Bermuda Online logo for www.bermuda-online.org
11165+ web files, a regularly updated Gazetteer, overall an in-depth description of our island's internally self-governing British Overseas Territory 900 miles north of the Caribbean, 600 miles east of North Carolina, USA. With accommodation options, airlines, airport, actors, actresses, aviation, banks, beaches, Bermuda Dollar, Bermuda Government, Bermuda-incorporated businesses and companies including insurers and reinsurers, Bermudians, books and publications, bridges and causeway, charities, churches, citizenship by Status, City of Hamilton, commerce, communities, credit cards, cruise ships, cuisine, currency, disability accessibility, Devonshire Parish, districts, Dockyard, economy, education, employers, employment, environment, executorships, fauna, ferries, flora, former military bases, forts, gardens, geography, getting around, golf, guest houses, highways, history, historic properties, Hamilton, House of Assembly, housing, hotels, immigration, import duties, internet access, islands, laws, legal system and legislators, main roads, marriages, media, members of parliament, money, motor vehicles, municipalities, music and musicians, newcomers, newspaper, media, organizations, parks, parishes, Paget, Pembroke, performing artists, residents, pensions, political parties, postage stamps, public holidays, public transportation, railway trail, real estate, registries of aircraft and ships, religions, Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys, senior citizens, Smith's, Somerset Village, Southampton, St. David's Island, St George's, Spanish Point, Spittal Pond, sports, taxes, telecommunications, time zone, traditions, tourism, Town of St. George, Tucker's Town, utilities, water sports, Warwick, weather, wildlife, work permits.

Bermuda flag flying

Bermuda's 2019 February History and News

Events that made newspaper headlines in the second 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. 

February 28

paragraphThe top-ranking UK military officer in the US said yesterday the Royal Bermuda Regiment boosted the country’s regional profile and was an invaluable resource for natural disasters at home and abroad. Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Parker, the UK Defence Attaché and Head of the Defence Staff in America, added: “Having the Regiment adds very much to Bermuda’s prestige. It’s a very important capability and something Bermuda can be very proud of — that ability to be able to assist other countries in times of need.” The former frontline Royal Air Force fighter pilot was speaking on a three-day whirlwind visit to the island to meet the latest intake of recruits and discuss how the island can forge closer links to the British military with Governor John Rankin, the Government and senior RBR officers. Air Marshal Parker, who is based at the British Embassy in Washington, visited Recruit Camp soldiers at Hog Bay, Southampton, where the island’s newest troops spent their first nights in the field, before he toured Warwick Camp and got an overview of the RBR’s role and how it worked with other services like the Bermuda Police. He said: “The recruits all looked highly enthusiastic — all volunteers, of course. They looked like they were having a great time and learning a lot. I was also incredibly impressed by the quality of the Non-Commissioned Officers taking them through their training package." The Defence Attaché earlier discussed how the RBR is to take over maritime security duties from the police service and its reorganization from an infantry role to widen its ability to serve the public after a strategic review. Air Marshal Parker said: “The Regiment is an outstandingly important capability for Bermuda. I can see a huge amount of potential for the Regiment in all of the environments, not just the land environment, but the sea environment.” The former Typhoon jet pilot added that Bermuda could also consider developing an air capability through the use of low-cost drones for search and rescue and security duties. Air Marshal Parker said: “It’s been interesting and encouraging to see the Regiment is keeping up with the times and critically evaluating its role and how it needs to adapt to a new environment and the needs of the island. Hopefully, we have been able to assist in some ways with the review. We are always very keen to help with the Regiment and with the service it provides to Bermuda. People may argue what has caused it, but we are undoubtedly subject to climate change. Hurricane seasons are becoming more prolonged and violent, it seems. Set against that change, it’s very important to build networks and for everybody to be able to contribute what they can in overcoming the carnage which can be caused by tropical hurricanes. I know Bermuda is engaged in these sorts of initiatives further south in the Caribbean.” Royal Bermuda Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley said the visit was a good example of using the island’s contacts to boost training and efficiency. He added: “The Defence Attaché represents one of our first ports of call when we need assistance, guidance or advice. Hopefully, he was impressed with what we’re capable of doing with limited resources — the funding available, the availability of part-time soldiers and limited training facilities. The recruits and more senior soldiers were surprised and pleased that a two star officer had time in his busy schedule to visit them. Air Marshal Parker engaged with them and talked to them on a personal level, which they appreciated.”

paragraphA St George’s woman has been accused of smuggling more than $700,000 of cannabis into Bermuda. Renee Furbert, 27, was charged with importing cannabis resin, cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol — the active ingredient in cannabis — into the island on January 11 last year. She was additionally charged with having the same drugs in St George’s with intent to supply. Ms Furbert did not enter a plea at Magistrates’ Court today because prosecutors have sent the matter to the Supreme Court. Prosecutors told the court the charges involve about $618,000 of cannabis, $48,000 of cannabis resin and $50,000 of tetrahydrocannabinol. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe released Ms Furbert on $75,000 bail with two sureties. She was also ordered to surrender her travel documents. The matter will appear in the Supreme Court on April 1.

paragraphThe Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a woman caught bringing acetyl fentanyl — a dangerous “analogue” of fentanyl — into Bermuda. Mandaya Thomas, 28, was convicted of the importation of 92 grams of the drug by magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo last March. But Thomas, from Pembroke, appealed on the grounds that acetyl fentanyl was not listed as a controlled drug before she was sentenced. Acetyl fentanyl is an opioid similar to fentanyl, which is 15 times more powerful than morphine. It has never been licensed for medical use in any country, but it has been sold illegally as a heroin substitute and has been linked to hundreds of deaths in Europe and the United States. Prosecutors argued that the chemical was a derivative of fentanyl, a controlled drug, which makes it illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972. But Marc Daniels, for Thomas, argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove the seized drugs were derived from fentanyl in a chemical sense. Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams found the chemical was what mattered, rather than the process used to make it. She wrote in a February 19 ruling: “In my judgment, this court need not, and ought not to be misled into a scientific analysis of how a substance was chemically manufactured. The purpose of the 1972 Act is to outlaw substances and products by reference to its final structure and not its ingredients. This approach might also be illustrated by the long history of this court’s acceptance of evidence identifying other controlled substances by reference to its final composition as opposed to its creation.” Mrs Justice Subair Williams dismissed the appeal and sent Thomas back to Magistrates’ Court for sentencing.

paragraphZane DeSilva, the transport minister, condemned the crimes of David Minors, the former road safety officer, who was jailed for five years for sex offences against an underage child. Minors was imprisoned for sex offences committed last year against a 14-year-old boy whom he coached in the arts. Mr DeSilva noted Minors had no longer worked for the Transport Control Department at the time of the offences. He called it “disturbing to know he worked in a position of trust with our children”. Mr DeSilva offered his “deepest sympathies to the victim and his family”. Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford of the Bermuda Police Service hailed the sentencing as a “win for victims of sexual assault everywhere”. He called the impact of such actions on the vulnerable “callous and reprehensible. People who abuse their position of trust to prey on vulnerable members of our society should take note that the police and criminal justice system are here to help, and we will work to obtain justice, as has been done in this case.” He acknowledged that some victims might struggle to report a sexual assault in a small community, but that police had shown they could get justice. Although Mr Glasford declined to comment on specifics, he noted that the case involved a person in “a position of significant trust. The sentence reflects how dimly these actions are viewed. We hope that this will spur other persons who may have fallen prey to similar conduct to come forward and speak up against their abusers. We are here and the Bermuda Police Service is ready to listen.” Kelly Hunt, the executive director of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, said that aggravating factors such as holding a position of trust, as well as planning and grooming behavior, should be considered by the court as “serious crimes against children. Offences of this nature are not only harmful but have a lifelong impact. We implore Parliament to consider the legislative framework and sentencing guidelines outlined in the UK, which more readily impose the maximum penalties for those who sexually exploit our youth. Once again, we ask that the three-pronged approach to sex offenders be adopted with treatment, ongoing supervision on release, and indefinite restrictions surrounding access to children. As it stands, pedophiles can commit multiple offences, serve time running concurrently as opposed to consecutively, leave after two-thirds of a minimal sentence, and then go back to positions of trust. This is simply unacceptable and we must demand better for the protection of our children.” Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder of Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, said: “Our hope is that the child victim receives the psychological healing he deserves, the child’s family receive support and healing, and Mr Minors’s family receive counselling and support. We also hope that Mr Minors will receive the most up-to-date sex offender treatment while he is at Westgate. He will be properly assessed regarding risk upon his release to determine whether or not his sexual thoughts have changed and whether or not he will be considered a safe adult around children.” The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Epsilon Theta Lambda Chapter, which Minor belonged to, took swift steps to condemn his crimes. The group describes itself as “a group of diverse men who strive to develop leaders, promote brotherhood, academic excellence and provide service and advocacy for the community of Bermuda”. The statement continues: “The Epsilon Theta Lambda Chapter does not, in any way, shape or form, condone sexual abuse of any kind. We denounce the behavior of David Minors and other sexual offenders who prey on the innocent and extend our sincerest thoughts and concerns to the victim of these heinous offences. The moment that the offences were brought to our attention by the authorities, the matter was referred to the District Director and then the Eastern Region of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated which placed an immediate cease and desist status on David Minors. Further recommendations and steps will be taken by the National Headquarters in due course now that the matter is adjudicated. We want to be clear that none of the offences stem from any programs or interaction related to the community initiatives that we operate. In addressing our community on the issue of sexual abuse, we want to be as open and responsive as possible. For the past 69 years, the Epsilon Theta Lambda Chapter has worked earnestly to be part of the solution to protecting the very fabric of our society, our children. ETL wishes to assure the public that we will continue to work to protect our children and that we have taken steps to ensure that all members of ETL who work with vulnerable persons are SCARS certified. ETL has also adopted a Vulnerable Persons Policy that is provided to the parents and individuals of all young people in our programme. We acknowledge the frustration and anger in the community regarding this topic. As servants of our community, we understand that there is a higher level of accountability to be held. We desire our organisation to be held to the highest standard. It is our endeavor to prioritise healing at this time and we hope that the victim and his family receive the necessary treatment and support that they deserve. As leaders in our community, it is our responsibility to assist in addressing this repulsive behavior and stamping out not only sexual abuse, but abuse in all its forms.”

paragraphPolice raids on two medical clinics belonging to former premier Ewart Brown were the “most egregious example of a fishing expedition one could ever imagine”, a court heard this week. Mark Pettingill, representing 150 patients of the clinics, made the claim as he argued for patient health records seized by detectives during the February 2017 raids to remain sealed. Mr Pettingill alleged at a Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday that the Bermuda Police Service got a magistrate to issue search warrants for the raids “through whatever colorful artifice” but failed to lay out the specifics of what they were seeking. “There has to be some foundation,” said the lawyer, as he insisted that the question of whether the police’s actions were legal should be resolved before the files were reviewed in any way. “You have to lay the groundwork if you are going to breach someone’s fundamental rights [to privacy].” Mr Pettingill said his clients would apply for permission to seek a judicial review on that issue “in short order”. But Dantae Williams, for the police, said the patients were aware of the police’s actions soon after the raids and had missed the six-month window to apply for a judicial review. He pointed out: “This is two years plus.” The health records of 265 patients were seized from Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s as part of an ongoing investigation by police into allegations that the clinics ordered unnecessary diagnostic imaging scans to boost profits. The files were sealed on the orders of a judge after civil proceedings were brought against the police by Mahesh Reddy, medical director of Bermuda Healthcare Services, and the clinics. Dr Reddy sought a judicial review into the legality of the raids but Mr Williams said on Tuesday that at a hearing on October 4 last year, counsel for Dr Reddy and the clinics “stated they had no intention to pursue the judicial review”. He said discussion at that hearing then centred on how a “protocol” for handling the files could be agreed. Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams said Mr Williams’s recollection was correct. The patients represented by Mr Pettingill got permission to intervene in the proceedings, on the issue of patient confidentiality, in November. Mr Williams said it looked like an “abuse of process” for the interveners to use the plaintiffs’ “now withdrawn position to advance their arguments”. The judge said: “I think the reality is that those are arguments that will be fleshed out and perhaps even followed in a written ruling.” Mr Pettingill made an application at Tuesday’s hearing for permission to appeal an order made by Mrs Justice Subair Williams on February 14 allowing the medical files of 75 patients to be reviewed by independent experts overseas. He said the files were “grabbed” by police and not a single patient had been contacted since to ask if they consented to their records being reviewed. Mr Pettingill said people cried during a 2017 meeting held for patients whose records were taken. “They were like deer in the headlights,” he said. “[They asked] ‘Are they going to be able to look through our stuff?’.” He quoted one patient’s affidavit, in which she said she felt “completely violated and offended by the actions of the police”. The woman said she was aware of “numerous patients that have absolutely no confidence that the police will safeguard their information and there is a real risk that information will make its way to third parties or social media”. Mr Pettingill said he had been involved in a separate case involving the seizure of material by police which then was “all over the internet in days”. Mr Williams opposed Mr Pettingill’s application and said the judge exercised her discretion correctly in granting access to the files within the terms of an agreed protocol. “He has to show there was a mistake of law,” said Mr Williams. Mrs Justice Subair Williams said she hoped to give a written ruling on the application by the end of this week. A next hearing date was set for March 11. Counsel for Dr Reddy and the clinics was not present on Tuesday but said at an earlier hearing that their clients fully supported the patients’ position. Dr Brown, who has denied any wrongdoing, said in a statement directed at patients on Friday: “We will continue vociferously to defend the confidentiality of your medical records by all procedural means at our disposal.” A meeting for patients will be held on Wednesday, March 13 at 5.30pm at the BIU headquarters.

paragraphMothers of children with rare medical syndromes are calling for a national day of recognition to highlight the unusual challenges they face. Today, February 28, is marked around the world as International Rare Disease Day. Tanya Dyer and Sarah Robinson believe that, if Bermuda was to take part in such an event, it would help create a local support network for families of sick children. Ms Dyer, whose son, Tyrece, has a connective tissue disorder called arterial tortuosity syndrome, told The Royal Gazette: “I have been wanting to do this for a couple of years; to celebrate and mark the day with a proclamation. For parents and children who go through this, it would be a day for people to understand that ‘living rare’ is hard when you are on your own, but when you are all together, you are stronger. I didn’t have anyone until I met a group at a conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. Since then we have travelled to Belgium to the Ghent University Hospital where they are studying my son’s condition. The slogan we use is: alone we are rare, together we are strong.” Tyrece, 19, suffers from the gastro strain of ATS and has tortuous arteries in his head and neck, which could develop into an aneurysm at any time. He suffers acid reflux, bladder and stomach pain and joint issues, while three of his vertebrae are so close to his spinal cord that even a small impact could kill him. Ms Robinson’s son, Kaliq James, 13, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic disorder caused by faulty collagen that makes a person’s ligaments and joints overly flexible. She said: “It is important to have a supportive network because it is a lonely place to be when you are dealing with something so rare and on an island where resources are limited. Just having people to be able to reach out to who have something in common and fight the same battles that you do on a day-to-day basis helps.” Ms Robinson said she had no idea that she had the disorder until she gave birth to Kaliq. She said: “When I start dialogue with others about it they are really surprised at what it took to get a diagnosis. When I tell them the symptoms I had, it gets them thinking about their own family members. Awareness is so important. It is important to be aware of the red flags that you wouldn’t necessarily think of. It is getting into the mindset that the problem isn’t always what you think it is — it could be something else.” Ms Dyer invited people to get in touch to support her efforts to set up a national day of recognition next year. She said: “I know a lot of people with rare diseases in Bermuda. Marking International Rare Disease Day can bring about awareness, people can have more empathy for children and for families that are going through this, and we can empower each other when we know we are not going through it alone.” To get involved, contact Ms Dyer on tanyadyer61@gmail.com.

paragraphA mother who wanted to develop her skills is understood to have become Bermuda’s only female tractor-trailer driver. Christy Taylor followed in the footsteps of her parents when she embarked on a career in heavy vehicles as a teenager and was taught how to operate a crane truck by the man she went on to marry. The 33-year-old wanted to learn more and went for her tractor-trailer licence, which was thought to make her only the third woman on the island ever to have held one. Ms Taylor said: “I like to keep learning new things because, eventually, I get bored. About ten years ago my friend started to teach me how to drive a tractor-trailer but there was never any opening for me to pursue it.” However, the opportunity came up recently during her employment at Joe Vieira Trucking. Ms Taylor explained: “You need to be working for a company to get a heavy truck or a tractor-trailer licence. We had talked to my foreman, he needed a tractor-trailer driver and was willing to teach me.” She added: “I’m probably the third woman ever to hold a tractor-trailer licence on the island, from my understanding. Currently, I’m definitely the only tractor-trailer driver that is a female.” Ms Taylor, mother to one-year-old Charlie, was no stranger to women working large vehicles. She recalled: “My mum used to drive a heavy truck and my dad is a heavy equipment operator so I learnt all of that from young. When I went 18, I actually couldn’t drive a car, it kept cutting out. One day my mum’s truck was available and we used that to practise. The instructor said, ‘from now on she’s driving the truck, because she drives it 100 times better than the car’.” Ms Taylor, from Smith’s, said her mother always supported her decision to go into heavy vehicle operations but her father was more hesitant. She recalled: “Knowing the way guys talk on job sites, how rowdy they can get, I think my dad was a little worried for me. But I have the mouth of a sailor and I will tell you where to go and how to get there, real fast.” Ms Taylor, whose husband Peter-Paul works for D & J Excavation and is a colour sergeant in the Royal Bermuda Regiment, said she was among “very few” women in the industry. She added: “Most of the female heavy truck drivers that I know only drive trucks, they don’t operate heavy equipment as well. I like being outside and it’s something I’m naturally good at, so I enjoy it. It’s hard being one of very few females in an industry because sometimes you do get those people that say you can’t do this job because you’re female. They will tell you that you can’t get in their driveway because you’re female. You nod your head and prove them wrong. There are a lot of older guys that feel that women are built differently and that there’s no way they could possibly do the same job.” Yet driving tractor trailers has been a whole new learning experience. Ms Taylor said: “I really like it. The big difference is when you back up a car or a truck and turn the steering wheel to send the car or truck left, the trailer actually goes right, so that’s the hard part. I can back up, but it’s something that takes time to learn how to do it well. A lot of the guys make it look really easy but they have been doing it for so long.”

Spacer

February 27

paragraphBermuda’s “culture of no” towards new business ideas has damaged the island’s tourist industry, a top Bermuda Tourism Authority official has said. Glenn Jones, director of strategy and corporate communications for the BTA, added that research showed that entrepreneurs who wanted to offer new services often gave up because of over regulation and red tape. Mr Jones said: “We hear a lot from entrepreneurs who come up with an entrepreneurial idea that they know meets the desire of our visitors but have a hard time getting the regulatory approval that they need to make it happen. Sometimes it is not just regulators that are the roadblock but it could be a group of people or special interest group. Those entrepreneurs tell us that they give up because they cannot wait the time it takes to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ because they need to earn money. Good ideas just die on the vine.” Mr Jones declined to give specific examples — but said it was a big enough concern to get special attention in the island’s six-year tourism plan. He added: “We do believe that it is preventing new Bermudian entrepreneurship in the tourism economy. We want the number of Bermudians who own a piece of the industry to increase as well. But the culture of ‘no’ is something that we need to overcome.” He was speaking at a presentation to the English Speaking Union last Wednesday at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club in Paget. The talk — Bermuda Tourism: The Island’s Track Record of Success and her Roadmap for Future Growth — included surveys that involved more than 4,000 residents, visitors, non-visitors and tourism industry figures. Small businesses lost out on a commercial opportunity at Shelly Bay Beach in Hamilton Parish last summer when a pressure group helped to shut down a plan to set up concessions. Jamahl Simmons, then minister of economic development, axed the proposal after opposition from residents in the area. The survey also showed that visitors were not satisfied with Bermuda’s nightlife, public transport, museum experiences and value for money. Mr Jones said that the BTA did not have the power to tackle these complaints, but it was able to help indirectly. He highlighted when the BTA worked with the entertainment industry to help make the Made in Bermuda Nights on White’s Island last summer a success. The Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018, passed at the end of last year, gave the Government the power to appoint board members. Mr Jones said that the tourism plan would probably not be affected by the change. He added: “We have created a plan that a lot of people collaborated on; it should withstand, no matter which personalities are calling the shots. I think the plan has staying power.”

paragraphA former government road safety officer was jailed for five years today for sexual offences involving an underage boy. David Minors admitted sexual exploitation of a young person by a person in a position of trust, and two counts of showing offensive material to a child. He was branded “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” by the prosecution. Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves sentenced him at Supreme Court today to five years for the sexual exploitation charge, and 18 months and 21 months for the offensive material charges. Minors received a discount in his sentence for an early admission of guilt. Mr Justice Greaves said the sentences would run currently and time in custody would be taken into account. Minors will also be added to the sexual offenders list. Addressing Minors directly, Mr Justice Greaves said: “It confuses the minds of ordinary citizens — how could it be that people like you could betray us so?” He told Minors he had been “a man of the church who professes your faith not only to your congregation but to the community. Good people, or people with good images, are the people who are exploiters. That is why it is so hard for us to trust.” In the aftermath, Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford of the Bermuda Police Service said the sentencing “represents a win for victims of sexual assault everywhere. The impact of these actions on vulnerable people in our community can only be regarded as callous and reprehensible. People who abuse their position of trust to prey on vulnerable members of our society should take note that the police and criminal justice system are here to help, and we will work to obtain justice, as has been done in this case. In a small community, it can be challenging for victims to feel supported enough that they will come forward and report a sexual assault to the Police but the BPS has demonstrated that members of our community can speak up, will be listened to and we will get justice for you. Whilst we will not comment on the specifics of the case, we take comfort in recognizing that the criminal justice system has worked for someone who was abused by someone in a position of significant trust, and the courts sentence reflects how dimly these actions are viewed. We hope that this will spur other persons who may have fallen pray to similar conduct to come forward and speak up against their abusers. We are here and the Bermuda Police Service is ready to listen.”

paragraphThe Department of Parks has asked for proposals for concessions at eight beaches and national parks for the summer season. Church Bay, Southampton, Elbow Beach, Paget, Government House Waterfront Park, Pembroke, Parson’s Road Park, Pembroke, Chaplin Bay, Warwick, and Warwick Long Bay could all receive concessions under the plan. Multiple spaces are also up for grabs at Admiralty House Park, Pembroke, John Smith’s Bay, Smith’s, Kindley Field Park, St George’s, and Horseshoe Bay, Southampton. A spokeswoman said that an applicant can make proposals for more than one of the listed locations, but only one location will be awarded per concessionaire. The spokeswoman said: “The Commercial Activity application form and concession location maps can be collected at the Department of Parks main office located at Global House on Reid Street, Hamilton. Proposals, along with the completed Commercial Activity application form, must be hand-delivered to the reception desk of the Department of Parks Main Office in Global House by 3pm on March 15.” Any questions should be sent to Jameka Smith, assistant park planner, at jassmith@gov.bm.

paragraphBermuda’s Youth Government agreed to support the implementation of a sugar tax during their third annual Bermuda Principles Youth Parliament debate. The winning team of five students out of the ten that participated argued that the tax was a necessary way to encourage a healthy lifestyle among residents. The debate, which took place during the Bermuda Principles Foundation Fund Conference on Saturday, added to the discussion of diabetes on the island. A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Principles Foundation Fund said: “With an alarming estimated 13 per cent of Bermudians having diabetes and another 13 per cent estimated to be at risk for developing diabetes this Youth Government believes necessary measures must be taken to combat the Bermudian lifestyle.” The Youth Parliament members who debated the motion are as follows: Proposition: Giselle Concepcion, Cree Dunn, Robert Thomas, Vincent Darrell and Onuri Smith. Opposition: McKenzie-Kohl Tuckett, Ywione Darrell, Yassine Chentouf, Imani Phillips and Christopher Jackson. The event was judged by: Minister of Health Hon. Kim Wilson JP MP, Shadow Minister of Health Hon. Patricia Gordon Pamplin JP MP, Tracey Harney, Biology Senior Lecturer at the Bermuda College;  Gladstone Thompson, Dynamic Debaters Coach; Akilah Beckles, Debate Coach. More information on the Bermuda Principles Foundation Fund can be found on their website at bermudaprinciples.org. Youth Parliament Bermuda can be e-mailed at YouthParliamentBda@gmail.com for more information.

paragraphA plan to make wheelie bins compulsory in Hamilton should be considered for the entire country, an environmental health specialist said yesterday. Armell Thomas, the senior Environmental Health Officer, added: “I think that trash should not be picked up if it is not in a bin.” Mr Thomas said that rubbish that was not disposed of properly led to an increase in the rat population. We get calls every day, our phones are always ringing.” Mr Thomas said a breeding pair of rats could create 15,000 offspring in a year and that, although rodent-control staff had introduced new programmes and increased their workload to control the pests, the public had to play its part. He added: “We can’t control behavior. We are doing our part and we will continue to do our part.” Mr Thomas said restaurants, gardens and shared trash disposal areas were all areas of concern. A team of 20, including a special garden team, set up last year, is laying poison in high-risk areas such as drains and gardens. Mr Thomas said a new bait, ContraPest, which sterilizes rats, could cause a massive reduction in their numbers. The garden programme will be carried out across the country in the next six to eight weeks. Mr Thomas said: “We did a study on one of the islands in Bermuda and we did very well so we are implementing it into the gardens in Bermuda.” He warned that rodents could carry potentially deadly diseases such as salmonella and Lyme disease. He said: “It’s easy for us to send people to court but it’s very important to educate. People should also be aware that feeding cats and pigeons also attracted rodents. We are not against them but they should understand if you are going to do that then you are going to have rodents. I just want to remind the public that it is important to help us. Look around your property and see what you can do.” Mr Thomas pointed out that his department had several effective products to help get rid of rats. He said the rodent control department assessed situations when called out and recommended appropriate measures. The majority of rat poisons are free, but people can purchase reusable bait boxes for $15 each. The ContraPest boxes will also be sold to the public in the next three to four months. Tracy Woolridge, the foreman at the department, added: “People’s behavior is creating a lot of problems. Many people put out their trash before or after the pick-up days, which attracts rodents. Rats need food, shelter and water so they will look for that wherever they go. Cats and birds could also get into refuse that was not secure. People should trim trees because rats nested in them and also ate fruit, while farmers should avoid excess planting, which meant extra produce in storage, which was a magnet for rodents. Rats often come in contact with chicken eggs, which can result in diseases being passed on to people. Rats also get into horse feed and can pass on diseases to them. Rats can also spread diseases by urinating on canned food and bottles stored in warehouses." Mr Woolridge said people who have birds should keep their environment clean because bird feed also attracted rodents. He explained: “People throw the leftover food on the grass thinking they are feeding birds, but they are actually attracting rats. You keep doing that, then rats are going to come camp in your yard.” People who need help to get rid of rodents should call the department at 278 5397.

paragraphLocal writers were recognized for their contributions this weekend at the 2018 Bermuda Literary Awards. Jonathan Smith, Lucinda Spurling, Florenz Webbe Maxwell, F. Colin Duerden, Paul Maddern and Clarence Maxwell and the late Cyril Outerbridge Packwood were honored at a ceremony held at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort. The Bermuda Literary Awards began in 1999 to honour literary achievement by Bermuda’s writers. The competition runs once every five to six years, and books are eligible if they have been published subsequent to the previous award cycle. Mr Smith won the Non-Fiction category for Island Flames, while Ms Spurling claimed the Drama and Screenwriting prize for Me and Jezebel. Mrs Maxwell was recognized in the Children and Young Adult Fiction category for Girlcott and Dr Duerden won the Brian Burland Prize for Fiction for his novel Fried White Grunts. Dr Maddern won the Cecile N Musson Prize for Poetry for Pilgrimage, and Dr Maxwell received the inaugural prize for cultural merit for Bermuda’s Architectural Heritage Series. Mr Packwood was honored with the Founders Award, for books or scripts published before the awards launched in 1999, for Chained on the Rock. Lovitta Foggo, Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, said: “Literary artistry demands talent, hard work, research, time, and dedication; and 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; and I am therefore very pleased to congratulate the winners of the 2018 Bermuda Literary Awards.”

paragraphAn activist investor has Argo Group International Holdings in its sights, claiming the company has a “spendthrift culture” and misdirects corporate assets to support the chief executive officer’s “lifestyle and hobbies”. Voce Capital Management, which has a 5.8 per cent interest in the Bermudian-based specialty insurer, is calling for the company to improve its return on equity, and said this can only be done in a meaningful way by addressing Argo’s “shockingly high” and “shockingly inappropriate” corporate expenses. Voce said it was deeply concerned that the Argo board of directors had “failed to hold the CEO and management accountable”, and has proposed that four directors be replaced. In a letter to shareholders, San Francisco-based Voce, which is the beneficial owner of more than 1.9 million shares of Argo, catalogued what it said was “a history of misuse of corporate assets” that had resulted in “value destruction” of the company and its shareholders. In reply, Argo defended its track record and said Voce has made a number of misleading and inaccurate statements, and had personally attacked Mark Watson, Argo CEO, in its letter. As examples of its concerns, Voce questioned the need for Argo to have a fleet of three corporate jets, two as fractional owners, and one which it estimates costs the company $3 million a year. It described that jet as Mr Watson’s “personal chariot, whisking him and his entourage around the world”. In its letter, filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Voce detailed “dramatic and expensive real estate”, that it said had cost shareholders dearly, naming the offices in San Antonio, Texas, a New York office in downtown Manhattan, and a central London office near Lloyd’s. It also noted the purchasing of artwork for the offices, and said Mr Watson, who is a board member of the San Antonio Museum of Art, curates the Argo art collections himself. In addition, Argo’s sponsorship of sailing teams and events, including the Argo Gold Cup, has been questioned by Voce, which noted that sailing is another passion of Mr Watson. The letter to shareholders said that Mr Watson was given a $1.5 million relocation allowance for moving to Bermuda in 2007, along with a $1.4 million bonus for agreeing to move to the island with his family. Voce said he was also given $360,000 annual housing allowance that year. Listing its various concerns, Voce claimed the Argo board lacks independence and relevant experience and “is directly responsible for this waste of corporate assets”. Calling for change, it noted that many of the directors had been in place for between 10 and 20 years, and that four of them are more than 70 years old. In reply, the Argo board said it, and the company’s management, welcomed input from all shareholders. Its response, filed with the SEC, also stated: “In that spirit, we were looking forward to continuing our dialogue with Voce, but are disappointed that Voce has decided not to engage us constructively. Instead, Voce has sent a letter to shareholders that contains a number of misleading and inaccurate statements and personally attacks the company’s CEO, ignoring Argo’s track record of strong value creation for all shareholders. This is demonstrated by its leading one, three and five-year period total shareholder returns of 39 per cent, 69 per cent and 136 per cent, respectively. The company also returned in excess of $645 million of capital to shareholders from 2010 to 2018.” Argo said it had lowered its expense ratio by 260 basis points to 37.8 per cent, last year. It added: “The improving expense ratio, along with strong execution of the company’s strategy, is contributing to the achievement of the company-stated long-term ROE target of 700 basis points above the risk-free rate.” Voce has proposal removing from the Argo board Gary Woods, the chairman, Hector De Leon, John Power, and Mural Josephson, and replacing them with its nominees Carol McFate, Bernard Bailey, Rear Admiral Kathleen Dussault, and J. Daniel Plants. Argo said it will review the nomination notice and proposed nominees, and present its formal recommendations in a definitive proxy statement that will be filed with the SEC and e-mailed to shareholders eligible to vote at this year’s Argo annual meeting. The date for Argo’s annual meeting has not yet been scheduled.

paragraphHiscox’s pre-tax profits tripled to $137.4 million last year, as gross premiums written rose 15 per cent across the group. The Bermuda-based company’s reinsurance and ILS segment had a second year of dealing with significant claims and posted a net loss. Hiscox, whose headquarters are in offices in Wessex House on Reid Street is one of the major underwriters in the Lloyd’s of London market. Its London operation was the best performing part of the group last year. The group’s retail business wrote more than $2 billion of premium and served one million customers for the first time. The company announced a final dividend of 28.6 cents per share, an increase of 5.2 per cent. Bronek Masojada, Hiscox’s chief executive officer, said: “We have generated strong growth and good profits in a busy year for claims. The tough action we took in our London Market business is paying off, and we are seeing some positive momentum in big-ticket lines, where rates, terms and conditions are improving. We are growing well in our chosen retail segments, and our small market shares mean the size of the opportunity in retail remains immense. We will continue to invest in our people, infrastructure and brand and maintain our focus on disciplined growth.” The reinsurance and ILS business, based in Bermuda and London, posted a loss of $23.2 million and recorded a combined ratio of 116.9 per cent, indicating an underwriting loss. Hiscox reserved $165 million for claims from hurricanes Michael and Florence in the US and typhoons Jebi and Trami in Japan, as well as wildfires in California. Hiscox said it managed to achieve rate increases of 5 per cent for the year and during the January 1, 2019 renewal period, it saw overall rate improvements of about 2 per cent. Kiskadee Investment Managers, the group’s alternative capital unit, now has assets under management now at $1.5 billion. Its new Kiskadee Latitude Fund will give investors exposure to insurance lines for the first time. In the earnings report, Robert Childs, chairman of Hiscox, gave some insight into the company’s culture as an employer. “I am regularly told by those that know us that Hiscox has a distinctive culture underpinned by strong values,” Mr Childs wrote. “Being the highest ranking financial-services firm in Glassdoor’s 2019 best places to work in the UK, and receiving very positive customer feedback, validates that our values are being lived. We do not take this for granted, and around every five years, as new people join and the business evolves, we undertake an exercise to refresh them. I am pleased that we are embarking upon another such exercise, led by our chief executive, Bronek [Masojada].”

