to maintain economic substance in Bermuda and in that regard comply with economic substance requirements set forth in the Bill. Although the substance obligations will apply as well to local or domestic entities, the obligations will apply only to the extent that a local entity is one that engages in a relevant activity.” Economic substance includes physical presence, employees and revenue-generating activities. The legislation also contains provisions to monitor firms and enforcement for those who fail to comply, from fines to being struck off the register of the companies. Businesses deemed to be engaged in “relevant activity” include those operating in banking, insurance, shipping or as a distribution and service centre. Leah Scott, the deputy Opposition leader, asked yesterday: “I know that local companies are now in scope in terms of economic substance and so ... I would like to know whether or not there are intentions to educate Mr and Mrs Smith about their shop and what they need to do and how they need to comply with this legislation.” Mr Dickinson explained: “Local companies are only covered by this legislation inasmuch as they are engaged in a relevant activity. We will, inasmuch as folks need help understanding how this is applicable to them, be able to provide advice through the ministry. We have some work to do around educating people on the impact to them individually and so we will have to publish some guidance notes of some sort, whatever’s appropriate to help people navigate their way through this.” Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the One Bermuda Alliance spokeswoman for finance in the House, asked about the “communication process” for companies not registered by organisations like the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers. She said: “We can’t assume knowledge if they don’t have direct communication.” Mr Dickinson replied: “We accept that there needs to be an education component to the implementation of this legislation. We commit to doing what we need to do to advise people accordingly.”

paragraphMPs on both sides of the House of Assembly vowed to stand united against the “bullying” European Union yesterday as they passed new rules - see http://www.royalgazette.com/assets/pdf/RG3964221217.pdf - designed to get tough on international business. Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister claimed the House would back the Bill “holding their noses” as politicians from the One Bermuda Alliance joined those in the Progressive Labour Party to express their displeasure at being forced to amend the island’s laws. Mr Dickinson said: “It is our people’s renowned hospitality to service our tourists and our people’s intellect and professionalism to service our international business clients that enables Bermuda as a country to survive. Some parts of the world are envious of Bermuda’s success and have now openly attacked the core of our economy, our strongest economic leg, our international business industry. I speak of the European Union, who are fuelled by, or use the term egged-on by, non-governmental organisations that believe that if you do not have an income tax regime, then something must be wrong with you, that if your tax regime is consumption-based instead of income-based then you must be the cause of diverting other countries’ tax revenue away from potential use to assist to feed some developing countries and care for refugees, migrants, war victims, et cetera. Such NGOs have clearly won this row for they have convinced policymakers in the European Union to attack all low or no-income tax jurisdictions, including Bermuda. Mr Dickinson was speaking as he tabled a revised version of the Economic Substance Act 2018 during a special sitting of the House of Assembly, held so legislators could beat a year-end deadline for the introduction of laws to combat companies with only a technical base offshore. Economic substance means that companies must show a physical presence, employees and revenue-generating activities. The Bill was tabled after The Royal Gazette revealed that the European Code of Conduct Group was understood to have rejected the original version of the Act, tabled on December 7. Changes included the economic substance requirement which referred to “adequate expenditure incurred in Bermuda”, now changed to specify “adequate operating expenditure”. Bermuda was one of more than 40 jurisdictions that promised to pass legislation by the end of this year to address the bloc’s concerns about tax avoidance by multinational companies. Mr Dickinson said that despite the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s view that Bermuda was “largely compliant”, or not harmful, the EU decided that low or no-income tax jurisdictions would be branded as non-cooperative unless they submitted to its economic substance requirements. He added that the OECD planned to replace the EU economic substance regime with its own framework but that was still a “work in progress”. Mr Dickinson said later: “I understand that many of us are holding our noses as we say ‘yes’ but Bermuda has been resilient and we’ve always managed to find a way.” The Bill also includes provisions to monitor firms and enforcement for those who fail to comply, from fines to being struck off the register of the companies. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Opposition’s finance spokeswoman in the House, warned that some firms might consider relocation. She said: “We have been asked to do things that other countries, larger than ours with more resources than ours, don’t have to do.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin said there was a perceived “threat” posed by Bermuda to the stability of larger countries because of its economic success. She added: “So they’ve come with a club and with the bullying attitude to which the minister referred, to say, ‘you will do things our way’.” But Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “We will still find a way to outstrip and excel because that’s what we do.” David Burt, the Premier and the former finance minister, said some people feared the legislation indicated “the end of Bermuda”. He added: “I want to make it very clear that I am sure that all 36 members who sit inside of this House will make sure that that is not the case.” Mr Burt said that the Government would watch to ensure the rules are applied equally to all affected countries. He added: “Over the next six months, we must make this regime work, this government will lead that effort and we expect to have all hands on deck to ensure that we can make a success of it.” Wayne Furbert, the junior finance minister, said he was “optimistic” the island could benefit and said it was estimated that about 11,000 of Bermuda’s 15,000 registered companies would be affected by the legislation. He added: “Just imagine, if half of those companies were to put boots on the ground, what impact would it have on our economy? First of all our GDP would rise significantly."

paragraphConcessions for the Bermudiana Beach Resort have been backed in the House of Assembly. Zane DeSilva, tourism minister, requested consideration of the Tourism Investment (Bermudiana Beach Resort) Order 2018 during Friday’s session which has now been delivered to John Rankin, the Governor. The order is for exemption from customs duty on furniture, fixtures, operating systems and associated equipment, hotel occupancy tax and the employers’ share of payroll tax for a period not exceeding ten years from opening. It also requests full exemption from land tax from year six and ending on the tenth anniversary of opening while there will also be a deferral of land holding charges. Mr DeSilva said: “The Tourism Investment (Bermudiana Beach Resort) Order 2018 was created in accordance with the Tourism Investment Act 2017 and is for the redevelopment of the Grand Atlantic property in Warwick as a new, mid-market boutique resort renamed the Bermudiana Beach Resort.” To qualify for the exemption of land tax, the hotel developer must confirm to the minister in year six through ten after the hotel’s opening date that 70 per cent of the hotel’s staff members are Bermudian. A hotel partner to be announced in the new year will benefit the business with a “worldwide network of reservations and advertising” according to Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works. Colonel Burch said the development would will go a long way in “assisting in the revitalization of tourism and also the creation of jobs for Bermudians in this country”. The nine buildings that contain 78 apartments will be converted into 71 units for sale providing 105 hotel keys. MPs heard a resident manager had been on site for the past three months and a key part of his remit was that the hotel must be opened with a Bermudian general manager. Colonel Burch added: “I can also advise that we will expect an announcement early in the new year, once the show units have been completed.” He said people who use the South Road will have noticed that seven of the buildings look like the “House of Many Colours, because they’re painted in beautiful pastel Bermuda colors”. He told members that bathrooms and kitchens had been almost entirely stripped so they can be upgraded. Colonel Burch said: “In the spirit of frugalness, in gutting those appliances, fittings and fixtures we’ve repurposed them and are using them in not only other BHC projection but also in the wider context of Government. As an example, each of those units had a washer and drier in them and they, of course, are being replaced as well, I can report than two of them, I believe, two of each were donated to the farm facility in St George’s that needed a replacement washer and drier at no additional cost to the Bermudian taxpayer. There has been some donation of similar appliances to the residential treatment centre.” The House backed the Order the Speaker of the House said the Governor will be notified. Lawrence Scott, the Government Whip, said the hotel would help to attract Bermudians back to the island to work. He said: “We are laying down the foundation that will be able to support thousands of Bermudians coming back home.”

paragraphInterpol and several other agencies provided information to Bermuda’s authorities about Arbitrade, a cryptocurrency exchange and coin company, MPs heard yesterday. David Burt, the Premier, provided a personal explanation to the House of Assembly to clarify a statement he made earlier. Mr Burt told MPs in response to a query about Arbitrade during Premier’s Question Time last Friday, he indicated that “enhanced due diligence” was carried out by accessing the international Interpol system. The Premier said: “The information systems used by Bermuda’s Financial Intelligence Agency, to facilitate enhanced due diligence requests, contain information from multiple sources, not solely Interpol. Although this is a minor distinction, I felt that it was important to clarify for the record.” It was revealed this month that Arbitrade was granted permission from the Government as it acquired Victoria Hall, an office block on Victoria Street, for its global headquarters. The company earlier said it intended to back each of its three billion “dignity” tokens with $1 worth of gold, after the firm stated it had “title” to 390,000 kilograms of gold bullion. Mr Burt noted yesterday that Arbitrade had attracted much attention in the House, as well as in various forms of media. He added: “Some of this commentary has erroneously conflated the Government’s approval of a licence for this company to purchase property with due diligence done on any digital asset issued by Arbitrade prior to incorporation in Bermuda, specifically the dignity token. I wish to make it clear to this honourable House that the Government of Bermuda has not examined, scrutinized or approved any digital asset instituted by Arbitrade and to date no application has been received under the initial coin offering Act for the issuance of a digital asset.” Mr Burt added that the Bermuda Monetary Authority had not issued a licence for Arbitrade to conduct a digital asset business. He said: “The approval for a company to purchase property is wholly unrelated to Bermuda’s digital asset regime and it would not be correct to state that one will affect the other or to imply that somehow that approval to purchase property is a sign that other approvals are imminent.”

paragraphThe Bermuda Police Service have been ordered to look through their files for minutes of meetings held by the Bermuda Police Association after they failed to conduct an “adequate” search in the wake of a public access to information request. The Pati requester, whose identity was not revealed, asked the BPS three years ago for the minutes in the belief that the association, which represents police officers, was part of the police service and a public authority under the Public Access to Information Act. The police service denied the request on the grounds that the police association was not a public authority and the BPS did not have the authority to release records held by the association. The requester, who wanted records about the incorporation of a combined allowance into police officers’ salaries, asked information commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez for an independent review. Ms Gutierrez found that the association was not a public authority, despite being established by statute, because it did not carry out government functions, was not owned or controlled by the Government and did not receive funding from the public purse. Her decision was issued on November 27. Ms Gutierrez said the BPS were justified in not transferring the request to the Bermuda Police Association. However, she said the police service failed to conduct a reasonable search of their own records to see if they held the minutes. Ms Gutierrez said she was “not satisfied that the rigor and efficiency of the police service’s search for the meeting minutes was adequate when it was processing the request”. She added that the police did volunteer to forward the request to the association, with the applicant’s permission. The information commissioner said the BPS failed to comply with the Pati Act and ordered them to carry out a reasonable search for records and issue a new decision by January 8 to the Pati requester. A police spokesman said the service “maintains its position that the Bermuda Police Association is not a public authority in accordance with the Public Access to Information Act and therefore its records are not subject to disclosure under the Act”. He added: “It appears that the information commissioner supports this standpoint. However, there are occasions when a record held by the BPA could become a record of the BPS if, for example, a BPA document was sent to the Commissioner of Police. The information commissioner was right to have pointed this out and we are checking the records that we hold to ensure that records held by the BPA which relate to this request are not also held by the Bermuda Police Service.”

2018 December18 Commissioner's funeralparagraphBermuda bid farewell to former Commissioner of Police Frederick “Penny” Bean yesterday in a well-attended ceremony at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Hamilton. Police commissioner Stephen Corbishley said Mr Bean had a profound impact on all his fellow officers. Mr Corbishley said Mr Bean not only made history as being the first Bermudian to rise to the ranks of commissioner; he also spearheaded initiatives such as the parish constables programme, which is set to be re-launched next year. He suggested they be labelled “Penny Constables” in honour of the late police chief. He told the congregation: “There are no new ideas in policing, just good ones and bad ones. One of the good ones was Commissioner Bean’s commitment to community policing by the introduction of the parish constable scheme. Officers who knew their community, and more importantly their community, knew them. I spoke to Commissioner Bean a few months ago at length and he gave great support and advice for what the BPS does now. His leadership is as relevant now as it was then.” Mr Corbishley added: “In that regard, it may be that we do not see these as ‘police constables’ or ‘parish constables’. It may be that in celebration of Commissioner Bean’s contribution to policing and the community of Bermuda that we think of them as ‘Penny Constables’.” Hundreds of mourners came to the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity to pay tribute to Mr Bean, including Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, John Rankin, the Governor, and MPs from both parties. Mr Bean’s daughter, Gina Butterfield, said that everyone liked her father, who many called “Uncle Penny”, even if he would put them in their place when needed. She said: “I know without a doubt that my daddy was my protector, my confidant and my adviser. I could go to him with any small concern, and he would guide me through it. His knowledge and experience — he was well educated in the school of hard knocks — provided a plethora of wisdom. I’m confident that he knew right until the end that he was loved.” She recalled that after he was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in the days before his death, he thanked the EMTs, shaking their hands and thanking them for their service. Ms Butterfield added: “Daddy, you lived a full and accomplished life. Bermuda’s history books will speak of your professional accomplishments, of which we are proud, but we will remember your active involvement in our lives. You wanted the best for us, and from us. We have so many stories and memories that will live on for ever in our hearts.” Rochelle Simons, another daughter, said Mr Bean was a “man’s man” who was generous, but had high expectations for those around him. She said: “He looked after his family, he was protective of us. He was disciplined. He was by the book. Dad’s frugal childhood influenced his appreciation of the simplest things. He focused on providing for his family and ensuring that our basic needs were met. We had everything we needed and some of the things we wanted, and we had to take care of everything.” Mr Bean joined the BPS, then the Bermuda Police Force, in 1956 at the age of 19 and worked his way to the top job in 1981, becoming Bermuda’s first black police commissioner. He was named to the Order of the British Empire and earned the Colonial Police Long Service Medal and the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. The church also heard he was an active member of Abercorn Lodge #123, a past president of the Hamilton Lions Club of Bermuda and a member of the Amenities Committee of the Lorraine Rest Home.

A potentially $1 billion reinsurance company has been unveiled by RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd and major pension fund manager PGGM, of the Netherlands. The new company is called Vermeer Reinsurance Ltd has approval in principle to be licensed and regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority as a Class 3B reinsurer. Vermeer has received an “A” financial strength rating from AM Best. It will provide capacity focused on “risk remote layers” in the US property catastrophe market, and be managed by Renaissance Underwriting Managers, Ltd. PGGM is a Dutch pension fund service provider with €215 billion of assets under management. It has a 13-year track record of investing in insurance and is one of the largest end-investors in the ILS asset class. Vermeer will be initially capitalized with $600 million of equity from PGGM, with up to a further $400 million available to pursue growth opportunities in 2019, for a total of $1 billion of capital. PGGM is the sole investor in Vermeer. Aditya Dutt, president of Renaissance Underwriting Managers, said: “We are proud to partner with a respected global leader in PGGM to create Vermeer. This continues Renaissance Re 20-year track record of creating and managing joint ventures that match well-underwritten portfolios of risk to diverse sources of capital. We continue to be a pioneer in this area and are pleased to bring our excellent service and deep expertise in underwriting, modelling and claims to address the risk challenges of our clients.” Eveline Takken-Somers, senior director, credit and insurance linked investments of PGGM, said: “Since 2014, we have focused on building strategic partnerships with top tier reinsurance companies to improve access to and selection of risk. We seek efficient implementation of our investments as we believe this leads to superior returns. RenaissanceRe is a world leader in both reinsurance and the creation of joint venture vehicles and we look forward to the opportunities Vermeer will provide as PGGM continues to grow its insurance portfolio.”

paragraphStudents in public schools will not receive report cards until next year, according to the Department of Education. A government spokeswoman said: “In response to feedback from key stakeholder groups inclusive of the Bermuda Union of Teachers and school principals, the Department of Education advises parents that we will not disseminate report cards in December 2018. “The next steps in relation to the reporting of grades and the implementation of standards-based grading will be communicated to parents in January 2019, after we finalize with stakeholder groups, the way forward for both of these critical matters. The Department of Education remains committed to working collaboratively with principals, schools and the BUT to improve the outcomes of students in the Bermuda public school system.” The announcement comes after weeks of conflict between the Government and teachers over issues, including the introduction of standards-based grading. Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said teachers had “refused” to enter grades, but the BUT said they had not been properly trained in the new system.

paragraphA cruise ship’s mooring lines broke during strong winds in Dockyard in the early hours of yesterday morning. The P&O cruise ship Arcadia broke free at about 2.53am. According to a caption on a video posted by the Port Bermuda webcam, “the ship drifted backwards and sideways for a short time before the ship’s crew brought maneuvering power online.” Port Bermuda webcam is a live video broadcast produced by PTZtv in association with the National Museum of Bermuda and the Royal Naval Dockyard.

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paragraphA Bill to address “economic substance” concerns was withdrawn at the House of Assembly this morning. A revised version of the Economic Substance Act 2018 — increased from 11 pages to 19 — was tabled and is now set for debate today. The legislation is designed to tackle the European Code of Conduct Group’s concerns about tax avoidance by multinational companies. Bermuda was one of more than 40 jurisdictions who promised to pass legislation over the issue by the end of this year to address the group’s concerns about tax avoidance by multinational companies. But The Royal Gazette reported today that the original Bill, tabled on December 7, was rejected by the group, which is made up of tax officials from EU countries and meets behind closed doors. David Burt, the Premier, told MPs: “Today we are going to pass legislation which some fear may be the end of Bermuda. Well, I want to make it very clear that all 36 members who sit inside of this House will make sure that that is not the case.” He told MPs the Government will watch to ensure the rules are applied to all countries affected by the EU regime. Mr Burt said as long as that is the case: “There are opportunities for Bermuda to grow.” Under the new draft of the Act, new companies will be required to comply from January 1, 2019, but existing companies will be given a six-month transition period. Additional elements of the revised Bill include amendments to the Investment Funds Act 2006 and the Bermuda Monetary Authority Act 1969. Some language has also been changed from the first version. For example, the economic substance requirement which referred to “adequate expenditure incurred in Bermuda” has changed to specify “adequate operating expenditure”. A new paragraph inserted into the section on what the court can order when dealing with an entity that has failed to meet the substance test includes provision for “strike-off”. The Ministry of Finance has declined to comment on the EU’s believed dissatisfaction with the legislation. Economic substance includes physical presence, employees and revenue-generating activities. The Bill also includes provisions to monitor firms and enforcement for those who failed to comply, from fines to being struck off the register of the companies. Failure to pass it this year would risk Bermuda being put on the EU’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions.

paragraphBermuda’s first attempt at legislation to address “economic substance” concerns was given the thumbs-down by European Union officials, The Royal Gazette understands. Three sources have claimed that the European Code of Conduct Group said last week it was not satisfied with the Economic Substance Act 2018 tabled in the House of Assembly on December 7. One source, who declined to be named, told The Royal Gazette: “The Code of Conduct Group met on December 11 and they flat out rejected Bermuda’s proposals.” Efforts to confirm the source’s claim were unsuccessful. The group is made up of tax officials from EU countries and meets behind closed doors. Bermuda was one of more than 40 jurisdictions who promised to pass legislation by the end of this year to address the group’s concerns about tax avoidance by multinational companies. The Royal Gazette asked the Ministry of Finance if it had any comment on the EU’s believed dissatisfaction with the legislation after an initial anonymous tip on Thursday. A Ministry of Finance spokesman said at the time: “This process is ongoing. It is not appropriate to comment at this time.” The Bill was drawn up after consultation with industry and the EU to target entities with a lack of economic substance. Economic substance includes physical presence, employees and revenue-generating activities. The Bill also included provisions to monitor firms and enforcement for those who failed to comply, from fines and to being struck off the register of the companies. The legislation is due to be debated in a special session of the House of Assembly today. Failure to pass the Bill this year would risk Bermuda being put on the EU’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, something that David Burt, the Premier, has worked to avoid. Mr Burt said on Friday: “We are determined to meet our obligations and ensure the success of a thriving international business sector in Bermuda. We are on course to meet the end-of-year deadline for this legislation and I am confident that any affected companies will effectively manage the implementation of this new regime.” Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, added: “We have been in constant contact with officials in Brussels and within the UK Treasury in our endeavors to ensure that our Bill meets the criteria necessary to keep Bermuda off any list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. Technical officers within the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney-General’s Chambers have quite literally been working around the clock to finalize a high-quality Bill which incorporates a broad consultative exercise with industry partners and the Bermuda Monetary Authority.” It was not clear whether the version of the Economic Substance Act due to be debated today will be different from that tabled on December 7, or if the island will be given a deadline extension into next year to make any amendments needed to satisfy EU demands. Bermuda’s legislation, which drew heavily from EU guidance in a scoping paper published by the Code of Conduct Group in June, is similar to that tabled by other territories that have made the same commitment, such as Jersey and the Cayman Islands.

paragraphLegislation to address “major gaps” in Bermuda’s mental health system was tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the Mental Health Amendment Bill outlined requirements for determining mental capacity, including decision-making ability, for the first time. She said: “The rationale for this amendment is that a patient cannot consent to or refuse treatment unless they have the mental capacity to do so and this is currently not present in law. The mental capacity framework will establish principles and criteria to determine if a person is able to make a decision and if they are deemed unable, to ensure the decision is made in their best interests.” Ms Wilson added that the Mental Health Act does not at present have legal safeguards for patients who refused treatment or could not consent to treatment. She said the law change was designed to cover patients under mental health orders, whether in hospital or allowed to live at home. Ms Wilson added: “The Bill establishes safeguards for patients regarding consent to treatment, which will apply to all detained patients whether in hospital for treatment or living in the community under a community treatment order, which is the final change introduced by the Bill.” Ms Wilson explained that the Bill included provisions that covered treatment of patients granted leave from the hospital. She said: “This enables conditions to be set for patients to live in the community — such as continuation of medication — while also improving legal safeguards to protect the rights of the patient. Overall, the goal is to bring Bermuda’s mental health legislation in line with contemporary methods of care while balancing the need to protect the rights of the individual patients and the need to ensure public safety. While more work will be needed on the broader mental health legislation and services, in this phase we have focused on addressing major gaps that exist.”

paragraphA new winter public bus schedule will cost less to run than the old timetable, a government representative has claimed. But the spokesman for the Ministry of Transport was unable to confirm how much would be saved. He said: “I don’t have this figure. It will take some time to quantify.” The spokesman was speaking after questions from The Royal Gazette about the new schedule, which is expected to come into force on January 7. A list of 13 highlights of the new timetable was revealed at a press conference last Thursday. Roger Todd, the director of the Department of Public Transportation, said that the full schedule would be published “in the coming weeks”. The ministry spokesman said that full details would be released “before the new year”. He said: “The data is currently in its raw form and will be aesthetically modified for public consumption.” Mr Todd said last week that the new schedule would be implemented “for an initial period of one year”. He added: “Performance of the new schedule will be assessed and adjustments made as required.” But Leah Scott, the shadow transport minister, questioned why the schedule would have such a short run. She said: “If there is a schedule that has been voted upon and agreed by the members, then why is the new schedule only being implemented for an initial period of one year?” Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said agreement on the schedule was a “great day”. He added: “It’s taken 17 years for us to devise the new bus schedule.” But Ms Scott said: “The truth is we could have had a great day in either 2014, 2015 or 2016, as that was when the last round of discussions occurred and a new bus schedule was agreed between the Department of Public Transportation management and the BIU leadership.” Ms Scott added: “However, the schedule was rejected at a vote. Hopefully, now that there is an agreed schedule, we can have better service delivery.” Ms Scott also asked what research had been done to establish the demands of public transport users. “It is hard to determine whether the schedule has been amended to accommodate Mr and Mrs Bermuda and other bus riders or it is made to accommodate the Department of Public Transportation. Good public transport should be efficient and reliable in getting residents and tourists where they wanted to go. Unfortunately, not all of those who make decisions about public transportation actually do use public transportation.” David Burt, the Premier, said that the cost of consultants’ advice to draft Bermuda’s new public bus schedule totaled $25,156 over the past two years. Mr Burt told MPs in the House of Assembly last Friday that the payments had been made to Canadian firm Schedule Masters. He said the changes to the schedule were “just step one in providing a more reliable and responsive service”. The figure was announced at the Premier’s question time after questions from Christopher Famous, a government backbencher.

paragraphInternational legal firms who set up in Bermuda will need Bermudian lawyers to tackle cases that involve island law under conditions proposed by the Government. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, told the House of Assembly on Friday that the Government would continue efforts to “liberalise” Bermuda’s legal sector for overseas firms. But he said the new rules would include measures to protect jobs for home-grown lawyers. Mr Dickinson explained that the Government believed that international law firms in Bermuda would “generally benefit” the economy and employment prospects for Bermudians. He said the Government had completed a consultation process and the proposal was supported by the Bermuda Business Development Agency. However, several Bermudian law firms and lawyers had raised objections. Mr Dickinson said: “The grounds of objections were that international law firms would be damaging to existing law firms and that they may simply open a ‘front’ in Bermuda by engaging the services of a figurehead Bermudian.” But Mr Dickinson said the proposals would mean any legal matters that involved Bermuda law and originated in Bermuda must be undertaken in Bermuda and could not be referred to lawyers and paralegals in another jurisdiction to be “rubber stamped” in Bermuda. International law firms would also be required to employ Bermudians “at all levels” and provide scholarships to Bermudian law students. Mr Dickinson added that law firms would also need to create a five-year plan to show they intended to increase revenue from offshore work, as well as a “diversity and inclusion plan” for management positions that reflected Bermuda’s cultural composition. He said: “The Government is confident that this policy to relax the law firm market and open it up to international firms, along with the above mentioned licence conditions, strikes the correct balance between stimulating additional investment in Bermuda and providing opportunities for Bermudian lawyers and preserving the interests of Bermudians.”

paragraphAn attempt to drum up 100 jobs hit just over 60 per cent of its target, the House of Assembly heard last Friday. Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said that a jobs fair this year resulted in 61 confirmed hires. The jobs ranged from kitchen porters and cashiers to masons and rental agents. Mr Caines added that 21 of the jobs continued to be filled by people from March’s 100 Jobs Initiative at the end of November. But he said the low number was accounted for by difficulty in getting updates from employers. Mr Caines told MPs: “For this reason, the department has cautioned that it would be reckless and hasty to conclude significant job loss based on the information available to date.” He was speaking in response to parliamentary questions from backbencher Michael Dunkley. The jobs fair in Hamilton attracted 283 employers, with 32 people given jobs on the spot and a further 29 posts later confirmed by the Department of Workforce Development. Mr Caines said more jobs “road shows” were planned for St George’s and Warwick to attract job candidates “who would not ordinarily come into the department to register”.

2018 Healthcare claims reportparagraphWithout effective regulation of medical-services providers and moves to cover the sizeable minority who have no health insurance, healthcare costs are likely to keep spiraling. That is the view of executives at BF&M Ltd, a major health insurer on the island. They said the failure to address the drivers of high costs, combined with the ageing population and a shrinking working-age population paying into the system amounted to a “ticking time bomb”. John Wight, the insurer’s chief executive officer, and Michelle Jackson, senior vice-president, group lines, health and life, said in an interview the Bermuda Government’s proposals to reform healthcare financing was “the wrong starting point” for the changes needed. Government’s plans to increase cross-subsidization of costs from the healthy to the sick amounted to effectively shifting costs around, they said. Mr Wight said that change was needed “to address the high cost of healthcare, rather than who pays for healthcare”. He urged employers to be more outspoken about the financing reform plan. “We need to have more employers weigh in on what this initiative means to them,” Mr Wight said. “They are going to be the ones bearing the cost of it. There is a better direction for Bermuda to take and that’s to address the drivers of increasing healthcare costs.” Ms Jackson said one such driver was the growing number of uninsured people. “More than 8 per cent of the population is not employed and without healthcare coverage,” Ms Jackson said. “They are not getting regular medical treatment and some are turning up at the emergency room with long-term care issues.” The use of the hospital as a primary source of care by the uninsured was hugely expensive for the system as a whole, she added, and drove up premiums. "We have to address the situation that more and more people are finding themselves in,” Ms Jackson said. “Many people are hurting and something has to change.” More long-term care solutions were badly needed, particularly with Bermuda’s demographic pressures, she added. Government population projections estimate that 10.8 per cent of the population will be over 75 by 2026, when one in four will be over 65. Meanwhile, Ms Jackson said the island had lost about 6,500 people since 2010, many of them healthy, working people aged between 25 and 55, who were paying more into the system than they were taking out, thus helping to subsidies older people who used more health services. “We have not got the long-term care services we need,” Ms Jackson said. “We have not planned for the number of people who will need these services.” Mr Wight said it had been 48 years since the healthcare system had seen serious reform with the Bermuda Hospitals Board Act 1970 and the Health Insurance Act of the same year. The system was overdue for change, he said. “We insurers are regulated and the medical-services providers should be regulated as well,” Mr Wight said. “Without regulation, it’s difficult to see how we are going to be able to contain costs.” The Fiscal Responsibility Panel report, released this month, backs up Mr Wight’s view. It states: “The private medical care sector in Bermuda is largely unregulated, raising concerns about both the cost and quality of the care provided, of diagnostic testing and of pharmaceutical products. Further efforts are needed to strengthen the regulation of private sector providers (including their use of health technology) as a means to reduce duplication that adversely impacts healthcare costs and exposes patients to unnecessary risk.” The economic experts who penned the report said “an appropriate regulatory infrastructure with enforcement resources remains a necessary element of any strategy for cost containment in Bermuda’s healthcare sector”. The report also warns: “The island’s costly healthcare system risks overwhelming the budget and the whole economy as the population becomes increasingly elderly and frailer, with more and more requiring long-term care.” The panel goes on to recommend:

The report added that the Ministry of Health’s recent adjustment of the Bermuda Hospitals Board fees for different services based on an international standard was “an important first step in the direction of cost control”. Chronic diseases, often a result of lifestyle choices, are a huge drain on the system. On the plus side, Mr Wight said that many of his company’s clients had introduced wellness programmes and were seeing premiums and sick days fall as a result. Ms Jackson added that awareness was growing. “It’s not terribly complicated, what we need to do, and there’s some really good work being done by different organisations to get the word out,” she said. The government consultation on health financing reform, which included representatives of insurers, the medical profession, employers and unions, found support for deeper reforms. According to brief minutes of a stakeholder consultation group meeting on October 17, published on the government website, those present noted that “quality, outcomes and costs to consumers were not directly addressed in a change in financing structure”. At another meeting on October 31, there was support for means-tested subsidy reform, expansion to a prevention-based system shifting away from fee-for-service, a focus on providing universal coverage and provisions for chronic disease management. The minutes continued: “There is definitely an urgency for change but also a desire that that changes are completed strategically and in the most effective order.” Healthcare cost inflation in Bermuda is estimated at around 6.5 per cent annually, roughly five percentage points higher than overall inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. "So what will health insurance premiums look like in five years’ time if there is no reform of the system? We’ve had some actuarial studies done and all I can say is that it doesn’t look pretty,” Ms Jackson said.

paragraphRussian airlines could be forced to re-register their aircraft in their homeland, which would cut the Bermuda registry by 75 per cent.  

Aeroflot registered in Bermuda

Thomas Dunstan, director-general at the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority, said the majority of the aircraft on Bermuda’s registry were based in Russia. He warned that if the Russian Government did decide to insist the country’s aircraft are registered in the country, it would cause a major loss of revenue for Bermuda. But Mr Dunstan said the BCAA had a plan to diversify the register in the event that Russia does follow through on the threat. Mr Dunstan said: “This gets raised by the Russian Government quite regularly — at least once a year. The reality is that moving this number of aircraft from the Bermuda registry would be a multiyear process requiring a lengthy transition period.” A spokeswoman said the BCAA was working to expand the Bermuda registry to aircraft in jurisdictions that are signatories to the ICAO Convention on Civil Aviation such as Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Saudi Arabia. She said: “We are also making a concerted effort to expand our private aircraft registry in the Asia region.” Russian airlines have normally registered Western-built aircraft in countries such as Bermuda and Ireland, partly to avoid import tax. As of October 31, there were 736 Bermuda registered aircraft operating for Russia airlines, all of which were built outside Russia. According to Government, the total annual revenue of the BCAA is about $30 million. Aleksander Yurchik, the Russian Deputy Minister of Transport, said at the Wings of the Future conference in Moscow last month that the decision to require the re-registration of planes in Russia had already been made. He said: “We are very capable to maintain airworthiness in this country. I expect that at the end of the transitional period a lot of non-Russian carriers will want to register their aircraft here.”

paragraphBermuda-domiciled high-end hotel operator Belmond Ltd is to be bought out by French luxury giant LVMH in a deal worth $2.6 billion. Belmond’s shares surged by nearly 40 per cent in New York Stock Exchange trading on Friday after the news was announced to a close to the LVMH’s $25-a-share offer price. Belmond is the owner of New York’s “21” Club and high-end resorts around the world. The transaction is LVMH’s largest since taking full control of Christian Dior for more than $7 billion last year and pushes the company further into services amid rising concern about the sustainability of the Chinese demand that’s driven fashion industry growth. The acquisition is one of LVMH founder Bernard Arnault’s biggest, rivaling the purchases of Bulgari and Loro Piana. It comes as consumers shift spending towards trips, health clubs, restaurants and entertainment and interest in shopping malls dwindles. Belmond, which used to be known as Orient-Express Hotels, owns or has stakes in more than 30 high-end hotels around the world, from St Petersburg to Anguilla in the Caribbean. In addition to the ‘21’ Club power restaurant in Manhattan, its stable of luxury properties includes a cruise line in France, a London-to-Venice train line and safari camps in Botswana. The deal will expand the French company’s high-end hospitality offerings. LVMH formed a hotel management group in 2010 to oversee its operations in the sector, which include properties under the Cheval Blanc name in locations like the Courchevel ski resort in the French Alps. LVMH’s Bulgari jewellery brand has six hotels, including one in Shanghai that opened in July. It plans to open hotels in Moscow, Paris and Tokyo in the next four years. Aside from the deal for the rest of Christian Dior, which LVMH already controlled, the French conglomerate had been relatively quiet on the mergers-and-acquisitions front since buying German suitcase maker Rimowa in 2016. The agreement ends a four-month sale process as Belmond has sought to take advantage of a strong hospitality market. The company said in August it hired Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co for a strategic review. Analysts speculated a sale could involve breaking up the company’s assets, since its properties could be of value as trophies for ultra-wealthy investors including sultans and oligarchs. LVMH is a surprise winner for Belmond. Among those weighing an offer for all or part of the company were KSL Capital Partners, Blackstone Group, KKR & Co and Ashkenazy Acquisition, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in October.

paragraphBar owners whose takings have dropped after a crackdown on drink-driving have asked the Government to improve late-night transport for the busy Christmas party season. The hospitality business said a shortage of taxis and late-night buses, combined with the police crackdown, meant many people had stopped going out in case they were stranded. Chris Garland, the chairman of the Restaurant Division of the Chamber of Commerce, said he had heard reports from several businesses who complained they had seen a decline in custom since checkpoints came into force earlier this year. He added that with Christmas approaching, bar operators and restaurateurs were worried that they could lose revenue at one of the busiest times of the year. Mr Garland, the managing director of Flanagan’s Irish Pub and Outback Sports Bar in Hamilton, said: “We don’t think the checkpoints are the issue. We all support the checkpoints. But it's very challenging for customers to get transportation home at nights.” The Bermuda Road Safety Council launched a scheme to give free soft drinks to designated drivers this month to encourage people to continue to socialize without drink driving. Mr Garland said that was “a good way to start”. But he added that the Government must solve the late-night transportation system to cut the risk of drink-driving. He added: “Where are our taxi drivers? Why aren’t we giving more young people the opportunity to make extra money by driving a well-regulated service?” Phillip Barnett, director of the Island Restaurant Group, which includes Hamilton’s Pickled Onion, Hog Penny and Barracuda Grill, admitted: “Most restaurants are worried. We are already being impacted with a decline in customers. It is already frustrating. It has affected us. It’s particularly noticeable in late night venues.” Mr Barnett, whose group also owns the Frog & Onion in Dockyard, added that it was “incredibly difficult” for customers to get taxis from the area. He said: “Customers have to wait for hours. Managers have had to physically drive guests back to their hotels.” Mr Barnett said he heard that one hotel told guests not to go to Dockyard because they would have problems getting public transport back. He suggested people could use private vehicles to create an Uber-type service. Rick Olson, the owner of Bermuda Bistro at the Beach in Hamilton, said his business had been affected by the checkpoints, but that the strategy to cut drink-driving was “long overdue”. Mr Olson said an “expanded and improved public transportation or Uber” could help combat drink-driving. Gladwin Phillips, of Casey’s on Queen Street in Hamilton, said the business has not been affected by the breath test checkpoints because it attracted a local crowd. David Frost, president of the Bermuda Taxi Owners Association, said taxi drivers were “doing the best they can at nights” to help the public get home and that drivers were out until 3am every day. Mr Frost added that drivers had problems parking at night on Front Street because private cars clogged up the spaces designated for cabs. He said people should get direct phone numbers for taxi operators and call them when they want to be picked up. Mr Frost said: “I know that taxis are out there at nights.” He added that taxi drivers could face abuse from drunk passengers and that some even refused to pay. Mr Frost said bartenders should avoid serving people who have had enough to drink to help cut down the risk of late-night problems for taxi drivers. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Tourism and Transport said the designated drivers campaign was launched after complaints from bars and restaurants about the downturn in trade. She added that the ministry worked to ensure late night transport was available, but that it was the responsibility of individuals to get home safe without drinking and driving. The spokeswoman said: “Having a designated driver reduces the public’s reliance on taxis and buses and is normal practice elsewhere in the world.” She added that the demand for a night bus service was not high enough for schedules to be changed to accommodate people who might be out late. The spokeswoman said that the Road Safety Council was not at present in discussions with taxi drivers over the provision of late-night services.

paragraphTwo roads will be closed for more than a year while the North Power Plant is constructed at Belco. Tribe Road #2, between St John’s Road and Cemetery Road; and Cemetery Road, between Cemetery Lane and the bridge to Gorham’s Limited, will shut until January 2020. Motorists and pedestrians are advised to use alternative routes via John’s Road and Cemetery Lane. There will be no access granted for the public. For more information, e-mail communicationdepartment@belco.bm.