Spacer

February 26

paragraphMinister of Finance Curtis Dickinson told a business audience yesterday that he would have liked to have started from scratch with tax reform, rather than modify the existing code. In his maiden Budget Statement last Friday, Mr Dickinson introduced none of the new taxes suggested last year by the Tax Reform Commission, to the relief of many in the business community. Speaking on a panel at the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce Budget Breakfast, Mr Dickinson said of the TRC: “I think if I had to do this all over again — although I inherited this — I would task the commission with starting with a clean sheet of paper and re-architect it from scratch. We all understand that fixing something midstream is always difficult and not ideal.” Speaking later with The Royal Gazette, the finance minister further explained: “Part of the challenge that the Tax Reform Commission had is that they were working with the tax code, to try and figure out how to make it work better. And what I would suggest is, if I could do it all over again, is just start from scratch.” Asked if this meant he had reservations about some of the taxes proposed, Mr Dickinson said: “No. I think the work that they did was outstanding work. We have to evaluate the actions we take in the context of the situation on the ground. There were proposals for taxes in a number of different areas. But in light of where we find ourselves with the economy and external threats, I didn’t think at this point in time that it was the right time to be introducing new taxes.” A sell-out audience attended yesterday’s event at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, which featured a panel including John Wight, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, Roland “Andy” Burrows, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Business Development Agency, and Nathan Kowalski, chief financial officer of Anchor Investment Management, alongside Mr Dickinson and moderator Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader. In his opening remarks, Mr Wightman spelled out some of the challenges facing the island. He said the global reinsurance capital was shrinking, while consolidation in the industry was hurting the industry, the number of captives had fallen and the alternative reinsurance market was “likely in a phase of negative adjustment”. Some of this was the result of external factors outside Bermuda’s control, he said. “But equally if there are structural or systemic issues under Bermuda’s control that are making the competitive advantage of the island, once so revered, diminish, they have to be addressed. The reason — wealth generators are dissipating, taxpayers are getting compressed.” The Budget was sensible in that it did not hit businesses as hard as some had feared, Mr Wightman said. The island had to maintain a firm approach towards fiscal responsibility, but this while “reconnecting with the global investor community and presenting a compelling reason to put their money to work in Bermuda versus the many other global centres who work tirelessly to show their edge. “There is no place for complacency, there is a deep sense of urgency. We have to increase the attractiveness of doing business here. While more jobs and investment is critical, we also need a strategic government that delivers increasing value for its people. And an environment that extends a hand for all those that are reaching out.” Mr Wight said the Budget represented a $45 million improvement in annual government finances and if the projections were achieved by this time next year, then the Government would have done “an excellent job”. Mr Burrows said the Budget had not hurt international business, nor did it do anything to deter potential investors. He praised the idea of relaxing condo ownership restrictions in Hamilton and added that a review of energy costs would be “widely anticipated by all sectors”. Mr Kowalski said debt-to-GDP ratio increases were slowing and so “now was not the time to panic get desperate with taxes”. He added: “I don’t want the debt to be used as air cover to raise more revenue and take it from the private sector. Doing so would just crush the fragile situation right now. Growth is stagnant at best and I don’t think the Government needs more money. I think they have enough. They need to take what they have and use it more effectively and efficiently. It’s not the time to add more bureaucracy. The private sector is pushed to the brink.” Mr Kowalski quoted from the shareholders’ letter delivered last weekend by Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and esteemed investor, who talked about the “American tailwind”. “It’s an environment of optimism and we need a bit more of that — we need to be accepting of creative destruction and accepting of change. We tend to have this unfortunate ethos of circling the wagons and protecting what we have at times, rather than having a growth mentality.” It was impossible to achieve growth without change, he added. Mr Dickinson spoke on the decision to suspend contributions to the sinking fund and stressed that the Government was still committed to paying down debt. “The sinking fund is really nothing more than a savings account,” Mr Dickinson said. “Effectively, we have been borrowing at 5 per cent to make 0.5 per cent.” He said the Government had been doing this for the best part of a decade. That has only helped to increase our interest costs,” Mr Dickinson added. He assured that surpluses that are projected in coming years will be applied to the debt, which totals nearly $2.5 billion. On immigration reform, Mr Dickinson said it was not a solution to the island’s economic challenges in itself. “We have to look at the problem in its totality instead of looking at one element,” he added. Mr Wight said his members’ businesses needed more people living and working on island to replace about 6,000 who had gone. “We need a discussion about why we need more people, and what is the number of people we need to allow us to provide the services we want to provide and to allow the Government to have the option of paying down debt.”

paragraphBermuda’s business leaders were overwhelmingly optimistic at the annual Bermuda Chamber of Commerce Budget breakfast. Attendee Zina Edwards Malcolm, called the 2019 Budget “a hell of a relief. I am quite relieved that there weren’t any major extra taxes added to those of us in small businesses,” said Ms Malcolm, a partner at PR firm Brand Lion. She said many of her small business friends had worried that there would be. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, took part in the breakfast at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club yesterday morning with chamber president John Wight, Bermuda Business Development Agency CEO Roland “Andy” Burrows, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert, economist Nathan Kowalski and moderator Arthur Wightman of PwC Bermuda. Mr Dickinson said he’d tried to create a Budget where there was “shared pain” where there was any pain. “These challenges did not just happen overnight,” he said. “They were long term made and will require some time in which to fix them.” He said he’d been asked why spending hadn’t been cut. “Chopping heads was not consistent with my values,” he said. His 2019 Budget promises, among other things, no changes to payroll tax, targeted payroll relief to businesses with annual payroll greater than $500,000, plans to establish a government-backed mortgage lender for public sector employees and $180 million of the sinking fund to be used to pay down the debt. Frank Amaral CEO of One Communications Bermuda was glad to see that Government had pulled back on implementing new taxes. “As a large local company I think we were happy to see that happen,” he said. “They didn’t put any new taxes that would cause us to revisit what we charge our customers.” In the Budget speech on Friday, the finance minister said there was a constant refrain, in some quarters, that the Government needed to relax Bermuda’s immigration laws to boost the population in Bermuda. “It is a simplistic argument which willfully ignores the other economic challenges faced by Bermuda,” he said. But Mr Amaral was in the population boost camp. “What is important is to get more people into Bermuda,” he said. “There are 6,000 fewer people and 6,000 people just not buying our service as a telecommunications and data provider on the Island.” Susan Pateras, chief operating officer of Liberty Specialty Markets, formerly Ironshore, was pleased that the breakfast panel discussion was a cordial one. “We need all parties at the table that are united in Bermuda’s future,” she said. “I think we had that today. That was one of the first times especially given that it is in February and we are kicking off the year, that you have such a great collaborative tone across public and private sector.” Kendaree Burgess, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce thought the breakfast went “exceptionally” well. “The people listening were pleased with the variety and the panellists,” she said. “I think that most people were pleasantly surprised [by the Budget]. As Nathan Kowalski said, we were probably all worried that it would be a lot more punitive in some ways than it was.” She praised the finance minister for consulting with the business community before putting together the Budget. “From a Chamber of Commerce perspective, for that we are quite grateful,” she said. “We look forward to having more conversations with him as we move forward. That is a feather in the cap of the minister that he has gone a long way to strike the right balance.” But she said she’d like to have seen more of a focus on job creation. Megan Nesbitt of accounting firm, Abacus Ltd said it was one of the friendliest Budget breakfasts she’d attended. “In general — there wasn’t anything that stressed me out as either a business owner or on behalf of the clients we work with, or as a Bermudian and a homeowner,” she said. “We are making good progress in terms of surplus and debt repayment.” Belcario Thomas, chairman of the chamber’s East End division was pleased that the Budget Statement promised to table a Bill to provide for a marina in the town of St George’s. But he wanted to see incentives offered to the North East Hamilton Economic Empowerment Zone mirrored in the St George’s Economic Empowerment Zone. “There is a high-yield opportunity in St George’s,” he said. “It needs more access to tools, for entrepreneurs to be able to jump in. That could be an increase in micro loans from the $20,000 cap to $50,000, it could be fast-tracking the sale of BHC properties in the area that are underutilized. It could be grants for all arts. Overall, I think the Budget provided mindful stewardship and a platform of opportunities for the private sector to take a hold of and grow from.”

paragraphA no-confidence vote in the senior managers of public schools was dismissed yesterday by the Minister of Education. Diallo Rabain backed Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, and Valerie Robinson-James, the permanent secretary at the ministry after the Bermuda Union of Teachers passed the no-confidence vote last week. Mr Rabain said the BUT action was “unfortunate and reinforces the need for continued direct dialogue, collaboration and renewed focus on what is best for our children”. He added: “In the interest of enhanced communication and understanding, the Ministry of Education requests that the BUT provide clarity on the issues of concern.” A press release from the BUT last Friday said that the vote came after the union’s Annual General Meeting “where members expressed dissatisfaction surrounding a series of decisions which impact the Bermuda Public School system”. A union spokesman said that a letter sent to primary and middle schoolteachers this month had caused “angst and great concern”. The letter, written by Ms Richards, was sent to primary and middle schoolteachers and principals on February 8 and advised on grading and reporting procedures until June. It said that parents were to receive a progress report by the end of the month. Mr Rabain said that the ministry had not been made aware by the BUT that it was dissatisfied before it took action. He added: “The ministry wishes to bridge the gap of misunderstanding and seeks the opportunity to work with the BUT to discuss their concerns openly and work towards a solution jointly with Department of Education staff.” Mr Rabain said the union had taken part in several meetings with the ministry and Department of Education and that concerns about standards-based grading had also been raised at monthly Joint Consultative Committee meetings. "The BUT have also been given a forum to have concerns addressed via the Department of Labour between December 2018 and February 2019, as recent as February 20. No concerns were expressed during these meetings or via other communication. A draft of the letter sent to teachers and principals by Ms Richards this month had been given to Shannon James, the president of the BUT, and Mike Charles, the union’s general secretary, before it was delivered. There was no response from the BUT, nor were any concerns raised by the BUT, prior to the letter being sent out. The grading and reporting expectations outlined by Ms Richards were compatible with where we are as a system. This decision was made based on what is best for children and after considering many critical factors. An outside consultant had backed the timetable and grading instructions in the letter. At this juncture, we call on the BUT to place children first and to ensure parents receive progress reports in hand on March 8.” But Cole Simons, the shadow minister for education, said that Mr Rabain needed to “stop managing from the pulpit”. The One Bermuda Alliance MP added yesterday: “If he wanted more dialogue and collaboration, he should have met with the BUT this morning to clear the air and to determine what the real issues are which led to the monumental no-confidence vote.” Mr Simons said that the union and Government should be working together “for the best interests of our students and teachers”. He added: “To imply that the BUT, and our teachers, are not putting our students first is irresponsible and places a dark cloud over education in Bermuda. Our teachers deserve more — and more support from the minister.”

paragraphEntrepreneurs will get tips on how to start their business at the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation’s evening seminar. This seminar will be held on March 6 at the Bermuda National Sports Centre from 6pm to 8:30pm. The event will focus on the following topics: using the numbers to validate your idea, getting your business noticed, the process of business formation, finding the right talent, how much money will it take to start and where to get it and will also include testimonies from local entrepreneurs. Detailed presentations will be given by experts in: banking by Clarien Bank, insurance by BF&M, legal matters by CHW, intellectual property by The Registrar General, social insurance by the Department of Social Insurance, payroll tax by Office of the Tax Commissioner, pensions by the Pension Office. In addition there will be experts on hand in areas including accounting, human resources, social media and marketing, and eCommerce. Ondreyah Rochester, junior small and medium-size enterprise officer at the BEDC and co-facilitator of the seminar, said: “This seminar would be beneficial for anyone who is looking to start a business. So often individuals have ideas but don’t know the next steps to execute their plan, this seminar aims to inform you of your government obligations and further fundamental tips from industry experts in various fields such as accountancy, HR, marketing and more. Also, an added benefit is that there will be entrepreneurial testimonials that can assist you avoid speed bumps on the road to starting your business.” To register for this seminar, call 292-5570, e-mail info@bedc.bm or log on to www.bedc.bm. Registration is $25 for BEDC members and $35 for the general public. The fee includes refreshments and materials.

paragraphAn Opposition MP has claimed the Government’s decision to appoint a representative in Europe without advertising the post “goes against best practice”. Michael Dunkley, of the One Bermuda Alliance, said the opportunity should have been made available to as many people as possible. He also accused the Progressive Labour Party administration of a lack of accountability after “incomplete” answers from David Burt, the Premier, about the appointment. Ms Webb, a former PLP government minister, was unveiled as Bermuda’s representative to the European Union when the Government opened its office in the Belgian capital of Brussels last month. Details about the one-year post were provided by Mr Burt on Friday in response to parliamentary questions from Mr Dunkley. The Opposition member asked if the position was advertised and requested further details if it had been. Mr Burt replied, in a written response: “No.” Mr Dunkley said: “Premier Burt should inform the taxpayer why the position was filled without advertising. The decision to do so goes against best practice and raises many questions. In spite of the appearance that Renée Webb has been lobbying for this position for some months, it is appropriate that the position be advertised to cast the net as wide as possible and to give qualified Bermudians an opportunity to apply.” He also requested “complete details of her employment package, including housing allowance, travel expenses and any other benefits”. Mr Burt said Ms Webb’s annual salary was $156,864 and that travel expenses were covered in line with the terms and conditions of public-service consultant contracts. But Mr Dunkley claimed that answer was incomplete. He said: “The questions of housing allowance and any other benefits were left unanswered. Why? The lack of complete and comprehensive answers once again shows a lack of accountability and transparency by the PLP as government and makes one wonder if there is something to hide. This flies in the face of their support for accountability and transparency while in Opposition.” Mr Dunkley added: “Finally, the Budget for the current financial year — 2018-19 — showed no line item for the Brussels office. Will a supplementary request for funds have to be tabled in the House or have funds been found from another area?” The Government was contacted for comment yesterday. Mr Burt opened the Brussels office on January 25 to strengthen Bermuda’s relationships with the EU in the wake of extensive negotiations last year on economic substance and as Britain prepares to leave the organisation. Mr Burt said the island needed more than “shuttle diplomacy” and that Ms Webb, a former tourism minister who has a background in international relations and international human rights law, would also liaise with Bermuda’s London office. Ms Webb has provided updates on Twitter about some of her work since then, including meetings with other Overseas Territories representatives. She wrote online yesterday: “I am not a 9 to 5 person. I am found dining with associates way past 10pm. Early breakfast or drinks at 6pm. Working on weekends. No overtime pay. I live for the satisfaction of getting the job done. Accomplishing tasks and helping folks gets me out bed! A beautiful life.” Jamahl Simmons, the Minister Without Portfolio, said yesterday that Mr Dunkley had asked about the Brussels Office during the 2018 Budget Debate “and was informed at that time that the funding for the Brussels Office had been set aside within the budget for the London Office. The former premier remarked at the time ‘We have vital challenges to face in our overseas negotiations and relationships with people. So I accept that 11 per cent increase.” He added: “It is understandable that the Opposition would seek to talk about anything but the fact that Government has achieved the first Budget surplus in 17 years and that the national debt will fall this year for the first time since 2003.”

paragraphA man found with almost $2.5 million of drugs in his home was jailed for 13 years yesterday. Jamal Robinson, 42, admitted possession of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis resin with intent to supply after a search of his Warwick home. Robinson — who earlier served time for manslaughter — told the Supreme Court he was “very, very sorry”. He said: “I have had a great upbringing and I chose to go against that and follow where other people go. Every time I have done it, I have gotten in trouble. I let my mother down, I let my family down and everybody that has been in my corner. That part of my life is over. I’m ready to do my time and be a productive citizen of this country.” Robinson was arrested on May 11, 2017, after a raid on his Warwick home. A search of the house revealed 293.03 grams of heroin, 405.2 grams of ecstasy, 55.48 grams of cocaine, 1.54 grams of crack cocaine, 1,486 grams of cannabis resin and 9.57 grams of cannabis. The combination of drugs were said to have a street value of $2,456,638. Officers also found $2,150 in cash and more than $20,000 worth of jewellery. Robinson later pleaded guilty to possessing the heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis resin with intent to supply, along with “simple” possession of cannabis. He also admitted possession of the proceeds of criminal activity. Prosecutors suggested a sentence of between 12½ and 14 years for the drug offences, plus an additional three to six months for the criminal proceeds. Mark Pettingill, for Robinson, said his client had expressed regret and that a sentence of about 12 years would be appropriate. Mr Pettingill said: “I know from having extensive conversations with Mr Robinson that he is contrite and remorseful. He is determined to spend his time usefully so he can come out and contribute to society.” Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said he saw no reason to stray from the sentence suggested by the Crown. He sentenced Robinson to serve 12½ years for the drug offences and six months for the criminal proceeds offence. Mr Justice Greaves ruled that the sentences should be consecutive. He also ordered the forfeiture of the $21,145 of jewellery, the $2,150 in cash and a $9,381 Rolex watch. The court heard Robinson had no previous convictions for drug offences, but was sentenced to ten years in jail for the killing of Jermaine “Red” Pitcher in 2000. Mr Pitcher died after a fight outside the former Champions nightclub on Reid Street. Prosecutors alleged that Robinson and another man held Mr Pitcher as he was stabbed repeatedly in the back. Robinson disputed the prosecutor’s version of events but pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2001.

Spacer

February 25

paragraphIncreases to land tax announced in the Budget will mean greater burdens for a struggling sector, estate agents warned. Property experts feared the changes outlined by Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, were not enough to stimulate the ailing commercial market. They also warned that rate reductions on homes at the lower end of the Annual Rental Value scale would do little to generate movement in the industry. Mr Dickinson decided not to introduce new rental taxes on residential or commercial properties — an option included in the ministry’s Pre-Budget Report — but said $85.4 million could be raised by land tax in 2019-20. He explained on Friday: “In the 2018-19 Budget Statement, as a temporary measure, land tax rates on commercial properties were increased by 5 per cent, raising an additional $15 million in land tax revenues. This provision will expire on June 30, 2019 and the legislation provides for the rates to revert back to 7 per cent. It is now proposed to increase land tax on commercial properties from 7 per cent to 9.5 per cent and land taxes on tourist properties from 7 per cent to 8 per cent.” Buddy Rego, the president of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, said: “We had some consultation with the Government prior to this Budget being released and I don’t think we were expecting the commercial land tax to go to the level that it is. They’ve reduced it from the 12 per cent that it was, which is all well and good, but from our personal perspective, we think that taxing commercial properties is not a prudent thing to do, given that the commercial property market is significantly depressed in any event.” He added: “I think it’s still onerous on property owners to have tax increased to 9.5 per cent.” Sallyanne Smith, a managing director at The Property Group, echoed Mr Ego's concerns. She said: “We still have many commercial properties empty, not sure this is enough to help the situation.”  Mr Dickinson announced increased land taxes for owners of larger homes from April. Properties with ARVs of more than $120,000 will be hit with hikes of three percentage points but those with rental values between $44,001 and $120,000 face an increase of five percentage points. Mid-range homes — those with an ARV of between $22,001 and $33,000, and $33,001 and $44,000 — will remain unchanged at a tax rate of 3.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively. Homes with an ARV of up to $11,000 will benefit from tax reductions from 0.8 per cent to zero, and those in the $11,001 to $22,000 bracket will also be zero rated, compared to a 1.8 per cent tax last year. However, a base charge of $300 will be applied to all properties. Seniors will continue to get an exemption on homes with an ARV of $45,000 or less. The idea of a residential rental tax was met with resistance from some quarters when it was proposed last month and Mr Dickinson later confirmed it would not be included in his Budget. He said on Friday: “Instead, the Government intends to increase land taxes.” Mr Rego claimed land tax appeared to be “an easy initiative” and said rates had already been increased to “significant levels” in earlier revisions. He added: “Yes, it’s better than taxing rent but it’s still onerous in any event.” Ms Smith believed the reduction to lower-value homes “will make minimal impact on the lower-end properties”. She added: “ARVs of $44,000 to $90,000 are not necessarily large homes and we feel the increments should be lower.” Ms Smith also feared the upper-end increases “may put non-Bermudians off buying here and may also make current owners want to sell”. She pointed to Mr Dickinson’s plan to raise stamp duty on all residential and commercial leases, which he said came after Pre-Budget consultation with the real estate division of the Chamber of Commerce, as an alternative income generator. Ms Smith said: “I believe the extra stamp duty on rental leases, which Government have agreed to raise would be a better way to boost revenue especially as it is a shared expense between the vendor and the tenant, and a one-time payment. We don’t feel that it would have any negative response, especially as it has not increased in years.”

paragraphProperty experts await more information about proposals designed to increase opportunities for home ownership. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, outlined schemes including initiatives to widen access to mortgages and soften ownership rules for select city properties. Mr Dickinson said during his Budget speech on Friday that the Government will, “in conjunction with private sector banks, pilot a mortgage guarantee programme in return for a reduction in interest rates charged to Bermudians for their mortgages. Secondly, the Government will create a government-backed mortgage lender to relieve pressure on public sector employees by providing them with reduced mortgage rates. These two measures, combined with the elimination of taxes on mortgage refinancing, are projected to save $5,300 a year for the average family carrying a $500,000 mortgage.” Sallyann Smith, a managing director at The Property Group, responded: “Anything is good which helps people achieve their dream home, however, we will have to see what the terms are and how it would operate before we can make further comment.” Buddy Rego, the president of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, said: “The government-backed mortgages is fine if you’re a civil servant, I don’t think that that’s necessarily going to change much overall.” Mr Rego applauded plans to extend a period during which non-Bermudians buying property on the island benefit from a reduction in licence fees. MPs heard the reprieve will run for an additional 24 months until March 31, 2021, and the Government will use that time to assess how effective the concession is to stimulate property sales. Mr Rego said: “That’s a very depressed sector of the market — sales of properties to overseas purchasers — so we certainly welcome that.” He also looked forward to more information about the Government’s plan to soften ownership rules for special developments in the North East Hamilton Empowerment Zone. Mr Dickinson said the Government announced last year height restrictions for the properties but said “creating an additional supply of condominiums will only work if there is additional demand for the purchasing of these units”. He explained: “That is the reason why the Government will relax ownership restrictions for these special developments. This is an important change, as we must provide places for money earned in Bermuda to stay in Bermuda and circulate in our economy.” Mr Dickinson highlighted increased opportunities for Bermudian construction workers and said more residents in the area meant more customers for local businesses. He added: “These new developments will also be key to attracting young Bermudians back to Bermuda, as the units will be ideal for singles or couples without children.” However, Mr Rego said: “The devil will be in the details.”

paragraphCharles Jeffers, deputy chairman of Age Concern, reserved judgment on the Government’s efforts to help senior citizens. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, pledged during his Budget Statement on Friday that a National Health Plan will soon be unveiled to lower the cost of insurance coverage for all Bermudians. Mr Dickinson said the plan aimed “to reduce the cost of health insurance for citizens, for employers and for seniors”. He added: “Reduced health insurance rates will mean more money in the pockets of Bermudian families and that is the goal of this transformational reform.” Mr Jeffers responded to the minister’s pledge: “We will wait and see.” Mr Dickinson said the $700 million spent on the health system annually should be enough to give residents the healthcare they need. He added: “But we need to be more efficient about how we utilize these funds.” He pointed out that the care of adults with intellectual disabilities and mental health or psychiatric problems is often the responsibility of the Government because they do not have next of kin. Mr Dickinson added: “Bermuda does not have the social services infrastructure to care for such individuals and the Government currently funds, through the Ministry of Health, two individuals at an overseas institution as there is no local capacity to meet their needs.” Mr Jeffers said he hoped the Government would find “acceptable and plausible solutions” that would allow seniors to access better healthcare. He said seniors would like better access to prescription medicine and general insurance. “Anything is better than nothing. We are hoping the Government will come through,” he said. Mr Dickinson said the Ministry of Health would take steps to reform the Financial Assistance programme to improve its financial sustainability and assure a more equitable allocation of awards. He said: “Measures have been identified to improve efficiency to prevent the need for additional funding.” Mr Jeffers said the level of Financial Assistance could be improved for seniors if the Government could reduce the number of able-bodied people receiving help. He said: “I believe the best way to improve Financial Assistance is to lessen the assistance given to able-bodied people by providing jobs.”

paragraphHe was Bermuda’s longest-serving premier and a successful businessman — but Sir John Swan said that his proudest achievement was to unite the people. Sir John was speaking at a dinner hosted by the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club to mark Black History Month on Saturday evening. The United Bermuda Party premier from 1982 to 1995, who was credited for establishing Bermuda as a major offshore financial centre, said he was still working on healing divisions. He said: “I’m trying to get to the stage where we are seeing Bermuda not as black and white or as nationalities but as a country that gives recognition to the progress that we have made. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t acknowledge the past but if you carry the baggage of the past it becomes the anger that prevents you from moving at the speed you can move. This island is probably the most integrated society in the world. We have to be able to get along.” Sir John stressed the importance of nurturing the future generation and instilling in children a sense of pride and belonging. He praised Paget Primary School’s Black History Museum in which he was featured, and told how he invited the students into his home while they were researching his life. He said: “I took them in my car, they came to my office and they were fascinated when I took them to my home and showed them where I live. When I drove into the school to see the museum, I got the biggest reception you ever wanted to have and I can tell you, they just went wild. How do we treat our young people to give them a sense of purpose and a sense of relationship? If that happened in every school in Bermuda — it doesn’t matter if its BHS or Saltus — I think kids would have something to absorb. It becomes part of their culture.” Sir John chose the Salvation Army to receive proceeds from the event. Guests at the dinner included politicians from both sides of the spectrum, business leaders, hoteliers, educators and those working in the third sector. Dennis Lister, Speaker of the House of Assembly, described him as “a real statesman. We have not always seen eye to eye on issues but we always had reasonable conversations around the issues,” Mr Lister said. “I admire the fact that he can be balanced in that regard. I think that the example he has set of being a statesman is one that is good for the country.” Robert Horton, retired permanent secretary, has known Sir John all his adult life and described him as a “significant role model for all Bermudians. I had the privilege of working at the Cabinet Office during the last year of Sir John’s premiership. I was enormously impressed by his commitment and his caring nature. He never failed to go the extra mile to help people. He was extraordinary. He wanted a better Bermuda and was unwavering in his efforts to have that dream realised. In large measure he did. He made a huge contribution towards a better Bermuda. He is also a great personal friend and he married a Somerset lady.” Tom Butterfield, founder of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, said: “There is nothing that the man has not done for the benefit of Bermudians be they black or white. He is really the last statesman that Bermuda has and I don’t see anyone filling his shoes any time too soon.” Ann Francis, a long-term friend, said Sir John had always been “positive and ambitious. He has been an exceptional and all inclusive contributor. He was an unsung hero in a certain era because he helped a lot of people you wouldn’t have expected him to help.” Colin Pearman, owner of Pearman Funeral Home and long term friend, said: “He has helped so many people in so many different ways. He has made an unending contribution to Bermuda.” Dennis Tucker, former managing director for the Sonesta Beach Hotel, said: “He has always been a role model for me. He is someone that I have looked up to and have tried to emulate since I was a young boy. He has made a wonderful contribution to this island and hope he is around for many more years.” A celebratory dinner for Dame Jennifer Smith, the Progressive Labour Party’s first premier, was held earlier in the month.

paragraphA woman who has been giving blankets and pillows to the homeless said she will continue despite negative feedback. Lakeisha Burt, from Warwick, launched a project to help the needy after seeing her godmother with items she did not need about a month ago. But she said it initially brought negative comments from the public. Ms Burt, a nursing assistant, said: “Someone said, ‘Why are you giving such a nice blanket to someone on the street?’ “I was wondering if I was doing something wrong.” She urged the public not to be judgmental when considering why people live on the streets. She added: “People should be more compassionate. It could get worse for a lot of people.” Ms Burt has now partnered with Volt Vision of Life Together Ministries for the project. “It was too much for one person to do,” she said. An average 65 to 70 people use the Salvation Army shelter every night, while the numbers accessing its street-feeding programme have increased to about 25 to 35 per night. Homeless campaigners say the Salvation Army shelter is no longer fit for use and have urged the Government to press ahead with plans to create a modern emergency accommodation. Ms Burt said her desire to help the homeless became stronger after the recent deaths of homeless men Reginald “Sonny” Furbert, 70, and 56-year-old Wilburt Spencer. Mr Furbert was often seen in the City of Hamilton while Mr Spencer had been living rough in trees on Corkscrew Hill in Devonshire. Ms Burt said: “That gave me an extra push. I felt that there was something that needs to be done.” She said it was then that she reached out for help through social media. “It got such a big reaction,” she said. She said many people promised to help, but many did not keep their promises. “It was not a great number of people who showed up, but we are thankful for those who did,” Ms Burt added. The drive to collect and distribute items will take place during the first and last week of each month. The team collects donations at Albuoy’s Point on Mondays and Tuesday between noon and 2pm. They are distributed to the needy at 6pm. Ms Burt added: “I think we need help to distribute them to people.” She said she intended to speak to the Salvation Army to find out how best she could reach those in need. She said family and friends had been supportive of the initiative. “My aunt told me it’s a good idea because it is changing people’s lives,” Ms Burt added. “It brings happiness to help someone else. This could be me [on the streets]. It’s a humble feeling. I have faith in this because it’s a good thing. I think when it comes to people that are desperate, you become compassionate.”

Spacer

February 24, Sunday

paragraphA manual will be produced to make the Public Accounts Committee more effective and improve public awareness of its role. It comes after Stephen McGinness, the Clerk of the House of Commons’ PAC, visited the island for two weeks to offer insight to the committee. Dr McGinness advised on best practice at a series of meetings and exchange discussions with the PAC this month. PAC clerk Clark Somner said: “It is clear that our members want a more effective PAC and to improve public awareness of the key role that the PAC plays in advancing Parliament’s oversight of how well our public expenditures and programmes have been managed. And a primary objective for us coming out of the attachment will be incorporating Stephen’s insights in a comprehensive procedural manual on the work of Bermuda’s PAC for use by members and clerks going forward.” PAC chairwoman Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, a One Bermuda Alliance MP, said: “The clerk attachment was extremely helpful for us, and we should point out that it was actually a reciprocal visit coming after the Bermuda PAC undertook a visit to the Parliament of Wales and to Westminster in 2018. We look forward to the practical application of the lessons learnt from both the attachment and our visit to the UK last year.” Dr McGinness said: “I have been very impressed at the dedication I have witnessed from the MPs on the Public Accounts Committee, and their desire to ensure that the committee delivers for the people of Bermuda in uncovering how public money might be spent more effectively. I hope that they continue to develop their skills and make their PAC into the Queen of Committees within the House of Assembly.” Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dennis Lister Jr, said: “The attachment is a prime example of the efforts we are undertaking to strengthen the scrutiny process within Parliament, so that we can continue to have effective oversight regardless of who the Government might be. As Speaker, it is my intent to ensure that wherever processes might be weak, they will be strengthened. Dr McGinness’s visit was very timely for us in that it coincided with the recent creation of the new oversight committees, and I am certain that Parliament in general, and particularly the members of the PAC and the oversight committees, have benefited from his assistance and the insights garnered during the PAC’s visit to the UK last year.” The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK covered Dr McGinness’s airfare and expenses during his stay in Bermuda.

paragraphWomen should feel powerful — no matter what role they play in society, the Deputy Governor has said. Alison Crocket said that employment and gender did not define people as she launched a campaign to find two girls aged 14 to 18 who will shadow her on International Women’s Day next month. She added that her career had included a variety of different jobs and she picked up her skills along the way. Ms Crocket admitted young people, especially women, sometimes struggled with their body image but said beauty comes from inside. She explained: “I think people can be beautiful in lots of different ways, I think narrowing your vision of ‘what does beautiful look like?’ is where it all goes wrong. Women are fabulously beautiful in all shapes and sizes and in all walks of life. You don’t need to be a CEO or a prime minister or whatever. In my life, I’ve been a full-time mum, a waitress, a social worker, an unemployed person — I’ve been lots of things and I’ve always looked the same. I think the important thing is to enjoy the thing you’re doing now and feel powerful in the thing you’re doing now, rather than think that always somebody is more powerful, or if you’re not in this job that you’re not a powerful person. You can find your own power inside yourself — your job shouldn’t define you any more than your gender should.” Ms Crocket, the mother of two adult daughters, said she feared there were “extreme” risks for young women in the social media age, although she insisted instant communication was both “a huge benefit and a challenge”. She added: “It’s very easy to believe that everyone else has a perfect life on social media because we see snippets of everyone else’s life, they seem to be happier, better off, better looking, more active. It’s easy to feel despondent about your life as a teenager at a time when you’re already vulnerable and conscious of your own vulnerabilities and imperfections, I think it makes it worse to that extent.” Ms Crocket said although many of the problems faced by teenagers have been the same for decades, there was now a “danger of them being much more public and therefore the humiliation is greater when they go wrong”. After a post as head of the Foreign Office’s Anti-Corruption Unit, based in London, she was sworn in to her latest role last July. She earlier worked in Geneva, Switzerland, and Vienna, in Austria. The 56-year-old, originally from Scotland, said: “My teenage self would never have believed that she would be here in Bermuda as a Deputy Governor, not in a million years. I left school without any formal qualifications and I gathered my formal qualifications as life went on ... every time I’ve changed into something else it’s been because that thing looks interesting, I’ve never had a clear life path of ‘this is what I want to do and this is what I want to achieve and these are my dreams. I would not do it differently and sometimes it’s the most unexpected paths that you take that lead you to even more interesting and fun things in the future.” Ms Crocket said she was “really loving” Bermuda and found its people charming and open-hearted. She added she had also noticed a strong female presence on the island and that she hoped these women would help inspire candidates in her IWD campaign. “I do think it’s important for women to be present and active in all roles and I see that in Bermuda. There are women in the most senior positions in Government, in business and across the board. There are some extremely powerful women characters across Bermuda and that’s one of the things that has struck me since I got here.” Ms Crocket said Michelle Obama, the “remarkable” wife of former US president Barack Obama, was among her own inspirations. But she added women did not need a high profile to figure on her list of influential women. “My grandmother was a very short, fierce Irishwoman who raised eight children through the war in dire circumstances in Newcastle, a mining town, and kept them all alive, which in itself was a major achievement and taught us all incredible survival skills.”

paragraphA court prosecutor is on a mission to inspire black girls and women around the world. Shaunté Simons, 25, started a blog last September and now she has more than 75,000 followers around the world. Ms Simons, who works for the Department of Public Prosecutions, said she launched Black, Beautiful and Blessed in a bid to help other women reach their potential. She added: “My initial idea was to create a space where I can inspire, uplift, teach and just generally be an example to young black women.” Ms Simons said she wanted to be “a different type of role model from what is usually portrayed on social media”. She added: “We do things together. I listen to their stories. Every morning I do a motivational message, or a motivational quote; I will pray or do an Instagram or Facebook Live.” Ms Simons said conversations with her followers motivated her to write a book in the form of a journal. The book, Reflect. Plan. Achieve, which helps women to plan and achieve their goals, was unveiled last December. Ms Simons said: “I realised there was a need to start your year strong. People were going through 2018, it was coming to the end and they really hadn’t accomplished what they set out to do on January 1.” Ms Simons said the journal was inspired by her religious faith and a desire to help women take control of their own destinies. “People can give you advice, people can give you a plan. But when you create the plan yourself and you are able to tick it off and to say ‘I did that’, then you are more appreciative”. The journal focused on self love, avoiding procrastination and the achievement of goals. Ms Simons said: “We stop ourselves usually because we think that we can’t do that; it’s too big or what if somebody says no. The “what-ifs” stop us from accomplishing our goals.” Ms Simons added she gave up TV at night to help create time for her daily videos, blogs or scriptures. She said: “Motivating young black women has been my focus. It’s also something that makes me happy and gives me peace, so I find time to do it." Ms Simons added she enjoyed “just showing young black women that nothing is impossible. You can do whatever you want to do no matter what you think is impossible. God himself will make it possible”. Ms Simons said she had accomplished her dreams and wanted to help other women realize theirs. The former Saltus Grammar School pupil started a law degree at the University of the West of England aged 17. She went on to take a Master’s degree in law aged 20 and graduated a year later. The former Ms Teen Bermuda also served in the youth parliament for two years and was part of a delegation that travelled to a United Nations youth conference. She also travelled to India and Thailand to volunteer in schools two years ago. Ms Simons said: “After I was Called to the Bar, I didn’t have a job ... so I decided that in that year I was not going to wallow in my sorrows of not being able to work.” She added: “I have accomplished a lot in my short life. It’s only though God. I walk by faith, I got to university on faith, I got through high school on faith.” Ms Simons, who is working on a doctorate in Christian counselling, said she wanted to write more motivational books. She said: “I feel like there are books in me ... I definitely have books in my future. After I finished that one, I immediately started another one.” Ms Simons has also started the Sapphire Faith International Ministries with her mother Marlene Flynn.

paragraphAll postal locations will be closed for three hours on Wednesday so that employees can attend a full staff meeting. The Bermuda Post Office announced the closure will take place from 8.30am to 11.30am. A spokeswoman said: “The BPO notes that regular business will resume 11.30am on Wednesday.”

paragraphThe City of Hamilton renewed its call to retailers and restaurants to apply for wheelie bins. About 150 bins have been distributed so far this year, after the City announced they would soon become mandatory. The scheme is intended to reduce the number of rats and other vermin in the streets, and help maintain cleanliness. A spokeswoman for the City said: “Wheelie bins will be made mandatory in the near future so businesses are urged to plan ahead and apply. As an incentive, the City is offering the first wheelie bin for any business free of charge.” She added: “The City would like to further remind the public that there are policies and procedures in place to control how refuse is collected in Hamilton. By adhering to the stated collection times, exercising correct use of the wheelie bins and using general common sense when disposing of trash, a resulting sanitary and orderly city can be achieved that will benefit all.” The city offers four different sizes of bins as well as blue recycling bins. To apply for the wheelie bins call 292-1234 ext 203 or e-mail dbean@cityhall.bm or call.

paragraphMore adults can learn how to help prevent child sexual abuse in Bermuda thanks to a five-figure donation to charity. Saving Children And Revealing Secrets received $10,000 from the Argo Foundation after representatives explained the value of its work in the community. The foundation, the philanthropic arm of the multinational insurance provider Argo Group, was set up in 2009 to invest in the island’s young people. Its website stated its mission was to “support the healthy development and wellbeing of Bermuda’s young people”. Scars works to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse through its training programmes and speaks up for children as well as their affected family members. Debi Ray-Rivers, its founder and executive director, said: “Scars is very passionate about protecting children and preserving innocence in our community and this donation of $10,000 absolutely makes a huge difference for us. This very generous financial gift allows us to continue providing prevention education and awareness to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse in our community. It also provides Scars an opportunity to continue to advocate and be a voice for children who have been sexually abused, as well as their affected families. We do not charge attendees for any of our prevention programmes and we hope that we never have to. Due to donations like this, a significant economic barrier is removed, thereby giving all adults in Bermuda the opportunity to become educated by participating in our programmes.” Ms Ray-Rivers said the organisation was invited to deliver a presentation for the foundation’s allocations committee. An independent group makes funding decisions quarterly. Criteria included that the services offered by recipients were not duplicated by other charities in Bermuda, or that partnerships took place in cases where the objectives are similar. Ms Ray-Rivers explained: “Our meeting was followed by a suggestion by the Argo Foundation for Scars to provide our Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention training programme to some members of their staff. Scars enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to show the foundation what our training was all about, but better yet, we are able to educate more adults on how to recognize, prevent and react responsibly to this issue.” The sessions are also offered every month in Hamilton and mean people can learn the facts about child sexual abuse, talk about it, reduce risks, recognize the signs and react responsibly. Elspeth Gray, the Argo Foundation president, said: “We support Bermuda charities with an emphasis on helping Bermuda’s youth under the age of 18. Scars’ prevention programmes are designed to protect our youth and help break the cycle of abuse. What I understand from the training is that you’re much more likely to be an abuser if you have yourself been abused so it’s all about breaking the cycle. This aligns very well with the foundation’s focus on Bermuda’s youth.”

paragraphThe Nurse of the Year for 2018 has donated $1,000 to diabetes awareness after holding a birthday fundraiser. Genieve Williams-Hart, a school nurse known as Nurse Jenny to her patients, presented the cheque to the Bermuda Diabetes Association at The Royal Gazette. Ms Williams-Hart said that she and her husband, Jamal Hart, used his birthday as an opportunity to raise the money. She explained: “My husband was turning 50 in December and he wanted to have a party. But we decided that instead of him getting gifts we asked for donations for our preferred charity.” She also said that the event, called “The Red Party,” was a combination of two: a sit-down dinner that raised $500, and an after-party with additional guests that doubled their cache. Ms Williams-Hart added: “Because the Bermuda Nurses Association gave me the honour of Nurse of the Year, I wanted to do something that gave back to the community. Seeing that the Bermuda Diabetes Association is my charity, this is how I wanted to raise some money.” A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Diabetes Association said that the funds would go towards renovating their new building on Princess Street in Hamilton. The building is intended to house a pharmacy for patients with diabetes and provide educational programmes on diabetes. She added: “Diabetes across the island effects so many families and so many people, which makes us a small organisation with a big mandate. When you feel that you’ve got a team behind you it makes our job a lot easier, so we’re very, very grateful.” The Association also plans to take part in the “Lindo’s to Lindo’s Walk” to further raise funds. The walk will be held on March 3 at 8.30am and have volunteers walk from Lindo’s Family Foods in Warwick to Lindo’s Market in Devonshire. Attendees can find application forms at Lindo’s supermarket locations and submit them at the Bermuda Diabetes Association in Devonshire. Volunteers can also sign up at racedayworld.com/Race/BM/Warwick/LindostoLindos. 

paragraphA second-hand store has reopened to help a senior and community activist pay for medical bills after he was battered and robbed. Cleveland Simmons, 76, said: “All kinds of people and businesses have donated items to me to help me out. It has been a long recovery. I got a broken nose, broken jaw, broken teeth when I got attacked. But the good news is we have a room of second-hand furniture, jewellery, microwaves, you name it.” Mr Simmons added he was in the last stages of recovery from injuries suffered in 2011 when he was beaten in a street robbery near his home on Pembroke’s Happy Valley Road. His partnership with the former C&R discount store on Hamilton’s Court Street, at the junction with Elliott Street, started last summer. Now the store has a room full of items for sale, with part of the proceeds going to help Mr Simmons with about $5,000 in dental expenses. The vacant shop was filled with donated items from friends. To find out more, donate, or buy items, contact Mr Simmons at 516-9968.

Spacer

February 23

paragraphA hush fell on the House of Assembly yesterday as all eyes turned to Curtis Dickinson when he rose to deliver his first Budget. Mr Dickinson, who took the finance portfolio in November 2018, acknowledged the milestone. He told MPs that he represented “a legacy of social justice and a struggle for equality”. It was a nod to his family background, which Mr Dickinson said in a January 2018 interview with The Royal Gazette was “tough”. Mr Dickinson credited his late mother’s work ethic and commitment to education for helping him to get ahead. The Minister of Finance’s wife, Lisa, watched from the public gallery as he delivered a 90-minute Budget Statement. Mr Dickinson closed with a nod to the “values of hard work, sacrifice, forthrightness and dedication I learnt from my parents”. He won his first applause when he promised “a small Budget surplus and, consequently, a reduction in net debt”. Another point that sparked approval from MPs was Mr Dickinson’s reprisal of the PLP’s platform promise to raise seniors’ pensions by the rate of inflation every year. Rolfe Commissiong, a PLP backbencher who in 2017 stewarded a Joint Select Committee to look at a living wage for Bermuda, applauded Mr Dickinson’s mention of the initiative as he talked about modernization of the island’s labour laws. Kim Swan, the PLP MP for St George’s West, voiced his approval when Mr Dickinson told the House that the Government would bring legislation for “the long-awaited marina in the town of St George’s”. But Opposition MPs were mostly quiet — even when Mr Dickinson accused the previous One Bermuda Alliance administration of hiking taxes “behind closed doors with no public scrutiny”. However, Trevor Moniz, the OBA MP for Smith’s West, was told off by Dennis Lister Jr, the Speaker of the House, when Mr Dickinson told the House that the Government would not bring in a tax on residential or commercial rents, but increase land taxes instead. Mr Moniz called out: “It’s the same thing.”

paragraph2019 Bermuda Government DeptThe Bermuda Government is to suspend payments into the sinking fund, a home for money set aside to pay down long-term debt. In his maiden Budget Statement yesterday, Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said it did not make financial sense to borrow money in order to set it aside for future debt payments. Not paying the contribution allows the Government to project a surplus of $7.38 million, rather than a deficit of about $57 million if the payment had been made. Mr Dickinson said yesterday that the sinking fund has a balance of $214 million. In the coming fiscal year, $180 million of it will be used to repay maturing debt. “The Government will suspend making mandatory contributions to the sinking fund,” Mr Dickinson said. “This decision has been made in light of the following factors: (i) apart from the private placement notes referenced above, the next maturity of government debt will occur in 2022; (ii) the interest expense associated with borrowing to fund the mandatory sinking fund contributions will be greater than the investment return generated on those funds; and (iii) the Government is forecasting continued operating surpluses which it intends to contribute to the sinking fund or use to make open market purchases of its existing indebtedness.” The medium-term projection accompanying the Budget Statement shows no plans to make a contribution to the sinking fund in any of the next three fiscal years. The Government Loans Act 1978 requires that an amount equal to 2.5 per cent of public debt outstanding is paid into the sinking fund each year. The law gives the finance minister discretion to suspend payments for 12 months or to draw on the fund to make interest payments. As the debt has burgeoned over the years, from $277 million in 2008 to about $2.46 billion today, mandatory sinking-fund contributions have grown with it to a high point of $64.2 million in 2018-19. The last time the Government made no contribution to the fund was in 2009-2010, when Paula Cox, the finance minister of the time also drew on the fund to pay interest on long-term debt. Since then, contributions to the fund have totaled more than $345 million. The repaying of the $180 million in maturing debt in 2019-20 will reduce annual interest costs to the Government by $12.1 million, Mr Dickinson said. The net debt will rise close to the $2.5 billion debt ceiling, but will not break through it, Mr Dickinson said. By the end of March 2020, net debt is forecast to be $2.457 billion. Future surpluses will be committed to paying down debt, the finance minister added. Interest payments on the debt will amount to $116.5 million in 2019-20, down from $124 million in the previous year, but still costing the public purse the equivalent of $319,000 per day. Interest will also eat up 10.4 cents of every dollar the Government takes in the next fiscal year. Revised estimates for the current fiscal year, which ends on March 30, show that the Government took in $1.08 billion, which was $10.6 million, or 1.1 per cent less than it projected in last year’s Budget. Current account expenditure, which excludes debt servicing costs, was nearly $932 million, which was $2.85 million, or 0.3 per cent more than projected. The result was a deficit of $102.58 million for 2018-19, revised upwards from the last year’s projection for a deficit of $89.7 million. For 2019-20, revenue is forecast to rise by $39 million from the revised estimate for this year to $1.12 billion, while expenditure will be down by $2.1 million from this year’s revised total to $929.86 million. The biggest contributor to government coffers will be payroll tax, which is projected to bring in $466.1 million next year, up $5.5 million from this year’s revised estimate, followed by customs duty, expected to generate $235 million, compared to $224.5 million this year. Mr Dickinson announced a freeze in expenditure at 2018-19 levels and added that spending cuts would be difficult to achieve. “While there has been some success in reducing costs, it has become increasingly difficult to implement further reductions under the current government structure and the across-the-board expenditure cuts in previous budgets,” Mr Dickinson said. “With 51.5 per cent of the current account expenditure, excluding debt service, representing employee costs and 34.1 per cent relating to grants and contributions, there are very few other expenditure types that can be reduced and have a material impact on the level of spending.” However, the Government has set up an Efficiency Committee, to seek further opportunities for savings, “either by way of increased efficiencies or by making structural reforms in the way in which services are delivered and institutions are structured”, Mr Dickinson added. The finance minister said: “The EC has highlighted how savings and greater effectiveness can be obtained by the Government in the areas of financial assistance, purchasing of materials, inventory management, and handling of staff vacancies. The EC has also emphasized the critical importance of developing a detailed overall strategic plan to guide the spending priorities of the Government over the medium to long term.” The most expensive ministry by far is health, whose projected expenditure for next year is $241.55 million, more than $100 million ahead of the next most costly ministry, education, which will cost nearly $137 million, just ahead of national security, with $135 million.

paragraphThe business world was spared big tax hikes as the Minister of Finance delivered his first Budget yesterday. Curtis Dickinson said that the anticipated revenues for the next financial year were about $1.118 billion — $28.6 million or 2.6 per cent higher than the estimate for this year. Mr Dickinson told MPs: “Honourable Members will note that this increase is less than the $50 million in revenue increases proposed in the Pre-Budget Report.” He explained: “The Government has evaluated the risks facing the island, in particular the potential EU action to list Bermuda as a “noncooperative” tax jurisdiction ... Accordingly, the Government has decided that now is not the time to extract an additional $50 million from the economy in taxes.” Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, said that Mr Dickinson had “failed to mention he was increasing taxes by $39 million anyway”. He added: “The revenue estimate for 2019-20 is $39 million higher than the revised estimate for this fiscal year. There has been a total failure by the PLP to execute on any plan for economic recovery. The Government has zero ideas to stimulate the economy in order to create jobs. It sounded like a holding budget, trying to maintain the status quo while desperately hoping that something comes to their rescue.” The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce welcomed the news that feared new taxes would not be imposed. John Wight, president of the chamber, said: “Bermuda’s business community had concerns about potential punitive new taxes and increases to existing taxes that were being considered. Overall, this Budget has allayed those fears.” Mr Dickinson said land taxes for owners of larger homes would be increased from April. Owners of higher-rated properties — with ARVs from $44,001 to $120,000 or more — will be hit with increases of between 3 and 5 percentage points. Homes in the mid range — those with an ARV of between $22,001 and $33,000 and $33,001 and $44,000 — will remain unchanged at a tax rate of 3.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent. The base charge on all the higher ARV properties will also be $300. There will also be tax reductions on homes with an annual rental value of up to $11,000 from 0.8 per cent to zero, but with a base charge of $300. Owners of homes in the $11,001-22,000 bracket will also be zero rated, compared with a 1.8 per cent tax last year and will also have a base charge of $300. The flat rate $300 proposal will lead to increased payments for those in the lowest-rated homes. However, seniors will continue to get an exemption on homes with an ARV of $45,000 or less. Mr Dickinson said that the Budget would also tackle “mortgage pressures for hardworking Bermudians”. He explained that the Government, in partnership with private sector banks, will pilot a mortgage guarantee programme in return for a reduction in interest rates charged to mortgage holders. He added that a government-backed mortgage lender will be created “to relieve pressure on public sector employees by providing them with reduced mortgage rates”. Mr Dickinson said: “These two measures, combined with the elimination of taxes on mortgage refinancing, are projected to save $5,300 a year for the average family carrying a $500,000 mortgage.” The tax rate on commercial properties will go up from 7 per cent to 9.5 per cent and the tax rate on tourist properties, which was hiked on a temporary basis from 7 to 12 per cent until June, will increase from 7 to 8 per cent. The Budget also brought bad news for smokers and drinkers, with hikes in sin taxes. Mr Dickinson told MPs: “The duty on cigarettes and tobacco and on beer, wines and spirits will be raised in April to achieve additional customs revenue of about $1.25 million to $2.5 million.” He added that most payroll tax rates will remain unchanged. But the struggling retail sector, as well as hotels and restaurants, are in for some tax breaks from April 1. The statement said retail, which employs about 3,500 people, will get “targeted payroll tax relief to specific businesses by providing a concessionary employer payroll tax rate of 7 per cent for all retailers whose payroll is above $500,000 and whose primary sales are in fashion, shoes, jewellery and perfume”. The statement added that customs duty relief will continue with a zero rate on imported capital goods “intended for the renovation and refurbishment of restaurants and hotels and many properties have benefited from these Acts over the years.” But customs duty will go up “on a limited group of items” from 50 per cent to 75 per cent and the 75 per cent sugar tax will be extended to a wider range of goods. Mr Dickinson said: “These adjustments will yield an additional $4 million to $5 million of customs duty.” He said earlier: “Additionally, the Government will suspend the mandatory annual contribution to the Sinking Fund rather than borrow additional monies to make this annual contribution.” Mr Dickinson added that the financial-services tax introduced by the previous government will be increased on banks and insurance premiums and that “the increased fee on insurance fees would be the obligation of the insurer”. He said: “Following consultation, the Government will increase the tax on premiums by 1 per cent and increase the tax on bank assets from 0.005 per cent to 0.0075 per cent of its consolidated gross assets as at the end of a tax period. This will yield an additional $3.4 million in revenue.” The tax on foreign currency purchases is also to go up, from one per cent to 1.25 per cent, which is expected to raise an additional $4.1 million. Mr Dickinson added that the Government will also slap a fee on people who use credit cards to pay their taxes. He said: “Over the years the Government has been incurring millions of dollars in credit card charges due to taxpayers using their credit cards to pay their taxes. Effective from April 2019, Government will start to recover these fees by way of a recharge fee for this convenience.” Mr Dickinson told MPs Budget expenditure for the coming year, including current account and capital account outlays, but excluding debt service, will be $1.111 billion. He said that debt service costs for the 2019-20 financial year were expected to be $116.5 million and were “interest expenses on debt only”. Capital expenditure for the new financial year was estimated to be $64.7 million, $2.5 million higher than last year. Mr Dickinson said the main major building items were upgrades to the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, the island’s psychiatric hospital, as well as schools maintenance and road works. He also announced that Government will relax ownership restrictions on condominiums in the North East Hamilton Empowerment Zone in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Mr Dickinson said: “This is an important change as we must provide places for money earned in Bermuda to stay in Bermuda and circulate in our economy. The narrow relaxation of these restrictions will put more Bermudians to work on construction projects throughout the city and will create fixed assets that provide maintenance jobs.” He added that the new developments and more residents would boost local businesses, as well as help attract young Bermudians overseas back to the country. The finance minister added that the Government will suspend payments into the sinking fund — the fund into which money is set aside for paying down debt. He said that the interest expense associated with borrowing to fund the mandatory sinking fund contributions would be greater than the investment return generated on those funds. Mr Dickinson told MPs: “The beauty of true democracy is that beyond the numbers, graphs and charts lie real people. This economy does not permit us to do all that we want to do, but the balance of this Budget brings to the delivery of services, meeting external threats, investing in the education of our children and advancing a system of fairer taxation continues to build on the economic foundation set our since our 2017 electoral victory.”

paragraphAlmost half-a-million dollars will go towards the introduction of a new pupil grading system, the finance minister announced yesterday. Curtis Dickinson said that $473,000 would be used “to continue the implementation of a standards-based grading system covering site-based professional development training” for primary and middle schoolteachers. The announcement came as Mr Dickinson delivered the 2019-20 Budget Statement in the House of Assembly. He added that $539,000 would be set aside “to address the urgent need” to increase bandwidth at primary and middle schools. Mr Dickinson broke down Ministry of Education spending by school level. He said that $327,000 would be used at the preschool level to implement an autism spectrum disorder programme and to hire an early childhood quality assurance officer to “provide professional training and coaching for preschool teachers”. He said that the cash would also allow foreign languages to be introduced and parental education programmes to be continued. Mr Dickinson said $770,000 would be spent at the primary level to fund the deployment of the Steam — science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics — programme. The cash will be used to cover teacher training, updates to social studies curriculum and to expand the literacy programme. At the senior level, $129,500 will be put towards the implementation of the City and Guilds programme in English and the mathematics programme “will be further progressed”. Mr Dickinson added: “A vital job-shadowing programme will be introduced to create a unique experience for students as part of the Career Pathway programme.” A total of $136.9 million was pledged to the Ministry of Education. Mr Dickinson said that about $2.8 million would “support the execution of Plan 2022, the blueprint for education for the next few years, and the introduction of a merit-based College Promise programme for public school graduates to attend Bermuda College”. He added Plan 2022 “articulates a clear mission to provide all students with equitable access to holistic, varied and high-quality instruction that is culturally relevant and empowers students to reach their full potential”. Mr Dickinson said about $2.2 million of the $2.8 million for the plan was found after a “microscopic review of its existing budget for greater efficiencies in operational activity”. The budget for school maintenance in 2019-20 will be $3 million — the same as this year.

paragraphA $300,000 grant to help poorer students study at Bermuda College will continue into the next fiscal year. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said the Paget college was “a key stakeholder in the economic growth and development of our island”. He added during his Budget Statement: “During the 2019-20 fiscal year, the college will continue to meet its mission of setting Bermuda’s students on their paths to success.” Mr Dickinson said that the college would continue to receive the grant “to ensure that no student is prohibited from attending Bermuda College as a result of limited household incomes. This investment commenced in 2017 and has supported close to 450 Bermudians in pursuing their tertiary education.” Mr Dickinson said that $279,000 had also been earmarked for the College Promise programme. The programme, pledged in this year’s Throne Speech, will award scholarships to attend the college to public school graduates with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. He added that another $85,000 would be earmarked to help “non-traditional students” who wanted to become certified as landscapers and compliance officers and to help nursing students studying abroad. Mr Dickinson said: “It is anticipated that $20,000 will support landscaping training for a new cohort of students in order to decrease the number of non-Bermudian employees on work permits. A further $20,000 will support Bermudian nursing students to undergo practicums at SickKids’ Hospital in Toronto, Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, and Lahey Hospital in Boston.” He added that about $40,000 will be used to help develop the National Educators’ Institute, set up to “provide a centralized entity for public and private school educators and counselors of all levels to engage in and benefit from professional development, professional learning and research”.

paragraphThe Budget showed the Government had listened to hoteliers’ fears over rising land taxes, the Bermuda Hotel Association said yesterday. Stephen Todd, CEO of the BHA, said hoteliers were pleased that Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, confirmed that a temporary 12 per cent commercial land tax would end in June. Mr Dickinson said that land tax for tourism properties would be reduced to 8 per cent — slightly higher than the 7 per cent in place before the temporary hike. Mr Todd said: “We are not happy to see the increase, but we understand the need for it. We believe that the Government has heard our concerns about the increases in taxation that would make it difficult for our industry to contain expenses and grow tourism without passing on those expenses to our visitors.” Mr Todd said the sugar tax and increased import duty on alcohol could hurt the bottom line of hotels, along with the increase in foreign currency purchase tax. But he thought that an extension of duty relief on materials to renovate hotels would help to encourage investment in the industry. Mr Todd said: “That is very good news. We were very pleased to see they are going to extend it for five years.” He said government ministries were working with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a review of the manpower that will be needed by the tourism industry. “We are going to be working with the Minister of Workforce Development, the Department of Education, Bermuda College, the Bermuda Hospitality Institute and the BTA so we have a plan for training and development of young and not-so-young Bermudians who recognize the hotel industry as a career opportunity. We really want to get the message out there that there are career opportunities available.” Mr Dickinson said the Government planned to invest more in marketing and product development to make Bermuda a more attractive destination for tourism investment. He added: “Government is working with unions and hoteliers to increase efficiency and boost productivity in Bermuda’s hospitality industry. In 2019, when regional competition is fierce, friendly people and beautiful beaches are not enough. Reform is necessary to make investing in Bermuda hotels profitable, which will serve to protect existing jobs while attracting additional investment leading to new tourism jobs. Government would reduce the grant to the BTA from $26 million to $22.5 million, but tax changes would result in the quango having more money in its coffers. As the BTA focuses on implementation of the new National Tourism Plan, its overall budget will increase from $31 million in 2018 to $35.9 million in 2019. This is possible, in part, due to the introduction of new visitor fees charged to cruise passengers and visitors taking advantage of vacation rental properties. Part of the BTA’s $25.9 million budget would include the Bermuda Events Authority, which will work to attract events to Bermuda that appeal to younger travelers. The tax changes came as a result of a review by both the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and the BTA. Following this review, the ministry and the BTA were of the view that the current tax structure was outdated, unnecessarily complex and, therefore, would benefit from simplification and updating. Therefore, it is proposed to introduce a new tax structure for cruise ships and cruise ship passengers: a passenger departure tax, a cruise passenger visitor fee and a large ship infrastructure tax — with the cabin passenger tax being repealed. This tax structure will yield $40.2 million.”