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December 16, Sunday

paragraphThe biggest-ever blitz of roadside breath tests will start on Friday. A total of six parishes will see police checkpoints set up over the weekend. Checkpoints will be in force in Hamilton Parish, Devonshire, Pembroke, Paget, Warwick and Southampton from December 21 to December 23.

paragraphA man has been arrested on suspicion of drink driving after his motorcycle was in collision with a mother and her baby. The 19-year-old woman and her 17-month baby boy were knocked to the ground after they got out of a community service van and were hit by the bike as the rider tried to cut between the vehicle and the kerb. Police said the young mother shielded her son with her own body to protect him from the impact of the fall. A police spokesman explained the bike hit the sliding door of the van, then the woman and child. The bike then hit a wall and the rider was thrown off. The incident happened on Parsons Road, Pembroke, about 10.20pm on Friday. All three were taken to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after the collision, where it was found the baby was uninjured, but his mother had suffered a knee injury. The rider, a 24-year-old man from Pembroke, was treated for minor injuries to his wrist and shoulder and later arrested. Police said inquiries into the incident continued and appealed for witnesses.

paragraphThe victim in a bicycle crash that left the rider with a serious eye injury was a 63-year-old man, police said today. The Warwick man, who has not been named, was hurt after his bike crashed into a wall on Saturday night. The accident happened as the man cycled along Warwick’s Dunscombe Road at about 6.40pm. Members of the public helped the man before an ambulance arrived to treat the man and take him to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The man was also treated for other minor injuries suffered in the crash. Traffic diversions were set up as police examined the scene. Police said enquires into the incident continued and appealed for witnesses.

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December 15

paragraphThe Auditor-General said today there were two reasons why her audit opinion to the Government for its 2017-18 accounts was qualified. Heather Thomas explained there was insufficient evidence for $10.3 million of capital development and a “critical” validation in payroll tax returns was not completed. She said: “Purchases of a capital nature initially recorded as capital development expenditures are adjusted later to tangible capital assets once analyzed by management at year-end. Management did not complete this analysis of capital development expenditures.” Ms Thomas was speaking after Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, tabled the financial report for the Consolidated Fund for the last fiscal year in the House of Assembly yesterday. She added: “The second reason for my qualification was because at year-end management did not complete a payroll tax returns validation process, which is critical in identifying errors and ensuring the reasonableness of payroll tax, accounts receivable and revenue. I was unable to determine whether adjustments might be necessary to revenues and related accounts receivable, total financial assets, annual deficit, accumulated deficit and net debt.” But she confirmed that, apart from the two criticisms, the financial statements were a fair representation of the Consolidated Fund at the end of the financial year in March. Mr Dickinson told the House of Assembly on Friday he had decided it was “prudent” to accept a qualified report rather than submit the full accounts for audit late, which would have led to penalties under the reporting covenant for the Government’s private placement agreements with its creditors. A qualified audit means that the Auditor-General was not satisfied the Government’s financial statements reflected its actual financial position. The Consolidated Fund is the Government’s general operating fund for most transactions. Mr Dickinson told the House of Assembly the capital expenditures qualification was linked to amounts reported for “assets under construction”. The Auditor-General also reported the net debt for Bermuda’s Consolidated Fund rose to $3.8 billion by the end of the 2017-18 financial year, an increase of $63 million on the year before. Ms Thomas’s report on the Independent Auditor’s Report on the Consolidated Fund financial statements included a section titled “Other Matters”, used to “report significant matters that in her professional opinion should be brought to the attention of the Parliament and to the public”. The first was the Consolidated Fund’s increasing net debt, which the Auditor-General said was in general understood to be the difference between a Government’s liabilities and financial assets. The statement added: “This difference bears directly on the government’s future revenue requirements and on its ability to finance its activities and meet its liabilities and contractual obligations.” She also pointed out that the year-end financial statements of the Consolidated Fund had “limited” use. Ms Thomas said: “The financial statements cover only the financial results and position of Government ministries and departments, the House of Assembly, the Senate and the courts. They do not include the financial results or the financial position of other Government-controlled organisations, such as the Bermuda Hospitals Board, the Bermuda Housing Corporation, and the Bermuda Land Development Company Limited, through which significant financial activities of the Government occur.”

paragraphThe Auditor-General issued a qualified audit opinion to the Government for 2017-18 after she ruled there was insufficient evidence for $10.3 million of capital development expenditure. Heather Thomas’s decision was revealed as Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, tabled the financial report for the Consolidated Fund for the last fiscal year in the House of Assembly. Mr Dickinson told MPs he had decided it was “prudent” to accept a qualified report rather than submit the full accounts for audit late, which would have led to penalties under the reporting covenant in the Government’s private placement agreements with its creditors. Mr Dickinson said the reporting schedule had also been delayed by employers’ errors in payroll tax submissions, which had to be manually validated by the Tax Commissioner’s office. He added he was “disappointed”, but the penalty for late reporting in the financial year ended in 2016 had been $640,000 and $410,000 for 2015. Mr Dickinson said he could not guarantee there would be no delays in the future. But he added: “We’re doing the best we can to make sure that we do not get another qualified opinion.” A qualified audit means that the Auditor-General is not satisfied the Government’s financial statements reflected its actual financial position. The Consolidated Fund represents the Government’s general operating fund for most transactions. Mr Dickinson said the capital expenditures qualification was linked to amounts reported for “assets under construction”. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, told MPs the $10.3 million that could not be verified mostly involved road works. He added that details of the unaccounted-for expenditure had been submitted late, but they were with the Auditor-General.

paragraphThe Premier said yesterday that the Government paid $14,000 for legal advice before it decided to take its battle to ban same-sex marriage to the Privy Council in London. David Burt told the House of Assembly the Government had spent £11,250 — about $14,140 — on legal advice so far in connection with its appeal to the island’s highest court of appeal. He added that the Bermuda Court of Appeal case last month cost £41,750, about $52,000. The on-island costs, however, were about $9,000 lower than those given by the Ministry of Home Affairs about two weeks ago. A spokeswoman for Mr Burt explained later that the Premier’s figure did not include the cost for travel for the London-based barrister retained to argue the Government’s case. The home affairs ministry said earlier that the cost to hire James Guthrie QC, for the Court of Appeal case, fly him to Bermuda and house him in the island totaled $61,188. That amount did not include the effects of a costs order — which required Government to pay for both sides of the legal battle — or any other legal expenses that may have been run up. Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said yesterday that the case was important to Bermuda’s people and that the Government wanted to go to the highest court of appeal to “get it right”. However, Rod Ferguson, one of the parties in the landmark case, said stringing out the legal battle would hurt Bermuda. He said: “The Government’s efforts to repeal same-sex marriage have come at quite a cost, not only monetarily, but also in terms of the impact on Bermuda’s LGBT community, and our island’s reputation overseas. The courts have not found merit in the Government’s legal defence thus far and are highly unlikely to do so upon appeal.” OutBermuda, a gay rights charity, also said it was disappointed by the Privy Council move. Zakiya Johnson Lord, director of OutBermuda, said: “Our courts have consistently reaffirmed the equal right of same-sex couples to marry. To fan the flames of discrimination is irresponsible and costly, on all levels. We want to come together. Marriage equality has come to our shores. Let’s put this in the ‘done’ column and keep moving forward together as a people.” The announcement put the island back in the international media spotlight. NBC News in America, the Jamaica Gleaner and other media organisations all reported the story. However, a spokesman for Preserve Marriage, a campaign that fought to keep a ban on same-sex marriage, welcomed the decision to go to the Privy Council. Melvyn Bassett, the group’s chairman, said: “We are pleased that the Government is doing its best to represent the views of the obvious thousands of Bermudians, as well as those shared by Preserve Marriage and Family Bermuda.”

paragraphThe Government was accused of failing to carry out a proper consultation yesterday after a House of Assembly debate on a controversial Bill opposed by children’s rights campaigners was postponed. Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, said he was “extremely concerned” by the decision. He added it showed an “alarming” lack of discussion with relevant organisations. The Children Amendment Act 2018 was expected to be discussed by MPs, but One Bermuda Alliance members were told minutes before the start of the session that the debate would not be held. However, Mr Cannonier said he was pleased the tabled version of the Bill was held over because he believed not all relevant groups had been fully consulted. Children’s rights campaigners had raised fears that the legislation would erode the right of vulnerable youngsters to independent legal representation in court. The Bill amended the wording of section 35 of the Children Act and replaced the word “shall” with the word “may” in relation to the requirement for the court to consider the appointment of an independent advocate, a litigation guardian, in cases that involve children. Mr Cannonier said: “I’m actually glad that we didn’t debate it because there are major issues, one of those main concerns is consultation. You can’t have a large organisation like the Human Rights Commission saying they weren’t weighed in on this piece of legislation. This is a government that continues to talk about transparency and consultancy yet the relevant organisations haven’t been consulted. That’s majorly concerning.” The OBA leader said it was unacceptable that he and his team were told “five minutes before the House opened” that the Bill would not be debated. Mr Cannonier added: “That would suggest that there’s more work to be done.” Mr Cannonier said: “It speaks volumes to the fact that consultation has not been comprehensive. Come the day for the Bill to be debated, it’s put off, so the only factors that I can see in the mix is that consultation had not taken place like it should have and that Government now has no other choice but to put it off while they get it right. The Sex Offenders Bill is also another example of poor legislation as it fails to take account of the vast majority of recommendations made by the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee formed to investigate this issue. These are just two examples of the way this government rushes to tick boxes so it can boast of ‘taking care of the people’s business’ but the fact of the matter is that they are tabling poorly thought out legislation that is not based on consultation with the people they represent and which, to their huge embarrassment, they have to delay.” Katie Richards, a family law expert, said earlier that the proposed amendments would “undoubtedly erode the legal rights of children”. The Human Rights Commission was among groups that brought a lawsuit against the Government over the obligations of courts in respect to litigation guardians last year. Tawana Tannock, chairwoman of the HRC, said earlier that the organisation was not consulted or given notice that the latest Bill had been drafted and was to be tabled. Sheelagh Cooper, a child welfare campaigner, said last night: “We could only hope that this may mean that there’s a rethink about the change in wording. Having looked closely at the original legislation it does occur to me that it wasn’t all that necessary to change the word from ‘shall’ to ‘may’.” She said there was already provision in the Act for the court to decide whether or not a litigation guardian was required. Ms Cooper added the amendment appeared to cover problems over payment for litigation guardians. She said: “For that I am grateful, certainly I would support that and I do believe that there’s an intention there to do the right thing.” Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, said the Government was still committed to a debate on the Bill next year. She added that the legislation would “fulfil the current Government’s pledge to enhance protection of children. This includes providing an improved framework to enhance existing protocols with regard to the appointment, function and payments of litigation guardians. All existing ambiguities and inconsistencies in the law on this issue will be reconciled with passage of the Bill. Consultation with the judiciary to further their key role in the process has been undertaken. The judiciary will continue to be empowered to appoint litigation guardians under their existing powers. Additional provisions will ensure that litigation guardians are vetted and are suitable to safeguard the interests of the children they serve.”

paragraphThe departure of a health watchdog’s chief executive should raise red flags, the shadow health minister said yesterday. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said that the “removal” of Tawanna Wedderburn from the Bermuda Health Council was done “with no proper explanation”. Ms Gordon-Pamplin told the House of Assembly: “We have had only the vaguest of statements as to why she has left her post, which is extremely unsatisfactory.” She asked Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, to provide a “fulsome public explanation”. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “Mr and Mrs Bermuda deserve to know why someone in such a key position has suddenly left her post.” It was announced earlier this month that Ms Wedderburn had left the BHeC. The council confirmed “the separation of employment” between Ms Wedderburn and the organisation on December 7. The BHeC thanked Ms Wedderburn for her service and wished her “every success in her future endeavors” but gave no reason for her departure. It added that it would “soon” announce the appointment of an acting chief executive and declined to comment further. A government spokeswoman said yesterday the health ministry was grateful to Ms Wedderburn for her “passionate commitment to help patients and the public” while at the BHeC. She added: “However, it would be wholly inappropriate for the ministry to comment publicly on matters pertaining to any individual’s employment.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin added that the Government had to “get to grips” with increases in healthcare costs, including “the overutilisation of some services, as well as issues like obesity and diabetes”. She warned: “In failing to do that, the Minister of Health is just passing the buck down to future generations.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that Ms Wedderburn had been “acutely aware of the need to control the costs of services in order to help keep the cost of insurance down”. She added that healthcare costs in Bermuda were predicted to hit $1 billion in five years. Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “For a population of a little over 60,000, that is just unsustainable.” Ewart Brown, a former premier, blamed the BHeC and its fee cuts for the closure of his CT scanner unit at his Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s. Dr Brown accused the council last January of a political “vendetta” against him and singled out several members, including Ms Wedderburn. The decision, taken under the previous One Bermuda Alliance Government, was later moderated by its successor, the Progressive Labour Party administration. The Bermuda Hospitals Board and private services such as Dr Brown’s were hit by the fee cuts, which later resulted in payouts from the Government. Ms Wilson later said payments to Dr Brown’s two practices were likely to exceed $1.2 million. She told Parliament last month that BHB had been compensated by about $1.86 million up to March 2018. Increased fees for diagnostic imaging came into force at the start of last month. The Brown-Darrell Clinic announced this week that it would restart high-tech CT scans on Monday.

paragraphA sex offenders register will be set up in Bermuda after legislation was passed in the House of Assembly last night. Opposition MPs welcomed the legal change but raised concerns about how few of the recommendations from a Joint Select Committee report on a register had been adopted. Scott Pearman, the shadow legal affairs minister, congratulated Kim Wilson, the health minister, who presented the Bill in the House, but said that only two of 14 JSC recommendations had been taken up. He added: “One, it was supposed to be public — which it is not.” Mr Pearman was speaking as The Criminal Code (Sex Offender Management) Amendment Act was passed with no objections. The new register will only be available to the appropriate authorities. Some members of the JSC, including Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, had recommended that the register should be open to the public. Mr Pearman also said offenders should be categorised in tiers so those who were guilty of lesser offences such as voyeurism and indecent exposure would not be classified alongside pedophiles. Sylvan Richards, the home affairs shadow minister, added that there was “potential stigmatization” if someone was convicted of urinating in a bush or going skinny dipping. Ms Wilson said: “Granted, there were 14 recommendations that came from the JSC. However, and notwithstanding the enormous amount of work that this committee did produce, we also have to recognize that the policy development by the Attorney-General and her chambers started way before the JSC committee submitted their report.” The new law included a $10,000 fine for unlawful disclosure of register information. Mr Pearman highlighted that the maximum fine for an offender who failed to comply with the requirements of the Offender Management Team was only $3,000. He said: “It doesn’t seem right or common sensible.” Mr Pearman added that Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, should consider increasing the penalty for failure to comply to $10,000 so it was at least on a par with disclosure. Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, who sat on the JSC, said that training from child protection charity Scars that he and other members had completed had emphasized that pedophiles could not be cured. Mr Cannonier said: “Once he has done his term, whether he does his courses or not, he will not be rehabilitated. It is important that we tighten up every loophole we have.” The Act also made it compulsory for sex offenders to have treatment before they were eligible for early release. Tinée Furbert, a government backbencher and an occupational therapist, said: “They say it takes three months to break a habit. We’re not talking about a habit, we are talking about a lifestyle and behavior. That takes longer than three months. So, I’d like clarity.” Ms Wilson said that if an offender refused treatment, they would lose their eligibility for parole and early release. But Mr Pearman suggested sanctions should be applied such as extended sentences. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Shadow Minister for Health, asked if adequate resources were available for the treatment of sex offenders. Ms Wilson said: “There are adequate probation officers and the team will have the requisite support.” Mr DeSilva said the new law was “the thin end of the wedge” and that he hoped more of the JSC recommendations would be adopted in the future. He added: “Paedophiles don’t get any sympathy from me — none. The victims are penalized for the rest of their life. If I had my way, pedophiles would have an electronic monitoring device for life. I want to make a loud, singing, ringing, thumping note to pedophiles of this country. We are not going to stand for it. We are going to have the tools in place to deal with you if you abuse our children.”

paragraphThree people have been suspended from their jobs while allegations of abuse by Child and Family Services staff are investigated, the Premier said yesterday. Mr Burt told the House of Assembly that the investigations were at “various stages” and the results would be referred to “the head of the public service”. Mr Burt was speaking after questions from Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, during Premier’s Question Time. The former Ministry of Social Development and Sports launched an inquiry in August into allegations that children in care were mistreated by Child and Family Services staff. Alfred Maybury, the director of the department, was later suspended over his handling of the complaints. A second inquiry into the department was launched by the Department of Internal Audit last month, but the Government has not said what sparked the new investigation. The Premier was asked yesterday by Mr Cannonier if he thought his decision to move Child and Family Services to the Ministry of Legal Affairs “may have been a mistake”. Mr Burt said: “It was the correct decision and it will yield better results for our children.” The Premier fielded a variety of other questions over the half-hour session. MPs were told that no donations had yet been made to the fintech fund, set up to develop the fintech sector and support sports clubs, which was approved by the House in July. Mr Burt said there were now 52 fintech companies licensed in Bermuda, but that they were held back by “complications to banking within this particular sector”. He added: “The truth is that this industry will not be able to flourish because of a lack of banking services. Bermuda, in this case, is at a disadvantage.” Former premier Michael Dunkley questioned Mr Burt on the purchase of Victoria Hall by Arbitrade, a cryptocurrency company that has bought the office block on Hamilton’s Victoria Street for its global headquarters. Mr Burt said that Arbitrade had been vetted by the Registrar of Companies and that he had also asked the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and the Business Development Agency for their opinions. He said the BDA had “questions” about the company which sparked “enhanced due diligence”. He added that Arbitrade’s directors had passed background checks.

paragraphOpinion.  By Barry Ritholtz, is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management.  "During the past 40 years, low-cost indexing has risen from an abstract financial theory with very few takers to a juggernaut sucking up most of the new money flowing into equity investments. BlackRock, Vanguard Group and State Street, the top three indexers, collectively own more than 10 per cent of every company in the US. They own lots of overseas stakes as well. This shift represents an existential threat to numerous parts of the financial services industry: once investors decide to simply “buy the market”, many types of financial jobs are no longer necessary, from human traders to newsletter writers to various active management strategies. I was reminded of this by a deeply flawed analysis, entitled: “Your love of index funds is terrible for our economy,” by Michael Brush, published on the MarketWatch website. It cried out for a response. There are three reasons why indexing has become so popular. First, it costs less — often much less. High fees are a drag on returns; compounded over decades, they lead to a 20 to 30 per cent penalty on total returns. Next, the alternative is active-stock or mutual-fund selection or some form of market timing. Academic research overwhelming shows that the vast majority of investors lack the skills or discipline to do that. Attempts at outperformance invariably lead to underperformance. Last, even among those who have the requisite skills, the discipline and emotional control necessary to successfully manage money is intermittent at best, absent at worst. Back to the issue of index funds: the author identifies three reasons why index funds are an economic threat. Let’s take each of these in order: “Index funds contribute to market melt-ups and meltdowns.” Really? That statement is at odds with the experience of most Registered Investment Advisers and index-fund managers. Indeed, we have experienced several bubbles and crashes, melt-ups and meltdowns, during the past few decades. The evidence is clear that passive-index investors behave better than active-fund investors or market timers, tending to blunt rather than aggravate volatility. During the financial crisis, passive investors sat tight and for the most part didn’t sell. Indeed, they were net buyers, according to former Vanguard chief executive officer Bill McNabb. As my Bloomberg colleague Eric Balchunas pointed out, during the 2008 credit crunch, the money flows were into index funds and exchange-traded funds, in part because they displayed less volatility; more than $205 billion was put into these funds while active funds experienced $259 billion in withdrawals. “Index funds reduce the quality of stock analysis.” If this were offered as a joke, we could ignore it. But this is a serious — and a seriously flawed — allegation. Let’s be blunt: stock analysis has been famously terrible for most of for ever. Analysts are too bullish when things are going well, and perhaps too bearish when they are not. They are highly conflicted. Since research itself doesn’t generate income, analysts are paid out the funds generated by other parts of a securities firm’s business, such as investment banking. Their goal is to encourage more active trading, which generates commissions but also higher tax bills and lower returns. For a reminder of how problematic Wall Street research is, recall the analyst scandals of the late 1990s and early 2000s. I believe this author has it exactly backward: expensive and ethically compromised analysts were shown to be of so little help to investors that they actively contributed to the rise of indexing. “Index funds contribute to poor corporate governance.” Again, I think this is exactly backward — it’s the long-term owners of public stock, that is, index funds — that management must deal with year after year. Consider what Dave Nadig, managing director of ETF.com, wrote earlier this year: “State Street voted against the slates of directors proposed by companies over 400 times, because those companies failed to add women to their boards. And BlackRock recently published an open letter to markets, putting every company on notice that they would be taking a hard, hard look at everything from executive compensation to community development to environmental impact.” Active managers and activist investors can threaten to sell their stock, and sometimes they do. But then what? The indexers are long-term owners — and they vote their proxies. Management has to acknowledge their permanence. The complaints about indexing have become tiresome: indexing is Marxist, it’s a bubble waiting to burst, it’s dangerous to the economy or the efficiency of the market, and so on. The need to re-litigate every lost battle is telling. The people who want to sell you newsletters, expensive mutual funds, or costly trading advice have suffered greatly from the move towards low-cost, passive investing. No wonder so many of them refuse to accept the obvious benefits of indexing to average investors."

paragraphBermudian actress Julia Frith is about to fulfil a lifelong dream and take centre stage in London’s West End. Ms Frith, 23, will join the main cast of The Comedy About a Bank Robbery next Tuesday after months of work with the touring production. She said: “I was expecting to be nervous, but actually, I’m just really ecstatic. I’m in an incredible position for my West End debut, I’ve been in this show on tour for four months already. I’ve done hundreds of shows as my character and the cast and crew on the West End version have adopted us into their family with so much support and encouragement — I’m ready.” Ms Frith — whose family includes international music star Heather Nova and famous puppeteer Michael Frith — performed in several shows in Bermuda before going to Rose Bruford College in London. She landed the part of con artist Caprice Freeboys in the touring cast of The Comedy About a Bank Robbery earlier this year and has spent the last four months performing across Britain and Ireland. But she said the move to the critically acclaimed West End production was a dream come true. She said: “Being in the West End is almost every actor’s dream. It’s a milestone for many that represents a certain level of success, skill, and reputation. The West End is an area of London where a lot of the best of theatre in the world can be found. The quality of the productions are internationally renowned and, like Broadway, for an actor, that’s the dream. That being said, you can be a brilliant actor and never work on the West End. At the end of the day, acting is a job and you can do your job brilliantly anywhere, in any space.” Ms Frith added she was excited to make her West End debut. She said: “This is the best show to debut in, my role as a strong female lead is so full and fun to play, the story and writing is smart, quick and challenging. I can’t wait.” Ms Frith added: “It’s such a humbling and exciting feeling, performing on a stage that has hosted so many incredible actors and productions long before I was even alive.” Ms Frith thanked Bermuda for its constant support. She said: “My success is your success.” She also thanked the Bermuda Arts Council and the BMDS Charitable Trust, who helped her and other Bermudian artists fulfil their creative dreams.

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December 14

paragraphToday's session in the House of Assembly began with a Moment of Silence out of respect for the late Dr. Clarence ‘Tessi’ Terceira, a former MP and Cabinet Minister who passed away earlier this week. Statements on the Consolidated Fund Financial Statements 2018, International Law Firms in Bermuda License Conditions, Report and Financials of WEDCO and BLDC, Mental Health Amendment Bill, Implementation of the International Maritime Organization [IMO] Instrument Implementation Code [Triple I Code], and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Team End of Year Report are due to be delivered, while Bills on the Order Paper include Mental Health Amendment [No. 2] Act 2018. Bills due for their second reading include the Criminal Code [Sex Offender Management] Amendment Act 2018, the Children Amendment Act 2018, and the Economic Substance Act 2018. In addition, MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin’s motion is listed, which states, “Be it resolved that this Honourable House decries the posting of inappropriate and/or sexist comments on social media by Members of Parliament and that this House supports the inclusion in the Parliamentary Code of Conduct policies and procedures that will embrace a culture of respect towards women parliamentarians and women in general."

paragraphA last-ditch legal attempt to restore a ban on same-sex marriage was mounted by the Government yesterday. Notice was given to the Court of Appeal to ask permission to take the case to London’s Privy Council. The Government said the matter was important to the island’s people and involved complex legal points that should be heard by the highest court of appeal for Bermuda. Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, said: “Constitutional issues are important issues and this government wants to get it right.” Initial applicant Rod Ferguson accused the Government of “playing politics with the right to same-sex marriage” and said its actions had hurt the Bermudian LGBTQ community as well as the island’s reputation overseas. Campaign group OutBermuda urged ministers to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on “futile appeals”. The decision to try and take the case to the Privy Council came after a ruling by the Court of Appeal made same-sex marriage legal again last month. The application was made just before a 21-day deadline was reached. The Court of Appeal last month dismissed the Government’s claim that former Chief Justice Ian Kawaley was wrong to strike down parts of the Domestic Partnership Act, which was passed to replace same-sex marriage with a civil partnership arrangement. A packed courtroom erupted in cheers as Sir Scott Baker, president of the Court of Appeal, announced the decision. The Court of Appeal also has the role of deciding if permission is given for a plaintiff to go to the Privy Council. The Privy Council then considers if an appeal has merit and if it will hear the case or not. “The Government’s position is that the issues involved in these matters are of general public importance to the people of Bermuda and involve complex and difficult issues of law which are appropriate for consideration by the Privy Council,” a government spokeswoman said yesterday. The Domestic Partnership Act was passed in December 2017. It recognized same-sex marriages that had already happened, but banned any more and offered domestic partnerships instead. Mr Ferguson launched a legal action in February against the Act, particularly the clause that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. He was later joined in the action by Maryellen Jackson and gay rights charity OutBermuda. Mr Justice Kawaley ruled the DPA was against the Constitution in May and the Government appealed the decision. However, the Court of Appeal dismissed the challenge and reinstated same-sex marriages. The Privy Council’s website said its judicial arm had to be satisfied that a case raised “a point of general public importance” before it heard an appeal. Mr Ferguson said: “The Government’s efforts to repeal same-sex marriage have come at quite a cost, not only monetarily, but also in terms of the impact on Bermuda’s LGBT community, and our island’s reputation overseas. The courts have not found merit in the Government’s legal defence thus far, and are highly unlikely to do so upon appeal. At this point, an appeal to the Privy Council would merely serve to suit a political purpose. I implore the Government to stop playing politics with the right to same-sex marriage. Let the law uphold the dignity of all Bermudians.” Mark Pettingill, lawyer for Mr Ferguson, hoped the Government would think about its course of action. He said: “Hopefully, this is a position to review carefully their prospects of a successful appeal to the Privy Council and the consideration of the costs and the very real likelihood that they simply will not succeed. I hope in this situation that common sense prevails as opposed to political motivation and that good law prevails as opposed to pushing a manifesto promise further than it has to go.” He added: “We are where we are and I think we need to move on. “We can’t flip-flop any further. As a jurisdiction, we will be a laughing stock, in my eyes, of the right-thinking international community, which includes all of our major trading partners, all of our major sources of tourism, all of the places that we, as Bermudians, like to visit. When we speak about that group of other countries, we’re talking about our closest friends and neighbors.” Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, said last night: “Government’s decision to spend potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars appealing the same sex ruling is a kick in the teeth to Mrs and Mrs Bermuda, whose shoulders are burdened by the weight of new taxes. “And at a time when schools do not even have working fire alarms, how can Government possibly justify even further expenditure on this issue? People must start taking notice of — and question — Government’s priorities.” Mr Cannonier said messages circulated before the appeal application was announced about “a possible march on Parliament” today to call for further court action from the Government. He asked: “Did Government cave in to the threat of the kind of marches they helped to orchestrate while in Opposition?” Mr Cannonier said: “The One Bermuda Alliance has stated that this was a matter for the courts and that it would abide by the court rulings. Three times the courts have ruled in favour of same-sex marriage. It is time this Government got the message and put the enormous amount of money needed to pursue this case to the Privy Council to better use — starting with working school fire alarms.” OutBermuda spokesman Adrian Hartnett-Beasley said: “Bermudians are a very fair-minded and patient people. We strongly believe, however, that enough is enough. It is time to end futile appeals that have already wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars. Let’s agree to not waste even one more.” OutBermuda director Zakiya Johnson Lord said: “Our courts have consistently reaffirmed the equal right of same-sex couples to marry. To fan the flames of discrimination is irresponsible and costly, on all levels. We want to come together. Marriage equality has come to our shores. Let’s put this in the “done” column and keep moving forward together as a people.”

paragraphInternational firms will need to have local lawyers to tackle issues of Bermuda law under conditions proposed by Government. Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, told the House of Assembly this morning that Government intends to move forward with efforts to “liberalise” Bermuda’s legal sector for international law firms. But he said those new rules will include measures to protect jobs for local lawyers. Mr Dickinson explained that Government believed that welcoming international law firms to Bermuda would “generally benefit” the economy and employment options for Bermudians. He said Government went through a consultation process and while the proposal received the support of some stakeholders such as the BDA, several expressed concerns. Mr Dickinson said: “The grounds of objections were that international law firms would be damaging to existing law firms and that they may simply open a ‘front’ in Bermuda by engaging the services of a ‘figurehead’ Bermudian.” Under the policies detailed by Mr Dickinson, any legal work involving matters of Bermuda law, originated in Bermuda, must be undertaken in Bermuda and cannot be outsourced to lawyers and paralegals in another jurisdiction to be “rubber stamped” in Bermuda. International firms would also be required to employ Bermudians “at all levels” and provide scholarships to Bermudian law students. Mr Dickinson added that firms would need to provide a five-year plan showing how they intend to increase revenue from offshore work, as well as a “diversity and inclusion plan” for management positions that reflect Bermuda’s cultural composition. He said: “The Government is confident that this policy to relax the law firm market and open it up to international firms, along with the above mentioned licence conditions strikes the correct balance between stimulating additional investment in Bermuda and providing opportunities for Bermudian lawyers and preserving the interests of Bermudians.”

paragraphCurtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, will update MPs on measures taken to allow international law firms to practise on the island. Mr Dickinson also said this week that the Economic Substance Bill 2018, aimed at protecting the island from the European Union’s blacklist of uncooperative jurisdictions, could be debated today. Mr Dickinson is also expected to table the latest report on the state of the Government’s consolidated fund. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, will table the annual reports of the West End Development Corporation and the Bermuda Land Development Company. Wayne Caines, the national security minister, is to make a statement on Bermuda’s disaster relief capabilities. Other debates will include amendments to the management of sex offenders, as well as concessions for the conversion of the Grand Atlantic housing development to a hotel resort.

paragraphLegislation to address “major gaps” in Bermuda’s mental health system will be tabled in the House of Assembly today. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the Mental Health Amendment Bill would set requirements for determining mental capacity, including decision-making. She said: “The rationale for this amendment is that a patient cannot consent to or refuse treatment unless they have the mental capacity to do so and this is currently not present in law. The mental capacity framework will establish principles and criteria to determine if a person is able to make a decision and if they are deemed unable, to ensure the decision is made in their best interests.” Ms Wilson added that the existing Mental Health Act does not offer legal safeguards for patients who refuse treatment or cannot consent to treatment. She said: “The Bill establishes safeguard for patients regarding consent to treatment, which will apply to all detained patients whether in hospital for treatment or living in the community under a community treatment order, which is the final change introduced by the Bill.” Ms Wilson explained the Bill includes provisions which cover the treatment of patients granted leave from the hospital. She said: “This enables conditions to be set for patients to live in the community — such as continuation of medication — while also improving legal safeguards to protect the rights of the patient.” Ms Wilson added: “Overall, the goal is to bring Bermuda’s mental health legislation in line with contemporary methods of care while balancing the need to protect the rights of the individual patients and the need to ensure public safety. While more work will be needed on the broader mental health legislation and services, in this phase we have focused on addressing major gaps that exist in Bermuda’s Mental Health Act.”

paragraphWayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, updated the House of Assembly this morning on the island’s disaster risk reduction and mitigation work. These included dealing with a simulated fuel spill at the airport while planes were full of passengers and a cruise ship evacuation exercise at Dockyard. The disaster risk management team also reviewed the island’s ability to deal with fuel shortages. Mr Caines said the team will upgrade emergency broadcasting next year, switching it from analogue to digital.

paragraph“Significant progress” has been made to bring Bermuda up to an international standard for the operation of maritime functions, the transport minister said this morning. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, provided MPs with an update on the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation Instrument Implementation Code in the House of Assembly. Mr DeSilva said the code is “concerned with providing a unified international standard for the operation of maritime functions by IMO members states”. He added that the code also formed the basis of audit standards for a mandatory audit scheme. The UK audit — including Overseas Territories — is scheduled to take place in September 2020. The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency will conduct audits next year of Overseas Territories ahead of the 2020 assessment. Mr DeSilva said: “To properly implement and enforce Bermuda’s rights, obligations and responsibilities with respect to the relevant IMO Instruments, current legislation, policies and procedures must be reviewed, gaps identified, responsibilities clarified and remedies put in place.” He added that the “co-operation and collaboration” of a number of ministries, departments and quangos was needed to tackle the task. Mr DeSilva said: “I am pleased to report that we are making significant progress.” He said that the Bermuda Maritime Steering Committee had been created to provide oversight of the work. Mr DeSilva said that other work to ensure Bermuda’s readiness had also been completed — including a visit of the United States Coast Guard Strike Team in September. He added: “The purpose of the visit was to discuss our oil pollution response readiness and to review the existing Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Coast Guard for major oil spill response.” Mr DeSilva said that representative from the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency had visited Bermuda last month to review the island’s pollution response capability. He added that a strategy document and support manual required ahead of next year’s audit had been completed. Mr DeSilva said that the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation Instrument Implementation Code “is of significant importance and mandatory for Bermuda to maintain its very good reputation as a compliant and leading maritime jurisdiction”. He added: “With the progress that we have made thus far, and with the continued Government support and co-operation of the stakeholder departments, I am confident that we will be compliant prior to the imposed deadline — and I will Endeavour to keep this honourable House updated on our progress.”

paragraphA new bus schedule was designed to cut down on cancellations because of vehicle shortages, the director of the transport department said yesterday. Despite the last buses on some popular routes running earlier, Roger Todd, head of the Department of Public Transportation, claimed that the new schedule would allow for “a reliable public bus service”. He added: “For the traveling public, the new schedule will eliminate daily cancellations related to a shortage of buses. For the DPT operations team, it will provide a more predictable and workable schedule. For the maintenance team, it will provide better access to vehicles for repairs and preventive maintenance.” The new schedule will take effect on January 7. Mr Todd said that the full schedule would be published “in the coming weeks”. A list of 13 highlights of the new schedule was revealed yesterday. The document said that all route 7 and 8 buses heading west will end at the Dockyard depot and all route 10 and 11 buses to the east will terminate at the St George’s depot. It added that buses will no longer end their runs at the Grotto Bay Hotel in the east and Barnes Corner in Southampton. The number 9 Prospect bus will run every 15 minutes during the morning rush hour and every 30 minutes at peak times in the afternoon. The fact sheet said the “additional service was added to better service the school students and commuters in the area”. The times of night buses on several routes have also changed. The last bus on route 7 will leave the West End depot an hour earlier at 9.20pm. The last bus on route 8 will leave the depot at 11.35pm instead of 11.59pm. The last number 7, 10 and 11 buses will depart from Hamilton 15 minutes earlier. The numbers 7 and 10 will leave at 9pm and the last number 11 bus will leave at 11.30pm. The last bus on route 8 out of Hamilton will leave ten minutes earlier, at 11.35pm. Mr Todd said the new schedule would be implemented “for an initial period of one year”. He added: “Performance of the new schedule will be assessed and adjustments made as required.” Mr Todd said that two bus schedules, a winter and a summer, were used each year. He added that schedules were changed over the year to take account of school terms. Mr Todd said: “When school is in, we run the winter schedule and when school is out, we run the summer schedule.” He added that changes to the summer schedule would be considered after the new winter schedule was up and running. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said the new schedule benefited the public as well as bus operators. He added: “Most importantly, it can be sustained with our current fleet of buses.” Mr DeSilva said: “I am confident this is the best way to ensure an efficient and reliable service.” He said he had been “concerned” by frequent bus cancellations and their impact on the public. Mr DeSilva said the new schedule was a “long-awaited achievement” and that the work of Walter Roban, the former transport minister, was “instrumental”. He thanked the Department of Public Transportation and the Bermuda Industrial Union for their “collaborative efforts”. Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said yesterday was a “great day”. He added: “It’s taken 17 years for us to devise the new bus schedule.” Mr DeSilva said earlier this week that transit workers had agreed to begin shifts 15 minutes earlier than the present start to suit the new schedule.

paragraphChildren’s rights campaigners urged the Government yesterday not to push on with a proposed legal change that they claimed would erode the right of vulnerable youngsters to independent legal representation in court. Katie Richards, a family law expert, said she hoped a tabled Bill in its present form would not be given the green light by politicians. The Bill amended the wording of section 35 of the Children Act and replaced the word “shall” with the word “may” in relation to the requirement for the court to consider the appointment of an independent advocate, a litigation guardian, in cases that involved children. Ms Richards said: “The proposed amendments to the 1998 Children Act will undoubtedly erode the legal rights of children to obtain independent legal representation and the appointment of litigation guardians.” The director at law firm Chancery Legal added: “The amendment proposed to section 35, where the word ‘shall’ is replaced by ‘may’, will have a fundamental and grave impact on the legal rights of children before the courts. While the current wording of section 35 and the inclusion of ‘shall’ does not make it mandatory to appoint a guardian in every case, the purpose behind the Act was clear, in that the appointment of a guardian would be made in the vast majority of cases falling within specified proceedings. By inserting the word ‘may’ this unquestionably waters down the test for the appointment of a guardian and provides greater discretion to the court, as opposed to the positive obligation and presumption under the Act as it currently stands.” The Children Amendment Act 2018 was tabled two weeks ago in Parliament and is expected to be debated today in the House of Assembly. Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and legal affairs minister, said this month the Bill was designed to “remove ambiguity concerning the appointment of litigation guardians and strengthen the existing framework that assigns a litigation guardian to children whose custody, care or control is before the courts”. However, Ms Richards said: “With the greatest respect, there is no current ambiguity concerning the appointment of a litigation guardian. The test in the Act is clear and even if there were to be some ambiguity, the proposed amendments do not seek to remedy this.” Tiffanne Thomas, a social worker who has acted as a litigation guardian in 35 cases involving minors since 2014, said she was disappointed at the government move. Ms Thomas, the director of Therapeutic Consulting Services, added: “The Bill presented in the House of Assembly explicitly states that the amendments will repeal subsection 1 of section 35 in the existing Act, thus creating room for it to be discretionary.” The draft Bill was tabled in Parliament just days after it was revealed through a public access to information request that 48 of 50 children sent to overseas institutions since April 2014 at the request of the Department of Child and Family Services had no legal representation. None of the children sent abroad by the court before April 2014 as part of the department’s psycho-educational programme had legal representation. One woman who told her story to The Royal Gazette last month claimed she was sexually abused by a counselor at a camp in Georgia and not allowed home to Bermuda for holidays. Mark Diel, a director of law firm Marshall, Diel & Myers, said: “I was reading this article having visions of Scrooge’s childhood, being left behind at school over Christmas. It’s heartbreaking and the children have no say in it, no ability to get before the courts. It’s like a prison sentence. Sending people away for extended periods of time, it’s horrendous. It strikes me as Dickensian.” He suggested a constitutional right to a fair hearing had been breached in the cases of children sent abroad without independent representation. He added: “I think it’s fair to say it’s systemic. What you need is a number of them to come forward. The court needs to look at what damages these people have suffered.” Mr Diel said the cases highlighted why the present section 35 of the Children Act was needed. He added: “It’s because these children are at risk, because very often either the parents don’t know or perhaps in certain cases don’t care, that you need someone whose sole interest is to look out for the legal interests of the children.” Child rights campaigner Sheelagh Cooper said the psycho-educational programme and the use of “offshore facilities” for Bermudian children needed to be reviewed as part of inquiries into DCFS already under way. A spokeswoman for the legal affairs ministry said the psycho-educational programme was developed for children who could no longer be treated on the island. She added its committee included government specialists in children’s care and education who vetted applications to send children overseas. The spokeswoman said: “An application then has to be made to the courts to have children removed from the jurisdiction. The application must indicate why the child is being removed, where they will be going, for what purpose and the length of time must be specified. She added the psycho-educational committee and the courts got updates on children’s progress and “clinical and comprehensive assessments” and an aftercare programme was available when they returned home.” The spokeswoman said: “These assessments have assisted DCFS in obtaining a clear and comprehensive understanding of the needs of the child. These overseas assessments have assisted in the development of an individualized treatment plan. Aftercare consists of reintegration to the education system, ongoing individual and family support and referrals. If the child has reached the age of 18 years old they may choose not to participate, however, services are still offered to them.”

paragraphThe Royal Bermuda Regiment’s training officer was appointed as second-in-command of the island’s armed service yesterday. Major Ben Beasley, a former Royal Air Force officer, takes over the role from Major Warren Furbert. John Rankin, the Governor, promoted Major Beasley on the recommendation of the RBR’s promotions board. Mr Rankin said: “During his career to date, he has served the regiment with distinction in a number of positions, including as adjutant and as training officer. I look forward to working with Major Beasley in his new role.” Major Beasley, who joined the RBR in 2011, completed the UK Defence Academy’s advanced command and staff course last year. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Bermuda in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Mr Rankin thanked Major Furbert for his work in his seven years as second-in-command. He said: “He has given dedicated service to the regiment as a full-time member of staff since 1984 and will continue, for the time being, as the regiment’s paymaster.”

paragraphA clinic run by Ewart Brown, a former premier, is to restart hi-tech CT scans almost a year after the plug was pulled on the computerized imaging service. The Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s will bring back the scanning service on Monday. Dr Brown signaled in September that the scans would resume. Dr Brown said yesterday: “We delayed the reopening until we could find a vastly proficient technologist who is experienced in all aspects of CT scanning including special cardiac studies.” The service was shut down in January after major fee cuts for scans were introduced by the former One Bermuda Alliance government, a position later moderated by its Progressive Labour Party successor. Increased fees for diagnostic imaging came into force at the start of last month. Dr Brown said that the Lahey Hospital and Medical Centre in Massachusetts would continue to interpret scans carried out in Bermuda. The Bermuda Hospitals Board and private services such as Dr Brown’s were affected by the fee cuts, which resulted in payouts from the Bermuda Government. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, later said payments to Dr Brown’s two practices were likely to exceed $1.2 million. Ms Wilson told Parliament last month that BHB had been compensated by about $1.86 million up to March 2018. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health said last night that the fee rates update marked the conclusion of the Government’s compensation commitments.

paragraphTwo government recruits will further their engineering skills through an international internship programme. The Ministry of Public Works announced that Jamal Dill and Zeeko Johnstone have been welcomed into the Bermuda-Aecon Internship Programme. The pair will travel to Toronto, Canada, to gain experience and learn professional skills while working with renowned engineering companies. Mr Johnstone, a mechanical engineer graduate, will study under the mechanical design company H.H. Angus Associates Ltd. Mr Dill will work with the Toronto-based electrical engineering company Mulvey & Banani International. Frank Ross, the executive director of Aecon International Construction, said: “We are very pleased to welcome both Zeeko and Jamar to the intern programme and I am confident that they will thoroughly enjoy and greatly benefit from this opportunity that the Government of Bermuda has presented to them.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch congratulated the pair for their accomplishments. He added: “Today is a day for other young Bermudians who may have an interest in the engineering field to be inspired by these two young men to also pursue their dreams. Mr Burch ended by urging everyone interested in an engineering career to contact the ministry.

paragraphA wedding planner from the United States was fined a total of $2,000 yesterday after he admitted drugs charges. Magistrates’ Court heard Yervad Zaratsian was arrested on suspicion of possession of controlled drugs at the airport as he attempted to return to America. Magistrate Tyrone Chin was told Zaratsian, 47, from California, arrived on the island on December 1 for a three-day wedding conference. He was searched by US Customs officers as he attempted to leave Bermuda on December 6 and was found to have cannabis oil, the party drug ecstasy and electronic vaping cartridges in his luggage. Zaratsian told officials the pills were prescription drugs and the liquid was a sedative, but tests showed they were banned drugs. He later told police that he used the drugs to “escape” the pressures of work. Arion Mapp, defence counsel for Zaratsian, said it was a small amount of drugs and had been brought to Bermuda by accident. He added the amount of cannabis oil found was less than seven millilitres. Mr Mapp added that the defendant had admitted the offences and had no previous convictions. Nicole Smith, for the Crown, pointed out Zaratsian had admitted to police he used drugs to cope with stress. Mr Chin fined Zaratsian $500 for importation of the cannabis oil, and $750 each on the ecstasy and vaping cartridges charges. The defendant was ordered to pay the fines before he left Bermuda.

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December 13

paragraphTransport workers have agreed to begin shifts 15 minutes earlier than the present start to suit a new bus schedule. The deal was hammered out between the Department of Public Transportation and the Bermuda Industrial Union at a meeting this week. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, is expected to provide an update on the bus timetable today. He said yesterday: “Monday’s meeting was called for the purpose of reaching a point where DPT and the BIU could mutually agree to change the starting time of DPT from 6am to 5.45am in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. This would facilitate the implementation of a new bus schedule. At that meeting, the employees agreed to change the starting time.” Full details will be revealed today. A work-to-rule in June disrupted provision of public transport for more than a week after BIU members voted in favour of industrial action. Chris Furbert, the union’s president, said at the time that some of the complaints — including the poor condition of the bus fleet — dated back “three to five years”. The action resulted in hundreds of cancellations, and services came to a complete halt as the island celebrated National Heroes Day.

paragraphResidents have given top marks to teachers who staged a mass sick-out. Members of the public told The Royal Gazette the Bermuda Government should give teachers what they need to do their jobs, tackle long-running concerns about the state of the island’s schools and stop wasting money on administration. The Bermuda Union of Teachers took action on Monday after it claimed the Ministry of Education had not listened to its complaints about a new standards-based grading system, training for teachers, staffing levels, technology problems, and health and safety fears. The Gazette took to the streets in Hamilton to assess the level of support for the teachers’ industrial action. Josie Richardson, 56, said: “Even though it’s unfortunate, they have to take a stand sometimes in order to let the senior management and Government know that they’re serious. I do support the teachers. I think it’s very important that the teachers have the tools that they need in order to do their jobs and they can’t do their jobs effectively if they don’t have the proper tools. The wellbeing of our children is the most important thing.” One man, who is married to a public-school teacher and asked not to be named, said: “This problem has been going on for a number of years in Bermuda, and it’s finally coming to a head. There is a very heavy administration problem in the Bermuda educational system that has to be dealt with. Unfortunately, the action that needs to be taken is going to be very difficult because it’s going to impact people. At some point, you need to make sure that the costs that are going to the facilities and administration are actually being put into the right places — the children’s education.” One Hamilton man, who also asked not to be named, said he opposed the teachers’ stand. He said: “I feel for the students because they missed out on school and were affected. I know about the financial difficulties that teachers are facing, especially with the Bermuda Government and what’s going on with their supplies. I do understand where the teachers are coming from, but I don’t believe that they should have done it in that way.” A woman who also asked not to be named, said: “I probably would have preferred a different approach primarily because I like the Minister of Education and he seems to be doing everything he can to improve our educational system.” Another woman said she had sat on a parent-teacher association. She added there was “never enough supplies” and “always a lot of politics within the system”. The woman said: “Just give the teachers their supplies. They shouldn’t have to send lists every year asking for toilet paper, paper towels, pencils and so on. That should be supplied to our children. Allow the teachers to do their job and do it to the best of their ability. At the end of the day, it’s not about politics, it’s about our children. So to separate it out of the Government’s hands would be a fantastic idea because that way the principals will do what they have to do for our children.” Raven Pearman, 25, said that the strike was “definitely warranted”. Ms Pearman, who wants to be a teacher, added: “I feel like the Government should fix the problem. Why would they allow our youth to be sick? It’s terrible to even think about the schools covered in black mould, and they’re doing nothing about it. I wouldn’t want to be in a school full of black mould, and I definitely wouldn’t want the children to be there. I would be on strike so that the students wouldn’t have to be there.” A poll on The Royal Gazette’s Twitter profile found 79 our of 96 voters were in support of the teachers, but a Gazette Facebook poll found 78 in support and 88 against.

paragraphFailure to fix problems in public schools will allow divisions in society to fester, an independent senator warned yesterday. Michelle Simmons said: “If we fail to fix this, we will continue to be plagued by inequalities in our community.” Ms Simmons, a former Berkeley Institute head teacher, said that the inequalities would lead to “disaffection, feelings of not belonging, a sense that public education is not worth anything, also a sense there is nothing here for me, and therefore the separation continues in our society”. She added: “It really does hurt to see what is happening right now in public education.” Ms Simmons was speaking during the motion to adjourn at yesterday’s Senate session. The warning came after the Bermuda Union of Teachers gave the Government a list of 23 problems that teachers said had to be tackled. The list included concerns over the standards-based pupil grading system, inadequate staffing and resources, technology problems and health and safety fears. Ms Simmons said: “We cannot afford, in this country, to continue to expect the best if we don’t put it in to our schools.” She added that a strong and vibrant public education system ensured “that we are doing right by every person in this country”. Ms Simmons said that parents should not be forced to place their children in private schools to ensure a good education. She added she believed that problems in the public school system could be fixed. But she said that it would require a “unified effort” from parents, pupils, principals, teachers and the Government. She added: “Everyone must be part of the solution.” Ms Simmons said the majority of teachers and administrators in the Government wanted the best for Bermuda’s youngsters. But she added: “There has to be a meeting of the minds — there has to be a coming together.” Jason Hayward, a Progressive Labour Party senator, backed Ms Simmons’s call for all parties to come together to tackle education. He added: “We must get it right — we are aiming to get it right.” Mr Hayward, the president of the Bermuda Public Service Union, which represents head teachers, said that some of the concerns of teachers and principals could not be fixed overnight. He added: “We have had a legacy of issues with public education.” Mr Hayward said the need for additional teaching assistants had created “huge issues”. He said the issues that teachers and principals faced “transcend industrial relations”. Mr Hayward explained: “These are not terms and conditions and contractual issues.” The father of three public-school students said he knew his children were learning. He added: “I don’t view it from a lens where my children are at some severe disadvantage because they are in the public-school system.” Mr Hayward said that Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, was putting his “best foot forward. Despite the challenges, progress is still being made.” James Jardine urged Mr Rabain to “stay the course”. The independent senator said he believed public education had “suffered greatly” from the “swinging door” of education ministers. Mr Jardine added that Mr Rabain had a tough job. He explained: “There is no way he is going to satisfy everyone — and it is mainly because of the numerous issues that are facing the public education system.” Mr Jardine said there needed to be a “strong and building communication” between Mr Rabain and schools staff. He added: “It can be done — and I have no doubt it will be done.” Public schools across the island were forced to close on Monday after a mass sick-out was staged by teachers. Anthony Wolffe, vice-president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, said on Monday that teacher morale was at an “all-time low” and that industrial action was the only way to get the education ministry to deal with “grave concerns” raised by the union. Head teachers have been on a work-to-rule since October 19.

paragraphTwo Bermudians charged with terrorism offences in Britain will be tried at London’s Old Bailey next month. Hisham Waheed Muhammad is accused of preparation for acts of terror and Faisal Ibn al Hajj Muhammad Abu Ahmad was charged with failure to notify the authorities. The two were arrested after a raid on a home in Whitefield, Bury, Greater Manchester. It is alleged that weapons and extremist literature in support of the terror group Islamic State were found at the house. Both men were said to have been living in the UK “for a significant period of time” before they were arrested on June 4. The trial is expected to start on January 21.

paragraphEnstar Group Ltd is partnering with German insurance giant Allianz and investment manager Hillhouse to launch a new Bermuda re/insurer. Enstar, a Bermuda-based company which specializes in acquiring and managing companies and portfolios in run-off, will own nearly half of the new company, called Enhanzed Reinsurance Ltd. The new Class 4 and Class E company will reinsure life, non-life run-off, and property and casualty insurance business, initially sourced from Allianz SE and Enstar. Enstar, Allianz and Hillhouse affiliates have committed a combined total of $470 million to Enhanzed Re. Enstar will own 47.4 per cent of the entity, with Allianz owning 24.9 per cent, and an affiliate of Hillhouse Capital Management Ltd owning 27.7 per cent. Enstar will act as the re/insurance manager for Enhanzed Re. Hillhouse will act as primary investment manager and an affiliate of Allianz will also provide investment management services. Enhanzed Re intends to write business from affiliates of its operating sponsors, Allianz and Enstar. It will seek to underwrite business to maximize diversification by risk and geography. Dominic Silvester, Enstar’s chief executive officer, said: “Enhanzed Re brings Enstar together with our established partners Allianz and Hillhouse to provide a vehicle that will reinsure a diversified book of life and P&C reserves sourced through a strong pipeline of opportunities provided by Enhanzed Re’s operating sponsors. Enhanzed Re will benefit from world-class investment managers prudently managing capital while pursuing risk-adjusted returns. Through Enhanzed Re, Enstar gains exposure to attractive life and P&C business and in return can offer opportunities for Enhanzed Re to participate in our future significant legacy transactions.”

paragraphAn analyst who has been highly positive towards Arbitrade and its “dignity” token all year is now expressing serious concerns about the cryptocurrency exchange and coin company. Ronnie Moas, of Standpoint Research, is calling on Arbitrade to give full disclosure about its claim that it has title to $15 billion of gold bullion. He told The Royal Gazette that he now sees “yellow and orange flags and smoke” and has had heartbreaking messages from people who have suffered significant investment losses on the crypto token that he had been bullish on in his subscription service newsletter and through posts on Twitter. Mr Moas has 45,000 followers on the social media platform. Meanwhile, Arbitrade’s board of directors said they had called on Mr Moas to stop writing about dignity and Arbitrade in his e-mails and on Twitter, and dismissed claims that he had been misled by its executives and consultants, or about its “timelines for delivering certain items”. Mr Moas is the founder of Standpoint Research, which lists among his achievements the authoring of more than 1,000 research reports and appearances in more than 100 television, newspaper, radio and magazine interviews since 2014. He has also been a headline speaker at a number of conferences. Speaking to the Gazette, Mr Moas said he had received heartbreaking messages from people who had invested in the token and now stood to lose their life savings after its price plummeted. Dignity was yesterday valued on CoinMarketCap at a fraction above half a cent, having fallen 85 per cent during the past month. Arbitrade incorporated in Bermuda this year and has named Victoria Hall, on Victoria Street, as its global headquarters. The $6.5 million office block was acquired by Arbitrade Properties (Victoria Hall) Ltd, a subsidiary of Arbitrade Property Holdings. The company is in the process of having its subsidiary, Arbitrade Exchange (Bermuda) Ltd, licensed under the Digital Asset Business Act 2018. Arbitrade has made a number of bold claims during the past six months, including its plan to use gold bullion to back five crypto tokens, with each token backed by $1 worth of bullion. One of the tokens is dignity, and it has a total supply of three billion tokens. At present there are 523 million dignity tokens in circulation, according to CoinMarketCap. Len Schutzman, chairman of Arbitrade, said Arbitrade had “title” to 395,000 kilograms of gold bullion, worth about $15.5 billion, to back its crypto tokens, and that this gold had been verified by an independent public accounting firm. However, the company did not identify who had given it title to the gold, under what conditions, nor where the gold is or the name of the independent accounting firm. A reason given later for this was that it was commercially sensitive information and the company was legally bound by non-disclosure and privacy obligations. Mr Moas said he wants Arbitrade to “come clean” on its gold claim, and to provide answers to questions he has asked them in the past few weeks. He said his outlook on Arbitrade had also changed for a number of reasons. On Monday he shared some his thoughts on the Wild West Crypto Show online podcast. Speaking to The Royal Gazette, he said: “The deal-breaker for me was that I sent them [Arbitrade] a couple of dozen questions last week, and they did not respond to any. I don’t think they had an answer to my questions. They are saying they have $15 billion of gold, but the DIG [dignity] coin is trading at less than a penny right now. If you have $15 billion, your name does not trade at $3 million on CoinMarketCap.” Arbitrade’s board of directors last week said it was legally bound by non-disclosure agreements and obligations, and had been “as open and transparent as possible with Mr Moas on everything that the company was working on which could be publicly shared”. The statement added: “The company recognizes that Mr Moas has been a loyal supporter of Arbitrade and is an authority in the blockchain space and, as a result, the company has not contradicted him up until this point; however, this behavior has now become unacceptable. We trust that on mature reflection Mr Moas would accept the position that the company is legally bound to take as a result of the NDAs [non-disclosure agreements] to which it is subject.” When asked what he felt now needed to happen Mr Moas, who owns three million dignity tokens, said: “At the very least I want there to be full disclosure before this gets listed on any other exchanges. I don’t think they can clear this up unless they can show the $15 billion of gold.” The Royal Gazette has sent a number of questions to Arbitrade and will publish further news in the coming days.

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December 12

paragraphCurtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, joined business leaders in a panel discussion looking ahead to next year. The 2018 year-end Briefing: The Outlook for Bermuda in 2019, was hosted by the Institute of Directors Bermuda and professional service company KPMG on Tuesday. In an hour-long talk, the panel addressed critical themes that will be key over the next 12 months and beyond, including the new economic substance regulations, immigration, taxes, infrastructure and regulatory change. During the discussion, Mr Dickinson said: “Bermuda is well on its way to enhancing provisions relating to economic substance for registered entities with the Economic Substance Bill, which will be read on Friday coming. The Government of Bermuda remains fully committed to ensuring that Bermuda will not be on any EU list of non-compliant jurisdictions and to that end, we will do all that is necessary.” Mike Morrison, chief executive officer, KPMG Bermuda, moderated the discussion at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club. The rest of the panel was made up of Jeremy Cox, CEO of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, Nathan Kowalski, chief financial officer at Anchor Investment Management Ltd, and Will McCallum, head of tax at KPMG Bermuda.

paragraphMost of the rezoning proposals sent as part of the development of a draft Bermuda Plan want the removal of conservation protections, it has been revealed. The Department of Planning said more than 200 rezoning proposals were received as part of the consultation process and 177 of them dealt with protected areas. The Draft Bermuda Plan 2018 review and strategy report, released with the draft Bermuda Plan on Monday, said: “Of the 208 requests, 177, or 85 per cent of them, involved the rezoning of conservation land. “A few of these requests involved the swapping of areas to be zoned for conservation with no net loss of conservation land but the majority requested the complete or partial removal of conservation land.” The report said that the department’s approach to the requests was to not support the removal of conservation zones unless there was good reason. Examples included if a building has already been built in the area with planning permission or if the conservation zone was replaced with a similar-sized or larger zone on a reasonable location on the site. The report said Riddell’s Bay was the subject of one of the most significant rezoning requests, which proposed changing 22 acres for recreational conservation zone to residential and changing another 70 acres to nature reserve, park, open space and recreation zones. Another request suggested the creation of a new “coastal residential zone”, which would allow further development of homes by the sea and on small islands. Coastal reserve zones were introduced in 2008 to protect coastal areas and small islands, which are vulnerable to flooding and erosion, and to preserve the natural beauty of the areas. The report said: “The Bermuda Plan 2008 permitted the development of recreational cottages in coastal reserve areas, but this policy has proved difficult to enforce and restricts use of these cottages for recreational uses only. As such, this policy has been removed from the new plan. The new plan will continue to allow only limited development in these vulnerable areas.” Sixty-eight requests involved the removal of agricultural reserve zoning. The submissions said some land had not been used as farmland for a prolonged period, the owner wanted to build on the land or the area was not suitable for farming. The report said 738 acres of land are reserved for agricultural use, but only about half is used. The report said the Government had developed a crop strategy to help to reduce Bermuda’s dependence on imported produce through an increase in domestic production. The report added: “It is hoped that this will lead to a healthier and more food-secure community where healthy fresh fruits and vegetables are more accessible to everyone and where communities are encouraged to grow their own food.” The report said the Bermuda National Trust and the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce reviewed the rezoning requests and submitted their own views. It added: “These included the need for the new Bermuda Plan to retain existing conservation lands, retain coastal reserve zoned areas and require the replacement of any conservation areas that are developed. It was also suggested that the Department should require greater setbacks for industrial sites located next to conservation areas.” The report also highlighted a 2008 report by the National Trust that warned of the threat of climate change. It said strategies included in the Bermuda Plan are intended to mitigate the risks caused by rising sea levels by limiting coastal development and encouraging “green” infrastructure.

paragraphA new plan for Bermuda could lead to more sidewalks in an attempt to boost health and fitness. The draft Bermuda Plan 2018 review and strategy report said that walking was a healthy way to get about; there were very few pedestrians outside of Hamilton, Dockyard and St George’s. The report included the result of a survey of the island’s roads, which mapped areas that did and did not have sidewalks or verges that pedestrians could use. It said: “A detailed look at the survey results indicate a notable lack of sidewalks in certain areas including east Devonshire, west Smith’s, a large section of Southampton, north Sandys, north and east Pembroke, south and east Hamilton Parish and portions of St David’s. “Planning has a role to play in creating an environment which would make walking more attractive and appealing. Planning policies can require new or improved sidewalks to be built in certain locations and planners can negotiate for sidewalk infrastructure improvements as part of development proposals.” The report said a policy in the 2008 Bermuda Plan allowed the Development Applications Board to require sidewalks be included on a site that borders a main road. It added: “This policy will be retained and strengthened in the new Bermuda Plan and the information provided from the Department of Planning’s walkability study will be used to highlight priority areas for additional sidewalk improvements.” The report said there had been an increased focus on road safety in Bermuda and highlighted The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign. The document added: “Planning policy and community planning initiatives can assist the Drive for Change initiative’s objectives, particularly regarding road design and management, street lighting and community-wide road safety awareness. In addition, planners can advocate for the provision of more and improved sidewalks to encourage greater walkability and increased pedestrian safety.” The report also said the draft plan took into account the increased use of electric vehicles in Bermuda. It added: “In order to accommodate these, the new Bermuda Plan will include a policy requiring electric vehicle charging stations for every ten parking spaces. In the November 2017 Throne Speech, Government announced a thorough review of transportation and in March 2018, the Ministry of Transport and Regulatory Affairs launched a Transport Green Paper survey to gauge public views on Bermuda’s public and private transportation. Unfortunately, the results of this survey are not yet available. However, it is anticipated that new legislation and policies will be developed for a range of transport issues including public transport payment options, road and traffic management, the ageing public bus and ferry fleet, oversized vehicles, speeding and dangerous driving.”

paragraphLarry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions has released a new guidance policy intended to steer offenders away from the courts for some offences. Mr Mussenden however warned: “Repeat offenders will not be granted cautions so easily as we will not hesitate to prosecute such offenders.” Under the guidance documents, officers ranked inspector or higher can issue a caution for specified offences if the police determine it would be in the public interest. The document said police should take into account any mitigating or aggravating circumstances in eligible offences, with the decision being “solely within the discretion of the police”. It says: “The purpose of a caution is to provide a convenient administrative disposal of a criminal case deemed to be of lesser severity. Typically this may be appropriate where the suspect has no prior convictions or cautions for the same or similar offences and where the suspect admits to the offence immediately or at a very early stage.” Several offences are listed as being eligible for caution including common assault, criminal damage, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, public drinking and affray. The document also lists mitigating and aggravating circumstances that police should consider. In a statement released this afternoon, Mr Mussenden said: “The general guidance is designed to allow our people and particularly younger people the opportunity to pursue their life and career objectives and to be productive, healthy and successful members of the community. I have drafted a general guidance for a police caution policy for a range of summary offences that are dealt with only in the Magistrates’ Courts. Guidance is also issued pursuant to PACE section 37 to make members of the Bermuda Police Service aware of what information is to be provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions and Crown counsel to enable a charging or other decision to be made.” Mr Mussenden said he had consulted with the Bermuda Police Service, and was grateful for their support. The guidance states:

Mr Mussenden added: “Going forward, I will consider a guidance for cautions for other offences as well as taking a restorative justice approach for certain kinds of cases that aims to resolve issues between parties without the need for putting them in Court. I welcome any ideas from individuals or agencies on this topic.”

paragraphPoliticians are expected to take a stand against sexist online comments and a culture of disrespect towards women after an Opposition MP asked parliamentary colleagues to set an example. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said Bermuda’s elected representatives had a responsibility to conduct themselves appropriately and that she hoped others would follow suit. It is understood the move came after Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, posted footage online where he asked a young woman serving in a London cereal café for “titty milk”. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said this week: “Very recently, we had the situation with respect to the online posting of the incident that happened with the minister in London. The incident that was recently posted on social media gave me cause for pause because it seemed to be a continuation of behavior that I’m beginning to question is becoming entrenched, because it seems that people do and say what they like and nothing is said or done about it. I think it’s unhealthy for the community.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin was speaking after she gave notice of a motion on Friday to ask the House of Assembly to condemn “the posting of inappropriate and/or sexist comments on social media by Members of Parliament”. The proposal asked MPs to support the inclusion of policies and procedures in the Parliamentary Code of Conduct that will “embrace a culture of respect towards women parliamentarians and women in general”. A debate on the motion was expected to take place in a sitting of the House soon. Mr Caines was in Britain for a forum on the blockchain industry and a meeting with the UK National Crime Agency when he posted the recording online. The video led to a backlash across the political divide and Mr Caines made an apology on Facebook. The story was also picked up by British newspaper The Evening Standard. David Burt, the Premier, said afterwards that the video displayed a “lack of respect for women” and “poor judgment”. He also carpeted Mr Caines over the controversy. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said she wanted to draw attention to sexism and get the House to agree “that the behavior is unacceptable and we need to at least take responsibility as leaders in the community to show that we can treat people with respect”. Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “If you start with leadership, then the rest will filter down.” She said the incident should have led to a personal explanation and apology in Parliament. The shadow health minister added: “When you travel on government business, the taxpayers are paying for you and if the behavior is inappropriate while you are traveling on taxpayers’ dime, it would seem to me, at the very least, that you should deal with the transgression. In the absence of the leadership stepping in and determining that this was something that was worthy of having a public apology, an explanation in the House of Assembly, then it just seemed to me that we needed to do something.” She added her motion focused on broader concerns related to sexist comments made on social media. Ms Gordon-Pamplin added that decorum appeared to be “diminishing exponentially” and that she hoped One Bermuda Alliance and Progressive Labour Party members would work together on the problem. She said: “If we as leaders don’t present ourselves in such a way to show that we have some level of decency and integrity then the person in the street is going to think anything goes.”