paragraphHome-grown musicians have a better chance of taking centre stage after tax breaks for venues that hire Bermudian artists were announced in yesterday’s Budget. Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, said he wanted to boost the number of bookings for local performers with a three-year payroll tax concession. He also offered payroll tax relief to some retailers and extended the reprieve on customs duty for hotels and restaurants trying to breathe new life into their businesses. Mr Dickinson said: “Entertainment plays a very important role in the culture and development of Bermuda. We have seen a decrease in entertainment over the years and note with concern that our entertainers have very little business, if any, during our off season. Therefore, the Government will be providing a concession to all businesses that hire local musicians and entertainers by removing the employer payroll tax for the next three years. The Government believes that this concession will encourage more businesses to hire local entertainers and encourage more Bermudians to become involved in this extremely important industry.” Stephen Todd, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said yesterday: “We are hoping that this is an incentive to get local entertainers to engage again with the hospitality industry. I think the focus should be on entertainers, not just musicians. We want to provide a true entertainment experience that our guests are looking for with a Bermudian flavor.” Mr Dickinson also told MPs: “The retail industry employs nearly 3,500 Bermudians and the Government is very much aware of the pressure on certain segments of this sector. In an effort to maintain and increase employment levels in this sector, the Government will provide targeted payroll tax relief to specific businesses by providing a concessionary employer payroll tax rate of seven per cent for all retailers whose payroll is above $500,000 and whose primary sales are in fashion, shoes, jewellery and perfume.” The Minister of Finance said customs duty brought in about $235 million, or 21 per cent of total Government revenues. But he revealed that the Government will extend the Hotels (Temporary Customs Duty Relief) Act 1991 and the Restaurants (Temporary Customs Duty Relief) Act 2002 for another five years. Mr Dickinson explained: “These acts provide a zero rate of customs duty on imported capital goods intended for the renovation and refurbishment of restaurants and hotels and many properties have benefited from these Acts over the years.”

paragraphA bigger selection of sweet treats will be taxed at 75 per cent when the Government launches the next phase of its assault on sugar. The rate of duty on items already affected is 50 per cent, with the additional 25 per cent due to be implemented from April 1. Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, said in his Budget that more goods would be included. He told MPs: “In line with the Ministry of Health’s consultation paper, and as announced by the Minister of Health in the House of Assembly in March 2018, it is proposed to increase the rate of duty on a limited group of items from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. In a further phase of the implementation of the sugar tax, it is also proposed to extend the scope of items to be captured by the uprated 75 per cent sugar tax. These adjustments will yield an additional $4 to $5 million of customs duty.” Kim Wilson, the health minister, brought modified legislation to Parliament last June after a backlash from businesses over a 75 per cent duty was proposed. She told the House then that similar legislation elsewhere had been shown to reduce the consumption of sugar-laden beverages and other products that cause major health issues like diabetes and obesity. However, businesses feared the tax would hit their profits and encourage shoppers to buy less healthy alternatives than home-made baked goods. The revised Bill meant the rate was set at 50 per cent from October 1, 2018, and targeted sugary drinks and sweets, including powdered drinks, but let diet sodas off the hook. It also provided local businesses such as bakeries a break from the top tariff. However, Raymond Packwood, of Crow Lane Bakery, said yesterday he had applied for the concessionary rates but had no response. He told The Royal Gazette: “They were supposed to have some sort of exemption for business owners, I think, for local manufacturers, which you can apply for, which we did but we haven’t heard anything yet. It would be a discount, a lower rate.” Mr Packwood said he was not surprised the rate would increase to 75 per cent. He added: “I never thought it was right, I had a problem with them doing raw sugar to start with. I didn’t think it was an item they should be targeting, but that said, they’re doing what they said they were going to do, so the business owners and the customers will just have to deal with it.” Mr Packwood said: “I think if they’re going to target raw sugar for everybody then they should have increased duties on imported baked goods, whether it be cookies or even ice cream. What happened was the local producer was put at a disadvantage by changing the duty on sugar and leaving the imported products alone. If you’re going to do it, make it even across the board.” No further details were provided in the Budget about what will be included in the extended scope of items. Ms Wilson indicated last year the Government would continue to consider whether imported baked goods could be subjected to the sugar tax “in future phases”. Mr Dickinson also said yesterday that duty on cigarettes, tobacco, beer, wine and spirits would increase in April to pull in additional customs revenues of between $1.5 to $2.5 million.

paragraphRoyal Gazette Editorial. "Let’s be honest: few of us would have wanted Curtis Dickinson’s responsibility yesterday. To present your maiden national Budget in these uncertain times, knowing that decisions you make could cause a fragile economy to take a damaging turn for the worse. At the same time, you have to gently squeeze a little more out of that economy to keep your government on track to steer clear of fiscal calamity. A tall order, indeed. If nothing else, the man who took the Ministry of Finance hot seat less than four months ago can claim not to have made things worse. That may sound like faint praise, but in current circumstances, it’s an achievement. Anxiety had been building in the run-up to the Budget, with concern that some of a slew of new taxes suggested by the Tax Reform Commission would be imposed on an economy in too delicate a condition to withstand them. Those fears were allayed, allowing many to breathe a sigh of relief, particularly small business owners, some of whom may have had some tough decisions to take on Monday morning, had the tax news been worse. Fiscal hawks will be less impressed, and we can be sure that the Fiscal Responsibility Panel, the Government’s financial conscience, will express its disappointment in its year-end report at another year of “slippage” from the plan to more aggressively chip away at the debt mountain. His decision to suspend payments into the sinking fund — the place where governments set aside money to pay down long-term debt — made the difference between being able to project a narrow surplus and a deficit of more than $50 million. He made a good dollars-and-cents argument that the cost of borrowing money to contribute to the sinking fund was more than what could be earned on the invested funds. However, the great value of the sinking fund is that the mandatory contribution forces politicians to be responsible about dealing with debt. This year is a great example. Through the contributions made through previous budgets in equally testing times, Bermuda will have the available funds to pay down $180 million in maturing debt, thereby lopping $12.1 million off its annual interest payments. While failing to meet the FRP’s debt-to-revenue ratio targets may seem esoteric to the average Bermudian, who is far more concerned about the impact of new taxes on their finances today, the reality is that Bermuda is in a race against time to get the debt under control. Demographic trends mean the pressures on government finances will inevitably grow as our population rapidly ages. As a glut of baby-boomers leave the workforce over the next decade, fewer people will be paying into the pot and more drawing out of it. In just seven years, one in four of us will be a senior. Which leads us into one of the disappointing things about Mr Dickinson’s speech: that it acknowledged several elephants in the room, but did not go on to propose new ideas to seriously deal with them. For example, he described the ageing population as “perhaps the single most serious long-term issue Bermuda faces” and states that “it will not be possible for the Government to meet its obligations to our retirees and pensioners without significant structural reforms to our economy”. He mentioned guaranteed increases in pension benefits for seniors in line with inflation. But he did not hint at how the useful life of the Contributory Pension Fund, which will run out of money by 2049 according to the latest actuarial report, can be extended. The first mention of amendments to the 60:40 rule in some time, even if it was fleeting, was welcome. Since David Burt floated an idea that probably would not go down well with many grassroots members of the ruling Progressive Labour Party, we have heard little of it. If it encourages Permanent Residency Certificate holders to invest in local businesses, it will help to keep more money in Bermuda that would otherwise go elsewhere. He touched on immigration reform, dismissing as “simplistic” the argument championed by many local business people that a population boost is needed to rescue the economy. He preferred to focus on how economic reforms aimed at making the island more competitive could attract more investors and lure Bermudians home to fill new jobs. Surely the first issue is to keep the valuable population that we already have. When children who were born here, have known no other place as home and live here for 18 years still lack basic rights, then naturally they will leave to a more welcoming place and their families may well go with them. Bermuda’s failure to address this basic immigration reform issue is costing the island badly needed young people. Mr Dickinson rightly said that the ageing of Bermuda’s population is “a certainty, not a risk”. The FRP points out that this trend will lead to “a downward spiral of demographic and economic decline”. A precondition for faster growth is to increase the island’s workforce, the panel adds. “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.” We cannot say we have not been warned. To be fair to Mr Dickinson, his job was to present a Budget, not to solve all the politically thorny problems of Bermuda’s fragile economy. Indeed, it is encouraging that he recognized the heavyweight long-term issues that will make future Budgets even more difficult than the one he has just put forward. In doing so he may have set the scene for a serious, honest and necessary conversation involving the whole island on how we can improve our economic future. Let us hope so."

paragraphA move to set up a government-backed mortgage lender is a “wantonly unfair” use of public money, the shadow finance minister said yesterday. Nick Kempe also warned that the Progressive Labour Party’s plan to lend cash to public service employees was “risky”. Mr Kempe said: “I think it is a terrible idea. Government is starting to enter the loan space with public money? We have seen how they have managed other projects. They are not hitting the budgets that they are setting for themselves and now they are going to add a lending layer? They are taking taxpayer money and giving a preferred benefit only to government employees — there are a lot of non-government employees that are putting that money in.” Mr Kempe, the One Bermuda Alliance Senate leader, was speaking after Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, announced in his Budget Statement that the mortgages would ease pressure on public service staff through reduced rates. He predicted that Mr Dickinson’s first Budget would increase the cost of living. Mr Kempe said that plans to increase land taxes would affect more people than the Government’s scrapped rental tax. He added: “They say on the one hand they will not impose a residential rental tax, but on the other hand say they are increasing land tax — it’s the same thing. It’s actually worse because the rental tax, as described in the Tax Commission Report, wasn’t charged to people who lived in their own home, it was only going to be levied on income properties. The land tax hits everyone. Everyone will feel this new tax, it hits people in their own home while the rental tax didn’t.” Mr Kempe said there was nothing in the Budget to bring financial relief to ordinary people. He added that an increase in foreign currency purchase tax would affect people earning Bermuda dollars. Mr Kempe said: “If you are working in international business, earning US dollars, you don’t care. There is a lot of stuff in here that targets Mr and Mrs Bermuda, while exempting big business and IB. They talk about a better and fairer Bermuda but it seems counterproductive." Mr Kempe added he had little confidence that the Budget would boost the economy or create jobs. "There is nothing in here to create new stimuli. The only thing that is buoying the economy right now are a couple of One Bermuda Alliance projects that have a limited lifetime — the airport, St Regis. The inconvenient truth is that our working population is down from its height in 2008. We need to be more welcoming. We in the OBA are more plural in our nature and that is a major difference in our approach to immigration.”

paragraphCommunity workers want to know more about government funding of crime-fighting programmes, an activist said yesterday. Desmond Crockwell, chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, said people involved in intervention programmes would like to know if the Government would back community-based groups involved in crime fighting. Mr Crockwell asked: “Are they thinking of offering other organisations funding?” He was speaking after Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, said the Ministry of National Security would focus its efforts on the gang violence reduction team and immigration reform in the new financial year. Mr Crockwell said the plans outlined in the Budget Statement did not indicate if the Government would provide funding to other organisations that help in crime-fighting efforts. He added: “I am speaking on behalf of community workers who are fighting for resource. I am not saying they will not, we would just like to know because nothing was said.  The Consolidated Assets Fund was in the past used to provide financial assistance to community-based organisations." But he questioned whether the fund was still being used for that purpose. He said community-based workers did not need large amounts of cash to get their work done, but that help from the Government would be appreciated. "It takes everybody to fight crime.”  Mr Dickinson said earlier as he delivered his first Budget that the gang violence reduction team was expected to expand with the launch of the Redemption Farm programme this year. He explained that the farm offered “a 12- to 16-week therapeutic, incentivised programme for at-risk individuals and aims to restore justice and discourage criminality through case management, educational and post-training services”. He said the ministry would also continue to address and prevent antisocial behavior through the Gang Resistance Education and Training programme, designed to prevent school-aged children from joining gangs. Mr Dickinson added that the team would also provide restorative justice sessions focused on intervention and mediation for prison inmates and others requiring assistance. Mr Crockwell also called on the Government to reveal more about the gang violence reduction team. He said: “As a government- funded programme, the community should be aware of the team so we don’t have programmes that duplicate this team.” Mr Crockwell also questioned if the Government had new crime-fighting plans. He added: “It is basically doing the same thing and expecting a different result. I don’t know if there is a correlation between Great and the reduction in crime.” Mr Crockwell hoped the Government would provide answers during the Budget debates during the next few weeks. The Ministry of National Security budget for the next financial year will be $134.9 million, an increase of $3.8 million over this year. The allocation is also expected to advance the next phase of immigration reform, which tackled a backlog of work permit applications in the first phase. Mr Dickinson said the second phase would improve efficiency, reduce costs and boost customer satisfaction with the department.

paragraphOpinion. By Craig Simmons, a senior economics lecturer at Bermuda College. "There is reason to celebrate the first Budget surplus in many many years, but the way in which that surplus was achieved sullies things. An accounting sleight of hand shuffled the “mandatory” sinking fund contribution to capital spending thereby avoiding another deficit. Moreover, the surplus is really window-dressing in that it amounts to about one-tenth of 1 per cent of gross domestic product. An earnest effort at debt reduction will require surpluses in excess of $150 million or 2.5 per cent of GDP. By the Government’s own reckoning, there are no plans for earnest debt reduction before 2023. This raises questions about the Government’s commitment to reaching its debt targets: debt service-to-tax revenue and debt-to-tax revenue. The first target is 10 per cent. In 2018, the ratio of debt service-to-tax revenue was 18 per cent. Debt service will have to increase significantly above the near $200 million budgeted in 2018. Thus, for the foreseeable future, debt service will have to be the single largest expenditure item — bigger than health and education. The second debt target is for a debt-to-tax revenue ratio of 80 per cent; presently, it’s just under 230 per cent. The time has come for the Government to share with taxpayers its idea of when those targets are likely to be met. The elephant in the room is the need for higher taxes. Reaching the Government’s target, without raising tax above 20 per cent, is near impossible. As a result, the near $30 million increase in taxes will have to increase by another $80 million over the next three years if a serious dent is going to be made to our $2.5 billion debt. A reasonable time frame for the achievement of these debt targets is around ten years. But this can only be achieved with significantly higher taxes. The largest tax hikes are on land, both residential and commercial. For residential owners in the lowest tax bracket — under $1,000 per month, the increase is huge in percentage terms — 340 per cent — but in dollar terms they will see their tax bill increase from $88 to $300. Owners in the second bracket — $1,800 per month — will see their tax bill increase by around 50 per cent. Those at the top — where rent is around $35,000 a month — will see a 9 per cent increase, which translates into $13,000. I understand the reluctance to increase the employee portion of payroll tax, but a restructuring of the employer portion is long overdue. Further, a restructuring need not involve any increase in tax. Employers should enjoy marginal tax bands the same way employees do. The present system is based on an employer’s total wage bill. If that wage bill tips into the next bracket, then an employer taking on a single employee could see their total payroll tax increase by tens of thousands of dollars. This is a job killer. Marginal tax brackets solve this problem by only increasing the tax on new employees. As a result, the burden on the employers is significantly reduced. The increase in foreign currency purchase tax has probably gone as far as it can. Further increases will lead to evasion as Bermuda residents start stashing their US dollars under a mattress as well as opening US dollar accounts. The plan to reduce interest rates on mortgages will invariably increase the debt by way of loan guarantees. Presently, the Government has guarantees totaling $555 million. It’s difficult to get a handle on the dollar value of this new guarantee, but there are risks associated with government-backed mortgage lending. US government-sponsored enterprises — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — failed miserably in this regard. Based on a back-of-the-envelope calculation, the guarantee could pump an additional $16 million into the economy. Perhaps it is too much to ask that the Government begins to address its off-balance sheet debt of around $3 billion. While not as urgent as the on-balance sheet debt of $2.5 billion, the Government must turn its attention to this ticking time bomb. On the expenditure side, it’s gratifying to see spending not increasing in inflation-adjusted terms.

paragraphTeachers have backed a vote of no confidence in the Commissioner of Education and the Ministry of Education’s top civil servant. A spokesman for the Bermuda Union of Teachers said that members had “overwhelmingly” agreed on the action against Kalmar Richards and Valerie Robinson-James, the permanent secretary at the ministry. He added the decision was a result of dialogue at the Annual General Meeting “where members expressed dissatisfaction surrounding a series of decisions which impact the Bermuda public school system”. He said that a letter sent to primary and middle schoolteachers and principals this month had caused “angst and great concern”. The spokesman added: “Members agreed that the requirements outlined in the letter were incompatible with teacher and system readiness as it pertains to standards-based grading.” The letter, written by Ms Richards, was sent to primary and middle schoolteachers and principals on February 8 and advised on grading and reporting procedures until June. It said that parents were to receive a progress report by the end of the month. Ms Richards said that a second progress report would go to parents in April, followed by a final report card in June. The spokesman said that concerns over standards-based grading were first expressed by the union at a meeting with the Department of Education last year. He added: “The expectations as mentioned in the letter have caused members much uneasiness.” The spokesman said concerns included the lack of adequate training on standards-based grading. “Despite being made aware of these standards-based grading implementation shortfalls and challenges, teachers are still being directed to follow through with the requests from the letter. The teachers felt that there were some key expectations outlined in the letter that do not support the principles and practices of this new method of teaching, learning and reporting. "The letter’s expectations around the inputting of grades goes on to state that the Department of Education will also provide teams of teachers for technical support and will put technical measures in place to address concerns related to the length of time it takes for the grading system to respond. These provisions have not been put in place.” He said that union members “are calling for leadership that embraces the essential leadership qualities and attributes for sound decision making”. Teachers have been locked in conflict with the Government over a series of problems, including standards-based grading, which the teaching union said had added stress to already overburdened staff. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education said earlier that teachers had undergone two days of training this month on the standards-based grading system. She added that the IT team working on the computer programme PowerSchool had “made the internet connection perform more efficiently in the short term”. Some training in the new grading system was given to school staff last month after a request from the BUT. The Government did not respond to a request for comment.

paragraphCard tricks, illusions and “booze magic” are promised at a dinner show tonight. The Evening of Comedy Magic, hosted by Nadanja Bailey, will feature sleight of hand tricks performed by American artist Kristoff the Magician. Kristoff, who has performed around the United States for more than 50 years, promised “cards, coins and cocktails” for the show. He explained: “Booze magic is my speciality — there will be tricks that take liberal use of people’s lack of attention caused by alcohol and I drink through the whole act.” Kristoff will be preceded on stage at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club by Mr Magic and Mr Slick, two island magicians who have performed for more than 50 years, combined. Mr Magic said: “My act will entail some new tricks that I’m working on that haven’t been seen by the public at all.” He added that other wonders would include elaborate coin tricks such as making money appear inside of a piece of fruit. Mr Slick promised an array of tricks from sleight of hand to mental magic. He explained: “I intend to, as we magicians would say, ‘read people’s minds,’ but I’m going to get the whole audience involved. I’ll be mixing it up a little bit with some small illusions, but it’s going to come out very entertaining.” He added: “One of the things I’m going to do I haven’t performed in public for about ten years, but it’s a classic and it will garner some oohs and aahs.”

Spacer

February 22

paragraphBermuda will fight a recommendation to the House of Commons that British residents on the island should get to vote, the Premier vowed yesterday. David Burt said the proposal was a “tone-deaf” idea that ignored the history of voting rights in Bermuda. He was speaking after the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee published its report, Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship . An inquiry was launched by the group last July and it made a total of 14 recommendations that also covered public beneficial ownership registers, same-sex marriage laws and access to treatment by the British National Health Service. The committee report said: “While we recognize that the OTs are small communities with unique cultural identities, we do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office. This elevates one group of British people over another and risks undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family.” The committee added the British government should start a consultation with territories “to agree a plan to ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory”. Mr Burt said: “The right to vote is perhaps the most highly valued right in a democracy. To suggest that non-Bermudians should have the right to determine the direction of our country via the ballot box ignores the history of voting rights in Bermuda and is a tone-deaf recommendation which we will strenuously resist.” The document was submitted to the House of Commons and the British Government has eight weeks to respond. Mr Burt said: “The Government of Bermuda is reviewing the report and will be ready to address any issues that may arise.” He added: “Separately, we are focused on preparing Bermuda for what may emerge as a result of Brexit, a situation which can best be described as evolving daily.”  The report said that relationships between the UK and territories became strained last May when the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act was passed, which set out a deadline to produce a companies’ beneficial ownership register available to the public by the end of next year. The committee added: “Some OTs say that this will impact their financial services sectors and make them less competitive. We believe it is a matter of national security, because there is evidence to suggest that money tied to autocratic regimes has been connected to OT-registered companies and that considerations of competitiveness cannot prevent action.” The report said: “We cannot wait until public registers are a global norm and we cannot let considerations of competitiveness prevent us from taking action now.” It added the committee regretted “public registers may not be published before 2023”. The report said: “The Foreign Secretary, in co-operation with the elected governments of the OTs, should lay out before the summer recess a clear and detailed timetable for the publication of registers of beneficial ownership in each OT.” Mr Burt, who wrote a letter included in written evidence to the inquiry, said yesterday: “Bermuda is committed to meeting any properly adopted, global standard for such matters and will work with the UK Government as necessary once such a global standard is agreed.” Nicola Barker, a British expert on human rights and constitutional law, admitted the suggestion of a “pathway” for British people to vote was likely to stir up strong emotions. She highlighted the opposition to the Pathways to Status legislation that the former One Bermuda Alliance administration attempted to table in 2016. That was designed to make it easier for long-term residents to gain permanent residency and status, but the Bill was withdrawn after days of demonstrations shut down Parliament. Dr Barker said yesterday that from what she had seen of “the controversy from the last time around, it doesn’t seem particularly sensible to me, or the right thing for the UK to do” to impose such a rule, “if it came to that”. She added: “The thing that struck me in reading the report is really how little representation there was from Bermuda, and I think that’s really unfortunate because there are a couple of things in the report that don’t necessarily ring quite accurately in relation to Bermuda. The report recognizes that the UK government should allow residents of Overseas Territories to access treatment on the NHS if they can’t get treatment in their home country. Most Overseas Territories’ citizens are given free medical treatment in the UK under a quota system. Dr Barker said: “It’s not mentioned in the report what Bermuda’s quota is.” The report said the British Government should consider options for the removal of quotas on the number of people from the Territories that can use NHS services. The committee also found that the British Government should examine how the Foreign Office managed its responsibilities for the Territories. The report added: “The OTs’ needs extend far beyond the FCO and their voices must be heard elsewhere in Whitehall.” The committee suggested consideration of a secondment programme between British and territories’ government departments. Same-sex marriages were highlighted as “points of friction”. The report said: “It is time for all OTs to legalize same-sex marriage and for the UK Government to do more than simply support it in principle. It must be prepared to step in.” Mr Burt declined to comment on same-sex marriage yesterday as a case is still to be heard by the Privy Council in London. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We will carefully consider the report from the Foreign Affairs Committee and respond fully in due course. We take our responsibilities to the Overseas Territories extremely seriously and are committed to assisting them in a range of areas, from building strong economies, to improving standards of governance and protecting vulnerable groups, to providing support to help protect the environment.”

paragraph2019-20 Budget Statement is under way. See http://www.royalgazette.com/assets/pdf/RG399596222.pdf. Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, is making his maiden Budget presentation in the House of Assembly. The Royal Gazette is providing a live stream and text updates on this page, as well as Twitter updates and a stream on our Facebook page. Full reaction and analysis will feature on our website later today and in the newspaper tomorrow. The speech is broadcasting live on CITV, via the Government portal www.gov.bm and on the Bermuda Government’s Facebook page. A copy of the budget statement will be available on the Government portal once Mr Dickinson has finished reading it.

paragraphThe courts made the right decision yesterday when it ruled against the Government in a row over all-terrain vehicle tours in sensitive areas, the head of the environmental charity that brought the case said last night. Kim Smith, the executive director of Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, said: “BEST is pleased that the decision of the Chief Justice emphasizes the need for full and proper evaluation of development proposals by way of the established planning processes.” She was speaking after Chief Justice Narinder Hargun quashed a decision to allow ATV tours in the West End. The judge said that Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, had “assumed that planning permission was not required” when he granted approval for the tours on the Railway Trail, Fort Scaur Park and Hog Bay Park. He added: “In my judgment that was an erroneous assumption and amounted to an error of law. The minister, as the decision-maker, is required to properly address himself in relation to relevant legal issues and failure to do so will result in the decision made being set aside on an application for a judicial review. The minister’s decision announced on March 16, 2018, in relation to Mr Hollis’ proposal to operate ATV tours is hereby quashed.” BEST’s legal costs will be covered by the Government. Ms Smith said: “Our park lands are for the enjoyment and benefit of locals and visitors alike and must be protected for current and future generations. While BEST supports entrepreneurial initiatives, we are not satisfied that there is an overriding public interest in allowing ATV tours that outweigh the potential harm and damage to our national parks.” Ms Smith added: “The decision highlights the need to attain planning permission for significant development proposals such as this. Potential impacts on our environment must be evaluated prior to permissions being granted. Best supports this.” Bill Zuill, the executive director of the Bermuda National Trust, also welcomed the Chief Justice’s decision. Mr Zuill said that BNT joined the case brought by BEST “because we believed that granting approval of the tours without the necessary due diligence ... would set an extremely dangerous precedent and threat to our national parks”. He said that for a project as “significant and as complex” as the ATV tours “planning permission is essential”. Mr Zuill added: “We are happy that the Chief Justice agreed.” He said that the BNT supported sustainable growth of both eco and cultural tourism. Mr Zuill added: “If eco-tourism is to grow in Bermuda, it must be done in a way that does not harm the very environment it is seeking to promote to our visitors.” Colonel Burch said yesterday: “I have no comment on the matter at this time.” The Supreme Court heard earlier this month that Colonel Burch overruled officials from the Department of Parks and granted permission to operator Rudolph Hollis to run the ATV tours. Ben Adamson, the lawyer for BEST, said that officials had warned Colonel Burch the tours would breach the Bermuda National Parks Act and the Road Traffic (Western Section of the Railway Path) Order 1955. Charles Richardson, representing the minister, said BEST’s legal action was “highly premature” and that Colonel Burch could make a decision to grant a licence but not issue it until the needed legal changes were made. Colonel Burch announced in the House of Assembly last March that he had granted approval for a “licence to use vehicles on Government of Bermuda Property for a trial period of one year”. He said that the licence would allow for termination if conditions were not adhered to. Hundreds of objections to the plan were made by members of the public during a consultation period in 2017.

paragraphA meeting between public school Para educators and education therapist assistants, and the Bermuda Union of Teachers with the Public Service Negotiations Team, was postponed this morning. A spokeswoman for the Government said the Department of Education had been unaware of the request for staff to attend negotiations scheduled for 11am today. The meeting was called off to ensure the safety and service of students needing the care of support staff, with negotiations to resume next week.

paragraphPatients of doctors Ewart Brown and Mahesh Reddy will seek permission next week to appeal a judge’s order that would allow their medical files to be reviewed by independent experts overseas. The 150 patients, represented by law firm Chancery Legal, had their health records seized, along with those of 115 other people, during police raids on two clinics owned by Dr Brown, a former premier, in February 2017. Detectives took the documents as part of an investigation into allegations that Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s ordered unnecessary diagnostic imaging scans for patients to boost profits. The files were later sealed on the orders of a judge after civil proceedings were brought against the Bermuda Police Service by Dr Reddy and the clinics. The 150 patients got permission in November to intervene in the case. Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams ordered last week that the records of 75 of the patients represented by Chancery Legal would be scanned and sent abroad to two doctors in Britain and the United States, after any personal information was removed. But the patients represented by Chancery Legal insisted they did not want their files to be reviewed to see if they were over-tested and their British lawyer Jerome Lynch QC told last Thursday’s hearing they want the records back. Lawyer Mark Pettingill, also representing the patients, told Mrs Justice Subair Williams during a Supreme Court hearing yesterday that he would be applying for leave to appeal her decision. Mr Pettingill added that there was “merit in the issues to be heard”. He asked for the order to be temporarily halted until he had presented his arguments to the court. Mark Diel, for the police service, gave an undertaking that his clients would not do anything with the files as long as the matter was dealt with “on an expedited basis” by the court. Mrs Justice Subair Williams agreed to hear Mr Pettingill’s application on Tuesday. A later hearing, for the court to hear submissions from lawyer Delroy Duncan, on behalf of Dr Reddy and the clinics, about how the non-medical files taken during the raids will be handled by police, was scheduled for March 11.

paragraphTawana Tannock, well known as the former chairwoman of the Bermuda Human Rights Commission, has been appointed managing director of Skuld Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association (Bermuda) Ltd, effective immediately. The Skuld group is a protection and indemnity club, which provides marine insurance products. In her new role, Ms Tannock is responsible for the management of Skuld Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association (Bermuda) Ltd and the Skuld Bermuda group of companies. Ms Tannock joined Skuld Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association as corporate legal counsel in 2017 and was responsible for the management of the compliance, legal and regulatory functions of Skuld Bermuda. Well known for her service in the community, particularly with the Bermuda HRC, Ms Tannock is a barrister who holds numerous insurance industry designations, is an experienced company director and corporate secretary and has a passion not only for the growth of Bermuda’s insurance industry but for working towards diversity and inclusion in international business.

paragraphA police officer was cleared yesterday of a charge that he injured a motorcyclist by driving without due care. A Supreme Court jury found Barry Richards, an inspector with the Bermuda Police Service, not guilty by a unanimous verdict after several hours of deliberation. Members of Mr Richards’s family gasped with relief as the verdict was read. Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons told Mr Richards: “You have heard the verdict of the jury, and therefore you are free to go.” Mr Richards, 50, declined to comment. Prosecutors alleged over the two-week trial that Mr Richards was on his mobile phone and distracted when his car and a motorcycle collided at the junction of North Shore Road and My Lord’s Bay Road in Hamilton Parish on September 19, 2017. The rider, Oronde Wilson Jr, lost a toe as a result of the crash and his foot was so badly broken it needed steel rods inserted. Mr Wilson told the court he also suffered a punctured lung and brain injuries, which had affected his memory. CCTV from the scene of the crash showed Mr Richards started to pull into My Lord’s Bay Road when Mr Wilson’s motorcycle struck his car near the driver’s side door. One witness, Corte Gibbons, said he was on the phone with Mr Richards when the collision took place. He told the court he only later discovered that Mr Wilson, his tenant and a family friend, had also been involved. Another witness, Joel Cassidy, told the court that just before the collision, he was overtaken by two motorcycles traveling fast enough that he thought they were being chased. Mr Cassidy added: “I looked in my rear-view mirror expecting that someone was chasing them, but no one was there.” He rounded a corner in time to see one of the motorcycles strike Mr Richards’s car while the second steered behind the car. Mr Wilson has said he remembered nothing of the collision, and Mr Richards did not give evidence in the trial. Michael Prime, a British-based traffic collision investigator, appeared as a witness for the defence and told the court he used CCTV footage and measurements to analyze the collision. Mr Prime estimated that Mr Wilson was traveling at between 73km/h and 86km/h in the moments before the crash — more than double the legal speed limit. He argued that if Mr Wilson was traveling at less than 50km/h no evasive action would have been needed to avoid the collision. He said Mr Wilson would have been able to stop before the collision if he had been traveling at less than 59km/h.

paragraphHSBC Bermuda posted net profit of $139 million for last year — down by $1 million from 2017, after one-off items were stripped out. The bank said that total operating income before loan impairment charges was $280 million, consistent with 2017. Increases in net interest income and fee income were offset by lower investment portfolio gains. Operating expenses increased by $4 million, or 3 per cent, to $143 million. The increase was due to investment in systems and regulatory programmes, as well as the non-recurrence of an insurance recovery in 2017, the bank said. The cost efficiency ratio in 2018 remained comparable to 2017 at around 51 per cent. HSBC Bermuda added that the change in expected credit losses for 2018 of a $3 million release was due to a number of recoveries on previously written-down loans. The overall level of impaired loans remained consistent at around $360 million. Total loans and advances to customers were $2.19 billion at 31 December 2018, down 4 per cent from the end of 2017. The bank said its total allowance for expected credit losses as a percentage of total gross loans and advances to customers decreased to 5.7 per cent at the end of 2018, compared to 6.4 per cent a year earlier. Total assets of $8.08 billion at the end of 2018 were down 11 per cent compared with the prior year end. HSBC Bermuda’s capital adequacy ratio was 26 per cent at December 31, 2018, an increase from 22 per cent at the prior year-end. Steve Banner, chief executive officer and director of HSBC Bermuda, said: “These financial results demonstrate the ongoing strength of the business here in Bermuda. Our revenues were stable, our balance sheet remains conservatively positioned and our capital and liquidity metrics continue to provide capacity for growth. HSBC seeks to help local customers achieve their goals and aspirations, and connects the Bermudian economy to the rest of the world. We invest in our people, and during the past year more than 250 overseas trips were undertaken by employees so they could attend training, participate in events and/or gain valuable work experience in other HSBC locations. We also invest in our community, through various volunteering and charitable initiatives, and through the sponsorship of community events such as the Agricultural Show, the Christmas Boat Parade and, of course, Cup Match. On behalf of the HSBC Bermuda Board and Executive team, I thank our customers for their ongoing loyalty and commitment and our employees for their continued dedication in what has been a successful year.”