paragraphNon-Bermudian “belongers” are a step closer to representing the island at international sporting events after the Supreme Court of Bermuda determined that all athletes “deemed to belong” to the country are eligible for selection. Until the judgment handed down by Chief Justice Narinder Hargun last Friday, only those holding Bermudian status and, more recently, “deemed Bermudians”, were considered eligible. In a case brought by two junior athletes against the Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association, supported by Equal Opportunities in Sport, highlighted that the Constitution defines all those who “belong” to Bermuda as those holding Bermudian status, naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens, their wives and children under the age of 18. Nick Williamson, spokesman of Equal Opportunities in Sport, a group set up to promote participation in sport, said he hopes the ruling will be welcomed by the Bermuda Olympic Association and the governing bodies of all sporting federations in Bermuda. “The recognition of all ‘belongers’ for national sports selection should create a wider pool of potential athletes representing Bermuda in international sporting events, which it is hoped will lead to even greater sporting success,” he said. “We hope that this ruling will encourage sporting federations and the BOA to recognize the positive benefits of an expanded talent pool and the longer-term benefits to the whole community in developing and retaining active sportsmen and women in Bermuda. There are talented children in numerous sports such as cycling, swimming, triathlon, cricket, hockey and football and we believe this ruling can have a positive impact in the continued development of many of the excellent sporting programmes the island has. It should also help bolster those sporting events where it is often difficult to secure the right number of suitably qualified athletes from such a small nation, such as swim relay teams.” A statement from BASA read: “The Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association is pleased that the legal claim brought against the charity has been dismissed without any award of damages or costs. The charity takes no position on the constitutional issues decided by the Supreme Court and will continue to focus on growing and strengthening the sport of swimming in Bermuda.” Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, the ministry responsible for immigration, added: “This judgment will be reviewed against the background of best practice in the making of immigration policy which requires fairness, the protection of Bermudian rights and a system that reflects the expressed will of the people of Bermuda.” The judgment of the Chief Justice follows on the heels of a Court of Appeal decision from 2016, confirming that Bermudian and non-Bermudian “belongers” should be treated equally in terms of employment restrictions, owning shares in a local company and acquiring land in Bermuda without restriction on the same basis as Bermudians. On the eligibility ruling, Stan Douglas, the BOA general secretary, said: “We will be getting together with some learned minds to see where we stand following the ruling.” David Sabir, president of the Association of National Sport Governing Bodies, said the 28 national sports governing bodies had not yet met to discuss the implications of the ruling. “As of yet, we don’t know the entire scope of what this ruling actually represents,” Sabir said. “In due course, I’m certain the relevant bodies will make very clear what the ruling actually represents, how it will be applied, the significance it represents to national bodies and, in particular, to international representation.” Peter Dunne, the Bermuda Bicycle Association president, believes much will depend on the stance of each individual world governing body regarding which athletes are deemed eligible to represent Bermuda. “The ability to participate in events where nationality is a criteria is generally regulated by the sanctioning body of the event,” Dunne said. “When I take an athlete to the UCI [International Cycling Union] World Championships, Bermuda issues a licence in which we have to identify the athlete’s nationality. We ask the applicant to provide a copy of their passport, therefore identifying their nationality. That’s our normal process. If people who don’t hold that standard documentation are considered nationals for the purpose of sporting competition, there still needs to be some sort of documentation. The situation we’re in now following this ruling is that we need to obtain clarification from the UCI on what documentation they will accept in order to confirm the nationality of these individuals.” Dunne believes that deepening the pool of individuals eligible to represent Bermuda could have a positive impact for the island’s performances at international level. “The more people we can have who are eligible to represent Bermuda at international level is going to help advance sport,” he said. “As administrators, we have to understand who that is.”

paragraphFollowing the success of the inaugural International Cyber Risk Management Conference, Bermuda, organisers are making plans for the event to return next year. The conference attracted 206 delegates, which included cyber-risk professionals and industry executives from across Canada, the US, UK, and Bermuda. Almost half of the delegates consisted of C-suite level executives. Bill Stewart, division president, Global Cyber Risk Practice, Chubb, said the conference offered “the perfect blend of cyber technical content as well as international insurance market perspective in an environment that was highly conducive to networking. I highly recommend this conference for anyone that is serious about understanding this rapidly evolving market place”. Joel Baker, president and chief executive officer of MSA Research, the producer of ICRMC, said: “We are thrilled with the feedback we’ve heard from delegates on our first event in Bermuda. We are grateful to the BDA (Bermuda Business Development Agency) for their support, and to the many industry leaders for adding their expertise, and perspectives. “The discussions were provocative given recent breach events including the Marriott and Starwood breach. How much data should be asked of consumers, and the responsibilities that come with its collection warrant strategic consideration in terms of customer experience and cybersecurity.” The event was held at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. Delegates shared experiences and best practices that will help them manage the risk and impact caused by a cyber breach and discussed risk trends and challenges faced within the insurance industry as it pertains to cyber-risk. Cyber insurance featured prominently in the conversation, ranging from pricing to product trends and evolving buyer needs. The discussion also included how blockchain and artificial intelligence can be used in cyber-risk management, as well as a perspective on Bermuda’s expertise and offer as a regulatory jurisdiction and centre of excellence for insurance. More than 19 companies participated as sponsors or supporters of the event including the BDA as the signature sponsor, as well as Deloitte and Slice Labs as platinum sponsors. Other sponsors included major insurance companies, security firms, technology companies and law firms, along with several Bermudian insurance-focused associations. Darius Delon, president of Risk Management 101 and past chairman of RIMS Canada Council, said: “The speaker list was extremely talented — with some of the speakers having spent a portion of their careers doing cyber-risk management for the Secret Service, FBI and the Department of Justice. The in-depth stories during the socials added another level to the event and I learnt as much there as during the sessions. I have already pencilled in December for the next ICRMC.” ICRMC will return to Bermuda next year from December 4 to 6.

paragraphA gas station’s Christmas toy drive has teamed up with a holiday festival. Terceira’s service station has joined forces with Gina Spence Productions’ annual Christmas Community and Outreach Festival, which will move from its original home on Court Street to the Warwick gas station. The festival will get all the toys handed in at the gas station on South Road and pass them on to children in need. Ms Spence, who grew up in Warwick, said the parish was the best place to hold the event. She explained: “Warwick is a very vastly populated community and there are people from all walks of life from children to seniors who live in this community. I think the partnership worked really well for us because now we can really develop the event around a specific parish.” Teddy Terceira, general manager of the gas station, said the partnership was a good chance to give back to the community. He added: “It’s our first run, but I hope next year I’ll be able to do this again with Gina and we can make it bigger and better.” The toy drive is just one of the charitable activities carried out by Ms Spence’s organisation over the festive period. Children will also get a “healthy food hamper” to help provide them with nutritious food after the traditional holiday fare. Families and seniors will also get Christmas food hampers and pharmacy gift cards will be available for seniors registered for financial assistance. Ms Spence said: “We want to make sure we help as many people as possible. Everything in the Christmas hampers is prepackaged. It comes with instructions on how to cook each meal and every aspect of it is made to empower the parent and the family.” Ms Spence added families receiving donations should bring identification in order to get their hampers. The event will be open to the public and offer food, entertainment, fitness demonstrations, and health checks. Gospel duo Last Call and entrants to the Bermuda Teen Idol competition will also perform. A “Kiddie Land” area will also be available for children, with a face-painting station, bouncy castles, and a visit from Santa. Karate demonstrations will also be on show. Ms Spence said that the event will be held under a tent, but will be moved indoors if the weather is bad. She added: “Everything there is free and we do it specifically because we try to encourage people to bring their whole family. A lot of the time for people it’s about the cost, so now you can take your family to a free event, eat free food, have free access to activities and celebrate the holidays.” The event will be held on Saturday from 11am to 4pm.

paragraphEd, the London-based reinsurance, wholesale and specialty broker, plans to open an office in Bermuda. The operation, which is pending approval from the Bermuda Monetary Authority, will be built and led by Chris Bonard, chief executive officer of group production at Ed Broking. Mr Bonard was part of the executive team that launched Ed into the market in September 2016. “Bermuda represents an obvious opportunity for us to better serve our customers for whom the island is an important market,” Steve Hearn, group CEO of Ed Broking Group, said in a statement. In October Ed Broking announced that it is to be acquired by BGC Partners, a global brokerage and financial technology company, subject to regulatory approval. Mr Bonard will report to Mr Hearn, who will become head of the new BGC insurance division on completion of Ed’s acquisition by BGC. “With a business that already spans key markets in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Europe, we’ve been keen to further enhance our commitment to the North American market,” Mr Bonard said. “I look forward to the opportunity to shape our strategy in Bermuda, deepen my existing relationships with clients in the US, Canada and the Caribbean — and to seek out fresh ones.”

paragraphDr. Clarence “Tessi” Terceira, one of the founding members of the United Bermuda Party, has died, aged 91. Former Cabinet Minister Dr Terceira passed away peacefully at his Pembroke home early yesterday morning, according to his daughter, Joy Pimental. She said he had been ill for some time. He leaves behind his second wife Joan, sons Paul and Timothy, daughters Joy and Lesley, and stepdaughter Karon, as well as five granddaughters and two grandsons. His first wife died in 1990 and he had a grandson who died in 2005. Dr Terceira was a founder member of the UBP in 1963, becoming the party’s first treasurer in 1965. He served in the UBP Cabinet, holding the portfolios for education, health and works and engineering at various times. As works minister, he oversaw the construction of the dual carriageway on East Broadway, which was known as Tessi’s Highway at the time. He later used the phrase for the title of his autobiography, published in 2013.

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paragraphNew, wide-ranging fee increases by the Bermuda Monetary Authority have been approved by the Bermuda Government. However, the changes will be phased in over a three-year period rather than two years as had originally been proposed. A review this year concluded that the BMA will require up to 39 additional full-time staff by 2020 to continue effectively discharging its duties, while its annual operating costs have been projected to rise to $61 million by 2020, up $11.7 million on last year. Against this backdrop, Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, passed an order in the House of Assembly on Friday that provides for amendments to the fees charged by the BMA. Insurance and reinsurance companies, banks, corporate service providers, trusts and credit unions will be among those affected by the changes. Mr Dickinson made reference to the review conduced by the BMA with assistance from an international consulting firm, that resulted in fee change proposals. The authority recorded a budget deficit of $1.63 million last year, its fifth annual shortfall in the last decade. It expects to record a further operating loss this year. It has previously covered budget shortfalls from its general reserve account. Last year its reserves shrank by $2.1 million. As a regulator, the BMA works to protect and enhance Bermuda’s reputation and position as a leading international financial-services centre. It has said it is enhancing its risk-based supervision approach, coverage and service levels; meeting evolving international standards, but to do so it needs to further enhance its operations and add to its supervisory resources. One way this can be achieved is by raising fees. Mr Dickinson said the BMA recognized market conditions remain challenging in a number of regulated sectors, and this had been taken into account when the proposed revised fees were assessed. During the global financial crisis that started around 2008, and continuing in recent years, fee increases by the BMA were moderated to reduce the impact on the financial-services industry. Mr Dickinson said: “This has, however, contributed to the authority operating at a deficit, with resultant budget shortfalls being covered from existing reserves.” He added: “Consequently, certain existing fees will be adjusted and/or new fees be introduced to reflect the authority’s resource utilization for these ongoing supervisory activities. Also, the basis on which fees are charged will be simplified so that entities will find it easier to determine what fees they need to pay.” One of the four guiding principles that will inform the revised fees is the need for the island to maintain its competitiveness and “account for pricing relative to peer regulatory bodies to ensure Bermuda remains competitive”. Mr Dickinson said that during the consultation process and subsequent meetings between the BMA and industry stakeholder groups, the most prevalent comment was the need for the fee changes to be phased in over a longer period of time, which has resulted in the proposed timescale being altered from two years to three. He added: “The insurance industry’s request that the authority have greater flexibility regarding fees to be applied in specific circumstances, such as where affiliated insurers have similar risk profiles and in cases where combined application fees would otherwise be payable, has also been addressed via separate creation [in the Insurance Act] of a power to exempt or reduce fees.”

paragraphA surge in work-permit approvals emerged in figures provided in the House of Assembly for September through November. Work-permits applications suffered a backlog earlier this year, and the minister in charge switched on November 1 in a Cabinet reshuffle. Walton Brown, now the Minister for the Cabinet Office, had covered immigration as the Minister of Home Affairs. The responsibility for work permits was transferred to the national security portfolio, held by Wayne Caines as part of the Cabinet changes. MPs heard in Parliament last month that Mr Caines was “aggressively tackling” a backlog in work permits. On Friday, Mr Caines gave MPs figures for one to five-year work permits granted from September to November — a total of 1,350. The numbers of permits in the category more than doubled over the three months. There were 273 approved in September, 480 in October and 597 in November. Permits were also broken down by category, with the highest number for short-term permits. The total number of work permits approved between September and November was 2,205. There were 538 granted in September, 836 in October and 831 in November. Mr Caines was speaking after parliamentary questions from Sylvan Richards, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs. The details came as David Burt, the Premier, deferred answers to two written questions from the Opposition. Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, requested the number of jobs created by the incorporation of 44 fintech companies, along with job titles and numbers of Bermudians employed. Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, also requested travel details for trips paid out of the consolidated fund by government MPs and senators between July 19, 2017 and November 23, 2018. Mr Burt was allowed under House standing orders to defer the answers.

paragraphDepartment of Public Transportation staff have come together to support a former colleague with a donation to help with medical expenses. Today they handed a cheque for $2,260 to the family of Anthony Lodge, a former dispatcher and inspector with the department. The staff pitched in with bake sales, lunches and other fundraisers to help out with the cost of a heart transplant for Mr Lodge, who went to the United States in June. A spokesman said that Mr Lodge will need to stay overseas for postoperative care if he is successful in receiving a heart. Tori Burchall, the operations manager at the department, said staff were happy to do their part for Mr Lodge, who “has always been a great colleague and friend”.

paragraphPolice named a man shot dead outside his home as Paul Johnson, as they announced a 21-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the murder. Officers said they believed Mr Johnson, 33, was gunned down by a man who had lain in wait at his house in Pembroke’s Rambling Lane in the early hours of yesterday. Mr Johnson suffered several bullet wounds after he arrived home about 3am and was later pronounced dead by doctors at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford said police converged on the scene after several 911 calls to report gunshots in the Rambling Lane area. Mr Glasford said: “Upon police arrival, they came upon a male lying on the ground outside of his residence. Police commenced CPR and other life-saving measures and he was subsequently taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital where time of death was certified at 3.33am.” Mr Glasford said it was too soon to say if the murder was gang-related, or if it was connected to an attempted shooting in nearby Happy Valley Road less than two weeks ago. He declined to say whether Mr Johnson was known to the police. Mr Glasford said detectives wanted to speak to the driver of a grey car who transported Mr Johnson to a business on Hamilton’s Church Street early yesterday. He added that the police’s response to gun crime was effective, despite a string of violent incidents in recent weeks. Mr Glasford said: “There is a lot of work that we do in the background that the public may not be aware of where we act on information and intelligence received. We do our part based on the information we have and put plans in place, but we also have to depend on the community and members of the public to come forward.” He said some members of the public co-operated in the inquiry but that “there are still persons reluctant to come forward”. Gina Spence, a community activist, highlighted that yesterday’s incident was the third in recent weeks to have happened in a densely populated area. She said: “My concern is about not just the loss of life, it is that the last three shootings — the one in Friswells Hill, the one in Happy Valley, and then this last one — they all took place at people’s front doors. Any child, any neighbour, anybody, could’ve been walking in that space.” Ms Spence, who went the scene of yesterday’s murder, said adults and children saw Mr Johnson’s body lying in front of his home. She added: “I’m always concerned when a child who witnesses this shows up at school. What’s the protocol? What do we do for that child? How do we service them? It can’t be generic counselling — it’s homicide.” Witnesses or anyone with any information about Mr Johnson’s whereabouts on the night of his death should call Detective Sergeant Jason Smith on 717-0864 or e-mail jsmith2@bps.bm. People can also contact the independent and confidential Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.

paragraphBermuda’s public school system is past fixing, the president of a primary school parent-teacher association warned yesterday. Danielle Riviere, the president of the West Pembroke Primary School Parent Teacher Association, said that it was time that the island admitted “that the education system is broken”. She added: “It’s time to change the conversation from how to fix it to how to replace it.” Ms Riviere was speaking after a mass sick-out yesterday by teachers, who are expected to return to classrooms today. Commissioner of Education Kalmar Richards said last night that Ministry and Department of Education leaders would meet with Bermuda Union of Teachers representatives today, under the guidance of a Labour Relations Officer. Ms Richards said: “We remain optimistic that we can resolve the issues at hand, together.” Ms Riviere said that problems with the public school system were not new. She added that the state of the system was at “an all-time low”. Ms Riviere said: “Now we have a situation that appears to be a literal standoff between the Ministry of Education and teachers.” She said that she backed the industrial action taken by teachers. Ms Riviere explained: “They are on the front lines and have to deal with the constant ramifications of an inept system.” She added: “We need immediate solutions to the current issues plaguing our schools, student behavior issues, lack of learning support teachers, technology upgrades and the standards-based grading debacle. We need the education ministry and department not to bend to the will of the teachers but to find the funds and wherewithal to create an environment that allows teachers to teach in a manner reflective of the 21st century in a country deemed to be affluent.” Almost all the teachers at West Pembroke called in sick last month over a range of complaints, including a shortage of teaching assistants. Ms Riviere warned at the time that similar action could be repeated at other schools. Teaching assistants across the island staged a similar sick-out last Friday. Anthony Wolffe, vice-president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, confirmed yesterday that industrial action would not continue today. Mr Wolffe said: “Schools will be open. Teachers will be at their positions.” But he added that teacher morale was at an “all-time low”. Mr Wolffe said yesterday that industrial action was the only way to get the education ministry to deal with “grave concerns” raised by the union. He added: “We are here in an attempt to save public education for the future of our children.” Mr Wolffe said that the BUT had given the Government a list of 23 problems that had to be tackled. He added: “First, we demand the retraction of the use of standards-based grading until there is proof, with supporting data, that the infrastructure is in place for its implementation and that all teachers are properly trained and have mastered its use.” Other worries included inadequate staffing and resources, technology problems and health and safety fears. Ms Richards asked the union yesterday to order its members to return to work. She said: “We are ready to re-engage with the BUT, through the Labour Relations Office. We see this as the best way forward for the sake of our children.” Ms Richards said that the new standards-based grading system had been the main concern raised by the union in recent months. Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, announced last Friday that teachers would be given training in the new pupil grading system next month. Shannon James, the president of the BUT, said that yesterday’s industrial action by teachers and principals showed “how strongly they feel about the issues within education”. He added: “While the actions teachers have taken have very regrettably affected students, they feel that the issues that remain outstanding have an even greater impact on our young people. We need to get this resolved and I would invite the minister — and the Premier — to sit down with us and find a way forward. No teacher wants to harm the education of our young people and all teachers want to resolve this situation so they can do what they love doing — helping Bermuda’s young people.” Ms Richards said that additional concerns had been submitted to Mr Rabain by the BUT on November 29 and that the minister had met union executives on December 3. She added: “There was no indication on the part of the BUT that they were dissatisfied with the process that was being followed to address their concerns. In fact, one of the BUT leaders stated that the ongoing communication was beneficial.” Mr Rabain said yesterday that he had backed off on plans to insist that teaching assistants provide a sick note for their absence last week. He added that he had changed his mind in “the interest of strengthening relations with the BUT and focusing on working to fix the problems”. Mr Rabain said: “Consequently, no teacher will have to submit a sick note explaining their absence last week.” He said the Government would continue talks with the BUT “to address the concerns they have raised and to ensure that the interests of our children come first”.

paragraphThomas Lightbourne has been hired as brand events manager, the Bermuda Tourism Authority announced today. The young Bermudian talent moves over from the Corporation of Hamilton where he had eight years of experience in event management and marketing, including responsibilities for City Food Festival and Bermuda Fashion Festival. When he joins the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s public relations team in New York City, Thomas will be in charge of translating Bermuda brand concepts into real-life experiences at special tourism events, trade shows and client affairs. He starts in the new role January 7, 2019 and will hit the ground running with Bermuda tourism marketing events scheduled in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia during February and March. “Event marketing is a major part of what we do at the Bermuda Tourism Authority to convey the distinct vibe of the island in a way that sets her apart from other destinations,” said Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer. “Thomas’s event experience and passion for Bermuda make him a great fit as brand events manager — we can’t wait for him to get started.”

paragraphBF&M Ltd posted net income of $16.9 million for the first nine months of the year, helped by an 8 per cent reduction in operating expenses. The profits were up threefold from last year’s corresponding period, when hurricane losses in the Caribbean islands impacted results. John Wight, BF&M’s chief executive officer, said: “BF&M reported strong earnings for the nine months in 2018, along with strong operating results for the third quarter. “Our earnings were driven by the solid performance of both the life and health business and property and casualty operations, with continued support from income on non-insurance operations.” The company said operating expenses fell 8 per cent to $46.2 million for the period. Gross premiums for the nine months totaled $262.3 million, reflecting an increase of 2 per cent from the corresponding 2017 period. BF&M offers property and casualty products as well as health, life, annuities and pension products, and investment advisory services. Mr Wight added: “Our strategy of diversification by geography and by line of business, and our leading financial strength ratings continue to form the cornerstones of our success.” Equity attributable to shareholders at September 30, 2018 was $273.3 million. General fund assets totaled $1.3 billion of which $163.8 million was held in cash and cash equivalents. Commission and other income increased from the prior year by 7 per cent to $38.8 million. The company said “2017 hurricanes continued to negatively impact commission income in the current year, but the impact was more than offset by commissions earned on additional reinsurance coverage and higher levels of proportional reinsurance ceded due to changes in our reinsurance programme and profit share reported on non property business”. Investment income for the year reflected a $14.6 million decrease in the fair value of investments for the period, compared to an $8.9 million increase in 2017. As a result of the company’s disciplined asset-liability matching policy which looks to limit volatility of reported earnings as a result of interest rate swings the Company reported a $3.9 million net gain on the difference between the fair value of investments which support certain liabilities and reported reserves. Short-term claims and adjustment expenses fell 32 per cent to $19.4 million of which $12.5 million was a decline from 2017 storm claims. Life and health policy benefits decreased by 20 per cent to $65.6 million. “Life and health policy benefits” includes changes in life insurance reserves which decreased in 2018 compared to a smaller increase in 2017 in the same period. These reserve movements were primarily driven by differences in market interest rates over the respective periods.

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paragraphRevenue guarantees paid to airlines should be a shared responsibility, the tourism minister has said. The move is an apparent softening of the line Zane DeSilva took in the House of Assembly last month when he insisted airport operators Skyport should foot the bill for the cash paid to airlines. Mr DeSilva said last week that minimum revenue guarantees, up to $2 million a year in some years, should be divided among tourism industry players. He said: “You can call it a minimum revenue guarantee or marketing, but at the end of the day, no matter what we call it, all the stakeholders should have skin in the game. I’m not saying that the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Bermuda Government or Skyport should bear the brunt entirely or individually, but Skyport, who are now recipients of all the income for the airport, should play their part, whether that’s 70 per cent, 80 per cent or 25 per cent. All I can tell you is that as far as I’m concerned, it’s not on my agenda for us, the Government, to pay in its entirety.” Mr DeSilva told the House last month that it was “unthinkable that we would sit idly by while taxpayers are forced to bear a financial responsibility that rightly rests with Skyport”. He added that the Government was not on the hook for the minimum revenue guarantees at present. The minister did not elaborate in his latest comments, saying that the guarantees were confidential. Mr DeSilva added: “I think most in the industry know MRGs are agreed from time to time. When MRGs are in place, it ultimately comes from the taxpayer.” The payouts to airlines appeared in the annual financial statements for the Government’s Consolidated Fund. Later statements referred to air service agreements with unnamed “commercial airlines” rather than specific airlines. Two airline agreements were vested in the newly created Bermuda Airport Authority in March 2017 and the Government established letters of credit with HSBC for $500,000 and the Bank of Butterfield for $100,000. The Government’s estimated liability for air service agreements was $1.15 million on March 31, 2016, but the report noted an additional agreement signed in October 2016 which put the public purse on the hook for an additional $552,000. The 2015 financial statement for agreements with two airlines gave an estimated liability of $1.18 million. That report also listed an additional air service agreement in September 2015, with the Government entering an irrevocable letter of credit with Butterfield Bank for $900,000. The Government’s agreements had gone from two to three airlines, with an estimated liability of $2.72 million in 2014. The report for the year ended March 31, 2013 gave the total payout as $1.63 million. The statements for the 2011-12 financial year revealed that in February 2012 the Government paid American Airlines $361,536 under its air service agreement, which required the island to compensate the company for any shortfall in its minimum revenue on its Bermuda-Miami service. WestJet was given more than $3.7 million between August 2011 and June 2012. The BAA was set up as a government quango to take over from the Department of Airport Operations, under the airport redevelopment deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and the contractor Aecon.

paragraphSeniors are expected to see an increase in their pensions after MPs backed a rise in payments. Legislators supported raising the amount by 1.4 per cent although Opposition members claimed the rate was “embarrassing”. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, presented the Contributory Pensions (Amendments of Benefits) Order 2018 to the House of Assembly on Friday. He said: “This is a reflection of Government’s resolute and unwavering commitment to improve the quality of life of our senior citizens. You will recall in the Government’s 2017 election platform it was declared that this Government would put our seniors first and institute annual cost of living increases for social insurance pensions that will be linked to the rate of inflation and can help lessen the hardships that too many of our seniors now endure.” He said the Order was to increase pensions and other benefits under the Contributory Pensions Act 1970 by 1.4 per cent backdated to last August. Mr Dickinson said that represented an additional cost of $2.3 million a year for the fund. The House heard the basic contributory pension would rise from $1,049.68 to $1,064.37 a month, and the maximum paid out would increase from $1,531 to $1,545.62 a month. Mr Dickinson said it was the 12th pension increase by Progressive Labour Party governments since 1998. Members heard the consumer price index found cost of living had increased by 1.4 per cent since the last rise The minister said the increase in payments would normally be accompanied by a corresponding increase in contributions but this would be delayed until changes to Bermuda’s social insurance system — based on percentage of income — were laid out. Mr Dickinson said: “Contributions were last increased in August 2018 by 4.2 per cent. Considering the relatively strong position of the fund, it is anticipated that the fund can withstand the one-year delay in contribution increases. However, it is critical that the increased contributions come into force in August 2019.” MPs heard that at September 30, the fund’s assets stood at more than $1.9 billion, which was 11.7 times the annual value of benefits paid in 2017-18 — a “relatively high rate of funding”. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the One Bermuda Alliance finance spokeswoman in the House, said: “This is the lowest pension increase that this Government has afforded to our seniors, many of whom are struggling severely, since they came into office in 1998. At 1.4 per cent I would have been embarrassed to bring this to this honourable House. What it appears is that the minister and the Government are doing not much more than ticking the boxes.” She predicted others would criticize the OBA for fewer pension payments during its term leading the country from 2012 to 2017 but claimed austerity measures needed at the time were significant. Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “If things are as wonderful as the PLP Government would have us believe they are, they should be ashamed of themselves to come to seniors with a 1.4 per cent increase.” Wayne Furbert, the Junior Minister of Finance, asked: “Are you trying to tell me that this Government, who’s made a commitment to the people of Bermuda, the seniors, that it will given an increase every year while they are the Government, is wrong?” Michael Dunkley, an Opposition backbencher, said: “In reality 1.4 per cent is a very small increase.” He added: “We need to make sure that we shore up our pension funds as much as we can and I will be interested to see how the Government will be doing it going forward.” David Burt, the Premier, said: “We promised the people of this country that we would deliver pension increases in line with the cost of living. That is what we promised and that is what we deliver.” A statement later released by the Government confirmed seniors can expect to see the increase in their payment next month.

paragraphAn Opposition backbencher has hit back at “insulting and disparaging statements” about him by the public works minister. Trevor Moniz said Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch had attacked him and the One Bermuda Alliance last month and accused the former government of cutting back an affordable housing project in Dockyard. Colonel Burch also told MPs that prefab materials had deteriorated during five years in storage after the 100 Homes Project was cut down to 20 residences. But Mr Moniz, a former public works minister, told MPs Friday that the OBA had been clear in its criticism of the project before the 2012 General Election that gave the party the Government. Mr Moniz said “it was, therefore, no surprise” that in January 2013 the scheme was scaled back. Mr Moniz said the OBA saw the “abject failure” of Warwick’s Grand Atlantic affordable housing project, where only two units were purchased, as proof that the island had more than enough housing after “a major exodus” of residents under the Progressive Labour Party. He added: “The fundamental disagreement is with the minister’s contention that there is a shortage of adequate housing.” Mr Moniz said that cutting the project had saved $11 million and spared the area from “an unacceptably dense housing development”. He also objected to being blamed for the storage of leftover material as he had left the portfolio in December 2013. Mr Moniz told the House that the spare prefabs had been left in the care of the West End Development Corporation.

paragraphBermuda’s chief medical officer is to be released from routine administrative tasks under new legislation approved on Friday by MPs. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said requirements for the job had included “wholly inappropriate” tasks. These included oversight of the storage of manure, which she said was best transferred to the Environmental Health Officer. Ms Wilson told the House of Assembly that Cheryl Peek-Ball, the CMO, had her role mentioned in 26 different pieces of legislation, which created an “untenable” amount of duties. She added: “We have undertaken reviews of all Acts and legislation where the CMO is referred to and have made amendments where a different person or organisation is better for that role.” Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, signaled the Opposition’s support for the “housekeeping” legislation. The House of Assembly also gave the green light to the Allied Health Professions Act 2018, which brings five new professions under regulations for registration, the handling of complaints and disciplinary procedures. Acupuncture, chiropractors, counselors, massage therapists and social workers will all now be included in the legislation.

paragraphA mass sick-out by schoolteachers closed public schools across the island today. But instructors will be back in the classroom tomorrow, a union representative confirmed this afternoon. Anthony Wolffe, vice-president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, confirmed that job action taken today would not continue tomorrow. Mr Wolffe said: “Schools will be open. Teachers will be at their positions.” He added that teachers would remain on the job as long as discussions between the Ministry of Education, the union and the Labour Relations Office “are going successfully”. Mr Wolffe was speaking after Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, this afternoon called on the BUT “to ask members to return to their respective schools tomorrow”. She added: “We are ready to re-engage with the BUT, through the Labour Relations Office. We see this as the best way forward for the sake of our children.” Ms Richards said that the new standards-based grading system had been the main concern raised by the union in recent months. Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, announced on Friday that teachers would be provided with instructions next month on the new pupil grading system. Shannon James, the president of the BUT, earlier said teachers were “confused” on the grading system. Ms Richards said that additional concerns had been submitted to Mr Rabain in writing by the BUT on November 29. She added that the minister had met with union executives on December 3. Ms Richards said: “There was no indication on the part of the BUT that they were dissatisfied with the process that was being followed to address their concerns. In fact, one of the BUT leaders stated that the ongoing communication was beneficial.” A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education confirmed the job action this morning. She said: “The Ministry of Education regrets to inform the public that due to an island-wide industrial action by teachers, all public schools will be closed today. The ministry is working diligently to attain a swift and amicable resolution to this dispute to ensure the safety and educational security of our children. The ministry apologizes to Bermuda’s parents and students for the inconvenience.” Danielle Riviere, the president of the West Pembroke Primary School Parent Teacher Association, said that problems with the public school system were nothing new. But she added: “Now we have a situation that appears to be a literal standoff between the Ministry of Education and teachers.” Ms Riviere said that she backed the industrial action taken by teachers. She explained: “They are on the front lines and have to deal with the constant ramifications of an inept system. We need immediate solutions to the current issues plaguing our schools — student behavioral issues, lack of learning support teachers, technology upgrades and the standards-based grading debacle. We need the Education Ministry and Department not to bend to the will of the teachers but to find the funds and wherewithal to create an environment that allows teachers to teach in a manner reflective of the 21st Century in a country deemed to be affluent.” She said that it was time to acknowledge that the education system in Bermuda was “broken”. Ms Riviere added: “It’s time to change the conversation from how to fix it to how to replace it.” Almost all teachers at West Pembroke called in sick last month over a range of complaints, including a shortage of teaching assistants. Ms Riviere warned at the time that similar action could be repeated at schools across the island. Mr James said that the job action by teachers and principals showed “how strongly they feel about the issues within education”. He added: “While the actions teachers have taken have very regrettably affected students, they feel that the issues that remain outstanding have an even greater impact on our young people. We need to get this resolved and I would invite the minister — and the Premier — to sit down with us and find a way forward. No teacher wants to harm the education of our young people and all teachers want to resolve this situation so they can do what they love doing — helping Bermuda’s young people.” Mr Rabain announced this morning he had backed off on plans to require that teaching assistants provide a sick note for an island-wide sick-out last Friday. Mr Rabain said that move was made in “the interest of strengthening relations with the Bermuda Union of Teachers and focusing on working to fix the problems. Consequently, no teacher will have to submit a sick note explaining their absence last week.” Mr Rabain said the Government would continue talks with the BUT “to address the concerns they have raised and to ensure that the interests of our children come first”. Evelyn James-Barnett, director of communications for Bermuda College, said that the college remained open today and that exams would be held as scheduled.

paragraphAppleby in Bermuda noted via its website the following relating to The EU Code of Conduct Group (the Code Group) that assessed the tax policies of a range of countries, including Bermuda, in 2017.  Following assessment by the Code Group, Bermuda was included in a list of jurisdictions which are required to address the Code Group’s concerns about ‘economic substance’.  Like their counterparts in BVI, Cayman, Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man, the government of Bermuda has been working closely with the Code Group to ensure that those concerns are adequately addressed.  As a result of this engagement, a bill entitled the Economic Substance Act 2018 (Substance Act) was tabled on Friday 7 December 2018 in Bermuda's House of Assembly. Who is subject to Economic Substance Requirements? The Substance Act applies to “registered entities” which means companies subject to the Companies Act 1981 and companies formed under the Limited Liability Company Act 2016. A registered entity will be in scope of the Substance Act if it conducts a relevant activity.  The relevant activities are:

A registered entity conducting a relevant activity will satisfy the economic substance requirements if:

How will a company be assessed on compliance? The Minister of Finance (Minister) will determine, based on the Declaration filed by the registered entity (see further below), whether a company is compliant with the economic substance requirements.  Regulations (Substance Regulations) will be issued by the Minister which will set out the factors which the Minister will consider when assessing compliance with the Substance Act.  

How is “adequate” to be assessed? The Substance Act does not impose a minimum annual expenditure nor a minimum number of employees in order to satisfy the economic substance requirements. Rather, “adequacy” will be assessed based on the particular circumstances of the registered entity.  Guidance notes (which will include illustrative examples of CIGA for each of the relevant activities) will be issued by the government in due course to facilitate assessment of and compliance with the economic substance requirements.

Reporting Obligations: Economic Substance Declaration. Registered entities which are in scope of the Substance Act will be required to file on an annual basis an economic substance declaration (Declaration) with the Registrar of Companies (Registrar), confirming that the company complies with the economic substance requirements. The Declaration will require the disclosure of certain key information applicable to an analysis of substance requirements, including the type of relevant activity undertaken, details of the management of the entity and its physical office location.   

Compliance and Enforcement. The Registrar will have monitoring and enforcement powers under the Registrar of Companies (Compliance Measures) Act 2017 and will have the power to fine an entity for non-compliance.  Continued failure to meet the substance test may result in higher fines and could lead to the Registrar applying to the Bermuda Court to make an order requiring a non-compliant entity to take action to satisfy economic substance requirements.

Implementation Period. The proposed commencement date for the Substance Act is 1 January 2019 and the new regime will be immediately applicable to new registered entities incorporated or registered after this date. For existing companies, there will be a 6 month transitional period.

What can Appleby do to help? We expect that all relevant entities will need to undertake an internal review to determine what measures, if any, they might need to take in order to achieve compliance.   We will have a clearer picture of the requirements once the Substance Regulations have been issued, likely in mid-December.  At that time, we will be in touch with more information about how we expect this new legislation to impact our clients.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please reach out to your usual Appleby contact or a member of its team.

paragraphArgus Group Holdings Limited has made a profit of $10 million for the six months to the end of September. This compares with a loss of $2.3 million for the same period last year. While welcoming the performance Alison Hill, chief executive officer, said the company remains concerned about the sustainability of the healthcare system in Bermuda. She also referenced “decisive short-term action” taken by Argus to improve long-term profitability. This year the company announced $19.5 million of write downs associated with disposing of illiquid, noncore assets as the group restructured its balance sheet. Ms Hill said: “We remain confident that these actions will lead to sustained earnings and future growth.” The group’s combined operating ratio for its insurance business was 80.5 per cent, markedly lower than the 93.6 per cent for the same period last year. Ms Hill said: “Following a year of significant increases of the cost of claims within our health business, we are now seeing a return to more normal claim levels. As promised, we will continue our efforts to drive changes that will help to control health claims without compromising quality of care. We remain concerned about the sustainability of the healthcare system in Bermuda and will continue to invest in our population health initiatives and work with key stakeholders as a way to influence change.” Argus Group’s combined property and casualty division reported an increase in net earnings year-on-year, which was helped by the absence of hurricanes and other major windstorms in Bermuda, although this was in part offset by large motor losses in Europe. Fee income generated by the group’s employee benefits, wealth management and insurance brokerage businesses was stable at $12.3 million. Ms Hill said the group’s investment portfolio generated positive returns during the six months, despite the events that impacted global investment markets; rate increases by the Federal Reserve and tightening of credit spreads." Against this backdrop, the group’s solid investment performance for the six months has contributed $7.9 million to our earnings. The investment income benefited from a one-time realised gain of $1.3 million from the sale of certain Bermuda equities.” Equity attributable to shareholders of the company stands at $107.9 million and remains well in excess of the capital level required by regulators. Argus has declared an interim dividend of nine cents per share payable on January 15, to shareholders of record on December 31.

paragraphThousands of revelers celebrated the Christmas season the Bermuda way on Saturday as Hamilton hosted the Christmas Boat Parade. Spectators lined Front Street and Albuoy’s Point, enjoying a line-up of impressively lighted boats and festive music. Donald Wray, from New York, said the event was a pleasant surprise. He said: “The atmosphere is great, the weather is good. It’s something different. I had to come to the island for work, but given the time of year I thought it would be nice to bring the family with me and I’m glad I did.” His daughter, Julie, 5, said: “The boats are pretty and I like the food. And it’s not cold.” Christine DeSilva said she was happy to see the event return after skipping a year. She said: “It was a disappointment that last year’s event didn’t go ahead, but honestly I would be happy if they did this every year. It’s a great excuse to come out with the family and enjoy the Christmas spirit.” Her husband, Laurence, said: “We missed the one in St George’s. We didn’t even know it was taking place until we saw in the paper the day after. I think it’s a great tradition. It’s something very Bermudian. I think it brings us together.” Deshay Pitts said it was great to see so many people come out to enjoy the holidays. He said: “Between this and the walkabout, it’s really starting to feel like Christmas now. I love this time of year. You hang out with your family, everyone is happy. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it.” Calico Jack’s was decorated like a Santa’s workshop and (see photograph below) won Best Overall Boat as well as Best Crew Costume, Best Use of Building Materials and People’s Choice. It was followed by Andrea Christine in overall second place, then the Spirit of Bermuda in third. Chapter Eleven took home the Best Community Message title and the Most Humorous vessel was Miss T.J. The Bermuda Pilot Gig Club was awarded Most Original, the Best Use of Lights was on the Honey Badger Express and the Best Traditional Christmas Message came from Santa’s Barge.

2018 Christmas Boat Parade

See above item

paragraphA 33-year-old man was shot dead outside his home in Pembroke today. Police believe a lone gunman waited outside Paul Johnson’s Rambling Lane home and shot him several times as he tried to enter at about 3am. A 21-year-old man was later arrested in connection with Mr Johnson’s murder. Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford told a press conference police received several 911 calls reporting gunshots in the area of Rambling Lane. Mr Glasford said: “Upon police arrival they came upon a male lying on the ground outside of his residence. Police commenced CPR and other life-saving measures and he was subsequently taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital where time of death was certified at 3.33am. We regrettably can confirm the identity of the deceased as 33-year-old Paul Johnson of Pembroke and the Bermuda Police Service extends our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.” Mr Glasford said it is too early to say whether the murder was gang-related, or whether the incident was connected to a shooting in nearby Happy Valley less than two weeks ago. He added that he could not say whether Mr Johnson was known to the police. Mr Glasford said detectives are seeking the driver of a grey car who drove Mr Johnson early yesterday at a business establishment on Church Street. He argued that the police’s outreach is effective despite a string of violent incidents in recent weeks. He said: “There is a lot of work that we do in the background that the public may not be aware of where we act on information and intelligence received. We do our part based on the information we have and put plans in place, but we also have to depend on the community and members of the public to come forward.” He said some members of the public have been co-operative “but there are still persons reluctant to come forward”. Witnesses or anyone with any information about Mr Johnson’s whereabouts on the night of his death should call Detective Sergeant Jason Smith on 717-0864 or jsmith2@bps.bm, or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477.

paragraphA 17-year-old in the UK has denied having any part in the murder of Bermudian Lyrico Steede. The male, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said he was not in the park where Mr Steede was fatally stabbed. He said he had lost his phone — found in the taxi allegedly used by his co-defendants on the night of the murder — weeks before the incident. He told Nottingham Crown Court: “I must have forgot it at the end of January.” The teenager said that after he lost his phone he made no effort to recover it and instead used his iPad. He added he did not know who had his phone on the night of the murder. Prosecutors have alleged Mr Steede, 17, was lured to a park in the suburb or Bulwell on the night of February 13. While there he was attacked by a group of four males, who chased him and stabbed him when he fell. Mr Steede died of his injuries in hospital five days later. The 17-year-old was charged with the murder along with Christian Jameson, 18, Kasharn Campbell, 19, Remmell Campbell-Miller, 18, and a 16-year-old girl. The trial continues.

paragraphFrederick “Penny” Bean, the first Bermudian-born constable promoted to Commissioner of Police, has died at age 82. During his 34 years of service, Mr Bean earned the Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service, awarded to him after the Chief Justice at the time commended him for disarming an armed robber. Mr Bean joined what was then the Bermuda Police Force in June 1956, aged just 19, and was appointed to the top job in 1981, and retired on March 23, 1990. He was the first black person to hold the post. Upon retirement, he was named to the Order of the British Empire. He also earned the Colonial Police Long Service Medal and the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. During his time in the senior leadership of the police, Mr Bean forged closer ties to UK, US and Canadian national police services, established a joint police and customs drug importation squad. Mr Bean created the Police Community Relations programme, the first fraud squad, improved living quarters for single officers, and improvement on internal communications, particularly a sophisticated secure multi-channel radio system, the combined Operations Centre at Prospect and the emergency 911 system. At his retirement, Mr Bean told The Royal Gazette: “I have enjoyed every moment of it. I have no regrets, and if I had a choice to do it all over again, I would not hesitate. I hope my tour of service will serve as an inspiration to other young Bermudians coming along.” Offering condolences, Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said: “As the first Bermudian to hold the post of Commissioner of Police, Mr Bean leaves a legacy that will for ever be etched in history and our memories. Bermuda will be ever grateful for his life and contributions, and we will all mourn his passing.” Steven Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, spoke last night on the “powerful sentiments” expressed by serving and former officers on Mr Bean’s character. Mr Corbishley said they showed Mr Bean’s profound impact on the development of officers, as well as “his love and unwavering support of the Bermuda Police Service”. He added: “On February 21, 1981, Mr Bean made history when he became the first Bermudian-born officer to rise from the rank of constable to commissioner. In 1959, he was posted as a Criminal Investigation Division constable under the legendary ‘Bo’ Swainson.” “Penny” Bean — so named at birth because of his size and colour — wanted to become a soldier with the Bermuda Militia Artillery, but was discouraged from joining by his father. He also took night courses to become a motor mechanic but when Royal Navy operations shut down in the late 1950s, he looked towards work in Hamilton, working eventually for what would become Bermuda Motors on Church Street. A friend of his family’s, Milton Cholmondley, suggested he join the police, with Mr Bean later telling The Royal Gazette: “I felt that I needed to serve my country, and at the same time, be working in a disciplined environment.” By 1962, Mr Bean attended a detective training course at Peel House, in London, and also was attached to the New Scotland Yard for extra training. Upon his return from Britain, he was promoted to detective sergeant and was transferred to the Western Division. In 1965, he was transferred to the newly formed Narcotics Department as the officer in charge. Mr Corbishley said: “During his time in CID, he and his team made several arrests which led to a number of prosecutions. Mr Bean rapidly moved through the ranks and was promoted to chief inspector in 1971, and just two short years later he was promoted to the rank of superintendent and transferred to the Special Branch. During his time, he oversaw many advances such as police communications and computerization.” The commissioner added: “Mr Bean was also a believer in the parish constable concept of policing. Mr Bean returned to uniformed operations as a superintendent and attended the Overseas Command course for senior police at Branshill National Police College in England. His promotion to commissioner in March coincided with the general strike and high political tensions of 1981. Of that time, Mr Bean said: “I had my baptism of fire in April 1981 when we had civil disobedience and major labour problems throughout the island.” Mr Corbishley concluded: “I would like, on behalf of the service, to extend my sincere condolences to the family of Mr Bean.” More police tributes to Mr Bean will be given in the days ahead, the commissioner added. Former commissioner Jonathan Smith said the island had lost “a giant of a man. Commissioner Bean had an unparalleled conviction, and he needed it.” Mr Smith noted that Mr Bean had worked during a time of systemic racism. He was commissioner during most of my early years with the BPS and he possessed a strategic vision, the likes of which the force hadn’t seen until then. He was directly responsible for expanding the technical support units in the 1980s along with the introduction of the force’s first computerized Incident Management System integrated with a modern radio system. He was clear about how to improve policing in Bermuda.” Mr Bean was the subject of “hundreds of stories”, Mr Smith said. "At times, a rigid disciplinarian; at other times, a gentle, caring, humble man who cared deeply about people.” Mr Smith recalled being sent to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Miami office in 1988 to investigate a murder linked with the island. "Commissioner Bean, who was in Florida at the time, came to the office to be briefed on the investigation. He was determined to ensure we had resources required to complete a complex multi-jurisdictional murder. He was sensitive to the fact that I had spent a protracted time away from my young family. That was his human touch. He had an extraordinary ability to relate to all within the police, regardless of rank. Long before the advent of mobile phones and e-mail, he knew the value of connecting face-to-face. I am so saddened to hear of his death. He was the finest of his generation and I will for ever hold him in the highest of respect.” Roger Sherratt, a former chief inspector, said that Mr Bean “came into office at a very different time in Bermuda. He was the right man for the job at the right time. He was a disciplinarian who was very concerned about the welfare of officers. He was instrumental in making sure that police officers had access to the Employee Assistance Programme. He was also a founding member of the police choir, which ran 30 years from 1963 to 1993. We send our sincerest condolences to his wife, Romaine, and their daughters, Rachel and Gina, and their families.”

paragraphPhillip “Phoopa” Anderson, a councillor for the Town of St George and an ambassador for the East End, has died at the age of 58. Mr Anderson was a fixture of the Olde Towne, running the Visitor Information Centre on King’s Square and leading tours around the area. Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said Mr Anderson was more than just the friendly face at the centre. Mr Dallas said: “His love for Bermuda — particularly the East End — glowed brightly every single day, passionately and relentlessly. That’s what we will miss most of all. Tourism stakeholders all over the island will be saddened by this news, but we trust Phoopa’s passion for Bermuda lives on inside each of us and the things we do to make this island a truly inviting and memorable place.” Earlier this year, Mr Anderson was recognized for his work in travel services by the BTA at its Tourism Ambassador awards. Mr Anderson served as a councillor since 2012, and served as the chairman of the corporation’s infrastructure and development committee since 2015. A spokesman for the corporation said: “He was instrumental in ensuring King’s Square has free Wi-Fi for all who visit and was actively working with the stakeholders for the waste water management for the parish of St George’s. He had a passion for tourism and was quite passionate of the tourism product for the Olde Towne. He was often seen doing walking tours in the town and more recently, he was conducting water tours on his boat.” The spokesman said Mr Anderson was a “lively character” who made sure everyone knew about his passion for the Olde Towne. He added: “Councillor Anderson was more than a colleague, but a friend to many of us here in the Town of St George, and he will be sorely missed. On behalf of the members and staff of the Corporation of St George and the community of St George, we extend to his two children, three grandchildren, his mom, siblings and family our heartfelt condolences as we have lost not just a councillor colleague but a true St Georgian who fought to the end for his town.” The municipality also announced that the flag on King’s Square will be lowered to half mast on the day of Mr Anderson’s funeral. Zane DeSilva, Minister of Tourism and Transport, also expressed his condolences. He said: “As an ambassador for tourism, Mr Anderson leaves behind a great legacy of service and leadership in the town of St George’s and the entire island. His passing is a loss to the people of Bermuda.”

paragraphFrom funeral homes to hospital beds, the island’s obesity crisis exacts a growing toll beyond the impact of chronic disease. According to the Bermuda Hospitals Board, a fully equipped bariatric hospital room costs $35,000 more than a standard, with six installed in the new acute care wing. The Bermuda Government’s Health in Review report for 2017 showed Bermuda topping the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries — with four in ten adults overweight, and one in three classed as obese. While heart disease and diabetes dominate the impact on healthcare costs, procurement figures provided by the BHB show the high cost of obesity in hospital equipment:

Other costs include bariatric lifts, used for obese patients, which are almost $4,000 — and more than $9,000 for a battery unit. According to Debbie Jones, executive director of the Bermuda Diabetes Association, the island should also brace for other costs incurred at the end of life. She said: “Our graves are set to a standard size, and they are built of either Bermuda stone or concrete block, which is almost impossible to change. Many families have tombs where they will sit one coffin on top of the others. We have heard of bigger caskets being a very tight fit — if a casket won’t go in, what do you do? The cost of redoing graves would be horrendous.” Doreen Williams James, the owner of the Alpha Memorial Chapel in St George’s, called it “a growing, increasing trend”. She added: “Obviously it’s going to get worse if people don’t make a conscious effort to change their lifestyles.” Ms Williams James said the island lagged behind the United States, which was often an indicator of coming trends. She said: “Some stories I hear from colleagues in the US are unbelievable, where even a hearse cannot accommodate a body and tractor trailers have to be used for transport. We have not gotten there yet and hopefully won’t, it does happen occasionally where we have to import oversized caskets. Sometimes our graves are custom built and depending on the type of grave, we may have to widen to accommodate the casket.” Ms Williams James added: “It needs to be talked about. No one considers what funeral directors have to deal with, and it’s growing.” A standard Bermuda grave spans 28 inches, and can easily accommodate coffins, which are narrower and generally locally made. She said: “The older generation prefers them. Caskets, which we import from Canada and the US, are bigger.” According to the Reverend John Stow at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Hamilton Parish, churchyards charge $25 per square foot to widen a grave. Mr Stow said: “That’s not surface area — that’s the wall, which could cost as much as $1,000. That cost would be met by the family.” He said that of about 30 interments at the churchyard over the last year, about five had required a widening of the grave. Mr Stow added: “It would be hard to say that each year it gets worse. But over the decades it is becoming more of a difficulty. I have more questions than answers. It would be good to find out more on the research side. It is certainly money well spent if it is on health education rather than having to make the change after it becomes a problem.”

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December 8

paragraphRules to head off European concerns about businesses that might set up shop on the island in name only to dodge taxes were tabled in the House of Assembly. The legislation, tabled by Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, will require businesses registered in Bermuda to have “a substantial economic presence” on the island. The Economic Substance Bill 2018 was designed to protect Bermuda from sanctions from the European Union over corporations that reap the benefits of an offshore jurisdiction without conducting business in them. Corporations will have to declare their compliance to the Registrar of Companies, and will be required to provide details to the authorities of relevant EU states where the owner or holding entity is registered. The Bill also includes clauses for the protection of confidential business information. The penalty for giving false information to the Registrar would be a fine of up to $10,000, or two years’ imprisonment, or both. The Bill also gives the Registrar recourse to the courts in cases where companies fail to meet economic substance requirements. The legislation, which will be debated by MPs at a later sitting of the House, was tabled in a bid to keep Bermuda off an EU blacklist of uncooperative jurisdictions. The requirements for companies will include employment of staff — which will hit worldwide giants such as Google, which at present channels about $18 billion on the island every year.

paragraphA more efficient Government could emerge alongside changes to the tax system in efforts to shore up the public purse, MPs heard last night. It was hoped a balance would be struck between trying to increase income while also cutting costs. Legislators debated the Report of the Tax Reform Commission 2018, which put forward a series of proposals that could boost government revenues by $147 million over two to three years. It came after a seven-member bipartisan group was tasked with carrying out a “thorough review” of the island’s tax regime after a 2017 Throne Speech pledge by the Progressive Labour Party administration. The group was asked to find ways to increase public sector revenue from 17 per cent of GDP to a minimum of 20 to 22 per cent and determine any steps that could be taken to allow for a more equitable system. Its report, which took nine months to compile, proposed new taxes along with reforms to existing taxes. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, told the House of Assembly he continued to review the recommendations and had not yet made any decision on which of those would be implemented. He said the challenges included a net debt of approximately $2.45 billion, an ageing population, increasing healthcare costs and an economy that is progressing “slowly”. Members heard the ministry aimed for a “balanced approach” that looked at revenue increases but also made Government more efficient. Mr Dickinson told the House there was “widespread support” for more effective tax collection and said his team was exploring ways to offer greater support to the “under resourced” Office of the Tax Commissioner. He added: “I believe the best way to resolve our fiscal challenges is to grow our economy through the creation of more well-paying jobs. A growing economy leads to a broader tax base with more participants and through the law of averages an ability to spread our tax burden across a broader number of people. While remaining mindful of the important and significant contributions that big business makes to our economy, we need to continue to work on policies that help entrepreneurs, small and medium sized businesses to thrive.” Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Opposition’s finance spokeswoman in the House, said the Governments was “not in the business” of being profit making organisations. She continued: “What we would expect to see in the choices that are made is that Government will make the necessary selection from the recommendations that would balance our budget. We’re not looking for a whole lot of extra money, we’re not looking for money that on the backs of the taxpayers will go to grow a burgeoning Government, that is not the intent.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin said it was important not to have “an assault on the taxpayer” and highlighted the need for Government to understand its responsibility to reduce costs. She voiced reservations about taxation of passive income as there are a “significant number” of seniors who rely on such funds, and said the Government needed to be careful when adjusting payroll tax to make sure it did not become a disincentive for growth. Wayne Furbert, Junior Minister of Finance, said the focus of the report was to find ways to make Bermuda’s tax system fairer. Mr Furbert said: “We have to accept on both sides that the tax system that we have is not equitable or fair. If we can accept that, then we can move on to how can we make it equitable.” He added that Government should not rely solely on cutting expenditure to balance the budget, reminding the House of the furore caused by the One Bermuda Alliance’s use of furlough days to reduce costs. Craig Cannonier, Opposition leader, said the Government needed to consider how it could help the island’s struggling retail sector, which employs more Bermudians than any area other than Government. Mr Cannonier said: “Businesses are struggling in the economy we have now. We feel that the taxation system is unfair and far behind where it should be.” He said retailers often have difficulty with cash flow because they have to pay taxes on items when they come to the island rather than at sale. Mr Cannonier said this is particularly a burden on small and medium sized businesses, along with those trying to enter the retail sector. He added that immigration must also play a part in revitalizing the economy. Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, was among several MPs who noted that the Commission was not asked to directly address Government spending. He said the “lion’s share” of the recommendations were four new taxes — a rental tax, a general services tax, a tax on interest and dividends and what he called “an outsourcing tax”, which would apply to services contracted out by local companies to foreign service providers. Mr Pearman claimed that aside from the rental tax, none of the four were easily calculable or collectable. He added: “These proposals at their heart mean more tax on Bermudians when there are less Bermudians to pay them. We need to attract more people to this island, not chase them away with higher taxation.” David Burt, the Premier, thanked the Tax Reform Commission members and said the review was about “making our tax system more fair and more balanced”. He continued: “What I hear is that there’s one side, which is protecting the status quo, and there’s another side that wants to change things to make sure that we lower taxes for workers, lower taxes for the low income people and possibly tax those persons who may be a little bit more wealthy, whose income has never been subject to taxation.”

paragraphBermuda has been warned that on present trends it is heading for a downward spiral of demographic and economic decline. Experts added that the Government has taken a significant step back from fiscal targets set a year ago, with projected lower revenue and higher spending than at first forecast. The independent Fiscal Responsibility Panel said the decision to delay achieving a balanced budget by a further year to 2020-21 was regrettable, and the new target “must now be met”. The red flags came in the annual assessment of the island by the three-strong panel, which highlighted a shrinking workforce and ageing population as “perhaps the greatest concern” facing the island and its economic future. The report said the situation would put increasing pressure on both taxes and spending. The panel was chaired by David Peretz, who has worked in the UK Treasury, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This is the fourth consecutive year it has reviewed and reported on the fiscal progress of the Government. The panel said Bermuda needed to reinvigorate economic growth “including through a decisive change in immigration administrative practices”. Their report explained: “A precondition for faster growth is to increase the island’s workforce. It is the only realistic counter to the island’s demographic challenge from a rapidly shrinking and ageing population. Immigrants and returning Bermudians with the right skills will help to create jobs, not displace them.” The panel said that recent improvements in processing times for work permit applications were “an excellent start”, but that they must be followed through with changes in administrative practices and policies. The island’s elderly dependency rates will soar from about 25 per cent at present to 40 per cent in 2026, as the share of seniors in the population climbs from 17 per cent to 25 per cent. The panel warned that was “an extraordinarily rapid rate of change” by the standards of most developed countries. The report said: “The threat this poses can hardly be overstated — this would be a downward spiral of demographic and economic decline.” The island’s financial predicament was highlighted by figures that showed that net government debt has increased fourfold in the past ten years from about $500 million to $2.42 billion. The ratio of government debt to revenue was around 50 per cent a decade ago, now it is more than 220 per cent. The panel said that high level of government debt, unfunded pension liabilities, and other liabilities left Bermuda extremely vulnerable. It added that public sector pension schemes alone have unfunded liability of around $1 billion. The expert panel expressed regret at Government’s decision to delay achieving a balanced budget until 2020-21. The report said: “This target must now be met, as well as the longer-term targets of reducing debt and debt service, respectively to 80 per cent and 10 per cent of revenues.” It added the 2018 Budget projection for revenues is $20 million lower than the projection made in 2017, but current spending is projected to be $24 million higher. The panel recognized policy changes and developments, such as the new sugar tax, relaxation of the 60:40 rule to encourage foreign investment, and clear signals to a more open immigration policy. It also welcomed the unfreezing of positions and additional resources in the Office of the Tax Commissioner. But the panel said the Government collected taxes that amount to 17 per cent of gross domestic product, but this needed to be increased to around 20 to 22 per cent. The Tax Reform Commission’s proposals, released last month, would take tax revenue to about 19 per cent. The panel said that was an important and welcome step and it recommended the proposals “or something like it” should be implemented as soon as possible. It also highlighted the cost of healthcare and said an agenda for action set out by the Ministry of Health and the Bermuda Health Council existed. The panel said: “The Government needs to proceed urgently.” The report added that Bermuda had to promote growth through economic diversification beyond insurance, reinsurance and tourism. The panel said the Government’s focus on promoting fintech, while liberating regulations that have inhibited the growth of the likes of global law firms and banks, was appropriate. But it cautioned against excessive focus on particular niche products, such as digital and cryptocurrencies, where there were significant financial and reputational risks. The report said: “Many have stressed to us the potential risks to this reputation if something were to go wrong with any of the new businesses attracted by Bermuda’s fintech strategy. Regulating these businesses effectively must be a high priority.” It recognized Government’s successful $620 million debt refinancing action last month and added: “Recent reports by the main credit rating agencies have been positive, emphasizing Bermuda’s political and economic stability, and noting the new government’s continued commitment to fiscal sustainability.” But the panel said these were not grounds for complacency because, while Bermuda is reasonably well insulated from some global economic trends, it remained vulnerable to external developments, including regulatory changes and the effects of wider financial crises. The panel concluded the report with a list of key problems that had to be addressed “without delay”. It said: “Taken together this is a challenging agenda. If tackled now and with determination it will leave the territory in a much safer and more prosperous place. Work on much of it is already under way. The renewed impetus behind immigration reform is welcome. And the proposals of the Tax Reform Commission provide what up to now has been a missing piece — how to achieve the Government’s targets for deficit and debt reduction.” The Fiscal Responsibility Panel held meetings with individuals and institutions during the course of its discussions in Bermuda from November 19 to 24. The other members of the panel were Peter Heller, a retired deputy director of the fiscal affairs department of the International Monetary Fund, and Jonathan Portes, principal research fellow at the UK National Institute of Economic and Social Research. Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, said: “The Government is certain that the panel’s report will be a useful document to assist with the Government’s deficit and debt reduction strategy, and I encourage the general public to thoroughly read the report to get a better understanding of the various fiscal challenges facing the Government”.

paragraphPutting food on the table is a major worry for older residents, the head of an island charity said yesterday. Claudette Fleming, the executive director of Age Concern, said members had raised concerns over price increases in a recent survey. She said that increased cost can force older people “to go without”. Ms Fleming explained: “It’s not necessarily going without food entirely, but going without more nutritional options, regressing to unhealthier choices which may be cheaper, and, ironically, is the opposite result of what policies like the sugar tax are espoused to achieve.” She was speaking after Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, announced yesterday that the Consumer Affairs department was to look into claims that retailers had increased the prices of foods not covered by the sugar tax. Mr Roban told the House of Assembly the Bermuda Government had received “a number of complaints” from the public over “price gouging”. Ms Fleming said she was not surprised to hear that customers had reported higher prices and that retailers had said were a result of the new tax. She added: “As a consumer, I myself have noticed a rise in prices in the last few weeks.” Ms Fleming said that Bermuda would at some point have to ask if the “unintended consequences” of the sugar tax were worth it. She explained: “The proof of the pudding will be the ability to demonstrate that the sugar tax has achieved any positive health changes, or whether it has simply increased the cost of food in general, while also increasing the tax base — which may be good for grocers and the Government, but not necessarily so good for the most vulnerable consumer’s health or pocketbook.” But Zach Moniz, manager of the Lindo’s Group of Companies, said that the grocery chain had “absolutely not” raised prices on food items that fell outside the new tax. Mr Moniz added that food prices were determined by variables, including supply and demand, seasonality and wholesaler prices. He explained: “A change in any price has to do with any or all of the aforementioned scenarios.” Mr Moniz said that Lindo’s put almost 1,000 items on sale every month. He added: “This is obviously a price decrease. At some point, items on special return to normal retail price. This is not a price increase, this is just no longer a promotion.” The first stage of the sugar tax increased duty rates on sodas, sweets and other items by 50 per cent. The tax will increase to 75 per cent in April. Mr Moniz confirmed that shoppers would pay higher prices on “items directly impacted by the sugar tax” as a result. Fred Barritt, of soft drinks importer John Barritt and Son, said that the firm would put up prices in the spring. He explained: “We have no choice. Either our prices go up or we will have to reduce other costs. This is a significant increase in cost that business will have to pass on to their customers in order to survive.” Mr Barritt said that several factors, including global markets, transport and wages, contributed to prices. He explained: “These costs are always going up so prices must go up to cover them. In a country with an already high cost of living the introduction of more taxes is obviously going to result in higher prices.” Mr Barritt said that if operational costs increased, businesses had to react. He added: “Either prices go up or there has to be a compensating reduction in other costs. As the largest component of cost in most local businesses is payroll, job losses are the only real alternative.” Mr Roban told MPs that it appeared that “the price of certain items are always higher this time of year”.  He added: “This year, as has been true in recent years, some persons are having to forgo enjoying their traditional foods because they are finding it harder to make ends meet.” Mr Roban said that because Bermuda imported the majority of its food “it is often difficult to assess fair pricing”. He added: “In addition, many of our items are shipped in smaller quantities which drives up the price per unit.” Mr Roban said that retailers must also “add a percentage to pay their staff, operating costs and to earn a profit”. He said the annual increase in the price of food since 2013 ranged from 1.4 per cent to 3.1 per cent. Mr Roban added that people should shop around and could also speak to store managers about pricing concerns.

paragraphHamilton Harbour will be transformed into a sea of festive lights tonight as the spectacular Christmas Boat Parade sets sail. Thousands of spectators will flock to the waterfront and across the harbour to watch the colorful procession. This year’s show, which includes the hydro fliers and light shows from JetPack Invasion, gets under way at 6.30pm. The community driven event is back after a three-year hiatus, and tonight’s fair, cool weather should make for perfect conditions. The Royal Gazette will cover all the Christmas hoopla on the water and on shore. The main vantage tonight is the No. 1 car park on Front Street, where vendors and seating will be set up. Revellers can also take in the parade along the waterfront, from Albuoy’s Point to No. 5 car park,

paragraphAndrew Bascome has made a passionate plea for the entire football community to unite in order to change the culture surrounding the game in Bermuda for the sake of the sport’s very existence. Long since his days of playing in front of crowds of thousands domestically, football in Bermuda has changed dramatically. Outside influences and changing values have a major impact on the game, most notably with dwindling crowds at league games across the country. But instead of simply whining about the state of football in Bermuda, the BAA head coach, has made a call to arms to everyone involved, from players to coaches, to help preserve the sport for future generations. “We have to change the culture surrounding football in Bermuda and that is the duty of all clubs on the island,” said the former Bermuda coach after BAA’s 6-3 victory over Devonshire Cougars on Thursday night. “It comes down to the players, the coaches, it’s everyone involved. It cannot just be left to the Bermuda Football Association to be blamed for our shortcomings, it’s up to us in the game to take responsibility. When I played football in Bermuda, we had 2,000 people turning up to watch and what I see now is depressing. We have to take responsibility for the state of the game. Where are the children and families watching the games? That scares me because if the younger generations don’t come out to watch the games, then football here can’t survive and the game will die. Don’t be surprised if the game dies in Bermuda. Most of our games there are barely any fans watching, so we have to find a way to bring the community back out and establish some sort of pride in the game again. Sport can uplift a country, but it takes commitment. For too long as a sport we just haven’t got it and then you look around and wonder why no one is turning up to watch the games. To have any chance of competing on a global scale, we have to be committed to change; otherwise, Bermudian football will be left behind. It is something that needs to be addressed. There is a lot of work to do to fix the issues and we all as a collective have to get busy.” One of the biggest changes in the sport has been the rise of gang-related trouble off the field, with a number of reported incidents over the past decade — resulting in the BFA’s Executive Committee holding an emergency meeting in 2014. Bascome, who has spoken out publicly before about the issues of gang culture on the island, once again reiterated the need to eradicate the problem, calling on players to realize they have greater responsibilities within their communities. “We have to correct the issues because it is deeply sad to see what has happened in the past. There are gang culture problems all over the world, not just in Bermuda, but the football community here has to rise above it and players need to understand their responsibilities in the community. It is a collective problem. Players have to realize they are not just turning up to have fun together; there is a greater purpose. They need to understand the role they play in our community, but the majority cannot see any farther than themselves. For me, the mentality of the players has changed. Dedication, commitment, outside influences, they all seem to want everything, but people aren’t going to give you things if you don’t put the commitment in first. We have to make sure that the young players coming through youth systems are properly equipped with the tools to succeed, and that includes their attitudes. Sport is challenging, but so is life. So what if certain things aren’t going your way? You have to find a solution instead of blaming everybody else around you all of the time. It is about setting standards off the pitch and for me that has not been happening enough in the game. We have to learn that is not just about the individuals; it’s about the entire collective.”

paragraphA church service today celebrated the life of Terrence “Ted” Richards, who has died aged 59. Mr Richards, the husband of education commissioner Kalmar Richards, was mourned in the House of Assembly yesterday. Scott Simmons, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, led tributes to Mr Richards, and Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, offered condolences to Ms Richards. Mr Rabain added: “She has had the full support of the Department of Education in what can only be described as very difficult circumstances, with her husband overseas for medical treatment.” The service was held this afternoon in the New Testament Church of God Heritage Worship Centre on Dundonald Street in Hamilton.