paragraphOne of the three men lined up to be new co-owners of Bermuda Commercial Bank is no longer one of the purchasers. Logan Sugarman was to have been a 20 per cent beneficial owner of the bank, but will no longer be, according to Permanent Capital Holdings Ltd, the proposed buyer. “This was a decision taken by Permanent Capital and does not impact the sale of BCB,” a spokesperson for Permanent Capital told The Royal Gazette last night. The statement followed an earlier report by Florida-based Offshore Alert, a reporting and database website, that included details of US lawsuits and judgments relating to Mr Sugarman. Offshore Alert sent questions to him asking about his financial history, but said it did not receive a response. However, it reported that a spokesperson for Permanent Capital said: “It has been confirmed that Mr Logan Sugarman will no longer be a purchaser in the BCB acquisition. The group remains excited and committed to grow BCB into a full-service commercial bank focused on adding meaningful value to businesses in Bermuda and the local economy.” Permanent Capital, a private New York-based “socially orientated investor in financial services companies”, announced on February 5 that it was buying BCB from parent company Somers Ltd, subject to regulatory approvals, including from the Bermuda Monetary Authority. The following day, Mr Sugarman said he, Lewis Katz and Chris Maybury were the sole owners of Permanent Capital Ltd and the sole owners of BCB post-close [of the transaction]. Financial details of the acquisition have not be released. Somers valued BCB at about $94.9 million in its 2018 annual report.

paragraphA company that has been approved to offer the second token under Bermuda’s Initial Coin Offering Act, is aiming to raise $45 million during the next 12 months. That funding will be used to complete the development of a digital advertising marketplace, that it says will be “ad fraud free”, and to launch it in the second half of the year. Matt Gallant, chief executive officer of Bermuda-registered tribeOS, said there is a likelihood the company will have staff on the island as it rolls out its platform. TribeOS has about 20 employees at present, and has a team of technology engineers in Bosnia. Last August, it raised $3 million in seed funding from Bitmain Technology, a developer of bitcoin mining products. This month, the company announced it had been approved to offer its token, called Fire, under Bermuda’s Initial Coin Offering Act 2018. It is the first security token, and second token in general, to be approved under the island’s new regulations. The token enables investors to participate in revenue sharing in tribeOS. The company aims to combat the problem of online ad fraud. Industry statistics point to $51 million being stolen each day from digital ad programs through ad fraud. Advertisers pay a fee for online views or “clicks” on their adverts, but can be cheated by fraudulent clicks, spambots and phantom views. TribeOS is integrating blockchain with two of its own technologies, AdShield and Golden Lantern, to create a solution. Mr Gallant explained that AdShield will block fraudulent activity, such views and clicks created by bots [autonomous computer programs], click farms and people attempting to cheat the system. He said part of AdShield will be put on the blockchain, thereby allowing advertisers to verify that they are getting legitimate hits on their ads. “Blockchain will show what is happening,” Mr Gallant said. The almost tamper-proof nature of a blockchain ledger will give advertisers reassurance as they directly pay publishers on bids for web traffic in real time, with performance and transactions verified on the blockchain. “Golden Lantern is the final piece of the puzzle,” said Mr Gallant. It is an ad management platform that includes web tracking and focuses on attribution. Through the tribeOS system it will allow advertisers to track, verify and report on traffic — that is the views and interactions from online users — that they are purchasing. The company searched for a supportive jurisdiction in which to set up, and picked Bermuda. “We spent a lot of time looking at all the options. [Bermuda] had the clearest legislation out of any country that we looked at,” Mr Gallant said. He has previously praised the island for setting itself apart from others by showing commitment to legitimizing digital assets and tokens, and passing the Initial Coin Offering Act, and the Digital Asset Business Act 2018. Looking ahead, he said tribeOS will continue raising funds in the second quarter, and launch its platform in the third. He added: “We are bringing in advertiser with letters of intent. Advertisers want to solve the problem.”

paragraphA Bermudian rower has finished the challenge of a lifetime, with a 3,000-mile trip across the Atlantic as a part of a three-strong all-female crew. Jessica Rego, 29, and crewmates Susan Ronaldson and Caroline Wilson, both British, undertook the grueling race to raise funds for the Marine Conservation Society. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, from San Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dock in Antigua, is said to be toughest rowing challenge in the world and took the team and their seven-metre ocean rowing boat, Poppy, 61 days and eight hours to complete. Ms Rego, from Devonshire, who now lives in London, said she was relieved to be back on dry land - but that she would do the race again. She added: “The biggest challenge was the relentlessness of it. You wake up every day knowing that no matter how bad the day before was, you are going to have to do it again today and the next day. There were days when we would go 70 miles and as soon as you celebrated that, you would be hit by rains and weather going the wrong way. There was one day when we were going backwards. Watching the mileage back up was probably the most demoralizing thing I have ever experienced. I’m missing being at sea, but I’ll definitely do something similar one day.” Ms Rego and her team-mates spent 18 months training for the epic trip and turned to professional racers in the UK for advice. They met Guin Batten, a British Olympic rower, as well as Sarah Hornby, a British rower who also completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 2016 and completed courses on sea survival and first aid. Ms Rego said physical fitness was an important part of their training, but that safety and survival expertise were paramount on board the boat. She explained: “We learnt about maximizing efficiencies and making sure we had a plan for every situation. You have to make sure you know how to fix everything on the boat and must come up with contingency plans for every situation.” She added: “Man overboard is a precarious situation you never want to be in. In the race, you have to be attached to the boat at all times. One of our girls fell overboard just going from one cabin to another and got hit by a wave, but because she was clipped on, it wasn’t a big deal. The race rules can seem overbearing, but you have to respect why they are there. If you fall overboard in an ocean rowboat, it is very hard to get back to the person — you can’t row backwards and if there is a strong current, that person can be gone in minutes. Ms Rego, a former Bermuda High School pupil and a keen environmentalist who used to work for the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce, said she enjoyed watching the sea life during their ocean marathon, which finished on February 11. She added: “We saw everything from tiny jellyfish to an 8ft shark and we were circled by a whale for two days. We did the race in support of the Marine Conservation Society which is one of the largest charities dealing with ocean plastics. We saw a lot of plastic, which is devastating to see around these beautiful animals. It’s a reminder that humans are the problem and we are invading their habitat.” Ms Rego and her team-mates finished 22nd out of 28 boats — she said she was satisfied with the result as the first-time rowers were only racing against themselves. They have collected about $10,000 in funds so far, but with the anticipated sale of the boat, they hope that will reach $50,000 for the Marine Conservation Society, “Our whole mission with the row was to show that small changes can make a big impact,” Ms Rego said. “If we can row across the ocean one stroke at a time, then maybe it will inspire people to think about what small change they can do in their life to do something monumental.”

Spacer

February 21

paragraphThe Progressive Labour Party faced discord among its own supporters over fears that Bermudian families are being left out in the cold, some political sources claimed. David Burt, the Premier, and Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, were thought to have a Budget-juggling act to perform as they seek ways to boost government revenues and manage debt without alienating voters. Some grassroots members feared the party was heading off course and felt uneasy about policy proposals they believed are more aligned with the One Bermuda Alliance. The concerns came alongside suggestions of cracks between younger politicians in the Cabinet and those with longer tenures in Parliament. A PLP spokeswoman insisted yesterday the party’s policies put development and investment in Bermudians at the centre of its plans to bring long-term benefits to the island. It was thought the 2019-20 Budget, to be delivered by Mr Dickinson tomorrow, sparked some unrest as the island continues to grapple with deficits and a high level of government debt, which stands at $2.46 billion. An earlier report that outlined options under consideration maintained it was “critical” that money was spent on creating a more diverse economy, although the ministry claimed stability will always come first. A well-placed source told The Royal Gazette: “I started hearing stuff once discussions around the Budget came; that’s what I’ve been told was the single-most dividing issue.” It was understood some members felt “the party is being taken in a different direction, away from PLP values”. The source explained: “Take once-a-week trash collection — the United Bermuda Party instituted this and the PLP put restoration of twice-a-week in its 1998 platform and Throne Speech, so it’s a thing. When the OBA stated they would be governing under austerity and they maintain that, it’s difficult for people then to accept it when you have not claimed it’s going to be austerity and they’re going to tighten belts to go to once a week.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, announced weekly garbage collection was to become permanent earlier this month and said high overtime costs were among the reasons for cutting pickups from twice a week. However, the source added: “The answer of overtime doesn’t answer the problem of rats ... that would not be a labour government answer.” Colonel Burch repeated yesterday that most people had adjusted to the new schedule and a 50 per cent saving in overtime costs was “considered a positive and a benefit”. He added: “More importantly, this is a benefit to the taxpayer. Even though we have five new trucks, the fact is that these added resources do not provide us with enough vehicles and equipment to return to twice-a-week trash collection.” Colonel Burch also said 300 “oversized bins” that can take seven days’ worth of garbage will be introduced at appropriate sites throughout the island. The source cited the introduction of a sugar tax, which increased rates on items such as fizzy drinks and sweets from last October, hiking up some prices, and said: “It’s not like the taxes are funding new services.” A long-serving PLP member echoed the sentiments and highlighted a proposal in the finance ministry’s Pre-Budget Report to implement a tax on rented homes. Mr Dickinson later announced, after complaints that landlords had tried to use the suggested levy as an excuse to raise rents, this had been removed from consideration and he had other revenue-raising plans. The PLP member, who asked not to be named, said: “They are hurting the same people that vote for them: the people who are struggling to keep their heads above water. To even suggest that proposal shows how out of touch they are with their base. They are getting farther away from their voting base.” When asked to reflect on whether the PLP had maintained its true values, the party member added: “We have seen that issue growing over the years. The PLP was a labour party for the people and its goal was to push for independence. They have gone completely away from that. I wonder what the Freddie Wades and Lois Browne-Evanses would think of the alpha boys. A lot of PLP supporters see them as smooth-looking, sharp talkers, but they have produced absolutely nothing.” Other sources suggested there was a disconnect between older, more experienced politicians and younger members touting the appeal of a burgeoning fintech industry. It was claimed the younger cohort could be broken down further into a group referred to as “the Alphas”, which included people such as Mr Burt and Wayne Caines, the national security minister. Several members of the party’s parliamentary group are members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. A source added: “Then there are the very real old-school who just believe that the party is moving away from its roots.” He said some experienced supporters felt PLP ideas had become “not very far Left, if at all” of the OBA’s approach. A PLP spokeswoman said yesterday the party had “made great strides in creating opportunities and implementing policies to create a fairer and better Bermuda for Bermudians”. She said these included increased access to scholarships, boosting pensions, a pay rise for government workers, and reforming procurement policy to “level the playing field” for black businesses. The spokeswoman said: “We are firmly committed to and in the process of education reform, tax reform, diversification of our economy, and creating jobs. While many of our platform promises have been kept, we recognize that, so long as one Bermudian who wants to work is unable to find work, as long as one Bermudian can’t afford to keep their lights on and one Bermudian is forced to look elsewhere for jobs and opportunities, that our work at building a better, fairer Bermuda remains unfinished. We are a different government implementing a different agenda for the betterment of all Bermudians.” A statement from the Epsilon Theta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc pointed out that the group had “provided the community of Bermuda with outstanding service and leadership for nearly 70 years”. It said, from the former United Bermuda Party premier E.T. Richards to Mr Burt of the PLP: “We pride ourselves on being non-partisan servants of the community utilizing our skill sets to empower and positively influence the lives of countless individuals in Bermuda. We continue to shape the lives of young men in Bermuda through the spectrum of programmes that we offer, which include partner programmes with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Project Alpha, Math Attack, High School Leadership Breakfast, Alpha Beautillion Scholarship and Mentorship Programme, and Community Symposium. The Epsilon Theta Lambda Chapter is committed to providing service and advocacy for our community.”

paragraphOpinion. By Nick Kempe, Shadow Minister of Finance and the Opposition Senate leader. "On the eve of the tabling of the Budget, I will offer my own Pre-Budget Report Card. The most obvious letter to grade the Government’s performance with the economy is a D. D for Desperation. D for Distraction. D for Deflection. The Premier’s recent rant in the House of Assembly smacked of desperation. He oversold the miracles of fintech and now that Bermuda has been under whelmed with the results, he seeks to blame the One Bermuda Alliance for being “negative”. Apparently asking for an update on the number of promised jobs for Bermudians is an attempt to destabilize the Government. Apparently asking about the $1 million promised by Arbitrade to help to build the recently cancelled incubator on Park Place is not in the best interest of Bermuda. Instead of owning that the development of this new industry is not flourishing in Bermuda as promised, the Premier is lashing out and leaning back on tired old conspiracy theories to shift the blame and to distract from failure to stimulate the economy. To distract from the issues of a flagging economy suffering from an absence of new stimuli and a declining population, the Progressive Labour Party government’s press conferences have become filled with electoral-style rhetoric with very little substance. It would seem that the “Minister of Propaganda” is now hard at work preparing speeches, using the ones he drafted while in Opposition as his guide. Walton Brown, for example, gave a bombastic press conference last week with a speech he was seemingly reading for the first time. In it, he claimed all sorts of wonderful news about how we are not in a recession, but failed to mention that the only thing buoying the numbers was the $60 million of machinery that had been purchased for the airport and the St Regis project in St George’s. When asked about the late retail sales figures, the minister deflected and blamed his civil servants for technical delays. Lo and behold, the very next day, another month of bad results were released and the date on the report was January 2019. Yes, you always need to check the small print. Are you willing to believe that the minister called a propaganda-filled press conference in mid-February and simply forgot to include the retail sales report that was prepared for him weeks prior? Judging from the Pre-Budget Report, we are to expect $50 million more in taxes this year — but no one in Government seems able to say from where — not one single dollar in savings from the Government and yet another year of a broken promise to balance the budget. Perhaps a D is too generous."

paragraphOpinion. By Cheryl Pooley, a social commentator and three-times former parliamentary candidate. "Bermudian voters are politically astute and they have proven that they are no pushovers. Between 1998 and 2017 we have been see-sawing between the two political parties. But there comes a time when the voters themselves need to take stock of their choices and take partial responsibility for the poor state of affairs that our island is in. After the 2008 worldwide recession that has lingered with Bermuda for a decade, coupled with incredibly poor fiscal management under Ewart Brown, the former premier, and snubbing of the tourism industry in favour of international business, we are now a nation in $2.5 billion of debt. Taxes must be implemented, austerity measures must be taken, innovative resuscitation of tourism and small business development has to happen and Progressive Labour Party supporters need to suck it up. If not, we risk our Bermuda dollar being devalued. On July 18, 2017, the PLP won 24 of the 36 seats in the House of Assembly. The majority spoke and so they need to stand shoulder to shoulder in supporting the Minister of Finance’s plans to get us out of this economic mess and stop whining. Curtis Dickinson is not a magician and he cannot wave a wand, but he does have a financial plan and we need to have some faith in him. The finance minister is well educated, experienced in the financial world and is a progressive. My only criticism of his recent town hall meeting results is that intentions of taxing rental income were not clearly communicated to the public. There is no way that low to middle-income elderly citizens who rely on rental income from a tenant would be caught in the tax net proposed. There is no way that families who rent part of their property to help towards their mortgage repayments would be caught in the tax net. PLP supporters need to pay attention and accept that austerity measures must be implemented, but it doesn’t mean the party is going to burn those that are already struggling. Surely tax should be applied to rent profits earned by modern-day descendants of the “40 Thieves” merchant families, modern-day descendants of the privileged families that owned the nine parishes and modern-day descendants of the shareholders of the Virginia Company/Somers Isles Company. They have been the ones that have gobbled up the 21 square miles we call home. They are the ones invested in real estate and, therefore, the profits earned from their interests in commercial tenancy, as well as high-end properties and multiple property investments, should be taxed on their capital gains like any other westernized economy. I am acutely aware that not all property investors were privileged. There are Bermudians who came from nothing and made great achievements in real estate such as Sir John Swan, Harry Soares, Fernance Perry (deceased) and Freddie Yearwood (deceased). These fine citizens worked hard, had charisma, were smart entrepreneurs and businessmen. They did not amass their wealth through a silver spoon. Bermuda’s economy is not doing OK, especially for the majority of individual household earners who are bringing in less than $50,000 a year. A vast amount of Bermudians fall into this economic bracket — they are living on the breadline, paycheck to paycheck with very little hope of ever owning their own home. Implementation of taxes should not affect this portion of our population. This is not what a labour party is about. The finance minister has to have the funds to pay down our national debt, provide our schools with IT labs and keep them free of mould, maintain our public transportation and buy more fleets, maintain government buildings, roads, fund essential services such as police and fire. We have no home for abused women, no home for children until they can be placed in a foster home, we have no halfway house for released inmates, and we are not providing sufficient homes and care for our elderly. We have an archaic youth centre in Hamilton and we cannot maintain Sandys 360. Curtis Dickinson cannot magically pull $2 billion out of a hat to repay our debt and to finance these initiatives. The PLP is not proposing income tax. It is proposing implementing a reasonable, realistic 2019-20 Budget that will include new taxation because we have no other choice. We need to stop living so large but thinking we are poor. The glass is half-full, not half-empty. There is hope, there is room to exercise different fiscal approaches and we just need to put our chin up and cut the minister some slack."

paragraphThe owner of a daycare shuttered after a child was seriously injured was operating without a licence, a court heard yesterday. The Supreme Court heard in a civil case that Vernesha Symonds, the owner of Heavenly Blessings Nursery and Preschool, was not licensed at the time a 12-month-old boy sustained a serious head injury last October. Brian Moodie, the lawyer for the respondent, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, said: “The evidence before the court, in the form of affidavits, is that the appellant did not have a licence to operate a daycare centre at the time the incident occurred, and continues to be without one today.” Michael Weeks, then minister of social development and sport, elected to close the Pembroke facility as a precaution on October 30. He said at the time that it was too early to confirm if the child’s injury had been caused at the daycare. Mr Weeks did not name the nursery involved but said that there has been “a few” previous incidents. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, named the nursery at a press conference a few days later. Ms Symonds launched legal action against the Minister of Social Development and Sport over the closure. Mr Moodie told the court that the last licence issued to Ms Symonds had expired on August 31. Sharon Rampersad-Ible, representing Ms Symonds, disputed the claim. She said: “She did have a licence. The only thing that was left to do ... was collect it.” Ms Rampersad-Ible pointed to an e-mail between Ms Symonds and Tache’ King, an environmental health officer with the Ministry of Health, from October 8 that confirmed receipt of licence application materials. Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams pointed out that Ms King was not the person responsible for issuing licences. She asked Ms Rampersad-Ible: “Is this the best evidence you rely on to demonstrate the licence had been renewed?” Ms Rampersad-Ible responded: “Yes.” Mr Moodie pointed out fees needed to be paid before licences were issued. Ms Rampersad-Ible admitted that her client had not paid any fees. After a brief recess to change courtrooms, Ms Rampersad-Ible announced that after conferring with her client it had been decided to withdraw the appeal. Mrs Justice Subair Williams called the announcement “most unexpected” but agreed to dismiss the case. Both parties agreed to bear their own costs. Speaking to The Royal Gazette yesterday, Ms Rampersad-Ible said she realised she was “facing an uphill battle”. She added of the decision to withdraw the appeal: “It was the right one.” Calls to Ms Symonds yesterday afternoon were not returned by press time. An investigation was launched by the Bermuda Police Service into the circumstances surrounding the boy’s injuries. A police spokesman said yesterday: “The investigation is ongoing and is in its advanced stages.”

paragraphA mother who admitted bringing $125,000 of cocaine into Bermuda was jailed for seven years yesterday. Deja Anee Richardson, 26, said she knew her suitcase contained hidden drugs, but believed the drug was cannabis not cocaine. She told Supreme Court: “I just want to apologise to the court and my family for putting them through this.” The court heard that on October 26, 2017, the Pembroke resident flew from the island to New Jersey via New York. She returned the next day with a suitcase and was selected for a secondary search. When her bag was X-rayed, officers noticed a suspicious discrepancy around its frame. A further examination of the suitcase revealed 11 packages hidden in the pull handle, wheel housing and the frame of the case. Tests showed the packages contained a total of 522.07 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of $125,875. Richardson told police at the time: “I made a dumb mistake trusting people.” Maria Sofianos, Crown counsel, said Richardson expressed remorse for her actions in a social inquiry report and deserved some credit for her early admission of guilt. But Ms Sofianos also said a message needed to be sent to discourage others and suggested a sentence of about 7½ years. Charles Richardson, the defence lawyer, said a sentence of no more than six years would be appropriate. He said the defendant was a young mother who struggled financially in part because of her child’s medical issues. Mr Richardson said: “She was really in a bad position, one that wasn’t entirely of her own making. She knows she has to go to prison. The question is for how long.” Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said the defendant was reckless to assume the drugs hidden in the suitcase was cannabis without checking it. He said: “She has to accept the consequences of her act. It has to be so.” Mr Justice Greaves said he would give her a discount on her sentence because of her previous good character and early guilty plea. He sentenced Richardson to seven years in prison, with time already served taken into account.

paragraphFour Bermuda National Trust properties are featured in commemorative stamps issued by the Bermuda Post Office.  

2019 National Trust postage stamps

Waterville in Paget, Devondale in Devonshire, Springfield in Sandys and Bridge House in St George’s are pictured on the stamps which can be purchased at Perot Post Office. The Bermuda National Trust was established in 1970 to preserve Bermuda’s natural, architectural and historic treasures and to encourage public appreciation of them. It is the steward for 82 properties including three museums, more than 277 acres of open space and 15 cemeteries.

paragraphBermuda Heroes Weekend’s Parade of Bands will be hosted in the heart of the city this year thanks to a partnership with the Corporation of Hamilton. The fifth annual carnival style event takes place from June 7 to 17 and culminates in the colorful street parade, which was previously held in Southside. Jason Sukdeo, BHW president, said: “The BHW team is eager to execute this thrilling move, which will provide all participants with everything they have stated was missing from this electrifying event. But it will not just be those playing mas reaping these benefits, the thousands of spectators who come out to enjoy and support the parade will now also have so much more to look forward to on June 17. We promised Bermuda a grand surprise and the BHW Ltd team always delivers.” Charles Gosling, Mayor of Hamilton, was instrumental in orchestrating the move. He said: “Part of the city’s vision statement is to be vibrant. I have no doubt that the costumes, colors, culture and music that will be on display during the parade that day will fit that bill. This partnership is the perfect fit for both Hamilton as well as carnival in Bermuda. Hamilton Harbour provides a beautiful backdrop, the city is central with easy access and there are a multitude of restaurants and retailers that can be enjoyed as onlookers enjoy the revelers.” Mr Sukdeo added: “As Mayor Gosling mentioned, this move to Hamilton provides the participants as well as the spectators with more entryways into the city which will alleviate any traffic issues. “There are more parking facilities as well as additional modes of public transportation via buses and ferries. Bringing the parade into the city will also help to boost business for those restaurants and bars along the route that can accommodate the spectators. The BHW team is working feverously to deliver an exceptional five-year celebration of Bermuda Heroes Weekend. The party in Hamilton is simply one more way the team is ensuring that it is the greatest event ever.”

paragraphHurricane Michael and wildfires in California impacted fourth-quarter results for PartnerRe, which has reported a loss of $32 million. The hurricane and wildfires created losses of $282 million for the Bermudian-based reinsurer, which was partially offset by net realised and unrealized investment gains on fixed maturities and short-term investments of $31 million, and net foreign exchange gains of $66 million. In the corresponding quarter in 2017, which included $120 million of losses related to California wildfires, the reinsurer achieved a profit of $72 million. For the full year, PartnerRe suffered a loss of $132 million, driven by catastrophe losses of $386 million related to typhoons Jebi and Trami, hurricanes Florence and Michael, and the California wildfires. The company’s property and casualty combined ratio for the quarter was 120.1 per cent, and 108.7 per cent for the year. Life and health profitability, including underwriting result and allocated net investment income was $86 million for the year, an improvement of 26 per cent year-on-year. Emmanuel Clarke, president and chief executive officer, said: “The third and fourth quarters of 2018 were active periods of catastrophic loss events which impacted the company’s non-life combined ratio. In the face of another year of above normal insured catastrophic loss activity for the industry, PartnerRe was able to deliver once again a profit, excluding the volatility of our investment grade fixed income portfolio and the foreign exchange impact, thanks to our diversified and profitable book of business and our gross-to-net strategy.” He added: “We are seeing increasing opportunities to deploy our capital at our target return across our portfolio and the 2019 year has started on a positive note, with strong execution at the January renewals where we reported double-digit year-on-year growth in non-life premium production with improved margins across several classes and geographies. With further improvement in margins expected throughout the year, I am confident that we will continue to build on these achievements, alongside our expected continued growth in life and health and improved income generation in our investments portfolio, to deliver solid returns to our shareholder in 2019.”

Spacer

February 20

paragraphEntrepreneurs providing food and beverages, sundries and souvenirs have been invited to operate vendor spots at Daniel’s Head Beach this summer. The Bermuda Land Development Company is welcoming vendors from last year, but wishes to offer new amenities for anyone spending time at the beach. The BLDC invited interested parties to submit a commercial application form, including a business plan, by 5pm on March 7, 2019. Successful applicants must be available to operate at the beach from May 1, 2019 to October 31, 2019. The BLDC reopened Daniel’s Head Beach to the public in 2017 after making improvements to the property. It introduced a floating water park operated by X20 Adventures as well as snorkeling and jet ski tours. The area continues to be marketed to global developers and investors in an attempt to revive the former resort location. This year’s vendors will include the water park, electric boat rentals and a snack provider. Applications should be submitted to info@bldc.bm. Forms are available on the BLDC website, bldc.bm. Anyone wishing to organize a site visit should contact the leasing administrator at 293-5712 during business hours.

paragraphSignificant numbers of police descended on a residence on North Shore Road in Hamilton Parish at about 6.30pm yesterday after a report of a domestic dispute. A police spokesman said reports indicated that a 45-year-old man had threatened to physically harm his mother, 67, at a home in the Crawl Hill area. Officers found the woman unharmed and carried out a widespread search for her son, who was not located. Witnesses or anyone with information were asked to call the main police number, 295-001.

paragraphCategory five Hurricane Irma caused widespread destruction when it rolled through the Turks & Caicos in September 2017. Clocking winds of more than 175mph it left at least 18 people dead, and downed 1,300 utility poles. One of the few things left unscathed were ten Bermudian-style roofs built by Bermudian Guilden Gilbert, of Innovative Building Systems [Bahamas], based in Nassau. “Hurricane Irma went right through Providenciales, Turks & Caicos,” Mr Gilbert said. “We had absolutely no damage on any of our roofs, and we were the only roofing system with no damage.” He launched The Bermuda Roof 12 years ago, and is now looking to expand into other Caribbean islands. Mr Gilbert moved to the Bahamas in 1997, six years after marrying a Bahamian, Sandra. Before moving, the couple heard that there was someone in Nassau building a traditional SKB Bermuda roof, but when they got there and inspected it, the quality wasn’t impressive. The Gilberts went with an asphalt shingle roof, common in the area. Mr Gilbert didn’t think about Bermuda roofs again until a few years later, when he started working as an insurance broker dealing with property. “I started to notice property damage occurring here that wasn’t occurring in Bermuda,” he said, “particularly with the roof.” At the time homes in Nassau were built to earthquake standards. “The structure of the building was very strong, but the weak point was the roof,” Mr Gilbert said. He noticed that the insurance market gave discounted premiums to people with Bermudian-style roofs, because they were considered more durable. “Then I started to look at it more and more,” he said. “I came across the Dura Slate product that was used within the Tucker’s Point development in Bermuda. It was a lightweight option to limestone slate. The creator of the product is a guy who lived in Bermuda, and is married to a Bermudian.” The Bermuda Roof’s first job was a 21,000 sq ft roof in Exuma, Bahamas. He now has a crew of guys in Nassau who have been working with him for ten years. “I trained them in the installation so I don’t have to get up on the roof any more to physically do the work,” he said. “I do spend quite a bit of time making sure it is being done to a high standard. It automatically adds value and brings a lower property insurance premium.” One of the advantages of the Bermuda roof is that it’s designed for a tropical climate. “An asphalt shingle roof will suck in the heat,” Mr Gilbert said. “A Bermuda roof deflects heat so it makes the structure cooler.” His typical client is high end. “Typically I’m dealing with the architects, and most of the architects are somewhat familiar with the Bermuda roof,” he said. “When we started to work in Turks & Caicos, I sent information to an architect I reached out to, and he said let’s give it a try. He tried it and then used it on every development he had after that because he loved it so much.” Most of his roofs are Bermudian in style only, but at least one is a functional Bermuda roof with a 70,000 gallon water tank built under the house providing potable water. Mr Gilbert said the Bahamians don’t seem to mind the Bermudian-style roof on the landscape. “The Bahamas don’t have a roof product to be identified with them,” he said. “Roofs are typically anywhere from asphalt shingles to cedar shake to concrete tile to Spanish tile. The roof has to meet code, but whatever roof product is used doesn’t matter.” Because Dura Slate is no longer available, all the roofs now done are styrofoam adhered to a Plycem (structural cement board) substrate for maximum wind uplift performance. “I’m in a joint venture with a friend of mine who owns a foam company,” he said. “He cuts the roof tile to my specifications. When I install, my goal is to retain the traditional Bermuda profile. When you look at my styrofoam roof against a slate roof you wouldn’t tell the difference in profile. The styrofoam creates the shape. Then an adhesive bonds it to cement board. Then we coat the styrofoam with a proprietary fibrebond product and paint it with elastomeric paint. The products trade under the Bermuda Roof name brand.” Mr Gilbert also runs an insurance brokerage operation Chandler Gilbert Insurance Associates Ltd, a renewable energy company Alternative Power Source (Bahamas) Ltd which is also incorporated in Bermuda, and CG Captive Managers Ltd.

•For more information see thebermudaroof.com

paragraphOpinion, by Michael Fahy, former Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, and Junior Minister of Finance under the One Bermuda Alliance government. "Monday’s newspaper was quite possibly one of the more depressing reads in the past few months. From an announcement of the closure of Bluck’s, to the departure of the general counsel of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, to further discussion on the dismantling of the corporations of Hamilton and St George, to the theft of avocados, and closing out with an extensive editorial about the Premier’s extraordinary rant in Friday’s House of Assembly, only a blind person would not be able to see that Bermuda is on a continuing downward spiral. What is worse, however, is that most Bermudians don’t actually appear to give a damn. Now some will say that the demise of Bluck’s was inevitable. Times change and Bluck’s did not. There is a lot to be said for that. However, that would be too simple an excuse. As you will recall, October’s retail sales statistics were released last week indicating an eighth successive month of decline. You don’t need to be a clairvoyant to look into the future to predict that the spiral will continue. And there appears to be little on the Government’s agenda to reverse this trend. It is therefore sadly safe to say that Bluck’s may be the first this year, but it certainly will not be the last to close permanently. Expect at least one more well-known retailer to close its doors for good. Look for the Minister of Finance to throw retailers a bone in his budget through duty or payroll tax relief to keep the house of cards propped up for another year, all the while ignoring the obvious — lack of population in Bermuda purchasing goods and services. If the Progressive Labour Party government really wants to help Bermudians, it needs to move now on immigration reform. This remains the most pressing issue. Not subsuming the corporations, not interfering with the Bermuda Tourism Authority or the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission. Until we unlatch and swing open the gates to the outside world and warmly welcome job makers, investors and overseas workers, and give them reasons to remain in Bermuda, we are doomed to a deep, dark depression. If the PLP government needs an example of how to be welcoming, it needs to look at our cousins to the south in the Cayman Islands. Cayman is booming. Infrastructure is being constructed. The property market is flourishing. Tourism is on the increase and jobs are plentiful. A new Cayman airport is being built. Some will say it is because of the investments made by Ken Dart, and they would be partly right, but the underlying issue is that Cayman had the foresight to warmly welcome wealthy investors such as Dart. Cayman is surpassing all expectations and its progressive ideals are bringing real economic success. Its warm welcoming of “expats” is a large part of that. If you don’t believe it, watch how much Cayman believes in it at growthmatters.ky. Cayman’s economic outlook shows a continued GDP annual growth rate of just under 3 per cent and an unemployment rate of about 5 per cent. In Bermuda, we are on track for a decline in GDP and a rise in unemployment, with the only thing keeping us from a severe decline being active construction projects started under the One Bermuda Alliance — St Regis, the airport and Caroline Bay. Liberal and caring Cayman immigration policies encourage direct foreign investment, which create opportunities for Caymanians and raise their standard of living. In Bermuda, our policies are comparatively anti-foreigner and generally anti-“real Bermudian”. It is becoming desperately sad. Instead, we could actually be progressive and caring, and move away for our insular attitudes and give real opportunities for all Bermudians. We need to take our blinkers off. A Bermuda survey in 2018 found a slump in business confidence amid concerns about the shrinking working population and likely tax increases in the pipeline — this does not help growth! So what can be done? We need to take more Buckley’s — the medicine that tastes like you know what, but it works — and that remains liberalisation of our immigration regime. The PLP ministers know it and say as much in meetings with business leaders. It is high time that the Premier leads on this issue and stands in front of Bermuda and says: “While I believe in Bermuda for Bermudians, we can give more to Bermudians through a permanent residency and status programme.” He is more than welcome to model it on the progressive Pathways to Status programme and take full credit for the economic success it will inevitably bring. After all, if tourism minister Zane DeSilva can wet the roof of the airport after protesting it and no one bats an eyelid, the Premier could certainly give a national address supporting liberalisation of immigration. Bermuda’s children will thank him for it. It is time. Mr Premier. It is time."

Spacer

February 19

paragraphThe Premier and the Minister of National Security called on the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s latest intake of recruits yesterday. David Burt and Wayne Caines toured Warwick Camp and visited the new soldiers as they got to grips with military life on their second day of training. Mr Burt told the troops as he and Mr Caines dropped in on a classroom lesson: “We look forward to your continued service in the Royal Bermuda Regiment as you serve your country and better yourselves.” He added afterwards that he was well briefed on a change in structure to the RBR, which will see troops get more specialized training for disaster relief work, better educational opportunities and the potential for full-time careers. Mr Burt said: “Change is a process and what we are talking about is fundamental change in the way the regiment is structured. The agility the regiment has shown to adapt to this change should be commended. We try to be agile across the Government, it’s very important. What is most important is for the regiment to have the support it needs and the complement it needs. The Government will continue to support the regiment to see that is the case.” The two inspected some of the new equipment acquired to support the RBR’s stronger humanitarian and disaster relief role and the troop carriers bought to replace ageing Toyota Land Cruiser trucks. Mr Caines, a former regiment captain, earlier told the new soldiers he had seen Recruit Camp as a private soldier, a junior non-commissioned officer instructor and as an officer. He admitted that in Recruit Camp as a new private soldier he had thought, as a qualified lawyer and already married, that there was nothing the RBR could teach him, until he hit problems with disassembling his rifle and putting it back together again. He said his junior NCO instructor, now Sergeant Major Luis Pereira, had taken him aside and given him extra lessons until he got right. Mr Caines said: “It’s a funny thing; when you prepare yourself and work really hard, you can get to a lot of places you never thought you could reach. There is an opportunity to grow as a professional, there’s an opportunity to grow as people.” He added: “I would not be the Minister of National Security if it hadn’t been for my regiment service.” Mr Caines said that he was committed to an RBR coastguard to patrol the island’s waters on a full-time basis. He told the recruits: “The regiment has the capability for you to develop, I am the Minister of National Security and I was a private soldier just like you. You came up here because it was the best thing to do for yourselves and your country. Thank you.” He added later: “We have to continue to grow and develop the specialties in the regiment. They did a GED programme last year and we want to do more of that with Bermuda College courses added in the future. We want to fund training programmes and opportunities that will help them reach their full potential.”

paragraphA Jamaican national who fled the airport during a customs search has been found guilty of smuggling heroin. Omar Davy, 38, was spotted on CCTV taking a package from the back of his pants and stashing it in an already-searched bag when he was briefly left alone. He told the Supreme Court that he had agreed to bring a package into Bermuda after his life and the lives of his family were threatened. Yesterday, after 30 minutes of deliberation, the 11-person jury found Davy guilty of drug importation. Davy was also convicted by a unanimous verdict of possession of a drug with intent to supply and obstruction of a customs officer. Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves remanded him into custody until tomorrow, when he will be sentenced. Prosecutors alleged that Davy smuggled 220.88 grams of heroin, worth up to $765,700 if sold on the streets of Bermuda, into the island on July 10 last year. The court heard Davy, from Mandeville, Jamaica, arrived in Bermuda that afternoon on an Air Canada flight from Toronto. He was selected for a secondary search and, as his bags were being searched, a drug-sniffing dog indicated that he had an illegal substance on him. The customs officer involved in the search said Davy appeared to be nervous and was repeatedly pulling down his shirt and pulling up his pants. An inspection of his bags found nothing, but when the officer went to see her superior, Davy was seen on CCTV taking an object from his trousers and placing it in the searched bag. He then appeared to cover the object with clothes before the officer returned. Questioned by the customs officer, Davy said he had to deal with a traffic ticket in Bermuda and that he planned to stay with his girlfriend while on the island. Asked to write down her name, he wrote “Dewight R”. He was then asked for her full name, and claimed it was “Dawnette Geed”. Davy later ran out of the airport, leaving his bag behind, and led customs officers on a chase to the Causeway. He managed to flag down a truck, but a security guard on a motorcycle stopped the vehicle while it was still on the Causeway, and Davy was arrested. Davy told the court that on the day before his flight, he was abducted by a group of men at gunpoint over a $24,000 debt he had to a Jamaican “don”. He told the court the men forced him into a waiting SUV, where they put a black cloth over his head. They then choked and beat him for 20 minutes as they drove him to another location. There, Davy said he was beaten until he could barely stand, then choked unconscious. Davy said that after he was awoken by further blows, he agreed to bring a package to Bermuda. He told the court the men had threatened not only his life, but the lives of his family in Jamaica. The men then drove him to Pearson International Airport in time for his flight. Davy said on the plane he took the package from the laptop case where the men left it, and debated leaving it on the plane. Instead, he said he put it in the back of his pants. Davy said he had no idea what was in the package, and ran out of the airport because he panicked. Alan Richards, Crown counsel, called Davy’s story a “movie script” made up to escape conviction. Mr Richards asked Davy how he was able to outrun customs officers hours after he was beaten to the point he could barely stand, and why his attackers had left more than $1,500 in his wallet if they wanted money. The prosecutor also highlighted that a police officer present during a strip-search of Davy hours after his arrest saw no bruises, cuts or swelling. Archibald Warner, defence lawyer for Davy, said the prosecutors had failed to prove that the defendant knew the packages contained an illegal drug. Mr Warner also argued that Davy had acted under “extreme duress”.

• Update: When the Crown opened its case, it told the Supreme Court the estimated value of the seized heroin was $647,900. During the course of the trial a police analyst gave a revised figure of $765,700, as reported in this story.

paragraphMore than 700 jobs will potentially go in the proposed next phase of integration of business units in Europe following Axa’s acquisition of XL Group last year. Axa Corporate Solutions, Axa Matrix, Axa Art and XL Catlin, are to become a united Axa XL division. In a statement, Axa XL said that following the closing of the acquisition last September, several teams have already started working together, with “tangible business wins as a result of going to market with a stronger proposition”. It said that, in Europe, Axa XL began transferring employees into a single employing company at the beginning of the month and, subject to regulatory approvals, commenced plans for merging certain legal entities. Axa XL is the property and casualty and specialty risk division of Axa. Greg Hendrick, chief executive officer of Axa XL, said: “This is a very important next step for Axa XL in its journey to become a united division. This proposed target operating model and organizational structure will help us to deliver the best services to our customers and provide them with the innovative solutions they need to succeed.” A draft plan for the next phase of the integration has been presented to employee representatives in countries where formal consultations are applicable. This includes France, Italy, Germany and the UK. In addition to proposing a new target operating model and organizational structure, the plan proposes activities and synergies to support the division’s combined operations. It is to be presented on a country-by-country basis and discussed with social partners during the coming weeks. The company said that combining what were previously separate teams and activities into one structure “means Axa XL will need to redefine its working processes and organisation accordingly. The proposed plan sets out the potential reduction of 711 positions in Europe, out of a workforce of 9,500 employees globally”. It added that supporting measures will be put in place and may include internal redeployments or voluntary departures. Doina Palici-Chehab, chief integration officer of Axa Group, said: “Consistent with Axa’s long-term responsible employer strategy, Axa XL is committed to supporting its employees through the change period, and every effort will be made to assist them.”

paragraphCyber coverage and cybersecurity solutions will be the focus of the inaugural NetDiligence Cyber Risk Summit Bermuda, at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club next month. The two-day event has a cocktail reception on March 13, with the following day featuring speakers and discussions on cyber coverage and cybersecurity solutions. It will bring together more than 50 speakers, and feature sessions looking at topics ranging from the evolution of cyber reinsurance, and the state of preparedness for cyber catastrophe, to silent cyber, business interruption losses, and the menace of ransomware. There will be breakout sessions, a fireside chat, and a keynote speech from Laura Galante, who is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. US-based NetDiligence is a leading provider of cyber-risk readiness and response solutions. For the past eight years it has published its Cyber Claims Study, featuring actual losses for data breaches and other cyber-related events covered by leading cyber insurance carriers. The most recent report, published in November, revealed that the aggregate total breach cost for the year of the study was $640,000. The average claim for a large company was $8.8 million, and the average claim for ransomware was $229,000. The NetDiligence Cyber Risk Summit, on March 13 and 14, is chaired by Sandra DeSilva, of Nova Limited; Giles Harlow, of Aon (Bermuda); Caitlyne Lindo, of the Bermuda Business Development Agency; Noel Pearman, of Axa XL; and Sarah Spurling, of Sompo International.

paragraphLocal actors, directors and producers will take centre stage at the opening two days of the Bermuda International Film Festival. Four events highlighting Bermuda talent are slated to run on March 10 and 11 at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. The Bermuda films will cover topics from Gombey Dancers in training to lionfish divers, the Spirit of Bermuda and artist Heather Nova. Screening on the opening day of the festival at 4pm is The Isle of the Queen: Bermuda. The documentary was shot by a German production house with the assistance of Bermudian filmmakers Lara Smith and Milton Raposo. On the same day at 6pm, the festival will celebrate the film and television career of Bermudian actress Lana Young. This will be followed by the BIFF 2019 opening party at BUEI from 8pm to 10pm. An Evening with Lana Young will feature a screening of her latest film, Bentley’s Will in which she plays a lead role. Ms Young said: “To be supported by BIFF, by my beautiful island in the middle of the sea and my fellow Bermudians, lifts my spirit so high it makes me feel like everything is possible. Thank you for having my back, Bermuda. It means the world to know you’re with me in this crazy and unpredictable business that I love so much.” On March 11 at 6pm, Bermudian and Bermuda-based short filmmakers, as well as filmmakers who shot parts of their film locally or have other connections to the island, will be screened on what has been dubbed “BerMovies Day”. Films featured include The Adventures of Raz: Milk Roaches by Bermudian animator Tashel Bean; Prince Jodie and Cicatrix by Rory Wilson, a UK-based Bermudian director; Requiem: The Story of Bermuda’s Disappearing Sharks by Bermuda resident director Alex Godfrey; Silent Times, which is partially shot in Bermuda, by director Christopher Annino, and Raghead, written by Tom Coash, a former resident of Bermuda. A reception will follow the screenings. At 8pm on March 11, BIFF will feature Emmanuel Itier’s The Cure, a documentary that Dawn Zuill, a Bermudian, helped to produce with the Hollywood actress Sharon Stone. The film is described as “a worldwide journey into healing the mind, healing the body, and healing the planet”. It features Ms Stone, and includes Vandana Shiva, Deepak Chopra and Mark Wahlberg. Mr Itier, a director, will conduct a documentary master class on March 11 from 10pm to 11.30am, while Ms Young will host an acting master class from 2pm to 4pm. Festival tickets for BIFF films, master classes and parties are on sale at biff.pix.bm   The BIFF festival, including award-winning international features, runs from March 10 to 17.

paragraphVeteran journalist, author and historian Ira Philip will be honored with a special tribute on Thursday. The Atlantic Publishing House and the Leopards Club, in celebration of their 40th and 70th anniversaries respectively, will host a special tribute to Mr Philip who died last year. Tony Martin, a past professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College in the United States who died six years ago, and who visited Bermuda in 1998, will also be honored at the event. An interview with Mr Philip about the Alexandrina Lodge and the Bermuda Recorder, which has never been seen by the public, will be shown. Dale Butler, of Atlantic Publishing House, said Mr Philip was an “outstanding man” who didn’t give superficial meaning of things, but “dug deep”. A short film will also be shown of Mr Martin speaking about Jamaican political leader Marcus Garvey. Mr Butler said: “I thought this would be a great event to highlight with a short movie of Ira Philip talking in 2009 and Tony Martin when I brought him here in 1998.” The tribute is the first in a series of eight events to be held this year to highlight the work of black Bermudians. Mr Butler said both Mr Philip and Mr Martin were keen observers and writers of black history, and it was fitting to celebrate them with contemporary historians looking at their work. Three contemporary historians who have had some form of interaction with Mr Philip will also speak at the event. Minister for the Cabinet Office Walton Brown, Colwyn Burchall and Radell Tankard will speak about Mr Philip and will discuss aspects of Bermuda’s history from their own perspectives. Dr Tankard said: “I think it is a tremendous opportunity to honour and recognize Mr Philip who has been an inspiration to me and the broader community. The fact that we are taking time to recognize Mr Philip is a wonderful occasion.” Mr Burchall said Mr Philip wrote the blurb to one of his books and often advised him. He said: “I would send him drafts and he would advise me, ‘Take this out, put this in or that this happened on this date. He was very much a living library. He is one who chronicled Bermuda’s 20th-century history, often the stories that were left untold.” Mr Burchall added: “I feel committed to continue in the work he has done in our history.” Former Bermuda Industrial Union president Ottiwell Simmons will be presented with the Triumph of the Spirit Award. The authors will also sign books and take questions from the audience.

The event is Thursday at 6pm and admission is $10 or $15 with soup.

paragraphSeniors will be treated to a free class on internet safety today in Hamilton. The Department of ICT Policy and Innovation is hosting the information session from 10am to 2.30pm at the St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Centennial Hall. The event will focus on four “critical skills” aimed at creating a better internet experience: respect, responsibility, reasoning and resilience. Topics include social media, online banking and smartphones. Students from Mount St Agnes Academy will be on hand to give one-on-one instruction and tech-savvy seniors will assist through the department’s Seniors Teaching Seniors programme. A light lunch will be served at the church, at 59 Victoria Street. Anyone wishing to attend should contact the Department of ICT Policy and Innovation by calling 294-2774 or by e-mailing cybertips@gov.bm

Spacer

February 18

paragraphBermuda’s electronic communications and electricity sectors are to be guided by two new sets of standards designed to protect consumers, the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda has announced. The standards, which are subject to consultation, are the Principles of Consumer Protection and Market Review. Consumer Protection aims to provide a single point of reference to protect consumers’ interests, promote the delivery of high-quality services and products, and encourage best practices by licensee in both sectors. This includes honest marketing and advertising, bills that are easy to understand and better handling of complaints and covers services such as fixed and mobile telephone, long distance, internet access, subscription television and supply of electricity. Market Review offers more protection for consumers by analyzing the state of competition in the various electronic communications markets such as broadband and mobile. The aim is to create an environment to determine whether remedies should be applied or if existing regulations should be removed. Denton Williams, chief executive of the authority, said: “The regulatory authority is mandated to ensure that providers of electronic communications and electricity services treat their customers in a transparent manner and deliver services that are reliable, efficient, adequate and safe. “We are committed to protecting the rights of consumers and believe that the Consumer Protection and Market Review protects consumers and promotes business practices and pricing that are both fair and reasonable.” The authority invites interested parties to submit comments on its website https://rab.bm/ under “Consultations and Responses”. The deadline for submission for Consumer Protection is March 15 and March 7, 2019 for Market Review.

paragraphFour of five new trash trucks suffered minor damage during offloading but are expected to be in use this month. 

2019 DAF trash trucks

paragraphLieutenant-Colonel David Burch, Minister of Public Works, shared the news in his ministerial statement during Friday’s return to Parliament. He added that one truck also had a minor electrical problem. All five of the vehicles, worth about $140,000 each, are now in working order and have been licensed by the Transport Control Department. Colonel Burch said: “As the new vehicles have some enhanced and additional operational features, Marsh Folly staff participated in training this week to familiarize themselves with the new vehicles and one was used for the Tuesday collection.” Colonel Burch reiterated that the once a week trash pick up would now become “a permanent feature of the Bermuda landscape”. He encouraged residents to purchase wheelie bins which the government will sell at landed cost along with recycling bins. Colonel Burch outlined a number of advancements within his ministry including a reduction in costs. He said: “Overtime costs have been cut by more than half from $1.2 million to $320,000, the number of injuries are down significantly, the number of vehicle accidents are also down and the work/life balance of staff has improved since they no longer regularly work into the evening hours.” A new truck wash station will also be installed at Marsh Folly. Colonel Burch encouraged members of the public to consider composting their food waste and to recycle.

paragraphA clerk from the British Parliament, who spent two weeks on the island working with Bermuda’s Public Accounts Committee, returned to the UK on Saturday. Stephen McGinness, a Clerk of the House of Commons’ PAC, visited to help the Bermuda committee with planning and reporting its findings. Dennis Lister Jr, the Speaker of the House, said the trip followed a visit by the Bermuda PAC to the UK in January 2018 to “go through some exercises and training in rules, responsibilities and functions”. Mr Lister told Dr McGinness, who was in the House of Assembly, that he was “sure you can testify to your colleagues that it has been a very worthy exercise”.

paragraphNew hotels will increase Bermuda’s room numbers by 240, the Bermuda Tourism Authority reported on Friday. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, said the Azura, Caroline Bay and St George’s hotel developments would reverse a decades-long downward trend. He was speaking in the foreword to the BTA year in review report, tabled in the House of Assembly. Mr Dallas also highlighted 2017, the year the America’s Cup was held, a record-breaker for air and cruise ship arrivals. A total of 693,000 people visited the island. Mr Dallas said: “If Bermuda is to keep up with the tourism success of 2017, she will maintain the industry’s glide path to resurgence”.

paragraphFailed City of Hamilton hotel developmentCharles Gosling, the embattled Mayor of Hamilton, has defended the corporation against blame for the “fiasco” of the failed Par-la-Ville resort development. Mr Gosling spoke in the wake of a proposal by the Ministry of Home Affairs to either turn the corporations of Hamilton and St George into quangos, or absorb them into the Government. Walter Roban, the minister, responded on Friday that the collapse of the development was “not the reason” for the proposed intervention, countering: “The main reason is that the Government has a vision for where it desires the municipalities to go.” He added: “The effort to develop Par-la-Ville goes back to the mid-2000s, under previous administrations. Mr Gosling cannot just attach his tenure to his most recent time.” Mr Roban said there had been “a clear, longstanding effort by the Corporation of Hamilton, under its current structure, to develop Par-la-Ville — all of which have failed. “The latest effort has failed very badly, and remains a challenge for the corporation. It’s not over yet — there is still a legal battle.” Successive developers tried to steward the development for a resort and residences on the site of the Par-la-Ville car park in Hamilton. Ritz Carlton put through a proposal, followed by St Regis with Starwood Hotels. Meanwhile, Argyle UAE Ltd, the company that received $12.5 million of an $18 million development fund for the project, now faces liquidation, with James Bennett and David Standish of KPMG appointed to the matter on December 12, 2018. Robert McKellar, the director of Argyle, had his appeal dismissed after he tried to challenge a July 2017 judgment in London’s High Court, in which a judge found there had been “unjust enrichment”. According to Mr Gosling, liquidators have begun to seize assets purchased by Mr McKellar: an Aston Martin car, an engagement ring, and two properties in Sussex, Overton Grange and Rystwood Farm. “Justice is slowly catching up with him,” Mr Gosling said. KPMG declined to comment on the matter when contacted on Friday. According to Mr Gosling, the Corporation of Hamilton had attempted to extricate itself from a lease with Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences Ltd, which he said had failed to meet “any of the timelines” connected with the project, by filing a writ against the PLV developers in 2011. Last week, Mr Gosling told The Royal Gazette: “We realised that Par-la-Ville did not have the capability to enter into this. We were going through proper legal procedures to move them out. The Government saw the off chance of a hotel being developed.” E-mails from March and April 2012 show Mr Gosling clashing with Wayne Furbert, who was then minister of tourism and business development, over getting a lease agreement signed for a St Regis development in Hamilton. Construction alone stood to create hundreds of jobs. On March 28, 2012, Mr Furbert told the mayor he was “very disturbed” that the corporation had failed to reach an agreement with the developer. Saying that time was against them, Mr Furbert added: “If this happens, I am going to be very upset, particularly with the corporation.” He called on both parties to compromise, adding the following day that “all I am asking is that everyone pull out all the stops to make this happen”. On April 10, on receiving word that a development agreement, ground lease and car park lease had been settled, Mr Furbert thanked Mr Gosling, adding: “I know it has not been easy, but one day you will look back and say it was worth it.” Last week, Mr Furbert declined to comment, saying the exchange had occurred almost seven years ago. Mr Gosling acknowledged that while Mr Furbert “put a lot of pressure on us, he was very firm on the developers as well”. He added: “But we were forced to enter into a lease that ended up with a loss of $18 million to a lender, as well as the loss of a considerable amount of time and prestige of the corporation. We are now being accused of mismanagement, of not being able to handle this project. But I feel the council, back in 2012, was handling this very well.” Shortly after reaching the development agreement, Mr Gosling’s administration lost the municipal elections of May 2012. Graeme Outerbridge succeeded him as mayor, with the “Team Hamilton” administration. Mr Gosling says now that the new administration “were not capable of handling this issue”. Mr Outerbridge also declined to comment when contacted last week. The lender in question was Mexico Infrastructure Finance, which in 2014 had provided a bridging loan to Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences. After the development collapsed, MIF tried unsuccessfully in the Bermuda courts to regain its $18 million — but the Corporation of Hamilton’s guarantee on the loan was declared void in November 2016. In January, the Supreme Court dismissed charges against Mr Outerbridge, along with Ed Benevides, the city secretary, and developer Michael MacLean and his wife Yasmin. MIF continues to pursue a case through the courts in New York. Meanwhile, as the corporation faces possible dissolution by the Government, Mr Gosling complained that “it seems the corporation is being fully blamed for the hotel fiasco”. Mr Roban disagreed. He said Mr Gosling was merely “focusing on the most recent iteration of the Corporation of Hamilton”. Mr Roban added: “People should be focusing on the vision outlined in the options presented, and giving us feedback.”

paragraphBluck’s of Bermuda has ceased trading after 175 years in business, and provisional liquidators have been appointed. The china, crystal and antiques shop on Front Street, which started out as a hardware store, has been operating since 1844. However, the company, which is called Wm Bluck & Co Ltd, has attributed the downturn in business that led to its closure to four main issues. One was the loss of its main customer base following the 2008 economic downturn, the other issues were the changing tourism demographic; higher costs of doing business; and changes in modern lifestyles, including online shopping. “In simple terms, the closure of Bluck’s is a sign of the times,” said Peter Darling, a director of the company. “There is no single reason for us closing. Business has decreased and the costs of doing business have increased. Following the 2008 global financial crisis, among the people who left Bermuda were some of our best customers. Other good customers were tourists; our tourism business has changed, and also, today people have direct access online to buy china and crystal directly from the manufacturers.” Mr Darling added: “In addition, lifestyles are different — people eat out more and don’t entertain at home as much as they used to. We’ve considered and tried many options to diversify and adapt to today’s needs, but it hasn’t worked well enough and the directors have regretfully decided to wind up the company.” William Bluck & Co was established in west Hamilton, in 1844, by John Bluck. In 1935, Mr Darling’s grandfather, Leslie Darling, joined the company and eventually become the owner. The business switched its focus to china and crystal, and thrived as tourists bought up the British pieces it sold. Among famous names who visited the shop and bought items was John Lennon, in 1980. Changes in US duties in the Nineties eventually dampened sales, and things became more challenging following the economic downturn of 2008. During its history, Bluck’s expanded to five shops, before reducing again to a single store, the original location at 4 Front Street. That shop closed on Friday. Notices have been posted on the front door and window, informing customers that the company has ceased trading. Michael Morrison and Charles Thresh, of KPMG Advisory Limited, have been appointed joint provisional liquidators. In a statement, Mr Darling said: “We are particularly saddened by this turn of events because of the history and our family’s involvement with the business. My grandfather had an incredible eye for beautiful and quality items, and he did a phenomenal job of building the Bluck’s brand for excellence.” He added: “Thank you to all those who have worked at Bluck’s over the years — full-time, part-time, seasonal and summer interns. Many people around the world enjoy beautiful items in their homes every day thanks to you. Times change, and we have to move on.” The joint liquidators, who were appointed by order of the Supreme Court, will prepare to realize the remaining assets of the company, which may include a sale in due course of the remaining stock at the shop.

paragraphRG Editorial Opinion. "There is no doubt that David Burt is the greatest orator of our times. Coincidentally, he is also the Premier of Bermuda, the leader of the country, a position that carries with it great power. The power to move mountains, the power to sway opinion and the power to get the unimaginable done. But with great power and with the gift of gab come great responsibility, yet we are afraid that the Eloquently Spoken and Chosen One has dropped a massive clanger here in attempting to portray this particular media as the enemy of the people. Where have we heard that before? It may be true that a company that has no name wanted to do business in Bermuda. It may be true that said company wished to create six jobs for Bermudians. And it may be true that this company with no name has turned around and run whence it came with its tail between its legs. All because it was subjected to the oldest profession known to man — the media. Who in their right mind cannot believe there is something suspicious about this very sudden about-face? But, wait, let’s backtrack to the genesis of this story, which has been bizarre from start to end, prompted by a posting on the Job Board advertising for positions in the sports-trading sector. The hirer? An unnamed company. So, bizarre right out of the gates. We spotted this, found it to be out of the ordinary and then made inquiries, none of which in any way can be said to be as devious or malicious as the Premier made out in what can be described only as petulant grandstanding. The conversations went something like this: RG: “Hello, we have seen this posting on the Job Board and would like to know who your company is and what it is about?” Recruiter: “I am not authorized to speak on this but I can put you in touch with someone who can.” RG: “Thank you.” RG: “Hello, I have been given your name as the principal of a company wishing to do business in Bermuda. Could you tell us what you do and what your plans are in Bermuda?” Principal: “We are a private company and wish no stories written about us.” End of conversation, with nary a moment of animosity. But let’s be clear here, that last request was and is an absolute non-starter in the world of journalism. The decision to publish or not publish is wholly ours to make, and we do so with great thought, care and judgment. What resulted was the most anodyne of business stories, which — without much assistance from the company with no name — was effectively an extended regurgitation of a Job Board advertisement that has been since which deleted. No private affairs released, as the Premier suggested in his carefully scripted 13½ minutes of scare-mongering. For those still trying to get their heads around this, and who have not already overdosed on the “Hate the RG” pill that Burt dished out in Jonestown fashion, we repeat that story in its entirety and challenge anyone of sound mind to conclude that it and it alone could force a company that apparently had planned its operations here six months in advance to suddenly run in the opposite direction as though it had seen a ghost: Headline: “Company seeks six sports-trading operators” Six Bermudians are to be hired as “sports-trading operators” by an international algorithmic trading company which is setting up an office on the island. The jobs are advertised on the Department of Workforce Development’s Bermuda Job Board. Successful applicants, the ad says, will work five shifts a week, mostly during the evenings from 5pm to midnight. Shifts will include weekends and public holidays as the company operates seven days a week. Hirees will “undergo in-depth training on the systems and processes which will be used” with training to take place “overseas at the head office”. Once trained, the ad says, employees’ key responsibilities will include “monitoring live events and processing data in real time, monitoring the automated systems, following defined escalation procedures when issues occur, supporting other group operational teams located around the world”. Applicants, the ad says, “must have a healthy dose of common sense, a great attitude, attention to detail and the ability to concentrate on the task at hand, irrespective of background noise and activity”. The ad also calls for applicants with “strong computer/digital skills and basic numeric skills”. Short listed candidates, the ad says, “will undergo a thorough background check as well as attitude and computer-skills testing”. Interested parties are asked to reply in writing to consulting firm Performance Solutions Ltd, which is assisting with the recruitment process. Kelly Francis, founder and president of Performance Solutions, referred inquiries to UK-based spokesman Mike Richards, who declined to provide details about the nature of the business. “We are a private organisation,” he said. “We have used a recruiter, Kelly Francis, and we have utilized lawyers to help us to set up there, which we are in the process of doing. We’re not one that wants stories being written about us. We don’t advertise our brand.” That final statement removed any doubt over whether the story should be published because there can be few companies in the world who do not advertise their brand. Curiouser and curiouser. Bermuda may be another world, but it is surely not Alice’s Wonderland. So back to the foundations on which the Premier threatened, no “promised”, to ensure the people of Bermuda do not ever forget the role The Royal Gazette played in the company with no name bailing out. With at best only second-hand information on what had transpired between the reporter and the company principal, Burt managed to mouth “crystal clear”. Throw in for good measure, in his blatantly obvious attempt at character assassination, “clear, malicious intent”, “political mission”, “brazen”, “unprofessional”. Really? Where is the evidence of this? The Premier is right to feel aggrieved because fintech is his baby, an industry that may yet define his legacy, but he is clearly wrong to point the finger at 2 Par-la-Ville Road when, quite obviously instead, there is more to this company’s change of heart than meets the eye. For starters, someone during the alleged six-month courtship could have informed the company with no name that we operate a free press in this country, not a state-run press. We are more government watchdog than we are government cheerleaders — CITV was created for that purpose. We are not sitting on our hands waiting on government press releases and press conferences or for the Government and its acolytes to tell us what is or is not news, and where in the newspaper or on the website that news should be placed. Yet we get that all the time — from this government and the last. Which raises the point about Burt’s utterly ridiculous and frankly specious claims that we are in cahoots with the One Bermuda Alliance. Such nonsense makes for good populist politics but is as near to the truth as Oracle Team USA were to the backwash of a progressive Emirates Team New Zealand, and exposes the first cracks to be seen in the previously unblemished veneer of the country’s youngest premier. Jeanne Atherden, for one, must have fallen out of her chair laughing upon hearing this. She has taken more stick than any Opposition leader in memory, deservedly, and her party was in such a shambles before the resurrection of Craig Cannonier stopped the bleeding that each day presented another opportunity for the media to gorge itself at the trough amid a feeding frenzy. We are in the “call it as we see it” industry, not “call it as we are shown it”. And what we see is uncertainty. Uncertainty over taxes — name your tax, sugar tax, payroll tax, rental tax, and many more that may be announced in Friday’s Budget Statement. Uncertainty over fintech, especially with the hub being put on hold. Uncertainty over the credibility of those who wish to do business on our shores. Uncertainty over the future of casino gambling. And, more recently, uncertainty over a course of action that has our municipalities up in arms. (The Government was at pains over the weekend to state that the proposed subsuming of the corporations of Hamilton and St George is under consultation only.) Now, more on Burt and his petulant display, which was probably too much on the eloquent side to be termed a rant. His claim that we are determined for fintech to fail does not stand up to scrutiny. We have done numerous stories on start-ups. Not just recycling press releases, but speaking with the entrepreneurs behind the companies to let the public know about how they are trying to transform industries and build businesses in Bermuda. Examples include Extraordinary Re, Laureate Digital, DrumG Technologies, ConsenSys and BoxBit. No other news media have gone to such lengths. Why would we do that if we wanted them all to fail? We have given Burt himself a platform to talk about how the Government’s digital ID initiative ties in with the efforts to make Bermuda a leader in fintech, an opportunity he embraced. His claim that we believe the Bermuda Monetary Authority and the Registrar of Companies don’t know how to do background checks is nonsense. We have obviously never stated that, nor have we quoted anyone else saying it, although our commenters might have aired this notion. We’ve given the BMA overwhelmingly favourable exposure over the years, particularly coverage of its successful six-year effort to gain Solvency II third-country equivalence. If what the Premier is saying is that we are presenting facts that raise doubts about companies such as Arbitrade and numerous judgments in civil cases against the founder of Uulala, the first company to gain a Bermuda licence for an initial coin offering, then why should we not do that? As the Government’s own fintech adviser, Denis Pitcher, has warned, Bermuda must not allow itself to become “Scam Island”. The island’s reputation has taken decades to build and could be wrecked by one bad actor. The Government itself has said it will not allow Bermuda’s blue-chip reputation to be harmed and that its digital-asset regulations are rigorous. If this is true, then it should welcome our scrutiny. And if what we have printed is not true, then it should say so. He accused us of “disregard for facts” while not pointing to a single factual error. We have more regard for facts than politicians who try to twist them for their own ends. In a Trumpian way, he is trying to portray us an enemy of the people. Attacks on the media by politicians are to be expected, especially when they are trying to deflect attention from other news that does not reflect well on them. This, too, is no ad hominem attack, or one against the PLP, but if you are going to ask us who we are going to trust — the albeit eloquently well-spoken Premier of Bermuda spouting falsehoods and innuendos from a bully pulpit in the House of Assembly or an earnest journalist of integrity doing their job at a pittance of a Cabinet minister’s salary — we’re going to take the earnest journalist."