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paragraphBermuda’s Premier and Cabinet Office minister were not required to appear at a British Foreign Affairs Select Committee session to examine Britain’s relationship with its Overseas Territories, a member of the UK's all-party group said last night. Ian Murray, a Labour MP, emphasized there was “no compulsion to attend” on David Burt or Walton Brown for the Wednesday meeting. The discussions were part of an inquiry into the future of Overseas Territories in relation to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr Murray, the MP for Edinburgh South in Scotland, added: “We invited all the participants to attend if they so wished and some took it up and others didn’t.” Mr Burt had been listed among those due to appear for the session, which heard from eight Overseas Territories leaders. Neither Mr Burt nor Mr Brown went to the meeting — but last night the Premier said that it had been unnecessary. Mr Burt said: “Bermuda has regular, direct engagement with the UK’s officials and ministers and, as such, Bermuda’s position on a wide variety of issues is well known and familiar to actual key decision-makers in London. The London Office is staffed by an expert team who provide leadership and daily interaction at the highest levels of the UK Government. I informed the Governor before leaving Bermuda for London that I would not be appearing before the committee.” The UK Parliament’s website said the session with the Overseas Territories was the first in “more than a decade”. Bermuda got a brief mention when Sharlene Cartwright- Robinson, the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, was asked if the territory planned to emulate Bermuda in permitting same-sex marriages. The committee received written evidence from across the territories in September. Bermuda-related submissions included statements from George Fergusson, a former Governor, Bob Richards, a former Minister of Finance, as well as Saul Dismont and Peter Sanderson, both lawyers.

paragraphWork is being done under the Government’s code of practice for project management and procurement, MPs heard this morning. Walton Brown, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, said efforts are being made to “leverage the Government’s purchasing power, maximize efficiencies and achieve cost savings”. Mr Brown said framework agreements were being used to cut down on a “repetitive” tendering process. At least three framework agreements are expected to be in place before the end of the present fiscal year.

paragraphThe Royal Bermuda Regiment plans to offer learning credits for soldiers to enhance their training. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, announced the move as he updated the House of Assembly on the Regiment’s activities. He said the credits would allow soldiers “to further their education and development. Growing the capability of the men and women who make up the regiment can only result in the growth of the capability of the Regiment as a whole.” He said the force reorganized last month into two operational companies of about 100 soldiers each, supported by a logistics company and training wing. One company will focus on internal security in support of the police, and the other has a dual focus of humanitarian aid and disaster relief, locally and overseas. Mr Caines added that work continued on “the much anticipated Coast Guard Unit”. He said: “The Regiment has taken possession of Watford House on Watford Island and, pending final approvals, a floating dock and fencing will be installed.” Mr Caines said the Coast Guard will work jointly with police in its first year to enable training to be completed. He described 2018 and the formal end to conscription as a “turning point” for the Regiment. Mr Caines said that 2019 would be the years when “the seeds of change bear fruit”. He added: “The renewed offer to our soldiers of enhanced training and increased education and development will be a key feature. The Regiment will continue to market itself as a feasible, long-term-career, and will provide leadership and management training for enlisted ranks and junior officers.” Mr Caines said that two recruit camps would be held next year with the first intake starting on February 19.

paragraphBuses could soon be starting earlier after negotiations between the Department of Public Transportation and the Bermuda Industrial Union. The matter will be discussed at a meeting on Monday morning, which will bring the bus service to a temporary halt. The interruption will take place from 10.30am until 12.30pm. A Department of Public Transportation spokeswoman said: “This interruption in service is to accommodate a meeting between the DPT management and employees represented by the Bermuda Industrial Union to discuss a proposed change in starting time, in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The provision of an earlier start time will provide improved service to the general public. The DPT apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the public for their patience and co-operation.”

paragraphBermuda’s human rights laws need updating to reflect social change, according to a civil liberties watchdog. Tawana Tannock, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission, said: “Upholding the integrity of the Human Rights Act underpinned our engagement with the former and current government during the course of 2017. The Constitution was written at a time when racial segregation still existed in Bermuda and it remains limited and dated in its scope. The Human Rights Act emerged to address stark omissions and provide both a practical and aspirational framework for protecting distinct, yet intersected, rights in our community.” Ms Tannock was writing in the HRC’s annual report for last year. She said: “Amendments that seek to manipulate or weaken the function of the Act risk undermining all protections within it, and must be vigorously guarded against and examined. The Act must continue to evolve to meet the needs of our diverse and developing island and to serve as a measure of our commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable community.” The report, released last Friday, said the commission received 112 complaints last year. A total of 19 per cent of the complaints alleged racial discrimination, 11 per cent were on the grounds of disability and ten per cent were on the grounds of place of origin. But 39 per cent of complaints failed to identify a protected ground of discrimination. The HRC managed 23 investigations over the course of the year, including ten new cases and 13 that were carried over from 2016. The report said that a quarter of the investigations involved racial discrimination, with 21 per cent based on sex discrimination and 14 per cent on place of origin. Several of the investigation involved allegations of discrimination on several grounds. The HRC resolved 11 cases over the course of the year — six through conciliation or mediation and two through a tribunal hearing. The other three complaints were withdrawn. In once case detailed by the report, a complainant claimed they had been harassed in their workplace and a co-worker had called them a derogatory name based on race. The complainant claimed he went to the company’s management, but nothing was done. The HRC approved an investigation into the case, but the complainant withdrew the allegation and said they had reached an agreement with management. Another case involved a Bermudian employee who complained that non-Bermudian staff had been given preferential treatment. The complainant said he had been suspended after it was alleged he confronted a non-Bermudian employee — which he denied. The HRC conducted a preliminary investigation, but found the complainant’s behavior had been “less than stellar”. The HRC report added: “The manager further stated that the investigation into the incident with the non-Bermudian was viewed on camera and another co-worker provided a statement supporting that the complainant approached the staff member aggressively. Based on this information, the executive officer determined that there was no evidence that the Human Rights Act 1981 had been violated and closed the complaint.” The HRC report also detailed several high-profile court cases that took place over the course of the year. These included the Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche civil suit, which opened the door to same-sex marriage in Bermuda. The report also highlighted several cases involving controversial speaker Ayo Kimathi, who was banned from the island after he delivered a lecture which included what was described as hate speech. The HRC said the case highlighted the limits to free speech and the Supreme Court finding that there was no Constitutional protection for hate speech in Bermuda. The HRC report said: “While it remains a mission of the Bermuda Constitution to attack modern manifestations of historic racial discrimination, there is also the need to suppress, with equal vigor, new manifestations of discrimination as well. Moreover, the free speech rights established by the Constitution carry with them corresponding duties and responsibilities because these rights can only be exercised in a way that does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of other people or the public interest.”

paragraphAn Opposition MP has accused the Government of a rush to table a Bill in Parliament that “seeks to reduce the level of support for Bermudian children in the court system”. Scott Pearman, the shadow legal affairs minister, criticized the Progressive Labour Party for bringing the Children Amendment Act 2018 to the House of Assembly without consultation with the Human Rights Commission and children’s charities. He added that investigations under way into the Department of Child and Family Services should find out why children were sent to overseas institutions, including when his One Bermuda Alliance was in power, without legal representation. The draft legislation tabled a week ago contained a section which experts claimed will remove a requirement for the Family Court to consider whether a litigation guardian, or independent advocate, is needed in cases involving children, as first reported by The Royal Gazette. Mr Pearman said: “Children who show up in the court system, without proper representation or protection, have no one to guard their best interest. These are Bermudian children most in need of support and guidance, yet they have none.” The requirement for consideration has been law for 20 years but successive governments have failed to provide funds for litigation guardians or lawyers for children. Mr Pearman declined to discuss why the OBA did not fund legal services for vulnerable children. He highlighted the case of Tiffanne Thomas, a social worker, and her claim that the Government has not paid her for her work as a litigation guardian for the past four years. Mr Pearman said that Ms Thomas only sent her first invoice for payment to the Government in March 2017, not long before the OBA lost power. He said the OBA would fund litigation guardians if it was re-elected. Mr Pearman added: “Bermudian children in court proceedings are not getting the support which the law mandates our children must have. This needs to change, now. The PLP have been in power for 15 of the last 20 years. The current government needs to solve this problem and, respectfully, the Government needs to solve it quickly.” Mr Pearman said the Bill and Ms Thomas’s claim were among a number of separate but linked problems related the welfare of children. He added the most worrying were allegations of abuse made against staff members at DCFS, which only came to light after Ms Thomas was appointed as a litigation guardian for a child in the department’s care, and claims that complaints by youngsters were ignored. DCFS is now under investigation and its director, Alfred Maybury, has been suspended over his handling of the complaints. Mr Pearman said: “Allegations that Bermudian children, under the care of the Department of Child and Family Services, were abused should be of extreme concern to all Bermudians. To add to this, allegations have emerged that certain children in the care of the department were sent to institutions overseas without any litigation guardian advocating on their behalf. This is of significant concern” and should be a priority for inquiries into the department. We have the lamentable reality that with every passing day problems at the Department of Child and Family Services seem to grow worse.” Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, said last week that Michael Weeks, the former social development minister, should give a personal explanation to the House of Assembly about the first investigation into DCFS, which led to Mr Maybury’s suspension. Mr Pearman said: “I support Mr Cannonier in calling for an explanation from former minister Weeks.” He added that Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, should tell the public the scope of a second inquiry by the Department of Internal Audit into DCFS. He asked: “Who is the person leading this investigation? To whom will this investigator report? Does the investigation include all the allegations of abuse and neglect? How many people from the department are currently suspended because of these allegations? When is the investigation likely to be concluded?” But Mr Pearman said: “With all these complicated moving parts, we must not lose sight of the big picture — the system is failing our children.”

paragraphA social worker is to sue the Government for more than $2.6 million over a failure to pay for her work as an independent advocate for children in court. Lawyers for Tiffanne Thomas have filed a civil action against the Attorney-General and Accountant-General in the Supreme Court for payment for her work as a court-appointed litigation guardian since 2014. Ms Thomas claims she should be paid $2,621,720 — or an amount the court rules is reasonable in the absence of a figure being set out in a legally enforceable contract. The writ said: “The plaintiff on about July 28, 2014 was appointed as a litigation guardian ... the appointment was on the understanding that the plaintiff would be paid for her services by the Bermuda Government.” It claimed the Attorney-General’s Chambers gave confirmation in court to Saul Dismont, a lawyer, that Ms Thomas would be paid for her services. But the writ said a letter from the Government in November 2016 said it wanted to replace Ms Thomas as litigation guardian and Mr Dismont as lawyer in a case that involved a minor with people who would provide the services free of charge. The legal document, first published on the Offshore Alert website, claimed Ms Thomas later received “repeated promises” of payment from Zane DeSilva and Michael Weeks, when each served as social development minister. The writ added that payment promises had also been made by Wayne Caines, the national security minister, Marc Telemaque, when he was national security permanent secretary, and Owen Darrell, chief of staff to the Premier. But the court submission claimed that Mr Telemaque, now Cabinet Secretary, e-mailed Ms Thomas in July to say she would not be paid in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling issued the month before in a case brought by the Human Rights Commission against the Government. The HRC case sought a declaration as to the Family Court’s obligation under section 35 of the Children Act 1998 regarding the appointment of a litigation guardian and counsel to represent a minor, named only as “O”. It also asked for a declaration that the Government had a duty to fund such appointments. Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman found in his ruling that the Children Act did require the Family Court to consider the appointment of a litigation guardian for every child involved in specified proceedings, but he said the legislation stopped short of making the Government pay for the service. Ms Thomas withdrew her services as litigation guardian from 17 active cases involving “at risk” minors last month because of lack of payment. E-mail correspondence shared by a source with The Royal Gazette showed she had asked the Government for $800,000 for her work, but estimated the real cost at about $2.8 million. Kathy Lynn Simmons, Attorney-General and the Minister of Legal Affairs, said last month the Government had “no legal obligation” to pay Ms Thomas. Scott Pearman, the shadow legal affairs minister, speaking before the writ was filed, said the One Bermuda Alliance administration did not pay Ms Thomas because she submitted her first invoice only in March 2017, a few months before the former ruling party lost the General Election. He said he believed there was no formal contract in place “so there was no way to know how, or how much, she would be paid”. Ms Thomas’s writ said: “It was an implied term of the contract that the defendants would pay a reasonable rate for the plaintiff’s services and that such payments would be made within a reasonable time.” Mark Diel, lawyer for Ms Thomas, said yesterday: “Our position is that there was a contract or, alternatively, in the event there was no contract that she should be paid on a quantum meruit basis”, that is, a reasonable sum for the services she provided. Mr Diel added: “We are awaiting the defence. They have requested further particulars, which we have supplied.” A spokeswoman for Ms Simmons, who is also the Government leader in the Senate, said last night: “The matter is under judicial consideration and therefore the ministry is prohibited from commenting at this present time.”

paragraphA sickout staged by teaching assistants across the island yesterday was “completely unacceptable”, said the Minister of Education. But the head of the teachers’ union laid the blame for the job action at the minister’s door. The teaching assistants’ sickout came amid continued frustration at the Bermuda Union of Teachers over a lack of resources and staff support at schools. Diallo Rabain confirmed that para-educators “throughout our system” had been “instructed to call in sick”. He said: “Para-educators are an important portion of our teaching experiences. Without para-educators within the school system, we run the risk of putting our students at real risk. And, at the end of the day, it’s about our students.” Mr Rabain was speaking as he delivered an update on talks between the Ministry of Education and the union about teachers’ concerns. He said that, as a parent of a public school pupil, he had faith in the system “to deliver a high-quality educational experience”. But he added: “This cannot be achieved with these constant disruptions we have been experiencing lately. It is having a negative effect on all of our students and their educational experience.” Mr Rabain said that despite “positive discussions” with the union “we are still faced with action from the BUT and their members at an unsustainable rate”. He said the BUT had sent a list of “23 items of concern” last week. Mr Rabain said that some of the concerns “had already been addressed or were in the process of being addressed”. He added: “The concerns remaining require long-term solutions and ways to go about addressing them were also discussed.” Shannon James, the president of the BUT, said yesterday that Mr Rabain needed “to talk less and act more The time for talking has long gone.” Mr James said that inaction by Mr Rabain on teacher concerns had hurt pupils more than industrial action. He explained: “The list of issues we have highlighted all impact the students because our teachers cannot do their job effectively. The sickout was a direct result of the Government’s failure to tackle problems highlighted last week. As I said then, people have just had enough and that has not changed. Many teaching assistants did not get breaks, worked without a job description, and had not been given entitlements under the collective bargaining agreement. We have education therapists with no job descriptions, we still do not have education officers for maths, English and science. Where there used to be nine mentor teachers, there are now three, and there are no allocated substitute teachers at primary schools.” Mr James said that windows and fire alarms in some schools were broken and computers lacked proper software. Almost all teachers at West Pembroke Primary School called in sick last Friday over a range of complaints, including a shortage of teaching assistants. Danielle Riviere, the president of the West Pembroke Primary School Parent Teacher Association, warned that similar action could be repeated at schools across the island. Judith Alexander, the principal of Purvis Primary School, added that “most” problems faced by teachers at West Pembroke “are faced by all teachers”. Ms Alexander said in a letter sent to parents yesterday that the island’s education system was in “a state of uncertainty”. She said that a work-to-rule launched by head teachers last month was “in protest at unbearable working conditions. Talks to resolve problems were not making good progress. There is the possibility that school personnel will be called on to down tools.” Ms Alexander said parents would be notified by e-mail of any industrial action. The head teacher said school staff were “committed to providing the best education. We are appreciative of the support that we receive from our parents.” Cole Simons, the shadow education minister, said yesterday that he was “very distressed with the state of play with our teachers, paraprofessionals, principals, the BUT and the minister. The tension, dysfunction and challenge that we see today truly demonstrates how the minister and the ministry are disconnected from what really transpires in our schools from a teaching, paraprofessional, administrative, professional development and support perspective and, more importantly, parental perspective. More synergy and better communication were needed among all involved so there is a higher level of trust." He suggested the time might have come for an independent education authority.

paragraphTeachers have refused to enter pupils’ grades into an all-schools computer network, the education minister admitted yesterday. But the head of the teachers’ union called the minister’s comments “very misleading”. Diallo Rabain said teachers had been told by the Bermuda Union of Teachers to “not enter grades into our system”. He said: “For teachers to be told not to enter grades into the system is a dangerous precedent that is being set and we intend to address that.” Mr Rabain added that the union move was “completely unacceptable”. He was speaking as he delivered an update on talks between the Ministry of Education and the union about teachers’ concerns. Mr Rabain was asked to confirm that pupils would receive report cards this term. He said that he had earlier announced that midterm report cards would not be issued. Mr Rabain added that parent-teacher conferences would be held to give parents updates on their children’s progress. Shannon James, the president of the BUT, said Mr Rabain’s comments were “very misleading”. Mr James said teachers were “confused” on the standards-based grading system. He added: “Therefore, the grades that have been entered have not been as accurate as they need to be.” Mr James described the standards-based grading system as “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. He explained: “The ways in which teachers have arrived at a grade has varied from school to school due to the lack of training around standards-based grading. Parents have expressed great concern over teachers not being able to explain this new way of grading and it has left them utterly confused.” Mr Rabain announced last month that the implementation of a new standards-based grading system was to be suspended. He admitted that teacher training for the new standards-based grading model “wasn’t as good as it should have been” but that measures had been taken to improve teacher preparation. Mr Rabain added at the time: “We are not looking to have any grading come out until December.” Mike Charles, the general secretary of the BUT, said last month that the union had “advocated strongly” for a delay in the introduction of the new reporting system. Mr Charles said that teachers “widely supported” standards-based grading, but problems with its introduction had caused “a lot of anxiety”. The new grading system was introduced in September. Kalmar Richards, then Acting Commissioner of Education, said in a letter sent to parents in June that the new evaluation system ensured “that all students, no matter which school they attend, are taught the same standards and learning objectives”. Scores of 0 to 4 will be given to pupils for their work under the new system, designed to replace the former percentage or letter grades. The letter said a score of four showed advanced understanding exceeding grade level and a zero indicated no evidence or insufficient evidence of learning. A total of eight report cards a year are to be sent to parents under the new rules.

paragraphTawanna Wedderburn has left the Bermuda Health Council, where she had served as chief executive, the BHeC announced this afternoon. According to a statement, the health watchdog is soon to announce the interim appointment of an acting CEO until a new chief executive can be put in place. The BHeC thanked Ms Wedderburn for her service since 2015.

paragraphNordic American Offshore Ltd has been awarded a one-year fixed contract for its platform supply vessel NAO Power. The company has a fleet of ten platform supply ships. NAO Power will commence its new contract early this month, and will be working in the North Sea for a “first-class company”, according to a statement by NOA. The contract also has two three-month options after the initial firm period. Nordic American Offshore Ltd was created in 2013 by Bermudian-headquartered Nordic American Tankers.

paragraphBermuda’s Visitor Services Centres will have new leadership in the New Year. Bermudian Jakai Franks will fill the role as Operations Manager in January, bringing with him 14 years of retail experience – including more than six years in senior management. BVSC Ltd. is a subsidiary of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and is charged primarily with increasing the amount of money visitors spend when they come to the island. To accomplish this the BVSC team connects visitors with experiences throughout Bermuda from the Visitor Services Centre in Dockyard. Video advertising, online booking and touchscreen kiosks in the centres are some of the resources used to improve the experience for visitors and encourage spending with local entrepreneurs. In 2019, the same BVSC team will expand its mission to manage the soon-completed Visitor Services Centre on the Hamilton Waterfront, and in the spring, a centre in St. George’s as well. All three outlets will include retail sales which help to promote the Bermuda brand and grow brand loyalty among Bermuda’s visitors. The island’s brand has grown steadily in popularity since January 2016 when it was officially launched. “As the BVSC unifies visitor services across the island, we are pleased to have Jakai lead the team with his wealth of retail and brand experience,” said Karla Lacey, COO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “His great track record of managing large teams at a senior level and his passion for merchandising make Jakai the right person to strategize this part of Bermuda tourism’s future.” In addition to operations, Jakai will also have oversight of further developing visitor services and facilities management. He will also manage a new event space at the Hamilton location. Jakai Franks was most recently head of consumer operations at Digicel Bermuda. His first day with BVSC is January 2, 2019.

paragraphThe town of St George will get into the festive spirit tonight as the Bermuda National Trust hosts its 40th annual Christmas Walkabout. The popular holiday event draws crowds to the East End to visit historic homes and enjoy a range of entertainment and activities. A spokesman for the National Trust said: “Once again musicians, dancers and carol singers will entertain the crowds and refreshments will be available throughout the Olde Towne and marked on a map that will be distributed on the evening. “Many of the oldest continually occupied buildings in the New World will be decorated and candlelit for the event. Old Rectory, Bridge House, Stewart Hall, Buckingham, Tucker House, Reeve Court and the Globe Hotel will be festively decorated with each offering its own yesteryear experience. Children can meet Santa at the National Trust's members area at the Globe Hotel.”

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December 6

paragraphBermuda snubbed a meeting with British parliamentarians in London yesterday. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee had invited Overseas Territories to give evidence in an inquiry into the relationship with the Foreign Office. Walton Brown, the Cabinet Office minister, said the meeting was “not on our agenda”, which included David Burt, the Premier, who was in London before he went to Brussels. Mr Brown added: “We do not feel that we have to answer to the FCO, and so we did not appear before them.” A Government spokeswoman later confirmed that Bermuda “declined to give evidence because the Government does not report to the British Parliament”. Bermuda’s record of disclosure of the beneficial ownership of companies also came up for discussion during the trip to Britain. Mr Brown attended a round of meetings on beneficial ownership at Lancaster House in London yesterday, organized by Tariq Ahmad, the UK junior minister responsible for the Overseas Territories. He said that Bermuda was “very clear that we have always upheld the principles of disclosing ownership of certain companies”. But he added that there had been “concern” among some of the OT representatives at the UK’s drive to push for public registers of beneficial ownership as the global standard by 2023. However, Mr Brown said that the possibility of “constitutional overreach by the UK Government into the Overseas Territories” had not featured as a concern for Bermuda. He was speaking as he and Mr Burt prepared to travel back to Bermuda today. Mr Brown said he was also optimistic about the island’s bid to return the printing and issuing of Bermuda passports to the island. Passports were taken over by Britain last year and a new code on the documents has caused problems for some Bermudians traveling through the United States from outside the island. Mr Brown said: “They seemed to have a more sympathetic ear to our position, and I am hopeful there will be progress made.”

paragraphWayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, and Collin Anderson, Permanent Secretary, met with John Huff, chief executive officer of the Association of Bermuda. The efficiency of the Department of Immigration in dealing with work permit applications was one of the topics discussed in talks involving government officials and the body that represents the island’s international re/insurance industry. Insurers and Reinsurers, and Suzanne Williams, Abir’s director of policy and regulation, yesterday. “At the meeting, we provided updates on the Department of Immigration’s progress on immigration reform and our success in eradicating the backlog of work permit applications,” Mr Caines stated in a government press release. “We spoke of the ministry’s objective to improve efficiency by identifying and improving work flows and streamlining processes. We also discussed good corporate citizenship and providing training and advancement opportunities for Bermudians. Most importantly, we agreed that all of Bermuda must be included in the discussion. This will ensure that above all else, the ideas and needs of Bermudians are taken into consideration.”

paragraphA former acting education commissioner has been renamed to the post for a one-month stint. Llewellyn Simmons, Director of Academics with the Department of Education, was appointed to act as Commissioner of Education effective December 1. Dr Simmons will serve in the role until December 31. The appointment was announced in a notice published on the Government’s website on Tuesday. Kalmar Richards was named Commissioner of Education in September. Ms Richards, the former CedarBridge Academy principal, had acted in the role since last December after Freddie Evans was removed from the post two months earlier. Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said this morning that Ms Richards was on compassionate leave.

paragraphHundreds of new tourism jobs will be created in the next two years as the industry continues to grow, a Bermuda Tourism Authority consultant has predicted, in reference to the new  National Tourism Plan 2019-2025. Anthony Bennett, managing director of marketing consultants RedSky Strategy, said the island had already seen a 28 per cent increase in tourism jobs and that new hotels would create even more opportunities. However, he added that some Bermudians still had to be convinced that the sector offered long-term careers. Mr Bennett said: “What we have found is tourism is not viewed as a viable career for many people, and many people are discouraging their children from going into tourism. A number of hotels are going to come online in the next two years. There are going to be about 500 jobs and they will need Bermudians to fill those jobs. If we don’t encourage people to come into tourism as a career, there’s going to be a problem. We need people to support tourism — not at the expense of everything else, but people need to support tourism for tourism to work. One of the major reasons people love to come to Bermuda is to interact with the locals. When we ask people what they like about Bermuda, number one is sun, number two is beaches and number three is the locals. People love interacting with locals. It’s what makes Bermuda special.” Mr Bennett was speaking at the first of three National Tourism Plan information sessions on Tuesday. The meetings were organized to outline the BTA’s draft plan for 2019 to 2025. Mr Bennett explained the focus of the plan was “Agility” — an acronym for awareness and relevance, greener, infrastructure, local involvement, innovation, teams and groups and year-round. He told the audience at the Port Royal Golf Course clubhouse that the BTA planned to boost business in the winter months through international meetings, conferences and sports groups. Mr Bennett said: “When we spoke to people about coming year-round, we found that people in Bermuda are quite apologetic about the winter. They say don’t come in the winter. It’s not that great. I live in New York, and your winter is different from my winter. Your winter is like our mild spring day. You shouldn’t be apologizing. There’s huge potential for people who don’t want to go swimming but might want to get to know the culture, the food and just relax with their spouse.” The plan was designed to focus on strong existing markets such as New York, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia and Toronto, but also to improve business from places such as Baltimore, Hartford, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco. Mr Bennett said the BTA also hoped to attract more African-American visitors. He added that last year 4 per cent of air arrivals were African-American, but that Bermuda’s target markets were 11 per cent African-American. He said Europe remained a difficult market because of the high cost of travel to Bermuda and limited flights. Mr Bennett said: “Until the flight situation has improved either by the introduction of another airline or another gateway airport, we think the potential is greater in the US. We definitely want to engage it, but it’s not the focus right now.”

paragraphChanges to the laws governing the independent Bermuda Tourism Authority could herald a government takeover, an Opposition senator said yesterday. Marcus Jones added that the Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act may seem “practical and logical to the layman” but was a “red flag” to those in the industry. Mr Jones, who has worked in hospitality for 25 years, said that general managers of hotels wanted the Government to provide concessions and long-term planning for the sector. He added: “Once the Government does those two things, get out of the way.” Mr Jones was worried that the legislative changes were “a move for the minister of the day” to get “closer to the day-to-day operations” of the BTA. He added: “Is it the start of a full takeover?” Mr Jones was speaking during a Senate debate on the controversial legislation passed in the House of Assembly last month. The independent, but taxpayer-funded, BTA’s board members were in the past elected by the board in consultation with the tourism minister. But the amendment will mean board members will be appointed by the minister after consultation with the board. A second amendment gave the minister power to appoint a deputy chairman of the BTA. The deputy chairman would not have to be an existing board member but must have “suitable qualifications and experience in the travel and tourism sectors”. Mr Jones said that it was important that a “gap” existed between the minister and the BTA board to “remove the appearance of ministerial interference”. However, Jason Hayward said Mr Jones’s views were a “grandiose exercise in pontification” and insisted the Bill was not about the Government taking control of the tourism industry. Mr Hayward said: “This is not increasing the powers of a minister — this is simply providing the minister with greater input on the make-up of the BTA board.” The Progressive Labour Party senator added that the Government was “not trying to play games with tourism”. Mr Hayward said: “If tourism is doing well, we certainly don’t want to put measures in place that impede the success of the tourism industry.” He told senators that the BTA was created on the understanding it would in time operate without government funding. Mr Hayward added: “I’m not sure what happened to the business model, but that is not the case.” Nick Kempe, Senate leader for the One Bermuda Alliance, said that the idea that the BTA was not self-funding was a “bit of a fallacy”. Mr Kempe said that money collected through hotel occupancy and cruise ship taxes went to the Government, with a grant later provided to the BTA. He added: “If those taxes — which are the two primary taxes created by the tourism sector — went directly to the BTA they would have a large over-fund each year.” Mr Kempe said the National Tourism Plan “should trump government policy”. He added: “I’m struggling to figure out why we’re trying to fix something that isn’t broken.” James Jardine highlighted the “excellent results” achieved by the BTA. The independent senator added: “We need to ensure that these positive results continue. We need to be careful that moving forward we don’t tinker too much with something that is running well.” Mr Jardine said that he had examined legislation for 11 other island quangos. He said that he had “no issue” with the appointment of a deputy chairman by the minister, or with the minister being the only person who can appoint persons to the board after consultation with the board. Mr Jardine added that since the BTA relied “substantially” on a government grant “the Government must exercise some control over whom it appoints to be responsible for the governance of this key authority”. He added: “Politics must not play a part here.” Mr Jardine said that he was prepared to support the Bill, but that he encouraged the Government to conduct a “detailed review” of all quango legislation “to ensure consistency with the governance aspects”. Crystal Caesar, a PLP senator, said the legislative amendments had “nothing to do with the day-to-day operations” of the BTA. She added: “This all speaks to how the board and the minister interacts.” The Bill passed despite objections from OBA senators Mr Jones, Mr Kempe and Dwayne Robinson.

paragraphBermuda’s insurance and banking industries have little to fear from imminent legislation to address European concerns over “economic substance”. That is the view of Christian Luthi, chairman of international law firm Conyers Dill and Pearman, who is confident the island can adapt to the upcoming new rules. However, another source, a retired industry veteran who asked not to be named, believed that many of the island’s captive insurers could struggle to meet the substance test. The Bermuda Government has committed to enacting new laws by the end of this year to keep Bermuda off the European Union’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions. The object is to end the practice of international companies cutting their onshore tax bills by diverting profits to offshore entities that lack economic substance. Mr Luthi said that Conyers was one of the industry stakeholders to have worked closely with the Bermuda Government over the past year on developing draft legislation. “Many Bermuda entities already meet the requirements,” Mr Luthi said. “Indeed, for certain of our key industries such as insurance and banking, the EU has expressly recognized the substantive nature of those industries in Bermuda. It is expected that, for such entities, compliance with their existing regulatory requirements will be deemed to satisfy the new economic substance regime.” Bermuda has only four banks, all of which provide services to residents and employ local people. Most of the island’s international insurance and reinsurance companies can also point to their local staffs, including executives and underwriters, and locally held board meetings as evidence of “substance”. However, the substance argument may be more difficult to make in the case of captive insurers, according to a source who worked in the industry for more than four decades. Captives insure the risks of their parent corporations and some write third-party business as well. Hundreds of captives are domiciled here and are overseen by captive management companies. “The captive managers do not make underwriting decisions — in my experience, the premiums are decided by the captive owners,” the source said. “And I’m not aware of any captives that have claims teams here.” Bermuda’s legislation will be based largely on the European Code of Conduct Group’s scoping paper on economic substance, published in June this year. The paper referred to “intragroup captive insurance” as an activity “likely to need further analysis”. However, the bulk of the island’s captive business is focused on North America and for many of these, tax avoidance is not a charge that can be leveled at them. As Mike Parrish, head of business development for Marsh Management Services Bermuda, said during a captive-focused session at last month’s Bermuda Executive Forum event in London, most captives take the 953(d) tax election, meaning their companies are subject to US taxation. Subsidiaries of multinational corporations who employ no one, conduct few economic activities on the island and book significant profits derived from sales elsewhere are the real targets of the EU. Many such entities exist in Bermuda. They contribute significantly to the island’s prosperity, according to Bob Richards, the former finance minister. “While such companies may not directly and individually employ people in Bermuda, collectively, the administration of such companies does indeed employ many, many Bermudians and results in the collection of millions of dollars of tax revenues by the Bermuda Government,” Mr Richards wrote in an op-ed in The Royal Gazette in June this year. Although the substance requirements are a European initiative, they are set to become a global standard, as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has stated that its Forum on Harmful Tax Practices will eventually replace the EU’s “2.2 substance regime”. Mr Luthi said Conyers was one of many stakeholders to have helped the Government to balance addressing EU concerns with Bermuda’s economic interests within the new rules. “Conyers has been working closely with Government over the past year, as part of a focused consultation group tasked with developing draft economic substance legislation,” Mr Luthi said. "A great deal of time and thought has been put in by Government and industry to ensure that the new law and regulations meet EU and global requirements, while protecting Bermuda’s interests and ensuring our business model remains competitive. While this is a significant change that will affect a number of Bermuda-domiciled entities, it is important to view the legislation in its global context. The EU substance requirements — soon to be a global OECD standard — apply to all offshore jurisdictions. The Channel Islands, Cayman Islands, BVI and many others are all in the process now of tabling materially similar legislation, with the expectation for all such jurisdictions that the legislation will be in place by the end of this year.” David Burt, the Premier, has argued that the legislation is necessary for Bermuda to continue to meet global standards and added that it will be tabled in the ongoing parliamentary session. Mr Luthi said that the impact of the changes may not be all bad for Bermuda. “Bermuda and its business community have a long history of adapting to change and making the most of any opportunities it affords,” Mr Luthi said. “As a strong and transparent jurisdiction, we are confident that Bermuda is well placed to manage the introduction of substance requirements. At Conyers, we have already informed our clients of the pending changes with regard to substance requirements. We continue to be available to help them understand the requirements and meet their obligations.” The legislation is likely to add regulatory burdens and costs, for both companies whose substance will be monitored, and whatever public-sector entity has the responsibility of doing the monitoring. Some have noted the lack of specifics in the requirements in the EU scoping paper, which, for example requires “an adequate number of employees with necessary qualifications and an adequate amount of operating expenditure with regard to the core income-generating activities”. There will undoubtedly be differences of opinion over what constitutes “adequate” for different companies and different sectors, raising the possibility of legal challenges. “One problem is that the requirements are vague, but there is no independent system to rule on whether jurisdictions have complied,” Richard Teather, a tax policy consultant who advised Jersey on its “substance” legislation, wrote in the Cayman Financial Review. “The sole arbiter is the EU Code of Conduct Group, and if it decides that a jurisdiction is not demonstrating sufficient commitment to economic substance — in its laws, its enforcement and its reporting — then that jurisdiction can be placed on the blacklist.” He did not expect the substance rules to have the EU’s desired effect. “Studies into the reaction of businesses and investors to these requirements have found that, rather than moving operations back to high-tax countries and facing ever-increasing tax bills, they will do the opposite and move more of their actual activities to low-tax locations, to make it easier to demonstrate economic substance there,” Mr Teather said. "This will be a huge problem for the European Union, because when those economic activities are moved out, they do not only lose corporation tax, but they lose jobs, income and employee taxes as well.”