Spacer

February 17, Sunday

Spacer

February 16

paragraphThe island’s gambling watchdog said yesterday it was ordered by the Government to find its own funds. The news came as the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission presented its annual reports from September 2015 to the end of March 2017 to the House of Assembly. The financial statements said the economic dependence of the gambling watchdog on the public purse, with its grant of $3.76 million to cover operational costs, was “temporary”. The report added that the final installment of $610,000, which had been scheduled to go to the commission by the end of 2016, was not handed over until “subsequent to the year end on April 13, 2017. The Government has now advised the commission to seek commercial funding going forward. At the time of producing these financial statements, the commission has discussed commercial funding with a local bank, with the intent for this funding to be supported by a Government Letter of guarantee.” The BCGC got a $1.6 million interest free, repayable loan through an agreement with the Government on July 21, 2017, with a further $500,000 provided on July 16, 2018. The report added repayments will start when the commission “financially attains a balanced budget position”.

paragraphA proposal that financial assistance could be clawed back from the estates of dead recipients would penalize families, the head of a charity said yesterday. Martha Dismont, the executive director of Family Centre, said the organisation feared a bid to take back payments “could be seen as making a judgment as to whether the applicant deserved the support”. She added: “The Government is obligated to care for the vulnerable, which inherently suggests they are deserving of the support, with the only condition being that, unless you are a senior or a disabled person, you must eventually be required to find your way to no longer needing the support. It feels unfair to penalize the family of a deceased applicant without knowing the extent to which the family had to assist the applicant prior to him or her reaching out to financial assistance.” Ms Dismont added: “A blanketed policy to recover assets seems completely unfair.” She was speaking after Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, flagged up the claw-back proposal in the House of Assembly as part of a bid to change the way financial aid is handled. Ms Wilson told MPs: “I would like to find ways for the Government to recover debt and or offset the cost of benefits through the property of deceased financial assistance recipients. As a country, we can no longer afford for the state to subsidies persons’ inheritances, as currently happens.” She said that a reform group had proposed 30 changes to financial assistance and that 17 had been accepted. These included a plan to ask the Attorney-General’s Chambers to provide “a legal opinion regarding whether a person who inherits a property from a senior who has benefited from financial assistance should be statutorily required to pay back some portion of the funds to Government”. Another accepted recommendation was to review policies in other countries to see if they recover financial benefits paid to elderly property owners. Ms Dismont said that the work of the reform committee was welcome and that most of its recommendations were designed to tackle problems among clients about their experience with Financial Assistance. Claudette Fleming, the executive director of Age Concern, said that the proposal would need to be “fleshed out. It’s very difficult to have a reaction to that statement because there are so many questions that would have to be answered.” Dr Fleming said that information would be needed on the number of seniors on financial assistance who owned their homes outright and the value of the properties. She asked: “Is the equity in it even comparable to the amount of money that we are actually giving them?” Dr Fleming also questioned who potential property buyers might be. She explained: “We have an almost dead real estate market right now.” Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, said the Government was “continuing its reverse Robin Hood ideology”. He said the main purpose of financial assistance was to “assist citizens who are not able to support themselves or their families due to many reasons”. Mr Cannonier added: “Generally, it is the elderly and disabled who need the aid.” He said that Ms Wilson needed to “clarify and expand” on her statement. Mr Cannonier added: “While there may be some children who do not want to support their parents and let them go on financial assistance, that cannot be everyone. Yet again this Government has left more questions than answers.” An estate recovery scheme is used in the United States to recover benefits paid to recipients of Medicaid — the health coverage programme for those on low incomes — who later died. It is applied to the estates of people aged 55 or older for payments made for nursing homes, home and community-based services, and related hospital and prescription drug services. Under the scheme, funds cannot be recovered from the estates of deceased Medicaid members who are survived by a spouse or a child who is blind, disabled or under the age of 21. Safeguards are also in place to waive recovery when it would “cause an undue hardship”. Ms Wilson told the House 3,268 people were on financial assistance last month. A total of 1,184 were seniors or pensioners, 896 were disabled, and 612 got the child daycare allowance. There were also 214 unemployed but able-bodied people and 362 low earners. Ms Wilson said the reform group was set up to “reduce abuse, discourage dependency and ensure that work pays. These are important goals — however, in light of the profile of the persons in need of such assistance, and the type of supports granted, it has become clear that the focus of reform should be on making the programme financially sustainable, improving efficiency and ensuring a more equitable allocation of awards.” Ms Wilson said that recommendations made in an internal audit report — completed before the recommendations outline by the reform group — would “reduce waste, control budgets and improve service to recipients and applicants”. She added that the recommendations included a working committee to improve record-keeping and better customer service training for financial assistance staff. Ms Wilson said eligibility for financial assistance would be based on a “low income threshold” to be set by the Department of Statistics. She added the programme was “the only form of welfare available to assist the vulnerable, frail and infirm, and the only means to prevent families from descending into poverty”. But Ms Wilson insisted: “Funds are finite and we have to make sure that we use them efficiently and reach the right people.”

paragraphResidents and businesses in three parishes will suffer disruption to water supplies as pipe repairs are carried out, the public works ministry has warned. Work in Devonshire, Smith’s and Hamilton Parish on the replacement and repair of the water mains along Middle Road, Fort Hill Road and Watlington Road East, which provide piped water to the three parishes will need periodic shutdowns of water supply between Tuesdays and Fridays. Construction is scheduled to start on February 26 and is expected to take about three months to complete. A ministry spokeswoman said that the ageing water main “has consistently and frequently failed over the past 24 months”.

• For more information, contact ministry’s water and sewage section at water@gov.bm or on 278-0570.

paragraphProgress reports for public primary and middle school students will be sent out next month, the education minister pledged yesterday. Diallo Rabain said: “We want to assure parents that student reports will be provided in early March, early May, with a final report at the end of June before the close of the school year.” The update came in a ministerial statement made in the House of Assembly. Mr Rabain told MPs that standards-based grading “has been proven to transform teaching and learning. That is, transform the work that takes place in classrooms each day and the way that teachers teach and assess how children learn. It is our expectation that as a result of this grading and reporting system, students, teachers and parents will have more accurate information about what students specifically know in each subject, and what they are able to do.” Mr Rabain said that “both the enhanced teaching and learning that will result from the sustained practices of standards-based grading will help to transform public school education”. He added that a committee established last October had mapped out a four-year implementation plan for the grading system. He said workshops held for teachers on standards-based grading this week were “engaging and empowering. Additional training sessions would be held this month. These types of training workshops will be ongoing for various stakeholder groups in the public school system up until the end of the school year.” Mr Rabain said that parent information sessions would be held at Whitney Institute in Smith’s, Purvis Primary School and TN Tatem Middle School, both Warwick, on Thursday at 5.45pm. He encouraged parents and members of the public to attend “so that they can have a clear understanding of standards-based grading and learn more about how it will benefit their children”. Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, sent a letter to primary and middle school staff last week that advised of grading and reporting procedures until June. It said that pupils were to have a progress report at the end of the month. Ms Richards said that a second progress report would go to parents in April followed by a final report card in June. She added: “These reports will be pulled from PowerSchool.” Mr Rabain said earlier this week that he did not foresee delays to dates outlined by Ms Richards. “Nothing in life is guaranteed, but as far as I am concerned, the commissioner has issued the end of February as the timeline ... and that is the date that they will be released.” Teachers have been locked in conflict with the Government over a series of problems, including standards-based grading, which the teaching union said had added stress to already overburdened staff. Shannon James, the president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, admitted that not all primary and middle schoolteachers had uploaded grades to PowerSchool because of confusion about the introduction of standards-based grading. But Mr James added that teachers had kept hard copies of pupil grades.

paragraphThe Speaker of the House of Assembly marked 30 years as an MP yesterday. Dennis Lister, the Progressive Labour Party’s longest-serving MP, celebrated the anniversary on February 9. He told MPs on the first sitting of the new parliamentary session that he was grateful for the congratulations from both sides of the House. But he added he could not accept their thanks “without thanking that class of 1989”. The Sandys North Central MP referred to the 1989 General Election, which also launched the parliamentary careers of Nelson Bascome, Julian Hall and David Allen, who have all since died. Dame Jennifer Smith, a former premier who also won her seat in 1989 contest, watched from the gallery. Mr Lister said: “It almost chokes you up to think there are only two of us left from that class.” The Speaker said the intake had arrived in the House with “very strong young members who were willing to make sacrifices to contribute to this country”. He told MPs: “When you come into these Chambers, know that you are coming for the better serving of this country.” Among those who paid tribute to Mr Lister was his son, Dennis Lister III, who represents Warwick West. Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, told the House he was unsure that many of them possessed “the stomach for 30 years”. Mr Lister told Mr Cannonier it took “a tough skin”.

paragraphA man accused of smuggling $649,900 worth of heroin to Bermuda told a jury yesterday he was forced to bring the drugs to the island by a Jamaican “don” who threatened to kill his family. Omar Davy, 38, said he was kidnapped and beaten by a group of men over a $24,000 debt related to architectural drawings hours before he was to fly to Bermuda. He added: “I was fearful and I was nervous that if I didn’t agree that they were going to start hitting me and choking me again. I feared for my life. I thought the only way out was to agree and I did.” Mr Davy, a Jamaican national, denies importation of the drugs, possession with intent to supply and wilful obstruction of a customs officer on July 10 last year. He told the Supreme Court he was an architectural draftsman and worked from his home in the country’s Manchester Parish. He added he had done work for several politicians and “dons”, who the court heard were “community leaders” often tied to criminal activity. Mr Davy said he was paid $24,000 by a don for a design job in February 2016, but never delivered the work. He explained he had left Jamaica a month after taking the job and flew to Bermuda in June or July of that year. He said he was wrongly arrested in Bermuda and police seized his laptop and a thumb-drive containing his work for the don. When he received the computer back eight months later, the work was gone. Mr Davy said in the months before his arrest, he was in Scarborough, Canada on a visit to family members. He said he had bought a ticket to fly to Bermuda on July 10 to deal with a traffic ticket, but the day before he was confronted by two men outside his brother’s house. Mr Davy said the men showed him videos of his family and one of the men made a video call and he recognized the voice of the man on the phone as the don. He said: “When I heard the voice of the don I knew in my mind what this was all about.” Mr Davy told the court the men took his suitcases and documents and forced him at gunpoint into the back of an SUV. He said one of the men pulled a black cloth over his head and began to choke him. Mr Davy added the men continued to choke and hit him for about 20 minutes as they drove him to another location, where he heard a garage door close. He said he was pulled from the van and battered again, then taken to a basement and choked until he was unconscious. Mr Davy added that after he came round one of the men told him that he was going to take a package with him to Bermuda, and put an object in a book inside his laptop case. Mr Davy said the men told him to take the package out and tape it to his legs after he got through customs and drove him to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in time for his flight. Mr Davy told the court he passed Canadian customs, but when he was on the plane he considered leaving the package in the plane. But he said he slid it down the back of his pants instead. He added that when he was taken for a secondary search in Bermuda, he panicked. Mr Davy said: “I was nervous. I was distressed. I was worried. Lots of thoughts were going through my mind. My family was on my mind. I was panicked and ran. I didn’t know what to do. I was terrified. I thought of killing myself.” But Alan Richards, for the Crown, said Mr Davy’s story was a “film script” filled with lies. Mr Davy told Mr Richards that he had $1,500 in US cash along with several hundred Canadian dollars in his wallet when he was abducted, but that none of the money was taken. He also admitted he had accepted the job from the don in April, not February as he had testified earlier. Mr Richards questioned how Mr Davy could be badly assaulted until he could barely stand and hours later was able outrun several Bermuda customs officers. Detective Constable Jeffrey Blaire, the officer in charge of the case, told the court he was present when Mr Davy was strip-searched after his arrest. He said Mr Davy had no scratches, bruises, open wounds or swelling and had not complained of pain or discomfort. The trial continues.

paragraphThe Mayor of St George said last night she was “saddened and disappointed” by proposals to axe the two local authorities on the island. Now, Quinell Francis has asked residents and business owners in the St George’s area to attend a special town hall meeting next week, which she said “may be the last in the 400-year history of the Town of St George”. In response, Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, issued a reminder this morning that “we are still engaged in public consultation and that no final decision has been made”. The Government has cited “crumbling infrastructure and empty buildings” in both Hamilton and St George as a rationale for exerting greater control over the two corporations. But Ms Francis said it was “false” for the Government to suggest that the corporation’s role was “only infrastructure”. She added: “We have always managed the economic, social and cultural affairs of the town on behalf of the residents and businesses. Moreover, the operating funds the town needs are under Bermuda Government control — wharfage, grants for the World Heritage Site and cruise ships. The team at the corporation have worked with all these challenges, and I publicly appreciate all their hard work. We are passionate about our town, the heritage, and the future. Our town residents and businesses are the Corporation of St George. If St George’s heritage, economy and people are important to you, we ask you to attend this special meeting.” She there had been “very limited consultation” on the proposal to close down the corporations, floated by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday for ten days of public feedback. The Government is considering whether to turn the Corporations of Hamilton and St George into quangos, or absorb their roles into central government. Ms Francis was speaking after Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, said this week there had been “essentially no consultation”. Mr Gosling added that the change was inevitable and predicted the Government would make changes before the municipal elections in May. The special meeting will be held at Penno’s Wharf in St George’s, on Monday starting at 7pm. Mr Roban said he had acknowledged Ms Francis’s comments on municipality reform. He said the options now under consideration were:

• Change both corporations to quangos, “leaving each organisation intact as a corporate body but increasing the Government’s oversight over key initiatives”;

• Dissolving the corporations, repealing the Municipalities Act and integrating the corporations’ functions into the Government’s administrative structure.

Mr Roban said both Hamilton and St George “must be rejuvenated into becoming vibrant entities. " He emphasized the need to draw more visitors and investment, and said both Hamilton and St George “do not reflect a thriving city". The minister said the Government’s “vision” for St George was consistent with the Mayor’s wishes. The plan includes:

• A mega yacht port and marina;

• A sustainable management plan for the World Heritage Site backed by legislation and funding;

• Year-round, non-seasonal industry for St George;

• Infrastructure and adequate amenities able to accommodate developments such as the St Regis Resort and future projects.

The minister added: “It is the Government’s commitment to provide the town of St George with the resources to effectively promote and develop all that makes them and their over 400 years of history, culture and people unique and special to all Bermuda. The goal of this reform is for the betterment of Bermuda and, as such, it is important that both the Hamilton and St George’s municipalities work together to execute a unified vision of empowerment.”

Spacer

February 15

paragraphThe Speaker of the House of Assembly today blocked a statement on payments to pepper-sprayed protesters who forced a postponement of a House of Assembly meeting in 2016. Dennis Lister told Wayne Caines, the national security minister, to hold off on the statement until a Joint Select Committee set up to examine the events of December 2 2016, which saw police use the spray on demonstrators against the redevelopment of the airport, had reported. The Ministry of National Security said earlier this week an undisclosed settlement - said to be about $225,000 - had been agreed with complainants who were seeking legal action against the Police Complaints Authority. The payments came after the PCA’s investigation of the clash found fault with senior police management, but not with individual officers tasked with clearing demonstrators.

paragraphTraining opportunities for Bermudians will increase after resources were boosted in the Government’s workforce development department, the House of Assembly heard today. Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, said staff transfers meant a greater number of sessions could be offered. This month these included help on computer essentials, creating resumes and interview skills. Ms Foggo explained: “I wish to highlight that the public will notice an increase in training offered monthly, focusing on employability skills. This is made possible as a result of the transfer of staff from the Community Education and Development Programme.” She said the department was trying to make sure the public was “pleased with the level of service” it provided and the staff transfer meant an intake officer was due to start next month. Ms Foggo added: “The role will enable the department to provide a higher level of customer support and concierge service at the moment clients visit the department. The role of the intake officer will include greeting persons entering the establishment, determining the nature of client visits, ensuring persons meet with the appropriate personnel, providing general information about the array of services and assisting clients with technology and registering on the Bermuda Job Board.” MPs heard the main functions of the department were career development and training. Ms Foggo said that at the end of last month a total of 428 people had been awarded National Certification in designated occupations — welders, electricians, automotive service technicians and landscape gardeners. She added new partnerships with industries for short-term trainee programmes and efforts to help employers train their Bermudian staff was also under way. Ms Foggo said: “The intent is to encourage career advancement and increase entry level opportunities for Bermudians. The department has successfully engaged six new companies to train Bermudians in the occupations of computer programming, commercial cleaning, waiter servers and water waste management.” Other areas that have seen achievements for apprentices recently included hospitality, where five people were awarded the “universally recognized” Red Seal certification, and communications, where nine people completed the Bermuda Telephone Company apprenticeship programme.

paragraphConsultation on a planning blueprint for Bermuda will end in March, Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, announced today. The draft Bermuda Plan was published in December and after the consultation period will go to a tribunal to be finalized. Mr Roban told the House of Assembly: “Once the plan is finished, we intend to fulfil our Throne Speech commitment to introduce legislation to protect the designation of the island’s important conservation and agricultural areas and open spaces.” In the inaugural Throne Speech, the Progressive Labour Party pledged to “identify the open spaces that must be protected for generations to come”, and bring legislation that would “take this protection beyond ministerial discretion”. The Bermuda Plan will also dovetail with plans for local food production and community gardens, and the use of open spaces for recreation, Mr Roban said. Public consultation is to wrap up on March 15.

paragraphA total of 3,268 people were on Financial Assistance in January, the health minister told MPs today. Kim Wilson was speaking as she updated the House of Assembly on changes to the programme. She said eligibility for financial assistance is to be reformed based on a “low income threshold” to be set by the Department of Statistics. Ms Wilson added the Government would also look at ways to recover debt from the estates of dead financial assistance recipients to help fund the programme.

paragraphA clash between protesters and police outside the House of Assembly will be discussed by the national security minister today. Wayne Caines will talk about the aftermath of the December 2016 events in the wake of revelations that his ministry had made a cash settlement with protesters who had brought complaints against police after pepper spray was used on them. The confrontation came after demonstrators blocked access to Parliament to stop a debate on a controversial deal to build a new airport terminal. Mr Caines is expected to give details on the payout, which was agreed to avoid further court actions, and is said to total $225,000. About seven ministerial statements will also be delivered as MPs return to the House after the winter break. David Burt, the Premier, will talk about his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, will tell MPs about plans for waste-water management. The House will also hear an update on standards-based grading in schools from Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education. In addition, statements on the Department of Workforce Development, the Financial Assistance programme, and the island’s policies for managing open spaces will be made. Legislation will be tabled for updates to proceeds of crime legislation and a debate is scheduled on proposals to give greater legal protection to people with mental health problems.

paragraphA cannabis researcher and doctor will outline the use of medical cannabis to medical professionals in Bermuda next week. Mark Ware, the chief medical officer at Canadian medical cannabis grower Canopy Growth, said he planned to give a balanced presentation on the benefits and potential harm of medical cannabis. Dr Ware said: “As with any other drug, it is a drug with potential harm, but is also a drug with potential benefits.” He said people often had one of two perceptions about cannabis — that it is harmful or that it is a life-saving cure-all. But Dr Ware said neither of the views was accurate and he aimed to give a realistic assessment in an attempt to educate and stimulate interest in the drug’s medical properties. Dr Ware, who has an international reputation in the field, said “cannabis is experiencing a revival around the world”. He explained that some countries have growing capabilities and those that do not could contribute to the industry through clinical research. Dr Ware said small countries like Bermuda could play a role in the industry, but that would be for the Government to decide. Dr Ware will talk about research at Spectrum Cannabis, Canopy Growth’s global medical cannabis brand. The associate professor in family medicine and anesthesia at McGill University in Montreal will also review cannabis in pain management and sleep and anxiety problems and highlight the latest evidence for cannabis based medicine. Dr Ware’s visit to the island came after David Burt, the Premier, revealed that cannabis cultivation for medical reasons would be legalized. Mr Burt announced last October that the first set of licences would be issued this year. Dr Ware, who studied medicine in Jamaica, said he became interested in medical cannabis when he worked at a clinic treating sickle cell anemia in the country in the 1990s. The pain specialist has since carried out research on medical cannabis and was appointed chief medical officer of Canopy Growth last year. Dr Ware is the director of clinical research of the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the McGill University Health Centre, and executive director of the non-profit Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids. He also practices pain medicine at the McGill University Health Centre and has acted as an adviser on medical cannabis policy to the Canadian Government since 2001. He was vice-chairman of the Federal Task Force on the legalisation and regulation of cannabis in Canada in 2016. Canopy Growth is a cannabis and hemp company that produces cannabis products in dried, oil and Softgel capsule forms. The event will be at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on Monday from 7.30pm to 9pm. Tickets cost $20 and all proceeds will go to Agape House, the island’s hospice. To register, e-mail info@buei.bm or phone 292-7219.

paragraphTwo independent overseas doctors are to review the medical records of 75 patients of doctors Ewart Brown and Mahesh Reddy to check if they were “over-tested”, a court heard yesterday. The files, along with those of 190 other patients, were seized by detectives in raids on two medical clinics owned by Dr Brown, a former premier, in February 2017 and have been sealed on the orders of a judge ever since. A Supreme Court hearing was held yesterday to determine a “protocol” for how the medical records can be used by police investigating allegations that the clinics — Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and Brown-Darrell in Smith’s — ordered unnecessary diagnostic imaging scans for patients to boost profits. An application to adjourn the proceedings by lawyer Jerome Lynch QC, representing about 150 of the clinics’ patients, was rejected by Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams on Tuesday. Mr Lynch argued again yesterday that the judge should decide if the police acted illegally in seizing the files before she agreed to order a protocol for the use of the material. The proposed plan for the files is for any personal information to be removed by counsel for Bermuda Police Service before they are scanned and sent to experts in Britain and the United States for review. Mr Lynch said his clients were concerned that if their files were reviewed and evidence of “over-testing and putting patients in jeopardy” was found, as the police expected, the records would “inevitably” be turned over to detectives. He added: “We would have almost no say in that process. At the present time, the patients’ position is absolutely clear — ‘this is our material. You have never asked us, our permission, to have it. You could have. You didn’t.’” Dr Reddy, the medical director at Bermuda Healthcare Services, contested the seizure of the files in a series of closed-court hearings after the raids, leading to the records of 265 patients being sealed. The court heard yesterday that Dr Reddy and the clinics no longer planned to pursue their initial claim against police that the files were illegally taken. Mr Lynch, whose clients got permission to intervene in the proceedings, said it was understandable that the plaintiffs had chosen not to pursue that argument. But he added: “With respect, it’s not their privilege to give away. It’s ours to keep.” He said the importance of doctor-patient confidentiality was even greater than legal professional privilege because of the damage that could be caused by a breach of confidence. Mr Lynch added that it was also of “significant” importance that the public had confidence in the “state which seeks to seize that material”. Delroy Duncan, for Dr Reddy, objected to the grant of access to the files and said his client supported the patients’ position. Mark Diel, for the police, said his clients had tried throughout the process to “assuage any concerns about confidentiality”. He asked that the protocol be restricted only to the use of the files of those patients represented by Mr Lynch. The files of others — those who are either patients of the clinics but not represented by Mr Lynch or who were referred to the clinics for scans by their own doctors — will remain sealed for the time being. The judge said the protocol would be decided upon, despite the objections of Mr Lynch and Mr Duncan, and that it had been agreed that the files of 75 of Mr Lynch’s clients would be sent to the experts. The case was adjourned until next Thursday. Dr Brown has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offence. Dr Reddy’s home was raided by detectives in May 2016 and he later won a civil case against the police for unlawful arrest.

paragraphOut-of-date public school websites are to be tackled beginning this spring, the education commission pledged this week. But Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said that a decision had not been made as to who would be responsible for updates to the sites. Mr Rabain said that work to transform the ministry’s website would begin in May. He added: “A second tier of this initiative will deal with individual school websites.” Mr Rabain said that each school website would have a designated “owner” and that all owners would use the same process and procedures to update the sites. He explained that current “variances” between the school websites were because “some sites have a designated person to update them and some do not”. Mr Rabain said that going forward school websites would be updated “on regular intervals with a certain standard. As it stands now, we have individual websites that are out there that some of them are run by schools. We just don’t really have an idea how they are being initiated. We’re looking to just bring all of that into one standard.” Mr Rabain said that content for the school websites would be provided by the schools themselves. But he said it had not been decided who would be tasked with website updates. He explained: “We haven’t decided if anyone at the school will be doing it or someone within the ministry will be doing it.” The announcement came after questions were sent to Mr Rabain last week about the state of MoED school websites. The minister was asked who was responsible for updates to the school websites and what, if any, requirements existed on how often they should be updated. Mr Rabain was also asked why some websites had been allowed to become outdated and what was being done to have them brought up to date. A look at several MoED school websites found that many contained old information and little information. East End Primary School’s website displayed a principal’s message from Idonia Beckles. But Julie Foggo is the head teacher at the St George’s school. Mr Beckles is the head teacher at Paget Primary School. The most recent announcement on the Paget Primary website yesterday was a post about Ms Beckles made in October 2015. The only post under the Public Documents section of the school’s website was a September 2009 document about on a parent orientation event. On the Northlands Primary School website, the lone post under the Public Documents section is from May 2008. A single post under the PTA Documents section of Northlands site was about a parent-teacher association meeting in April 2008. The TN Tatem Middle School website’s Surveys section showed results from two polls carried out in 2009. The most recent update under the Public Documents section of the website is a picture of a school picnic posted in July 2015. The CedarBridge Academy website’s sole post under its Public Documents section provides the course calendar for the 2008-09 school year. The School Pictures section of the site show a single image posted in June 2015.

paragraphRegistration is now open for the 15th Bermuda Captive Conference to be held on June 10 to 12 at the Fairmont Southampton hotel. The three day-conference, Bermuda’s largest industry event, this year has adopted the theme “Elevate”, encouraging risk managers to consider the many ways captives can contain costs and manage coverage, whether for a Fortune 500 corporation or mid-sized business. “Our 2019 theme is an energizing call to action,” said conference chairman Michael Parrish. “We hope to connect with both risk managers who may not have considered captive insurance before, and owners of existing captive insurers to demonstrate how they can innovatively tackle new and emerging risks facing any size of business in today’s corporate environment. We’re inviting delegates to ‘elevate their perspective, elevate their network, elevate their captive’.” The conference features educational sessions, keynote speakers, social activities, and networking events. Incorporating a trade floor showcasing support services and organisations, the conference attracts captive insurance managers, brokers and service-providers, corporate risk managers, and captive owners. Last year, more than 800 attendees registered from the US, Canada, Latin America, and the UK, as well as Bermuda, organisers said, driving total hotel room nights close to 1,000. Notably, organisers said, the conference attracted more captive owners and risk managers than ever before. “We’re looking to build on the phenomenal success that’s been established over the past 14 years and we expect to have a strong attendance again,” Mr Parrish said, adding the new conference website streamlines the registration process for sponsors and attendees. “Our agenda will examine innovative programmes that can be developed in a captive, and topics will include cutting-edge issues such as insurtech, cybersecurity, autonomous driving, global employee benefits, and the shared economy.” The early-bird registration deadline is March 31. Bermuda is home to more than 700 captives generating about $40 billion in annual gross written premiums in 2018, according to the Bermuda Monetary Authority.