paragraphIn the early 1980s, tangible assets made up around 80 per cent of the value of the S&P 500. Fast forward to today and nearly 85 per cent of the value of the S&P 500 is attributable to intangible assets. However, the risk transfer market has not caught up. According to the Aon/Ponemon report of last year, while around 60 per cent of tangible assets, such as property, plant and equipment, are currently being insured, only 12 per cent of informational assets are. So what gives? Why, if the vast majority of company’s values in 2018 are attributable to intangibles, are they not transferring those risks? Is it a lack of education on the client side? A lack of innovation in the brokerage community? A lack of understanding or willingness to accept these new risks on the carrier end? Or is it that whilst the marine and property markets have had centuries to evolve, the newer intangible insurance markets are just gearing up to size as they collate the data they need to properly price and model these risks? Likely, it is some combination of all of these factors. We have seen great strides in the cyber market, with double-digit premium growth over the last four to five years. The market has evolved from being focused on large data holders, to providing products which contemplate the cyber perils affecting manufacturers, the transportation industry and other non-data holders. Business interruption has quickly morphed into system failure coverage. Contingent business interruption now looks more akin to full supply-chain risk, not just for IT service providers but now contemplating all vendors. Bodily injury and property damage stemming from non-physical threats complete the circle back into tangible loss being covered under cyber policies. Intellectual property (hands down) makes up the largest dollar percentage of the intangible asset value of the S&P 500. This has long been a conundrum for the industry as a whole — both in terms of how to value the asset and more so how to value the loss. Again, we have seen great momentum here with much larger limits than were historically available now obtainable from the markets both as a theft product as well as being offered for IP infringement. Even now carriers are contemplating supporting the multi-trillion dollar asset class of intellectual property when used as collateral. This could dramatically impact both the equity financing model and asset backed lending world we know today. Clearly the will to innovate is alive and well within the industry. It is tough to price emerging risk when the models that our industry are built on rely on historical data, data that is often out of date or irrelevant in these rapidly evolving intangible classes of business. New ways to price and structure these insurance purchases have to be found in order to maintain the industry’s relevance in today’s world.

paragraphThe mother of an American teenage rugby player who was found dead in Bermuda in March has thanked Bermuda for its help. Lisa Dombroski said that her family was grateful “to the many kind Bermudians” who had helped in the search for her son Mark Dombroski. Ms Dombroski said: “So many people have been kind to us.” She was speaking after an inquest into the death of her 19-year-old son finished this week. Ms Dombroski said: “Our greatest blessing was to be the parents and brothers of Mark Dombroski. He was so fun, loving and happy, an all-around good kid. This tragedy and loss has been felt greatly as Mark was a good friend to many.” She said that every day without her son was a challenge for the family. Ms Dombroski added: “We appreciate the kind expressions of sympathy from the Bermudians who don’t even know us, but clearly have big hearts.” Mr Dombroski’s body was found in the dry moat at Fort Prospect, near police headquarters, on March 19. He went missing a day and a half earlier when he left a Hamilton bar alone after a night out with friends. Mrs Dombroski said the family had formed a foundation in memory of Mr Dombroski which had “been active with giving back to many organisations that promote youth education, athletics, safety and wellbeing”. She added: “It is the foundation’s desire that other children will know the joy that Mark lived and that his happy, inclusive and kind spirit will live on in the lives the foundation benefits.”

paragraphBuilding firm leaders should develop fresh talent and take control of their industry before others do, a construction company chief said yesterday. Charles Dunstan said he wanted to see the creation of “industry-driven” occupational advisory committees for every trade that would allow experts in areas such as masonry, plumbing, carpentry and tiling to shape and set industry training standards. He added: “That becomes the bible — it goes to workforce development, it goes to immigration, everyone understands that’s what is required in the local industry.” He said the advisory committees would also be well-placed to advise on the appropriate number of apprenticeships or work permits for each sector. Mr Dunstan said: “If the call isn’t answered, and no one steps forward to form OACs, then someone else is going to make those decisions.” He warned that unions or a government department would step in to set guidelines instead. Mr Dunstan added: “The risk is that it’s going to be people who aren’t knowledgeable enough about what the industry actually needs to function.” He was speaking as he stepped down as Construction Association of Bermuda president after seven years. Mr Dunstan said a more structured approach was needed to train and assess laborers and that he hoped people would change their perceptions of a career in the industry. He added that a more professional approach to training would encourage more young people to remain on the island, which would boost the economy and reduce reliance on foreign workers. Mr Dunstan said: “I’m shouting out to the community, first of all to my industry to say, this is where we need to be and this is what we need to be doing, the whole model of building your business off of a team of experienced and qualified people from overseas isn’t going to be sustainable in the long run. You have got to build the local workforce.” Mr Dunstan added the association spoke to high school pupils but that children had to be introduced to construction trades aged as young as 11 to harness their interest. He said that university level scholarships had developed managerial talent, but too little was done to attract entry-level workers. He explained: “What we’re missing is that middle lane, that middle pathway, that leads to a trades career of the apprentice who then becomes a master tradesman. That’s where we’ve failed, we haven’t had the programmes that really have connected the dots and shown parents, students, even the educators, that clear pathway.” Mr Dunstan said that “significant progress” had been made in the past year, particularly with the Department of Workforce Development and its former minister Diallo Rabain. However, he added that the association and its members had been unaware of the opportunity to use government-backed apprenticeship contracts. Mr Dunstan explained that the government scheme allowed employers to develop staff through structured programmes that included education funded wholly or in part by the workforce development department. He said a significant attraction would be the offer of payroll tax relief to the businesses involved. He noted that work permits are tied to the contracts, which means a set number of foreign workers can be employed for each apprentice. Mr Dunstan added that he “firmly” believed that was a way to encourage employers and make sure they considered succession planning. He asked company executives to approach the association if they wanted more information or assistance. Mr Dunstan, the managing director of contract and supply firm Kaissa, said: “The nice part about these government contracts is that they put a real structure to it, it gives the employee some real obligations and it gives them some real outcomes at the end too. The employer has satisfaction that this person is abiding by the terms of his contract and their learning. We should be able to see the outcomes in terms of their graduation and results from their courses and know that at the end of each level we can clearly state that this person is able to perform at this level, within that trade.” Mr Dunstan, who will remain on the association’s board, said that, as well as developing self-esteem, empowerment and career opportunities, structured apprenticeship schemes would help bring the “clear hierarchy and strata” lacking in the industry. He claimed the apprenticeship programme would remove subjectivity from work permit applications and offered Bermudians the chance to show they have reached trade benchmarks. Mr Dunstan added that the next step would be to consider minimum wages for each tier “so that a Bermudian shouldn’t be disadvantaged, simply for wanting to make an adequate wage attached to his level of experience”. He said: “There are isolated examples of employers who will go out and seek low-paid but qualified masons, say, from overseas and then attach that wage level to their stated job description, so that when a Bermudian applies for the job, they say, ‘I can’t work for that’.” The CAOB, now headed by Simon Tully, whose career has developed in the air-conditioning industry, trains older members of the workforce to teach younger ones and plans to become an official assessment centre to establish levels of knowledge and skills gaps. Mr Dunstan said the country was “paying the price” for the collective ambition to send teenagers into the academic world. He added: “There’s a perception in the community that nobody wants to send their children to work in construction. As a parent, that’s not your goal necessarily. There’s a whole mindset that you have to send your children to college. While I think that getting away from Bermuda and being more independent is great and I do firmly believe in that ... it’s not for everyone.” Mr Dunstan hoped the introduction of a more organized framework would encourage young people to remain at home. He said: “The children who leave the island to go to school for four years, they’re not here inputting into the community for nine months a year, so we’d have people who are here making money, at a younger age, building their savings, maybe investing in property ... and really just spending within our economy. Rather than going out socializing in a restaurant overseas, they’re doing it here.”

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December 5

paragraphThe Premier has “forcefully” called on British authorities to resolve problems for Bermudian travelers after the printing of Bermuda passports was shifted to the UK. A government spokeswoman said David Burt and Walton Brown, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, addressed Joint Ministerial Council meetings in London about the “urgent need to resolve Bermuda’s passport issue”. Britain took responsibility for the printing of Bermuda passports last year on security grounds. But the coding for the travel documents was changed, which has hampered travel for Bermudians with UK-printed passports who want to enter the United States from jurisdictions outside the island. Mr Burt said that the meeting today had “moved us closer to resolving the longstanding problem of Bermuda passports being printed and issued in the United Kingdom”. He added: “We met with officials from HM Passport Office and left with assurances that this important matter will be addressed. Minister Brown and I will continue to push until an acceptable solution is in place.” Switching Bermuda passports to the GBR code has meant travelers have been told that they need to have a US Electronic System for Travel Authorization. But Bermudian travelers are permitted to enter America without an Esta under an agreement with the US.

Bermuda passport of a Bermudian

Bermuda passport showing holder is registered as a Bermudian

paragraphA man who refused a breath test because he thought a rum-based colon cleaning remedy would cause him to fail it has lost an appeal against his conviction for refusal to give a breath sample. George James said he drank a mix of over-proof rum, garlic and honey after he crashed a car and before he spoke to police. However, Acting Justice Jeffrey Elkinson upheld the decision of magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo that James’s version of events did not give him the right to refuse a breath test. Mr Justice Elkinson wrote in a judgment published last week: “The magistrate was right to reject those submissions and proceed to convict the appellant on a very clear refusal to give a breath sample. The appellant’s knowledge that he would fail the test could never be said to be a reasonable excuse not to take it.” Magistrates’ Court earlier heard evidence from police that they found a car blocking Sound View Road in Sandys after it had collided with a wall in the early hours of March 4 last year. The owner of the car was contacted and told police James had been behind the wheel. James later returned to the scene and spoke to police. He admitted that he had been driving the vehicle and that he had four beers earlier in the evening. He was arrested and taken to Hamilton Police Station but he refused to take a breath test. James told the officers that several days before the crash he had started a “colon cleaning” process, which involved drinking Jamaican white rum and garlic. Officers reported that they smelled alcohol on James, but not garlic. James told Magistrates’ Court during his trial that he had lost control of the car as he negotiated a corner. He added: “I may have reached for something.” James claimed he called police when he was unable to move the car, waited for 30 minutes, then went home where he drank the cocktail of rum, garlic and honey. He said: “I was conflicted about the test because knowing the content of the Jamaican rum, an over-proof rum, I would have failed that test.” Michael Scott, who appeared for James, argued his client had a reasonable excuse to refuse the breath test in the circumstances. But Mr Justice Elkinson wrote: “It is hard to discern the merit in such a submission where effectively the appellant himself determined that he had a reasonable excuse for not taking the breath test. The reasonable excuse amounts to nothing more than the appellant’s opinion that he would fail the breath test because of the alcoholic content of his colon cleansing mixture. It is an extraordinary notion that a refusal to take a breath test on the basis that you will fail it could be a reasonable excuse.” He added that if James had taken the breath test, he could have later argued in court that he had drank the alcohol after he had been driving.

paragraphTax breaks will be offered for the conversion of a failed housing development in Warwick into a hotel if legislation tabled in the House of Assembly is passed. The Bill was designed to give customs relief on materials imported to turn the Grand Atlantic apartments into the Bermudiana Beach condo hotel. The legislation would also give the Bermudiana Development Company, a subsidiary of the Bermuda Housing Corporation, exemption from hotel occupancy tax for ten years, as well as a ten-year break on the employer’s share of payroll tax if there is a management training programme in place and a ten-year deferral of landholding charges. And BDCL would also avoid land tax for five years — from the resort’s sixth anniversary — if 70 per cent of its employees are Bermudian over the period. The Grand Atlantic was built as affordable housing and opened in 2011, but the scheme was a failure and only two apartments were sold. There were also fears about the stability of a nearby cliff face. The previous One Bermuda Alliance government announced in 2014 that the site would be turned into a hotel and developers MacLellan and Associates signed a memorandum of understanding. But the project was stalled so the site could be used to house sailors and support staff from the America’s Cup competition last year. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, announced in March that the resort was expected to open to its first guests in two years. Colonel Burch added that the redevelopment would be carried out with co-developers OBMI Bermuda, a firm of architects, and Bermuda Realty Company Limited. Hotel operations and commercial management will be provided by MacLellan & Associates, with 71 of the condos to be refurbished. The other seven apartments will be converted into a reception area, a bar and restaurant and an operations centre.

paragraphSir John Swan flew to Washington yesterday for the funeral of former United States president George H.W. Bush. Sir John, a former premier, knew Mr Bush at first through political contacts, but the two also became friends. The island’s elder statesman said: “He was a man of great integrity and great honour. He believed in the best that could be believed of his fellow man and built a coalition of friends around the world, almost unprecedented for a president.” Sir John added: “To Bermuda, he was a dear friend who paid many visits here, before he was president and afterwards, as well as when he was a president. He even flew kites here on Good Friday. Mr Bush, who was 94, died at his home in Houston last Friday. A state funeral will be held today at the Washington National Cathedral before his body is transported back to Texas for another service and burial. Sir John first met Mr Bush when he was vice-president to Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s as he negotiated the tax treaty with Washington which allowed the island to experience a boom in international business. He added: “He was a true example of what we want in a world leader.” Sir John added that Mr Bush was “fortunate” to have the support of his wife, Barbara, who died, aged 92, in April. He said: “He had a wife who was very smart, very devoted to her family and very supportive of his objectives throughout his life.” Sir John said that the negotiations he started with the US in 1982 concluded with a satisfactory treaty in 1998. He added: “It was quite a feat. I give him and Mr Reagan and their colleagues great respect for the final result of that process. At the same time, we were able to reach across the political spectrum of friendships that transcended all other issues and came to a consensus on what was best for everybody.” Sir John added that, on the global stage, Mr Bush had “pulled together” the multinational military coalition that ejected Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and his army from Kuwait in 1991. He said: “I miss him as a person and as a leader. He had a lot of years in and was one of the oldest living former presidents. We will all miss him, no question about it. I am honored that we were invited and I’m sure that honour is extended to Bermuda, not just me. Bermuda and the US have played a major role, particularly during the Second World War and the Cold War. We’ve been allies in the interests of democracy and freedom for a long time and our interests have always been in parallel with each other.” Sir John highlighted the US Customs pre-clearance enjoyed by Bermuda as another example of the good relationship between the two countries. He said: “We must continue to firm up the relationship with the United States. It doesn’t matter which president is in office. We’re talking about a country and that’s the important thing.” Other Bermudians yesterday remembered their meetings with Mr Bush, who visited Bermuda in 1990 for a summit with Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister at the time. Craig Ferguson was only 9 when he was selected at random to present kites to the two leaders and fly them with them. Mr Ferguson, now 39, was a pupil at Port Royal Primary School when he and a girl pupil were picked to meet the leaders. He said: “I presented to Margaret Thatcher and she presented to George Bush.” But Mr Ferguson said he was not aware of the significance of the event at the time. He added: “For me it was just the fun of flying kites.” Mr Ferguson said he still remembered an autographed copy of the photograph taken with Mr Bush arriving at his parents’ home months later. He added: “That picture is still at my parents’ house.” Mr Ferguson said: “It was cool to be a part of, definitely something I won’t forget.”

paragraphTeachers at West Pembroke Primary School have returned to the classroom after they staged a sickout last week. Mike Charles, general secretary of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, said: “Representatives had a meeting and all the teachers are back at work but the problems have not been solved — these are systemic problems. The teachers are adamant that they need to be fixed.” But Mr Charles added: “It all depends on whether or not the Ministry of Education has the will to do it. I would hope that this action has an impact for the sake of our children because that is who is being disadvantaged by all of this. There are problems throughout the system — it is not only West Pembroke. They are not exactly the same in every school but these are problems throughout the system. We don’t know if other schools will follow suit but only time will tell.” A government spokeswoman confirmed the Ministry of Education had met the BUT and the Parent Teacher Association at the school in the wake of the sickout last Friday. She said: “The issues submitted to the Department of Education by the school’s PTA were discussed and the ministry shared the proposed resolutions, some of which have been in place since November 19. The ministry is making a concerted effort to work with the parents and teachers at West Pembroke to resolve their concerns and that of our entire public school system.” She added that the results of the meetings and proposals by the Government would be revealed later. Almost all of the school’s teachers took industrial action on Friday over a range of problems, including the lack of a teaching assistant for pupils on the autism spectrum disorder programme and a lower-school support teacher. A parent of a child at West Pembroke said that the Ministry of Education needed to be more in touch. The parent said: “It is very obvious the schools and teachers are under-resourced and underfunded for basics needed to maximize learning for our most vulnerable members of society, five-year-old public school students. It appears obvious the ministry is out of touch with the teachers on the front line.” The parent suggested that employees at the education ministry should spend four days a year in classrooms so they could see the problems faced by frontline staff. The parent added: “This should go for the Minister of Education also. If I was minister, this is what I would do to be sure I was in touch and had my finger on the pulse of the front line. To have a single learning support teacher in a school of 200 children when there were two last year is unfathomable and unforgivable if we are genuinely looking to improve our society.”

paragraphThe Bermuda Blood Donor Centre is today thanking two donors, Mr Peter Barrett and Chubb, who have provided funding for polo shirts that are being awarded to long term blood and aphaeresis donors who have donated throughout this year. Peter Barrett first made a donation for the Blood Donor Centre to purchase shirts for people who donated over a 3 month period if they were long term donors. To make this a more regular thank you throughout 2018, Chubb stepped in to fund the rest of the year’s supply of the shirts. Chubb is also a competitor in the Corporate Blood Donor Competition 2018/19. Dr Eyitayo Fakunle, Consultant Hematologist, comments: “Our blood donation is entirely voluntary, in line with World Health Organisation best practices. These shirts show our gratitude for people who have donated regularly this year, supported by Mr Barrett and Chubb. We are very grateful to them for this support in recognizing true heroes who save lives in Bermuda every day. Our hope is that seeing friends and family in the polo shirt may also encourage others to overcome whatever inhibitions they have and to join the most giving group in Bermuda – blood and aphaeresis donors.” Mr Barrett comments: “It was a pleasure to work with the Blood Donor Centre to initiate this programme. We should all be very grateful that Chubb has stepped forward to keep this programme going. For those who can, I encourage everyone to volunteer a small part of their day to donate. Your pint of blood saves lives and it also helps to manage the healthcare needs of at least three patients. Without question your donation has a significant ripple effect throughout the community.”

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December 4

paragraphPremier David Burt sat down with the UK Overseas Territories Association yesterday as part of a series of meetings in London. Mr. Burt said online that the meeting, held in Westminster, was “critical for Bermuda”. The association was set up to promote the interests of the Overseas Territories in Britain and encourage co-operation among the jurisdictions. Mr Burt also met the Britain-Bermuda All Party Parliamentary Group at the House of Lords to update members on “the latest developments in Bermuda”.

paragraphA special reserve fund could help to balance the risk in one of two “transformational” health insurance options being considered by the Government. The reserve would allow funds to flow between insurers with relatively healthy policyholders, who take little out of the system, and those whose members put greater demand on services. In the other option, a single body would manage standard package payments for everyone in Bermuda and only supplementary benefits would be covered by private companies. Kim Wilson, the health minister, outlined the schemes after a Throne Speech pledge to develop a national plan that will put all island residents into either one of two health insurance pools. She told The Royal Gazette that a change was needed to balance the provision of a good standard of healthcare at a reasonable cost. Ms Wilson said: “One is we need to reduce premiums. Two is we need to ensure that everyone in Bermuda has affordable insurance coverage. Three we need to improve basic coverage to help promote health; and then, finally, of equal importance, is to contain costs. At this point we spend over $700 million a year on healthcare. Obviously, that’s not sustainable. In order to draw that in, we need to find a better way in which we are collecting the money and how that money is spent with respect to the provision of healthcare; that’s where health-financing reform comes in.” Better use of resources was one of 14 goals listed in the Bermuda Health Strategy 2014-2019, which also included regulation of clinical care standards and the encouragement of healthy lifestyles. Ms Wilson explained that thousands of health insurance pools are operated in Bermuda. She said the smallest groups would feel the effects of major demands made by their policyholders, for example in the case of a catastrophic injury or illness, more than if they were in larger groups. Ms Wilson added: “We’re looking at pooling all 65,000 people; all of the population will be pooled in either one of two pools so that we’re spreading the risk.” She added: “We would also be looking at introducing a benefits package that would include things like hospitalization, medication, long-term care, preventive care ... that particular benefits package would be costed out and we do believe it would be more economical than what is the current position.” The minister added that a bipartisan committee carried out “extensive work” in 2012 and came up with two financing options. One was the unified model, where a single insurer provides the standard health benefit, a basic package expected to include medication as well as long-term and preventive care, and distributed payments to providers. This is a similar approach to Canada’s and would mean private insurers offered supplemental benefits. Ms Wilson said there were three options to manage the basic package payments — a private insurer, quango or, maybe the “least desirable”, a government department. She explained: “If the decision was to go with a private insurer there would have to be a request for proposals and a very comprehensive procurement and competition to decide who was going to get such a large package, because we would be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.” The second proposal is a dual model, which would include a large public insurer covering standard benefits and ensuring provision for government-led schemes such as the Health Insurance Plan and FutureCare. Private insurers could also sell the standard health benefit as well as their supplementary coverage. Several European countries, including Switzerland, manage healthcare financing under similar schemes. Ms Wilson added: “The difference here between this and what happens now is that currently insurers have to include standard health benefit in any package by law but they don’t actually have to insure anyone, so they can deny you for pre-existing conditions, they can deny you if you’re over 75, which they all do universally, so they have flexibility on what risk they take on. So if you’re bad risk, they don’t accept you. In the dual model, that wouldn’t be allowed, you would have to take whoever came to you at any time, in whatever state they’re in.” Ms Wilson said a “very significant” aspect of the dual system would be the inclusion of a “risk equalizer” that acts like a funds reserve or cash pot. She explained: “If any insurer ends up with a very healthy pool and they ended up making money off SHB — if they paid less in claims than the premium they collected — then they would have to give some money back to the risk equalizer, so that the other insurer that wound up with very sick people — spending more than they collected — then they would have to get the money back from the risk equalizer.” A consultation group that included employers, unions, insurers and medical representatives recently reviewed the 2012 recommendations and submitted responses. Ms Wilson started to look over the submissions last week and said she planned to make recommendations to Cabinet this month so that ministers can decide which of the two options should be chosen. She added more work and further public consultation will follow, with town hall-style information meetings possibly “in the first quarter” of next year. Ms Wilson said a new system could not come soon enough. But she added that the effects of a change would be seen by 2020. Ms Wilson said: “This is a huge process and a huge shift from how we’ve been doing it heretofore, so I have to learn to be patient. This is truly transformational.”

paragraphChubb Limited announced preliminary net loss estimates in the fourth quarter of 2018 attributable to the California wildfires of approximately $225 million pre-tax, or $195 million after tax. These estimates do not include losses from Hurricane Michael or other weather events occurring globally in the quarter. The company believes its estimated losses from Hurricane Michael are currently at the upper end of the range of $150 million to $250 million pre-tax that was previously disclosed. These estimates are net of reinsurance, include reinstatement premiums and comprise losses generated from the company’s commercial and personal property and casualty insurance businesses as well as its reinsurance operations.

paragraph2018 Bermuda Boat Parade routeA special “viewing village” is to be set up for this weekend’s Christmas Boat Parade in Hamilton Harbour. The City of Hamilton, which has taken over organising the event, said it was pleased to bring “a family-friendly atmosphere to the evening” and that other entertainment, including a Kids’ Zone, would be on offer. JetPack Invasion, which use hydro fliers, lights and music to put on spectacular shows, will also perform at the event. Charles Gosling, the mayor of Hamilton, said: “This is one of the most highly anticipated social events in Bermuda, held at such a festive time of year.” He added: “I encourage everyone to come out and support the participating captains and their crews and the numerous vendors that will partake in the evening’s festivities. It’s such a special time of year and this holiday event is a community-driven one so I applaud all those boats taking part and look forward to wearing my judge’s hat. My special thanks to the City’s events team that has taken up the reins of the organisation of the parade — a first-rate event for our local community and visitors with the continued support of the event sponsors.” The special vantage point for the event, which starts at about 6.30pm on Saturday, will be set up in the No. 1 car park on Front Street. Bleachers will be set up in the car park and food and other goods will be available for sale. Steve Thomson, spokesman for the Bermuda Boat Parade Charity, which founded the event, added: “We are thrilled that after a three-year absence the Bermuda Christmas Boat Parade has returned and will, by all accounts, be bigger and better than ever. With the support and guidance of the City of Hamilton, and of course the numerous sponsors, the event this Saturday should be a wonderful success.” People can also watch the parade from Albuoy’s Point to the No. 5 car park, opposite Flanagan’s Irish bar. A City spokeswoman said that, as seating will be limited, people were welcome to bring their own chairs. Renee Bullock-Cann, head of retail banking wealth management for HSBC, the lead event sponsor, added: “Bermuda may not be the only country to hold a boat parade, but we happen to think that ours is unique in that it represents all that is great about the Island and our culture. I know I speak for my colleagues at HSBC in saying that we are proud to be the lead sponsor of this event and are all looking forward to seeing what the boat parade entrants have in store for the community this year. An incredible amount of work and creativity goes into each and every boat on display and we hope that as many people as possible will come out and enjoy what is going to be an exciting and beautiful event, complete with HSBC employees adding to the fun in the streets of Hamilton.” Road restrictions will be in force. Police said that Harbour Road will be a single one way lane heading east into Hamilton between 6pm and 9pm to allow for parking on the west side of the road. They warned that people attending house parties that take advantage of the Harbour Road parking must not block private access driveways, and must remove their cars by 9pm when the westbound lane reopens. Sponsors for the parade include Chubb, the Oil Group of Companies, insurance firm Colonial, The Hamilton Princess and The Royal Gazette. Supporting sponsors include Phoenix Stores, Masters, Gorhams, Rubis, Barritts, Butterfield & Vallis, Elbow Beach Hotel, Fairmont Southampton, Bacardi, Little Venice Group, The MarketPlace and The Reefs hotel. More information about the Bermuda Boat Parade can be found at wwww.cityofhamilton.bm.

paragraphOne of five teenagers accused of killing Bermudian Lyrico Steede has said one of his co-accused admitted the fatal stabbing in a Nottingham park. Remmell Miller-Campbell, 18, told Nottingham Crown Court he did not know the group had gone to the park with the intention of stabbing Mr Steede. Mr Miller-Campbell said he had gone to the park with other defendants because he believed they were going to buy drugs. He added: “I was shocked. I went there to get weed but this happened.” Prosecutors have alleged Mr Steede, 17, was lured to the park in the Nottingham suburb of Bulwell on February 13 by a 16-year-old girl, who is jointly accused of the killing and who cannot be named for legal reasons. He was attacked by a group of four men, chased and stabbed. Mr Steede died in hospital five days later. Mr Miller-Campbell told the court last week that on the night of the stabbing he was with three of his co-accused — Kasharn Campbell, 19, Christian Jameson, 18, and a 17-year-old who also cannot be named for legal reasons. He said the group caught a taxi to the Bulwell park to meet a drug dealer. Mr Miller-Campbell added that he “saw running” after they arrived and began to run himself because he did not want to be left alone in an area he did not know. He said he saw a “black figure” next to a wall who he later said was Mr Steede, and the figure had blood on his face. He said the group then fled. Mr Miller-Campbell said they went to a nearby house, where Mr Campbell and Mr Jameson got into an argument and pushed each other. He told the court: “Christian was saying ‘why did you do that?’ Kasharn pushed him away. “I asked Kasharn what happened again. He said ‘yeah, I stabbed him.’” Mr Miller-Campbell said he saw Mr Campbell take a “Rambo-style” knife from his waistband, and noticed that he had blood on his clothes. He said Mr Campbell remained at the home after he and the other two teenagers left. Mr Miller-Campbell, Mr Campbell, Mr Jameson, the 17-year-old boy and the 16-year-old girl have all denied charges of murder. The trial continues.

paragraphAn American teenage rugby player found dead at the bottom of a steep drop was in a bad mood because of problems with his girlfriend, a coroner’s inquest heard yesterday. Jack Heffernan, a team-mate and friend of Mark Dombroski, told investigators in a taped interview after his friend’s body was found, that Mr Dombroski had admitted he and his girlfriend had quarreled. Mr Heffernan said: “I think he cheated on her and then told her about it.” The audio testimony came during the first day of a three-day inquest into the death of the 19-year-old Philadelphia university student. Mr Heffernan said that Mr Dombroski had been drinking at Warwick Camp, where the team was staying during the competition. But he said: “He was not drinking as much as everybody else.” Mr Heffernan said he and Mr Dombroski had stopped at Front Street bar Docksider before meeting team-mates at the nearby Dog House bar. He said that Mr Dombroski had consumed “no more than two drinks” at Docksider. Mr Heffernan, who admitted he had had a “fair amount” to drink, said that he remembered speaking to Mr Dombroski at the Dog House but did not remember details of the conversation. He added that Mr Dombroski had not seemed too upset. Mr Dombroski’s body was found in the dry moat at Fort Prospect, near the Bermuda Police headquarters, on March 19. He went missing a day-and-a-half earlier after he left alone after a night out with friends in Hamilton. Mr Dombroski was in Bermuda with a team from St Joseph’s University to play in the Ariel Re Bermuda International Sevens tournament. His family were at the inquest. Brendan Mulqueen, another team-mate, told investigators that Mr Dombroski at first seemed to be having a good time at the Dog House. But he said that Mr Dombroski later waved him away when he tried to talk to him. Mr Mulqueen added that he did not notice Mr Dombroski become upset with anyone. He said that he had called Mr Dombroski’s phone at around 2.30am after he got back at Warwick Camp but did not get an answer. Mr Mulqueen said that the next day people had talked about Mr Dombroski being in a bad mood due to problems with his girlfriend. Andrew Sullivan, another team-mate, added that Mr Dombroski was “happy” and “excited” when he saw him at the Dog House. But he said Mr Dombroski’s mood changed over the course of the night. Mr Sullivan told investigators: “You were able to notice a difference. He seemed like he didn’t want any part of the team.” He said that Mr Dombroski punched a pillar outside the bar, which he left just before 1am. Mr Sullivan said that he sent Mr Dombroski a text message at about 1.20am after he had arrived back at Warwick Camp because he was worried about him. He added that he and other people had searched the barracks to check if Mr Dombroski had returned. CCTV footage played at the inquest showed Mr Dombrowski’s movements from the time he arrived at the Dog House. Footage from inside the club showed Mr Dombroski on the dance floor jumping around and pumping an arm in the air. Detective Constable Christopher Sabean said the footage showed Mr Dombroski consume a drink he had picked up from the stage in one gulp. Mr Dombroski later appeared to have a beer in his right hand. He was later captured on several CCTV cameras as he walked along Front Street in the direction of East Broadway. In a number of the video clips his hand was raised to his head as if he was speaking on a phone. Mr Sabean said that in all the videos “there is no one behind him”. Mr Dombroski was last captured on a motion-activated camera on Alexandra Road in Devonshire at about 1.30am. Christopher Milroy, a Canadian forensic pathologist, said in March that a post-mortem examination he carried out had found no evidence of foul play in Mr Dombroski’s death. Dr Milroy added that his exam concluded that Mr Dombroski died from a fall from a height. He said at the time that a toxicology exam would also be performed. The inquest continues.

paragraphEdmund Kirkland “Kirk” Cooper, a champion sailor and three-times Olympian, has died, aged 86. Mr Cooper founded the accounting firm Cooper and Lines in 1959 with his friend and business partner, David Lines. The company later became a member firm of Coopers & Lybrand, now PwC Bermuda. Mr Cooper, an auditor and financial adviser, retired as a managing partner of PwC. Mr Cooper served on a variety of boards and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1986 for his service to the island. As well as sitting on the Civil Aviation Board and Airport Licensing Board in the 1960s and 1970s, Mr Cooper was chairman at the Department of Tourism from 1983 to 1993. He served on the Bermuda Economic Council from 1984 to 1990 and the Bermuda International Business Association, where he was president from 1974 to 1975. Mr Cooper was a founding member as well as president of the Bermuda Yachting Association, and served as commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in 1972. He was also chairman on the board of department store AS Cooper & Sons. His widow, Helen, said Mr Cooper was “a great guy who loved Bermuda — he was a man of endless energy”. Ms Cooper added: “There were a lot of young people that Kirk helped along the way and his many international clients also became good friends. His personality was just tireless and he was very competitive.” Mr Cooper was a champion backstroke swimmer at school but his wife said he was drawn more to team sports. His father, Edmund Cooper, had been among six athletes on Bermuda’s swimming team for the 1936 Olympics, and encouraged his son’s efforts in the pool. Ms Cooper said: “Kirk preferred to be with crews and his crews all loved him. Kirk also liked sailing because it was technical.” His sailing career included three trips to the Olympic Games — Tokyo 1964, where he came close to a bronze medal, Mexico City 1968 and Munich 1972, where Mr Cooper was the flag bearer for Bermuda at the opening ceremony. Mr Cooper was also a regular participant in the Newport to Bermuda race. Mr Cooper said after the 1994 race: “Each time we go out it’s a different challenge. You never stop learning. It must be like chess.” Sir John Swan, a former premier, said Mr Cooper was “a very dear friend of mine ever since the time I returned to Bermuda and found myself trying to learn more about the island and its establishments”. Sir John added: “He was a fantastic sailor. He was an achiever, always trying to figure out how to make things happen. He certainly helped me.” Sir John said Mr Cooper helped him secure a bank loan to build the John Swan Building on Victoria Street in Hamilton and aided him as he entered the world of politics. He added: “I has very fortunate to have him in my life. He was a man of great integrity.” Sir John added that Mr Cooper was always friendly and a family man. He said: “He was always happiest with his wife and his family.” One of Mr Cooper’s proudest moments was his selection as the first Bermudian juror for the America’s Cup in 1983 — when the challenger Australia II won the trophy. Mr Cooper was inducted into the Bermuda Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to sailing in 2005. His son, Philip, said: “He was always encouraging and a positive voice, interacting in whatever we were doing growing up — including sports and educational pursuits and career choices.” Alexa, his eldest child, said her father had “touched many with his kindness and generous spirit”. Mr Cooper is also survived by two other daughters, Dana and Helen, and nine grandchildren. His family said last night that his life would be celebrated with a private family service at Hamilton’s Anglican Cathedral.

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paragraphThe draft Bermuda Plan 2018 has been unveiled for public consultation the Minister of Home Affairs announced today. Walter Roban said the document included ideas for neighborhood improvement — which “may include new recreational areas and community facilities”. He added the plan also called for improved sidewalks along routes to schools and “more farmers’ markets that we hope will sell more healthy food”. The plan, which is open for public consultation until March 15 next year, also included strategies to protect agricultural areas, sensitive habitats and for the designation of new areas of conservation. Mr Roban said another branch of the plan will cover “Bermuda’s unique cultural heritage”, as well as “issues of climate change, and the need to incorporate sustainable design principles”. All planning application from today will fall under the scope of the plan, which can be found at the planning department website here.

paragraphLoan sharks have worsened the problems of people in financial difficulty, the House of Assembly heard. Wayne Furbert, the junior finance minister, said he knew of cases where $10,000 loans become $66,000 debts in just a year, and that action was needed. He added: “This has been going on from year to year to year. Our people have been ripped off.” Mr Furbert said: “Sometimes you just happen to run into problems. Lose your job and cannot pay. You are struggling. What can you do? We are in an unforgiving society in many aspects and it’s time to recognize that if it wasn’t for the grace of God, some of us would still be in that same position.” He was speaking on Friday as the House debated and passed the Debt Collection Act 2018, designed to create a framework to regulate debt collection. Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the new law would help protect consumers from predatory debt collection practices. He said: “This bill seeks to introduce fair business practices that will provide a level playing field for creditors and debtors.” Mr Roban explained the bill was made up of five components. The bill would create a licensing authority for debt collector agencies and establish regulations to prohibit unfair practices. The legislation was drawn up to also promote financial transparency, establish complaint procedures and create both offences and a right of appeal to a debt collection tribunal. Mr Roban added: “Government oversight will be accomplished by a comprehensive licensing regulation framework for those entities engaging in debt collection under the newly created debt collection authority. The authority will consist of officers within Consumer Affairs. The regulatory functions include, but are not limited to, oversight, licensing, education, investigation and enforcement.” The legislation also caps a creditor’s commission to a one-time payment no higher than 20 per cent of the original debt amount and includes rules for a maximum two per cent monthly administration fee on the outstanding balance, which would only be payable if costs are incurred by required communication with the debtor in that period. Mr Roban said the bill was appropriate because it came at a time of year when many people spend more than they should. He added: “We must ensure that we are not spending to the point where we are broke and worrying how to pay our bills in the new year. Oftentimes we are our own worst enemy, amassing debt that we cannot pay. Sometimes, however, we incur debt that is of no fault of our own.” Leah Scott, the Shadow Minister of Tourism and Transport, backed the legislation and added that education needed to be a key part of helping people avoid getting into too much debt. She said: “The reality is times are still rough for people. There are people that don’t have jobs and we have to do things that assist people as much as we can.” Jeanne Atherden, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, said that a balance needed to be struck to ensure that people are protected, but individuals and businesses are not harmed by “highflying” debtors who choose not to pay. And she questioned why a separate licensing authority needed to be created instead of giving responsibility to the Consumer Affairs Board.

paragraphToday’s broken world needs more leaders with the personal touch of George H.W. Bush, his close ally Sir John Swan said yesterday. Former American president and “friend of Bermuda” Mr Bush, who died at his Texas home on Friday aged 94, was remembered by Sir John for his integrity, loyalty and willingness to build human relationships. Sir John, the Premier of Bermuda from 1982 to 1995, also recalled how the President’s friendship with the island helped stand it in good stead on the international scale. He told The Royal Gazette: “I was very fortunate to be around at a time when a president was for all people. Integrity was his greatest asset. We knew where we stood at all times. It’s what you want in a leader, particularly in a time like this, when the world is a bit fallen apart and needs to stitch itself back together. Our leaders have got to build relationships with all people. If not, we will end up with a bunch of individuals with his own agenda. We should be our brother’s keeper. I learnt a lot from him.” Mr Bush, who served as the 41st President of the United States between 1989 and 1993, visited Bermuda for the Good Friday Summit in 1990, along with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to discuss the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was part of a continuing series of talks between Western Allies who were attempting to keep abreast of the radical developments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. He was in Bermuda again in 1991 for a meeting with British Prime Minister John Major, after the allied defeat of Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf war. Sir John had been friends with Mr Bush since his days as Vice-President in the 1980s. The pair had established a rapport when Sir John was rallying US President Ronald Reagan to support negotiations, which led to the 1988 US Bermuda Tax Treaty. Sir John said: “He was a very special person. He was the most loyal person I have ever known sit in the high office if he was your friend, which he was mine. He included me in everything he did, not only physically but also his thoughts. I had the great privilege of doing many, many things with him. We both had a lot of laughs together and a lot of meals together. I was very fortunate to know a man who helped mould my thinking on an international scale and also a human scale. He could make you laugh but at the same time when he was serious, he could get very focused.” Sir John said Mr Bush was 100 per cent behind the US Bermuda Tax Treaty. He said: “He was very much a friend of Bermuda. He liked Bermuda. He liked the people and liked what he saw here. He liked what we did to steer our country with fiscal responsibility but also with a social conscience. It’s important that in Bermuda we build very strong international relationships on a personal basis, so that when we need support that we have someone to turn to.” Mr Bush’s 1990 visit included a lighter note, in which he and Mrs Thatcher took part in traditional kite flying on Government House grounds. The media reported how Mr Bush joked that he was one of the better kite flyers in Washington. He told reporters: “I’m often told to go fly my kite. And I have a bunch of them.” Mr Bush also declared he would make the most of his trip to the island paradise by playing golf, even if the forecast of rainstorms proved correct. He said: “If it rains, I’m going to play. I’m going to play golf.” During that visit, Sir John and Lady Swan hosted a gala dinner for Mr Bush and Mrs Thatcher at Camden, the Premier’s official residence. It was one of many occasions Sir John got to know the President’s true personality. Sir John said: “The most important thing about him was that he was the most loyal soul you could ever meet. He was the most humanitarian individual you ever come across. If you really got to know him, you found he had a wonderful humanitarian streak. He loved his wife to death. Those two just really enjoyed each other’s company. His passing is sad, but I would rather him go in peace as he brought so much peace to the world. I send my sincere condolences to his family. I know them well. I know this is a sad time, but we all must pass. He chose to say goodbye when he could say goodbye. This is one of the greats passing on.” Walter Roban, the Acting Premier, extended condolences to the US on behalf of Bermuda. Mr Roban wrote in a letter of condolence to US Consul General Constance Dierman: “Over the next several days, President George H.W. Bush’s legacy will be remembered for many things. And among them we will remember his passionate belief of collaborating with domestic and global allies to address the challenges facing our world. Bermuda’s thoughts are with the Bush family at this sad time. ”Ms Dierman said: “President Bush embodied the virtues of public service, selfless dedication, and humility. He was a patriot, and everything he did in life was directed to helping the American people and to building and growing relationships around the world, especially here in Bermuda.” A condolence book is open to the public today, tomorrow and Thursday, from 1pm to 4pm, at the Consulate General, Middle Road, Devonshire. The Consulate will be closed for a day of mourning on Wednesday. All appointments will be rescheduled. For emergencies, call 335-3828.

paragraphThe 2018 hurricane season has come to an end, with Bermuda escaping any direct impacts for the second consecutive year. James Dodgson, the director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said the area around the island has been “relatively” quiet this year, with no sustained tropical storm force winds reported. However, Bermuda’s shoreline did feel some of the effects from passing storms. Mr Dodgson said: “Distant tropical cyclones did generate some locally significant ocean swells, as well as elevated surf and rip currents, especially along our South Shore beaches. In fact, if you were down at Elbow Beach after the relatively recent passage of Hurricane Oscar, you would have noticed some very significant beach erosion, especially towards the eastern end of the public beach. Several feet of sand were eroded away, leaving underlying rock exposed.” The 2018 hurricane season ended on Saturday. There were 15 named storms over the course of the season, with eight reaching hurricane strength and two becoming “major” hurricanes. Hurricanes Florence and Michael caused significant damage in the southeastern US but Mr Dodgson said that, unlike 2017, the Caribbean avoided any major impacts. He said: “This was due to plenty of wind shear in that area, which can at least partially be attributed to a developing El Niño — as highlighted in some of the long-range seasonal forecasts. The fact that Bermuda did not have any direct impacts this season is largely down to natural climate variability. This season, we were mostly protected by the Bermuda side of the Bermuda-Azores ridge of high pressure, and even that only kept some significant hurricanes around 400 miles away from us.” Mr Dodgson added: “Tropical cyclones can affect our area outside of hurricane season, but if we do get any tropical impacts outside of the season, the systems are more typically subtropical in nature.” He said residents should remember to be cautious as even a slow hurricane season can have devastating consequences. “Whatever the long-range forecasts might be, it is always imperative to be prepared.”

paragraphThe Ministry of Public Works is advising that during the week of 10 December, 2018, it will conduct its Biannual Septage Disposal Operations. These operations may result in unpleasant odors being experienced in the residential areas surrounding the Marsh Folly Composting Facility. Despite the unpleasant odor, the Ministry assures there are no environmental risks to area residents. For the public’s reference, the operations process is as follows:

The Ministry would like to thank the public for their patience, co-operation and understanding while these necessary works are conducted.

paragraphA former senior magistrate and Supreme Court puisne judge will join a well-known law firm after he retired from the bench. Archibald Warner is to start his role as a consultant senior counsel at Chancery Legal in the coming weeks. The “boutique” Bermuda company is headed by Mark Pettingill, a high-profile litigator and former attorney-general. Mr Warner served as senior magistrate for 14 years before he stepped down in 2014. His career has also included work as a police officer, prosecutor, defence lawyer and puisne judge in the Supreme Court. Mr Warner said he would continue to take the bench as a magistrate for another two years after retirement from the senior post, but he was still presiding over cases until just a few months ago. He and Mr Pettingill first worked together for a short spell in the Attorney-General’s Chambers and they continued to cross paths in the years that followed as both pursued defence lawyer careers in the private sector. Mr Pettingill recalled: “Archie was doing a lot of interesting work and doing so many jury trials and just winning them continuously.” Mr Warner later moved to the bench and many consider he played a key role in helping shape Bermuda’s judiciary. Mr Pettingill told The Royal Gazette: “For me, Archie was one of those magistrates and judges that made you bring your ‘A’ game, which is always good. Just firm but fair, but you had to bring your ‘A’ game or you were going to get short shrift. That was certainly helpful to me as a lawyer. Any judge or prosecutor that gets you to do that is significant to your own development. I think a lot of junior lawyers probably got a lot out of the fact they had to go in and be top drawer. He still clearly has the passion and the drive — I’m more concerned about keeping him in check, that he doesn’t try to do too much. I think with that depth and wealth of knowledge that he has, not just in the criminal aspect but on administrative and constitutional matters, he has an in-depth knowledge of that area of law and a great love for it so that is significant to bring to a practice like ours.” Mr Pettingill’s recent work has included representing Roderick Ferguson in the landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal that made same-sex marriage legal again, upholding an earlier decision by former Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, who struck down parts of the Domestic Partnership Act. He described co-workers Mathew Kelly and Katie Richards as among the island’s top real estate, conveyancing and matrimonial lawyers respectively. Mr Warner was honored by his court colleagues when he stood down from his senior role in October 2014. His successor, Juan Wolffe, said at the time that the esteemed magistrate had “presided over the vast majority of the most serious, complex and complicated legal matters that have come before any of the courts since his appointment” and also helped shepherd the courts through legal reform. Mr Warner said last week: “Having now retired from the ‘bench’, it is my intention to continue to contribute to the legal profession in Bermuda. Law is my passion, and working with Mark Pettingill at Chancery Legal, a progressive law chambers, would be like the old days when we practiced together at the criminal bar.”

paragraphHealth minister Kim Wilson called on Bermuda to strive towards inclusion for all as she promoted International Day of Persons with Disabilities. A press release from the ministry follows: "Earlier today, Ageing and Disability Services of the Ministry of Health had a meet and greet in Front of the National Library in Hamilton to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been annually observed on 3 December around the world. This important observance aims to increase awareness and promote the rights of persons with disabilities. The theme for this year’s IDPD is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. This theme focuses on the empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Minister Wilson said, “The right to work is a fundamental human right. However, persons with disabilities are often not considered for employment due to negative perceptions regarding their ability to contribute or the high cost of accommodating their disability or inaccessible workplaces. Through the use of adaptive and assistive technologies, and other reasonable accommodation measures, persons with disabilities make a valuable contribution in the workplace. And, with the use of the right technologies, persons with disabilities are able to perform well in their jobs. The international Day of Persons with Disabilities is drawing attention to the available technologies and measures that can be adopted to create work environments that are open, inclusive and accessible to allow persons with disabilities to fully participate and contribute to the workforce. “This year’s theme, “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”, focuses on empowering persons with disabilities for an inclusive and equitable participation as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”. Persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change, can fast track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development and promote a resilient society for all, including in the context of disaster risk reduction, humanitarian action, and urban development. This important observance aims to increase awareness and promote the rights of persons with disabilities. These issues are as meaningful in Bermuda as in larger jurisdictions, as the well-being of affected individuals and their families is impacted in all spheres of society. We must continue to focus our attention on ability, rather than disability. Given Bermuda’s scarce resources – especially human resources – it is essential that we ensure that everyone can make a contribution to society. We must not limit ourselves by putting barriers and restrictions in front of people. What we must do is to strive towards inclusion for all. It is important to continue to advance the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life.”

paragraphThe Regulatory Authority of Bermuda got about 800 responses from a public consultation on Bermuda’s blueprint for power generation in the future. The six-month consultation period on the Integrated Resource Plan ended on November 30. A spokeswoman for the authority said tonight that the majority of submissions were “copies of a template response provided to the public by one of the eight commercial entities that submitted a proposal for alternative generation technologies, BE Solar”. The energy industry watchdog has posted many of the responses on its website here, including drawings submitted by children. The rest will be added this week. The spokeswoman said the RA has started to analyse all the proposals and the public on their technical, economic, environmental and social merits.

paragraphStevedoring Services Ltd, operator of Hamilton docks, is changing rules for vehicle importers, to the effect that they will no longer be able to bring mechanics onto the dock to service an imported vehicle. Effective immediately, importers of self-propelled vehicles will be required to utilize SSL staff for services to vehicles as needed prior to collection from the Hamilton Docks. Vehicle importers were alerted to the new policy in October. Warren Jones, chief executive officer of Polaris, parent company of SSL, said: “It will no longer be permissible to bring a mechanic on the dock or carry out any service to a vehicle prior to it leaving the dock. These represent billable services which will be carried out by SSL staff going forward. It will be permissible to tow a vehicle off the dock without incurring a charge, if an SSL mechanic is not involved.” The charge for a mechanic in straight time is $47.41 per hour or part thereof and fuel will be charged at the tariff rate of $8.61 per gallon. SSL also released 2019 tariff rates.

paragraphBermuda-based insurers and reinsurers have strengthened their resilience to potential catastrophe events by marginally decreasing their net exposure to such events, while also increasing the amount of capital and surplus they hold. That is one of the takeaways from the Bermuda Monetary Authority’s third annual “Catastrophe Risk in Bermuda” report. Craig Swan, managing director, supervision (Insurance) said: “Bermuda is predominantly a wholesale reinsurance market offering a variety of risk transfer solutions, covering life and annuity, speciality and catastrophe risks. Evidencing the magnitude of the catastrophe capacity that Bermuda (re)insurers supply, it is noted that the industry paid $30 billion in claims to mainland US and Puerto Rico alone for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017. With such a relatively high concentration of catastrophe risk in Bermuda’s market, a broad understanding of the potential adverse impacts, including identification of any concentration risks and catastrophe modelling practices in Bermuda, is central to the BMA’s supervisory framework. This information is also important to Bermuda (re)insurers and other stakeholders and markets around the globe.” Giving a high level overview of the report, Mr Swan said the (re)insurers’ 2017 filings to the BMA indicated their continued resilience to major, but improbable, catastrophe events and the sophistication and advancement of catastrophe modelling practices in Bermuda. “This underscored the reputation of Bermuda (re)insurers as being generally well capitalized and technically proficient,” Mr Swan said. “Compared to 2016, this year’s net catastrophe exposure slightly decreased by about 2 per cent, while the (re)insurers have increased their statutory capital and surplus by 12 per cent. Consequently, the overall industry’s resilience to potential catastrophe events has further strengthened compared to last year. In addition, the global share of gross estimated potential loss assumed by Bermuda (re)insurers on major catastrophe perils (combined) increased by about 2 per cent,” he said. "The increase in the statutory capital and surplus and global share are largely attributed to the inclusion of more (re)insurance entities in the survey.” The report also reviewed cyber-risk stress testing and the analysis shows that the (re)insurers’ own defined worst impacts from cyber-risk would have a minimal effect on their statutory capital.

paragraphOne of the biggest opportunities for Bermuda reinsurers will be to take more risk off the shoulders of taxpayers around the world, delegates at a conference in Hamilton heard. John Huff, chief executive officer of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, said even a slight closing of the protection gap, illustrated by the difference between insured and economic losses from disasters, would make a huge difference. “A change by just 1 per cent in the insurance penetration rate could reduce the natural catastrophe costs to taxpayers by 22 per cent,” Mr Huff said, speaking at the EY Global (Re)Insurance Outlook event last week. Several US public-sector organisations have already taken advantage of some private reinsurance. For example, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which has bought $1 billion worth or private reinsurance for the past four years in succession. The National Flood Insurance Programme benefited from a $1.46 billion traditional reinsurance programme, as well as a $500 million catastrophe bond, this year. And the California Earthquake Authority’s private reinsurance programme passed $8 billion for the first time this year. Mr Huff sees the potential for much more. “I’m bullish on Bermuda with a theme of de-risking government around the world,” he said. “With the abundant capital that’s in our space, can we de-risk the taxpayers?" He cited the examples of flood, earthquake, terrorism, crop and mortgage risk. “Who’s holding this risk today?” Mr Huff said. “Most of the time it’s taxpayers and the private sector’s ready to take some of it.” Fellow panellist Ryan Mather, Argo Group’s head of global reinsurance, saw further growth opportunities in finding solutions for covering the intangibles that make up the bulk of the value of modern corporations. “Back in 1975, 87 per cent of the value of the S&P 500 was tangible assets — property and inventory,” Mr Mather said. “Now about 10 per cent of the S&P 500’s value consists of tangible assets. The rest is intangible and we need to find a way of reinsuring that.” Mr Mather added that anticipated an increase in rates in 2019, given some rattling of market confidence this year. Rates had not risen significantly this year, despite the massive losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Marie in 2017, he said, as even more capital flooded into the market than that lost to catastrophes. Hence rates did not rise as anticipated. With more losses this year from typhoons in Japan, Hurricane Michael in Florida and yet more California wildfires, the confidence of some industry investors was flagging. “This might be the reverse tipping point,” Mr Mather said. “This might be when some of the capital that shouldn’t be in the industry might go and try other things. The narrative is changing: so I’m hearing ‘two bad years in a row’, ‘interest rates are going up, making the risk-return hurdle higher’, and ‘are reinsurance rates ever going to go up again?’” In addition, he said, the effectiveness of models had come into question from the successive “once-in-a-century” wildfire years and the losses from 2017’s Irma proving to be much worse than expected, the latter involving what was thought to be the best-understood catastrophe risk, Florida hurricane. “For that reason, I think we’re going to see rate increases next year,” Mr Mather said. Fiona Luck, a non-executive director of the Lloyd’s of London Franchise Board and a former C-suite executive with XL Group, said conversations between underwriters and brokers or clients would determine whether rates would rise. “I think we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Ms Luck said. “These are increases over a very, very low level and the old model of having significant, fabulous increases that work for us over a long period of time are probably at an end. Capital is efficient in this market — it comes in when there’s a need.” Patrick Tannock, CEO Bermuda, Axa XL, said: “I think the traditional cycle has been dead for a long time and I think the inflection point was probably the Japanese tsunami. In 2011, we had losses of over $100 billion and nothing happened. It used to be that you could set your clock to that and automatically have a hard market. We’ve had this predicament for some time in that we haven’t had that balance with respect to exposure and the rates that are available. I don’t think anyone is afraid of volatility, we just want to make sure we get paid for it.” Progress on realizing the oft-stated need for more diversity among the industry’s ranks is still proving to be slow, the panellists agreed. Ms Luck believed the island could play a significant role. “There has been pressure from shareholders for more diversity but the fact is we’re not doing well enough,” Ms Luck said. “My challenge to Abir is, we in Bermuda are a leading jurisdiction — let’s make this part of our leadership and let’s really make it a priority.” She said there had been big efforts to promote the industry in schools and to urge young people to get educated to take career opportunities. Even those who did shine academically were finding it difficult to land jobs, she added, citing two of her mentees who had passed two actuarial exams and had still struggled to find work. “We have to find a better way, once they have got an education, of knowing where they are,” Ms Luck said. “Many of them go overseas to look for opportunities. I sit on the board of Knowledge Quest [the Bermudian charity]. We have put 180 young people through university over 18 years. These are people whose families have never been to university and who’s mum or dad works three jobs, just to get through the process. I think there’s a trick we’re missing and that’s capturing data more thoroughly to help us get there. Having said all this about promoting Bermudian talent, we’ve also got to be open to immigration, to bring in that talent. That’s what built this industry and we still have to be open to that.” Mr Tannock said scholarships were helpful in getting young people in the door, but once there they needed a higher level of support. “Bermuda was built on having an enabling environment for the free flow of high-quality intellectual capital,” Mr Tannock said. “But you’ve got to balance that by developing Bermudians as well. It’s a fool’s errand to perpetuate this situation where a certain demographic does not believe they have a chance to participate in the economic engine of the country. That’s just going to result in tears. Diversity measurably improved problem-solving, decision-making and cultural awareness in companies, he said. “Here’s a news flash. The world is becoming a lot browner, so people need to get on the bus. We’re making progress but there’s a lot of work to be done.”

paragraphA new education campaign designed to boost knowledge about asthma was sparked by the tragic death of a young boy in Britain. Open Airways, an island asthma charity, is offering the Support Children’s Health-Asthma online course. The George Coller Memorial Fund and Education for Health UK created the programme. It was launched by Kim Douglas in 2000 after the death of her son, George Coller, who was 3 and died in his sleep from asthma in 1996. A spokeswoman for Open Airways said that 20 per cent of children and 10 per cent of adults in Bermuda had asthma. She added: “Many of these children and adults have uncontrolled asthma, which results in asthma attacks and potentially asthma deaths.” The spokeswoman said it was estimated that more than 1,000 people died globally from asthma each day. She added: “The majority of these are children of young adults and, tragically, most of these deaths were preventable.” The online module covers areas such as how to recognize an asthma attack and what to do if an attack strikes. The free course, aimed at people who work with or have children with asthma, takes about an hour to complete. A certificate can be printed after the course work is completed. The course is offered in a link-up with insurance firms Argus Group and BF&M. For more information, visit openairways.com.

paragraphSt George’s Harbour was lit up this weekend as the East End hosted its first Christmas Boat Parade. Hundreds of people gathered in St George to take in the festive atmosphere. Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, said: “The town enjoyed their first boat parade and it was quite a successful event. The town is decorated for the season, which sets the environment for all the festive activities, and the boats in the parade were absolutely lovely.” Ms Francis added: “The positive comments received are great. I would like to thank the organisers for having the vision and the patience to ensure it became a reality. They were determined to have the boat parade this year after discussing it for quite some time, and it is great to see what vision and determination looks like. The Corporation of St George supported the event and also incorporated Santa coming to town, so all the children were able to get a bag of goodies.”

paragraphThe Hamilton Princess & Beach Club’s pastry team have unveiled their Candy Gingerbread House in the hotel’s lobby to celebrate the holidays. At 7ft tall, 5ft wide and long, this year’s creation is large enough for several children to enter at once and is the biggest Gingerbread House to date at the hotel. The baking and construction of the piece, led by Pastry Chef Fhonthip Jones, involved twelve members of the pastry and engineering teams at the hotel and took two weeks to complete. The Candy Gingerbread House is made from 550 tiles of gingerbread and weighs approximately 360lb — about the weight of a reindeer! The tiles of gingerbread are made from a special recipe including icing sugar, flour, eggs, shortening, molasses and a secret blend of spices which combine to create a sturdy and intensely scented structure. The outside of the Candy Gingerbread House is decorated with a wide varieties of confectioneries and cookies, sure to give anyone who sees it sweet-tooth, and features a traditional Bermuda chimney. Ricardo Cera, Executive Chef at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, said: “We’re thrilled with the way that this year’s Gingerbread House has turned out, bigger and better than ever. It is one of the first things that guests will see when they come into the hotel and it smells incredible. We invite the public to come and check it out and get some seasonal snaps and create some great holiday memories.”

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paragraphThe cost of a top London barrister for the Government’s battle against same-sex marriage was “greatly exaggerated”, the home affairs minister said yesterday.  Walter Roban said that the estimated fee for James Guthrie QC was $61,188 — not the $200,000 to $400,000 suggested by sources. Mr Guthrie appeared for the Government in a Court of Appeal case, which also involved Rod Ferguson and others, who sought to restore marriage equality in Bermuda after it was removed by a law designed to replace marriage for gay people with a civil partnership arrangement. The appeals court ruled in favour of a restoration of same-sex marriage, although the Government could still take the case to the Privy Council in London, the island’s final court of appeal. The home affairs ministry said: “On November 26, the Minister of Home Affairs committed to the public that, once a final figure has been determined regarding the appeal, he would provide that figure. Government is not yet aware of any costs filed by the opposing counsels.” The ministry said the cost of Mr Guthrie’s legal services was $53,339.80, with another $7,848.21 spent on travel and accommodation.

paragraphActing Premier Walter Roban has extended condolences to the United States on behalf of Bermuda after the death of former American president George H.W. Bush. Mr Bush, who served as the 41st US president between 1989 and 1993, died at home in Houston, Texas, on Friday night, aged 94. He visited Bermuda for the Good Friday Summit in 1990, along with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, to discuss the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr Roban noted the two leaders had taken part in traditional kite flying on Government House grounds. The Acting Premier wrote in a letter of condolence to US Consul General Constance Dierman: “On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, I extend condolences on the passing of former president, George H.W. Bush. As the 41st Commander in Chief, Bermuda acknowledges president Bush’s service and contributions to the United States and the global community. Many residents will recall when president Bush and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher met in Bermuda for the Good Friday Summit in 1990, to discuss events associated with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Residents will also fondly remember during that time, that the two leaders engaged in our quintessential Bermudian tradition of kite flying on the Government House grounds. Bermuda was pleased to host this historical occasion. Over the next several days, president George H.W. Bush’s legacy will be remembered for many things. And among them we will remember his passionate belief of collaborating with domestic and global allies to address the challenges facing our world. Bermuda’s thoughts are with the Bush family at this sad time.”

paragraphMobility aids for seniors’ homes and rest homes will get a pass on customs duty under legislation approved yesterday in the House of Assembly. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, will also get ministerial discretion over a separate tax break to allow a 5 per cent duty rate on goods for local commercial manufacturing. But Rolfe Commissiong, the Progressive Labour Party backbencher, sounded a warning over the island’s ageing population. Mr Commissiong said the Customs Tariff Amendment (No 3) Bill 2018 was “welcome”. But he added: “Let’s not delude ourselves — this is not enough. We have, facing us, a demographic tsunami that is going to overwhelm Bermuda unless we step up the pace.” MPs heard that the tax break on appliances and fittings for seniors, which would extend to rest homes, was a promise from a speech delivered by David Burt, the Premier, in July. Mr Dickinson made an amendment from the floor of the House to extend the duty relief to the disabled as well, which was backed by MPs from both sides. He said the Department of Ageing and Disability Services would oversee the certification of goods qualifying for duty relief. The concessions will apply to new and existing rest homes as well as private homes. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the cost of living in a care facility was “crippling” and averaged $5,000 to $11,000 a month. She added discounts to materials for ramps and aids such as stair lifts, standing tubs and grab bars for seniors would help the elderly remain at home. Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker, told the House that the Government had fielded a request earlier this year from a rest home bringing in appliances and requesting a tax exemption. Mr Burgess added: “At the time, it could not be done — but the Premier promised me he would fix it.” Mr Dickinson was questioned by Opposition MPs about the minister’s power to approve discounts on imports for local manufacturing. He told the House: “Existing legislation allows for any and all goods — the proposed amendment closes that loophole.”

paragraphA top lawyer said yesterday the Attorney-General was wrong to accuse The Royal Gazette of publishing a “misleading” article about changes to a law designed to protect vulnerable youngsters in court. Kathy Lynn Simmons, also the legal affairs minister, insisted that the rights of children were not being eroded by changes to the 1998 Children Act on the appointment of litigation guardians to protect young people. Ms Simmons added that “contrary to the statement from the Human Rights Commission, the rights of the child are not being eroded as the current section 35(1) of the Children Act 1998 does not make it mandatory for the court to appoint a litigation guardian”. But the legal change — where a court “may” consider the appointment of a litigation guardian rather than “shall” consider under the present Act — was challenged by Mark Diel, a lawyer with Marshall Diel & Myers. Mr Diel — also quoted in The Royal Gazette article on the law change on Thursday — said: “The point I was making — as accurately quoted in the article — is that the effect of this section as it currently stands is that the court has a duty to consider whether or not to appoint a litigation guardian in every case. It may be that in some cases there may be no need to appoint a litigation guardian, for example where the child has a lawyer retained for him or her by the parents. But it’s pretty obvious that in most cases concerning vulnerable or at-risk children that a litigation guardian should be appointed. So the Attorney-General’s point about the existing section as it stands doesn’t result in a mandatory appointment of a guardian is strictly speaking correct — but that wasn’t the point to start with.” Mr Diel added: “With the current wording the court has to consider this – there is no need for an application. With the amended wording it says that the court ‘may determine as to whether a litigation guardian should be appointed. It’s about the court considering whether or not to appoint a guardian and, frankly, in most cases one should be.” Mr Diel also questioned why the wording of the Act was changed at all if the intent was not to water down existing protection. He was speaking after the Children Amendment Act was tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday. The revised Act was tabled in the House by Kim Wilson, the health minister, as Ms Simmons sits in the Senate. The Attorney-General said on Thursday: “The Bill seeks to remove ambiguity concerning the appointment of litigation guardians and strengthen the existing framework that assigns a litigation guardian to children whose custody, care or control is before the courts. The new framework establishes a licensing regime for litigation guardians. This regime will require persons wishing to be appointed as litigation guardians to possess relevant qualifications and submit applications to the existing statutory Child Care Placement Board. The board, whose remit will be expanded, will review applications and issue a licence. A person who is granted a licence will be added to a register of licensed litigation guardians to be established and maintained by the Minister of Legal Affairs. The court will appoint persons from the register to represent the interests of children. Provision is also made for remuneration of the litigation guardian. The amendments will also provide structure with regard to the appointment and remuneration of counsel.” Mr Diel said on Thursday that there was a Constitutional requirement to a fair hearing. “Someone needs to explain why some children may not get the protection of a litigation guardian application and others will.” Mr Diel also questioned where the ambiguity was in the present version of the Act and asked if Ms Simmons could explain how the amendment would fix it. He also queried who would make a litigation guardian application if a child — who might not even be in the courtroom —was not already represented. Mr Diel welcomed an amendment to set fees for litigation guardians but asked if “less than a third of the amount currently paid, for example, under legal aid provisions” was enough and how the figure was arrived at. The fee was $90 in the draft Bill seen by The Royal Gazette earlier this week but was listed as $75 in the Bill tabled in the House of Assembly.

paragraphHead teachers have demanded details of plans to axe the island’s middle schools. Ed Ball, general secretary of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said yesterday that school principals wanted more information about the Government’s proposal to phase out middle schools in favour of “signature” specialist schools at the senior level. Mr Ball said: “Specifically, principals want to be provided access to the research that supports this proposal.” He added: “Clarification is needed on whether there will be school closures and what will be the impact on staffing levels.” He was speaking as it was confirmed that work-to-rule industrial action started by head teachers last month would continue. Mr Ball said that “principals will strictly adhere to the spirit of their job duties and responsibilities as outlined in their job descriptions”. He added that the prime mover behind the industrial action was “the increased incidents of adverse student behaviors, which are compromising the safety of students, teachers and principals, and must be addressed”. Mr Ball said head teachers and school staff were dealing with behavior that should be referred to internal specialists, including educational therapists and para-educators. He said: “As there is an acute shortage of these services in many of the schools, staff are not equipped, and do not have the resources or clear guidelines, to address disruptive students. As a result of these behaviors, students, school staff and principals are becoming traumatized. Unfortunately, some parents are adding to the stress because they are unaware of the gravity of their child’s behavior that is creating an unsafe environment. This is unacceptable.” Mr Ball said that the special needs of some students made it impossible for them to be enrolled in private schools. He added: “Principals recognize that the Government is committed to assisting these special needs students, however, this must be done with the appropriate resources.” Mr Ball said there had also been an “increased usage of administrative leave” imposed on teachers and school staff who attempted to “physically control an at-risk child”. He added: “This punitive measure against the principals, teachers and support staff is not sustainable.” Several other concerns were raised by the union, including staff shortages, lack of resources and curriculum changes. Mr Ball said that the profession’s concerns “must be addressed immediately”. He added: “The principals have had enough.”

paragraphAn accountant jailed for swindling $1.8 million from the Bermuda Government has had 18 months added to his sentence for cheating his mother out of nearly $64,000. Now, Jeffrey Bevan has had 18 months added to the seven years and four months he was sentenced to in January for the Bermuda offences. Cardiff Crown Court heard Bevan, 51, kept the cash after he told his mother Lavinia he would invest it for her. The offence took place between 2013 and 2014 when Ms Bevan, who has since died, was aged in her seventies. Bevan, 51, from Ty Canol, Cwmbran, Wales, was found guilty of the offence by a jury. Judge Michael Fitton QC told Bevan: “You deliberately targeted your elderly mother whose faculties were diminishing. It was a cynical offence for your own benefit.” A victim impact statement by Bevan’s brother Jason said: “If my mother were alive today, she would have been appalled by Jeff’s actions.” Judge Fitton said: “The victim personal statement shows this was a deeply distressing event for your family. This was committed by someone who is intelligent and who was employed as an accountant. This remains a deeply unattractive and selfish offence.” Bevan pleaded guilty at the same court in January to three charges of the transfer of criminal property and ten charges of converting criminal property. The offences took place between 2011 and 2013 when Bevan was employed by the Bermuda Government as a payments manager. The court heard at the time that he used the cash to pay off a $179,000 mortgage on his home, invest in 11 other properties and buy two Mercedes Benz cars. Bevan, who earned about $102,000 in Bermuda, claimed the $1.8 million was payment for his work on the island for the Accountant-General’s office, where he was hired to implement a new finance system. He committed the offence involving his mother after he returned to the UK. Judge Fitton ordered that the 18-month sentence for the offence should be served after Bevan’s jail term for the island offences ended.

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Last Updated: October 8, 2019
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