paragraphChris O’Kane has stepped from his role as group chief executive officer of Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd after the completion of the company’s takeover by US private-equity group Apollo Funds. Mr O’Kane has led the insurer and reinsurer since it was set up in 2002 in response to market opportunities in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Apollo announced the completion of the deal this morning and Aspen’s shares ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange and the Bermuda Stock Exchange. Glyn Jones has stepped down as Aspen chairman and will be succeeded by Mark Cloutier, who will assume the roles of executive chairman and group CEO. Mr Cloutier stepped down from his previous role as executive chairman of London-based insurer Brit Ltd in December last year. He was CEO at Brit from 2011 and became executive chairman in January 2017. Mr O’Kane also ceases to be a director. Also leaving the Aspen board with immediate effect are Albert Beer, Matthew Botein, Gary Gregg, Heidi Hutter, Karl Mayr, Bret Pearlman and Ron Pressman. John Cavoores and Gordon Ireland will remain as directors and will be joined on the Aspen board with immediate effect by Josh Black, Alex Humphreys, Gernot Lohr, Gary Parr and Michael Saffer, as well as Mr Cloutier. Mr O’Kane said: “Seventeen years ago, with 38 colleagues, $600 million of assets and a vision, we formed Aspen. As a result of hard work, determination and an unwavering dedication to our clients, Aspen is now a force in the reinsurance and insurance markets with over $12 billion of assets and around 1,150 employees. I am extremely proud of our accomplishments and I cherish the relationships and friendships, both within Aspen and in the broader market, which we formed along the way. I would like to thank all my colleagues at Aspen as well as our clients and brokers for all their considerable support over the years and it delights me to see Aspen poised to go from strength to strength under the new leadership of Mark Cloutier. I wish Mark and Aspen every success for the future.” Aspen said its 5.95 per cent and 5.625 per cent preference shares will remain issued and outstanding and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Alex Humphreys, partner at Apollo, said: “We are excited for our funds to be acquiring Aspen as it embarks on the next chapter of its development. We are delighted to be working with Mark again following our successful investment together in Brit Insurance. Mark has a long and successful track-record in the insurance sector and we believe he is ideally placed to lead Aspen through a period of transition to substantially improved profitability. We look forward to working with him and Aspen’s talented management team to drive value creation over the coming years.” Mr Cloutier said he felt honored to be appointed as the CEO of Aspen. “I truly believe that the company benefits from strong underwriting talent and specialized expertise, which makes it ideally positioned to deliver innovative solutions to the increasingly complex risks faced by its customers. I am very excited about what Aspen can achieve in the coming years. I would like to thank Chris for his key role and support over the last few months and for making the transition from public to private so seamless. He has built an impressive franchise over the past 17 years and we wish him well in his future endeavors.” Apollo was advised by Willis Towers Watson and Libero Ventures and Sidley Austin LLP served as its legal counsel on this transaction. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Securities acted as financial advisers to Aspen and Willkie Farr & Gallagher served as its legal counsel on this transaction.

paragraphShares of Bermuda-domiciled insurer Lancashire Holdings Ltd soared 7.1 per cent in London yesterday after the company said it expected to benefit from higher rates. The company suffered a fourth-quarter loss but swung to profit for the full year 2018, partly helped by a rise in gross written premiums. The Lloyd’s of London insurer, which writes policies for heavy-duty assets such as oil rigs, ships and aircraft, reported profit before tax of $33.6 million for 2018, compared with a loss of $72.9 million a year earlier. Its combined ratio — a measure of underwriting profitability — was 92.2 per cent, a significant improvement on last year’s 124.9 per cent. Lancashire recorded a 7.9 per cent rise in gross written premiums to $638.5 million. The company said the fourth quarter had been challenging with “higher levels of loss activity than average”. Lancashire said it expected to see “improved rates across many of our lines of business, and growth through new business where we have recently added new teams”. A final dividend of 10 cents per share was declared, taking the total dividend for the year to 35 cents a share, helped by the special dividend of 20 cents declared earlier this year. Alex Maloney, Lancashire’s chief executive, said: “The fourth quarter of 2018 once again witnessed higher levels of loss activity than average, with the occurrence of Hurricane Michael in October and a further series of catastrophic wildfires in California causing a tragic loss of life. When considered with the other major loss events during the year, 2018 ranks among the four largest loss years of the last couple of decades. Following 2017, this is the second year in succession of well above average global insured catastrophe losses. Against this backdrop, the group has generated a positive return on equity for the full year of 2.4 per cent. Overall, I am pleased at the resilience of our portfolio and our reinsurance programme, given the loss environment.” Andreas van Embden, an analyst with Peel Hunt, said: “The outlook is encouraging as specialty insurance rates recover and the company starts rebuilding its portfolio, which had been shrinking in a disciplined way during the soft cycle.” Lancashire shares rose 42p to close on 637p in London after the results were announced.

paragraphA man charged with smuggling $647,900 of heroin into Bermuda was seen stashing a package in his bag after it had been searched by a customs officer, the Supreme Court was told yesterday. Witnesses said the man, Omar Davy, 38, ran from the airport minutes later and left the bag behind. Two taped-together packages were later found in the bag. The packages contained a total of 220.88 grams of heroin. Mr Davy, from Jamaica, denied charges of importation of the drug, possession with intent to supply and wilful obstruction of a customs officer. Sharjan Rumley, a customs officer, testified that she was on duty at the LF Wade International Airport on July 10 last year, when Mr Davy arrived on the island. She said Mr Davy was sent to her desk around lunchtime for a secondary search after he got off an Air Canada flight from Toronto. Ms Rumley told the court Mr Davy said he had come to Bermuda to visit his girlfriend and deal with a traffic ticket. She said he appeared to be nervous and “kept pushing his shirt down and pulling his pants up continuously”. A search of his bag turned up nothing suspicious but a drug-sniffer dog indicated that Mr Davy had drugs on his person. Ms Rumley said she went to her supervisor twice, the second time to get permission to conduct a personal search. But before the search could take place, Mr Davy fled, chased by customs officers. CCTV footage of the incident showed that after Ms Rumley walked away the first time, Mr Davy pulled an object out of his pants and put it in his bag. He was also seen to cover the object with clothing. Ms Rumley told Archibald Warner, defence lawyer for Mr Davy, that she did not see the package when she came back to the search bench. Mr Warner suggested that Mr Davy had asked her not to say anything, which she denied. Ms Rumley said: “I would have informed my senior officer of my findings and what he said.” Macio Talbot, a trainee customs officer, told the court he chased Mr Davy out of the airport and into the car park, where he said the defendant tried to get into a car. He said: “He opened the door. It was the driver’s side. I cannot remember if there was any one in the vehicle. I don’t believe there was.” Mr Talbot said Mr Davy ran through a gate into an area he referred to as the helipad, near the roundabout that led to the airport. He shut the gate in an attempt to trap Mr Davy, but realised the fence was open on the side closest to the water. Mr Talbot said: “There were many ways he could still exit. There was no gate on the water side to hold him in. He went on to the temporary bridge and flagged down an oncoming truck. I yelled to the driver not to let him in but I figured I was out of range for him to hear.” Craig Burchall told the court he was behind the wheel of the truck that Mr Davy flagged down. He said: “As I started driving, I noticed he was a little rattled. Nervous. He was kind of anxious. I asked him if he was OK. He looked a little stressed. He said he was stressed. I asked him if I could pray for him, and he said ‘yes’.” Mr Burchall said he continued to drive, but before he could get off the Causeway a motorcycle overtook him and forced him to stop. He said Mr Davy told him to keep going. He said: “That’s when alarms started going off in my head. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.” Mr Burchall said the rider — who was wearing a blue shirt and black pants — signaled to Mr Davy to get out. The court heard the man on the motorcycle was Zeko Burgess, who worked at the airport for Bermuda Security Group. Mr Burgess said he was leaving to go on break when he saw customs officers and others chasing a man out of the arrivals area. He added in a written statement read to the court that he got on his bike when he was told the man they were chasing had flagged down a blue truck, which was on the Causeway. Mr Burgess said he rode on to the Causeway, overtook a series of vehicles and forced the truck to stop. He said: “The passenger was hesitant to get out but he did. He said he wanted to jump overboard. I told him it wasn’t worth it.” Mr Burgess said he left the area when the man was arrested by police. The trial continues.

paragraphAn American expert in internet law hired by the Government to tackle cyber bullying has warned that Bermuda has still to draw up a national action plan to deal with the problem. Parry Aftab, one of the world’s first cyber lawyers and a leader in digital privacy law, was a consultant on a national action plan in the summer of 2017, but left the island before the plan to crack down on cyber bullying and revenge porn was completed. Ms Aftab said that an “unfortunate combination of events and challenges”, including a change of government in the July 2017 election, delayed the project. She told The Royal Gazette: “I spent several weeks in the late spring and early summer in Bermuda. You did have the change of government and there was a great deal of time that nothing could be done. We ran into summer and the America’s Cup and a number of other things got in the way that made us unable to get what I wanted done. Hopefully, someone will pick up the reins and might have more flexibility in their schedule, but I am always around to talk to anyone who might need my help.” Ms Aftab conducted interviews with more than 1,000 schoolchildren aged between 10 and 17 and about 100 teachers while in Bermuda. She gathered anecdotal evidence on incidences of cyber bullying, which she said were often not reported. Ms Aftab said at the time that there were “major gaps” in Bermuda’s laws. She added: “Cyberbullying, including revenge porn — or sext bullying as we call it when it involves children — is vast in Bermuda. Because you are a country with 60,000 residents, it is more effective because everybody knows everybody. The intention is to embarrass the person as much as possible. The children I spoke to really cared about the issue because it affects them.” However, she added: “No one really has statistics on this anywhere because most people don’t report it and try to hide it. So few report it at all that any statistics should be looked at with suspicion. All you can do is look at the anecdotes and say it happens a lot more here than other places. We did see a higher than usual rate of revenge porn, I think because everyone knows everyone, and it can do serious damage. Part of what we were going to do was look at the law and address gaps — we never got that far to be able to do that. Also, the schools did not have the required protocols in place — schools generally don’t and when they do it is something that they copied and pasted from someone else. You need to make sure that the students themselves know what the rules are and understand what the consequences are and where to go for help.” Ms Aftab, from New York City, is the managing director of compliance firm Wired Trust and is a former board member at social media platform Facebook. Chardonae Rawlins, a psychology graduate and mental health worker, said in an interview with The Royal Gazette this week that her research also signaled a major problem with revenge porn in Bermuda. The Department of ICT Policy and Innovation has said it continued to run a programme on safe online practices and is organising its second annual Digital Leadership Conference. Senior analyst Maryem Biadillah added that the department had run Cybertips, designed to promote safe internet use, since 2007 and a special website on safe use of computers. Ms Biadillah said the department had teamed up with the Bermuda Police Service every year to visit schoolchildren of all ages to warn about internet dangers such as cyber-bullying. She added: “IPI worked briefly with Dr Aftab in 2017 to organize Bermuda’s first anti-cyber bullying conference. IPI then went on to tackle the wider subject of digital leadership skills through Bermuda’s first student-led digital leadership conference in 2018. This year’s conference is scheduled for March and A’ric Jackson, a youth motivational speaker, is expected to deliver the keynote speech. Ms Biadillah confirmed that all work has ceased with Dr Aftab. A government spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on why Dr Aftab was no longer working in Bermuda.

Spacer

February 14

paragraphPlans for a fintech hub appeared to have taken a step backwards yesterday after a Cabinet minister said money set aside for the project would be spent elsewhere. The third floor of a Hamilton building was due to be transformed into an “incubator” for budding blockchain businesses. But Jamahl Simmons, the Minister without Portfolio, revealed funds for the scheme have been reallocated to pay for free training for Bermudians who want to work in the sector. Mr Simmons was speaking after the Government said the hub scheme was put on hold to check if it would be the best use of money, a move later branded “acutely embarrassing” by the Opposition leader. Craig Cannonier added that the halt on the project showed a failing policy. Mr Simmons said on Tuesday: “Hundreds of Bermudians attended our fintech education information sessions last week determined to seize the training opportunities that will prepare Bermudians to acquire jobs as more companies set up operations in Bermuda. Therefore, it is ironic that the former premier whose government slashed scholarships for Bermudians and the former works minister who spent $1 million to build one roundabout would criticize this government’s decision to reallocate funds from a proposed building project to provide training for the 320 Bermudians that have registered. The best investment a government can make is in its people and we decided that it made better sense to provide training to Bermudians free of charge rather than build a government-owned co-working space. “This government will continue to invest in Bermudians and no amount of noise or hollow statements from the Opposition leader will distract us from our mission of putting Bermudians first.” Mr Cannonier, then minister of public works, told the House of Assembly in 2016 that $728,000 had been spent on the Blackwatch Pass and North Shore Road roundabout project, with the total cost expected to be close to $1 million. The Royal Gazette reported on Tuesday that plans to renovate the top floor of the former IAS building on Church Street in Hamilton had been shelved to check if its proposed services were already offered by the private sector. A design contract valued at $74,000 was awarded to Clarico Ltd but the work was put on hold at the first of four phases. Mr Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, asked: “Why is this happening only now? The project to create a fintech hub has been in the pipeline for more than 18 months and only now do we see Government looking at what already exists. Those responsible should be acutely embarrassed. And if it is about being fiscally prudent, why isn’t Government cutting its own costs instead of hiking the tax burden on Bermudians? It is also an admission that the fintech policy is not working. Government has tried to mask this policy failure by saying it is being fiscally prudent but it seems obvious that there is no demand for this type of facility. If there was, I am sure we would have been told so, over and over again.” The hub was first proposed by the Progressive Labour Party for Southside in St David’s before the party won power in July 2017. David Burt, then Opposition leader, said in June that year that there was a need to “move with the times”. But he said seven months later that the Southside proposal could be replaced by a smaller start-up in Hamilton. The city project was compared to the early days of California’s Silicon Valley by Wayne Caines, the national security minister, who had responsibility for fintech when he spoke at a public meeting last May. Mr Caines said then that any of the start-up businesses from the fintech centre could be the next Amazon or Google — and that he hoped they would stay on the island after they hit the big time. A request for proposal was published last September as the Government sought design services for “a premier fintech hub that has co-working space” to include “sleeping pods, social quarters, environments for gaming, media centre and hot desks”. Clarico’s submission was one of three proposals. A government spokeswoman said last week: “We are closely reviewing our resources to ensure that we are not duplicating any services which may already be provided for in the private sector.” The Government did not respond to questions asked on Monday on whether or not Clarico was, or will be, paid.

paragraphThe Department of Public Transportation and Bermuda Industrial Union have reached agreement on the new bus operator rosters, and the definition of night work to allow implementation of the new 2019 Bus Schedule to proceed. On January 11, representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Transport, DPT and the BIU met to discuss concerns over the scheduling of night work for the 2019 Bus Schedule; in particular, the high concentration of night work in 12 of the 80 rosters. As a result of this meeting, it was agreed that a DPT operations team comprising select management and staff would revise the rosters to improve the distribution of night work. This exercise was successfully completed to the benefit of bus operators and the supervisory team. With the scheduling of night work a longstanding issue, the DPT and BIU have now agreed on a definition for night work, and will agree on a memorandum of understanding to provide assurance and clarity for bus operators and management. This will also aid in the development of future work rosters. At yesterday’s meeting of the BIU Bus Operators and Allied Workers Division, the membership accepted the revised rosters and agreed to implement the new bus schedule. The implementation work is now under way and a start date for the new schedule will be announced in due course. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said: “I want to congratulate the team at DPT and the BIU for their collaboration and commitment to resolving this challenging issue in the interest of advancing the new bus schedule. Scheduling and completing the work rosters has been a challenging task, and now despite a delay, I am pleased to announce that we are on the verge of implementing the new bus schedule.”

paragraphThe woman who led the Progressive Labour Party to its first election victory said last night the contribution of black Bermudians deserved more recognition. Dame Jennifer Smith was speaking at a dinner hosted by the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club in recognition of the former premier for Black History Month. She said: “We need to start letting people know what we have done in Bermuda. We need to look at our history, and I dare say, with a magnifying glass so we can truly tell Bermudians what our history is.” Dame Jennifer, who led the PLP to its historic win in 1998, said: “We are what we become through our experiences in life.” She said she chose the Bermuda Heritage Museum as the charity to receive part proceeds from the dinner because of its importance in spreading knowledge of Bermuda’s history. Dame Jennifer also spoke of the importance of giving back to the country. She said it was important to know the roles friendly societies have played in Bermuda’s development. She urged people to continue to give back to the country. “All of us need to know that we can give back to our country,” she said. More than 55 people were at the dinner and Dame Jennifer shared some of her experiences with guests. People attending the dinner were pleased that Dame Jennifer was being recognized as a part of Black History Month celebrations. Scott Simmons, the MP for Southampton West, said she introduced him to politics. “She has been a wonderful example ever since and I have been grateful to her for what she presented to me.” He added: “I have been very satisfied with the relationship that I have had with her. There is an element of respect that I have for the Dame because she has been extremely respectful, not only as it relates to politics, but she has a respect for the community that goes a very very long way. She has paved the way for a lot of us young people to recognize the significance of accountability to community.” Robert Horton said: “Dame Jennifer has demonstrated her commitment to service of this community. I remember she spoke of wanting to make a contribution to this community and I think any examination of her outstanding career shows that she has not failed in that regard.” He added that she has been a role model to all Bermudians. Mr Horton said: “She is a fabulous Bermudian; I’m proud that I know her. I’m so proud that she is being celebrated during Black History Month.” Trina Bean, who worked with Dame Jennifer, said: “She has set the bar so high for many of us. I consider her a mentor, a friend, a confidante and I’m so proud of her accomplishments and all that she has done.” Former premier Paula Cox said: “She has earned the right to be acknowledged; she was a woman who has courage. She will always earn my respect as a woman who has always been prepared to step up and step out.” Michelle Khaldun, who worked with the former premier said: “She demands excellence and that’s what she gives. I admire her tenacity to question things and to make sustainable changes.” Norma Astwood, who served with Dame Jennifer in the Senate, said she would like to see more young women following in Dame Jennifer’s footsteps Dame Jennifer is one of two former premiers to be celebrated with dinners at the hotel for Black History Month. Sir John Swan will also be celebrated on February 23.

paragraphRacist graffiti and death threats to a politician have been scrawled on the walls of a store and a medical centre. The messages were painted on Empire Grocery and North Shore Medical & Aesthetics Centre on North Shore Road in Devonshire. Patrick DeSilva, a manager at the grocery store, was horrified by the vandalism. Mr DeSilva saw the vile abuse when he arrived for work at about 6.30am yesterday. He said: “It’s really ridiculous, it should never happen. These people have an opinion — but do not put it on people’s property, defacing it.” He added that he had “no idea” who was behind the graffiti and that police had launched an investigation. Mr DeSilva, whose mother owns the business, said customers were also “appalled” when they saw the scrawls. He added: “They said that should never be done.” Mr DeSilva said the One Bermuda Alliance MP whose name was included in the vandal’s writing had visited the shop after the incident. Kyjuan Brown, the medical director of NMAC, was also upset by the damage to his building. He said: “Clearly, their issue is not with us, but with the Government. If they want to make a political or public statement, they need not use my wall.” Dr Brown said the wall was a “great platform” for the vandal to get their message out. He added: “It’s a shame that it’s at our expense.” Dr Brown contacted police over the damage and made a complaint. He said: “They apparently know who the person is, as this is not the first time they have vandalized people’s property.” A roadside wall near the overpass at Marsh Folly Road in Pembroke was also daubed with similar graffiti. Walter Roban, MP for Pembroke East, said the vandalism was “slanderous”. He added in a post made on Facebook: “I wish to condemn such acts of community disrespect. The owners, workers and patrons of these establishments deserve respect and I am outraged by such behavior. It is important that we voice our views and opinions in a respectful manner and do not partake in efforts to use vandalism to voice or views. This behavior will not be tolerated.” Mr Roban said that anyone with information about the vandalism should contact police. Craig Cannonier, the leader of the One Bermuda Alliance, condemned the graffiti and described it as “vile” and “appalling”. He added: “This kind of thing has no place in our society. This is not the first time we have seen this kind of thing and it has to stop.” A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said that officers were first alerted to the damage at about 6.30am. He said: “The graffiti was documented and reassurance provided to the staff of both businesses.” Police asked anyone with information to contact 295-0011.

paragraphA directive by the education commissioner for student progress reports to be issued by the end of the month will be met, the education minister said yesterday. Diallo Rabain said: “Nothing in life is guaranteed, but as far as I am concerned, the commissioner has issued the end of February as the timeline ... and that is the date that they will be released.” He was speaking after Kalmar Richards set the deadline for public primary and middle schools staff last week. Ms Richards said in her letter that a second progress report would be sent to parents in April, with a final report card in June. Mr Rabain was asked whether the announced dates were supported by the Bermuda Union of Teachers and the Bermuda Public Services Union, which represents principals. He said that “conversations are taking place” which involve both unions. The minister also gave an update on talks with both unions. Mr Rabian said that he had met the BUT on January 28 for a “very productive” quarterly meeting “that focused on collaboration with the ministry and identifying areas for transforming the public school system”. He added that a joint consultative committee meeting held with the BUT and the Department of Education was also held last month where “several concerns” raised by the union in December were “discussed and resolved”. Mr Rabain said the concerns included new phone systems for Prospect Preschool and Dalton E. Tucker Primary School and fire alarm upgrades. But Mr Rabain added that the BUT had asked for the assistance of the labour office for talks on problems that included primary school substitute teachers and the hiring of teachers on yearly contracts. He said the meeting would take place next week. Mr Rabain also discussed talks on a work-to-rule launched by principals last October. He said that meetings with school principals had made “meaningful progress”. Mr Rabain added: “Of the 24 issues that were initially submitted, there are only three matters that remain outstanding.” He said the rest involved pupil services, the school improvement plan and standards-based grading. Mr Rabain added that talks with the BPSU aimed at ending the industrial action had resumed last week. He said: “We are now waiting to hear back from the principals.” Mr Rabian also discussed “comprehensive” IT audits that were conducted in all 18 primary schools last month. The schools with the greatest number of problems were Francis Patton, Port Royal and Victor Scott. He added: “These issues comprised ageing Cannon multifunction devices, and non-working smartboards and smartboard projectors.” Mr Rabain said that the audit found that 28 computers needed to be replaced. He said the IT team would be back in the schools over the next two weeks to fix the problems. Mr Rabain said that the IT team had also contacted suppliers to look at the possibility of “delivering fibre-optic connectivity and increasing bandwidth to all schools within our system”. He added: “The IT team is also working on finalizing a solution for reducing the response time of PowerSchool, the department’s internal communication platform for parents, teachers, principals and students.”

paragraphBermuda was home to 711 active captive insurance companies at the end of last year. The figure was down by 28 from 12 months earlier and down by 65 over the past two years. Bermuda Monetary Authority said yesterday total captive premiums amounted to approximately $40 billion. In a statement the BMA said the figures meant Bermuda remained “the premier jurisdiction for captives”. Nineteen new captives registered in 2018, up from 17 in 2017. Craig Swan, the BMA’s managing director, supervision (insurance) said: “The majority of the new captives originated from the US, but they also came from Europe, Canada, Latin America and Africa. The new captives covered a diverse range of company structure, including pure captives, association captives and long-term captives. “In terms of the lines of business being written, there was no one predominant area among the new captives. Instead, there was a good mix of property and casualty classes, including general liability, professional liability, workers’ compensation and motor.”

paragraphAn endangered species of snail unique to Bermuda has been returned to the island after a breeding programme in Britain. Four thousand of the Poecilozonites bermudensis snails, bred in a joint effort between the Zoological Society of London and Chester Zoo, are being tagged and released by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The snails, thought to be extinct, were sent to London in 2014 after specimens were found living in an alley in the City of Hamilton. Mark Outerbridge, the department’s wildlife ecologist, said that the return of the snails to their natural habitat was part of a programme to restore the species. The snails, which date back more than one million years, had last been seen in the 1970s, according to recordings made by Stephen Jay Gould, a paleontologist and Harvard University professor. The snails were common before the 20th century, but numbers declined as a result of carnivorous snails and terrestrial flatworms. Dr Outerbridge said only a “handful” of residents had actually seen a living endemic land snail. He added: “However, their fossilized shells are commonly found embedded in the rocks along South Shore. I don’t expect they will ever be as numerous as they once were, but hopefully this species will get a new lease of life once it becomes established on the island nature reserves.” The snails are being released on Nonsuch Island and another privately owned island. Surveys by the department and a team of volunteers found that both islands have snail-friendly habitats, with no evidence of the predators that almost drove them to extinction. Breeding and range expansion were observed in a limited number of endemic land snails which were released and monitored on Nonsuch Island in 2016. That influenced the decision to release a larger number of captive-bred snails. The department said it would continue to monitor the snails at both reintroduction locations and that additional islands would be selected for future releases.

paragraphOne Communications has accused the telecoms industry watchdog of a lack of openness because it has failed to show the public how it spends its money. The firm wrote to the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda to outline a string of complaints in response to its proposed work plan for 2019-20. Michael Tanglao, the company’s general counsel, claimed there was “no public understanding” in relation to aspects of the body’s finances and pointed out that the document appeared to have repeated parts of the previous year’s report. However, a spokeswoman for the authority, set up to regulate the island’s electronic communications and electricity sectors, said it tried to be clear about its work — but was restricted by legislation. The watchdog has to release its agenda for the year ahead, including strategic priorities and estimated budget, to allow for public consultation before a preliminary report is submitted to ministers. But, in a letter posted on the RAB website, Mr Tanglao wrote: “Stakeholders and the minister are not being provided the reasonable information needed to properly inform any comments on the work plan.” He explained: “As in previous fiscal years, the RA continues to propose work plans that provide no disclosure of past performance for financial outcomes, objectives and work streams in the prior period. As a result, there is no public understanding as to whether the RA’s proposed revenues were in fact approximately $3.3 million as forecasted in the 2018-19 work plan. There is no public understanding as to how much of those funds were actually spent in the prior fiscal period, nor is there any public understanding as to whether the RA’s use of the monies resulted in completion of the work streams it proposed as the justification for its prior budget.” The RAB was set up to ensure competition in the regulated industries, to protect customers and promote Bermudian employment, ownership and the economy. Its income is generated by fees from electricity and electronic communications providers as well as consumers. Among the tasks outlined for this year was further work on the integrated resource plan — a wide-ranging project for the future of Bermuda’s electricity supply. The RAB also expected to implement any “remedial actions” after a 2017-18 market review to assess the state of competition in the electronic communications industry. Mr Tanglao’s letter claimed that the accomplishments touted for 2018-19 matched those said to have been achieved the previous year. He added: “The same work streams are being proposed for 2019-20 that were proposed for 2018-19.” Mr Tanglao wrote that more detailed information should be provided on the $3 million-plus of electronic communications fees collected and spent in the previous reporting period. The RAB said this week the report submitted to ministers had significant changes compared with the public consultation document. Companies that hold an integrated communications operating licence were required to pay 1.75 per cent of their “relevant turnover” to the RAB last year. A further 3.5 per cent was set for government authorization fees. Although restrictions apply on whether these can be passed on to customers, these levies were expected to play a part in rates. Mr Tanglao wrote: “The overarching concern raised by OneComm in this letter relates to the lack of transparency in the budget performance and related finances of the RA. It is important for the RA, the minister and all other stakeholders to understand the direct costs of the current regulatory regime, as those costs are a significant component of overall industry pricing.” He highlighted the lack of RAB annual reports online. The Regulatory Authority Act 2011 ruled that annual reports and financial statements should be posted on the watchdog’s website “as soon as practicable” after they are tabled in Parliament and published in the Official Gazette by the relevant minister. But the most recent annual report on the RAB site was for the year ended March 2014. A spokeswoman for the authority said that financial statements for the three years that followed had not been published in the Official Gazette and the 2017-18 documents were under audit. Mr Tanglao also raised concerns about the timing of the proposed work plan’s publication. The Act states that the watchdog must open public consultation on its agenda at least six months before the start of the financial year. Ministers should get a preliminary report and proposed finances no later than three months before the new financial year starts in April. But the RAB’s work plan was published on October 31, 2018, only five months before the new financial year and with a deadline for responses of November 30 last year. One’s letter was dated the previous day and the RAB said its preliminary report was submitted at the end of December last year. Mr Tanglao wrote: “If the consultation period is shortened by a month, the opportunity for iterative public discussions of the issues is essentially eliminated. As a result, the policy benefits of the public consultation process are undermined.” The authority said the deadline was waived by the home affairs minister. A RAB spokeswoman added that it intended to publish its financial details as soon as possible. She said: “It remains that the information is not yet publicly available through the authority’s website, a matter which, despite not being within its control, the authority is endeavoring to resolve as soon as practicable.” She said audited financial statements would show more details comparing the actual costs to what was forecasted. The spokeswoman added: “The work plan submitted to the relevant ministers included significant changes from the consultation draft, including in relation to past accomplishments and upcoming projects, upon further authority analysis and consideration of public comments.” She said major projects were “generally published on the website once completed”. The spokeswoman also explained: “The Minister of Home Affairs concluded that there was good cause to waive the deadline for the authority to begin the public consultation on the authority’s work plan for the 2019-20 financial year, due to synergies with the second anniversary of the start of the Electricity Act 2016 and related legislative deadlines.”

Spacer

February 13

paragraphA confidential settlement paid by the Government to protesters who were pepper-sprayed in a demonstration outside Parliament should have been made public, an Opposition MP said yesterday. Michael Dunkley, who was the One Bermuda Alliance premier at the time of the December 2016 demonstrations over the new airport development, called the payoff “a deal done under the cloak of darkness”. The Ministry of National Security said an undisclosed settlement had been agreed with complainants who were seeking legal action against the Police Complaints Authority. The payments came after the PCA’s investigation of the clash found fault with senior police management, but not with individual officers tasked with clearing demonstrators who had blocked the gates of Parliament. A ministry spokesman said the parties had come to “an amicable conclusion”. He added: “The settlement is a legally binding, confidential document which prohibits the parties from divulging the details or nature of the settlement. As such, the Ministry of National Security and, by extension, the Government, is unable to comment any further on this matter.” Mr Dunkley said: “Government ministers certainly can make such payments as they believe are appropriate, but they have to be justified. It needs to stand in the sunshine of public scrutiny.” He said the settlement “sends a message that the Government does not put much strength in the report the PCA filed. If they did, they would not even consider payment. They would let the judicial process take place.” Mr Dunkley said he believed the amount paid out could be as high as $200,000. A total of 23 protesters were involved in a civil action filed against the PCA in February 2018. The plaintiffs, represented by law firm Trott and Duncan, asked for a judicial review “in the matter of the Police Complaints Authority Act 1998 and in the matter of the Police Complaints Authority report” of August 10, 2017. The Royal Gazette was told by a source last summer that the case had been settled. But neither Delroy Duncan, for the protesters, or Jeffrey Elkinson, the PCA chairman, would comment on whether a settlement had been reached. LaVerne Furbert, from the Bermuda Industrial Union, which assisted the protesters in obtaining legal advice, also declined to comment. A public access to information request submitted to the PCA by The Royal Gazette in September last year, which asked for all records held by the authority on the civil case, was rejected. The decision has been appealed to information commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez. A request for records from the Supreme Court about the case, also filed in September last year, was unsuccessful. Mr Dunkley also warned that the settlement could set a precedent for other ministries. He added that 14 police officers were injured as a result of the protest. Mr Dunkley said: “Government has not said if they will get anything. That looks like a double standard to me.”

Bermuda Health Council logoparagraphBermuda’s health watchdog has released an information brief as part of a push towards a value-based healthcare system. A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Health Council said that alternative payment mechanisms could be used to “reimburse the delivery of health services, better incentivise collaboration, and move closer to universal health coverage”. She added that the information provided in the brief “is part of a larger community conversation around goals for transitioning our system from a volume-based payment model to one based more on value”. The spokeswoman said that the price Bermudians are paying for health insurance had continued to rise. She added: “When paired with the high incidence of chronic illness and an ageing population with growing healthcare needs, we are faced with the task of supporting the allocation of resources necessary to achieve better outcomes, while still improving affordability for the public.” The spokeswoman said that the healthcare system should be balanced to ensure that patient care needs are met and that healthcare providers are “fairly and appropriately” reimbursed. She added: “The right payment mechanism encourages providers to offer necessary, cost-effective care without compromising quality, and also ensures that prevention is covered and wellness is prioritized.” Annabel Fountain, the president of the Bermuda Medical Doctors Association, said that volume-based reimbursement was sometimes linked to medically unnecessary work, including lab tests, diagnostic imaging and surgeries. She added: “These systems are very expensive and often do not support preventive care and can even do more harm.” Dr Fountain said that value-based systems weighed service outcomes, including patient satisfaction, reduced hospital readmission rates and wait times, and reduced complication rates. She added: “Incentives are applied to encourage cost-effective practices, while supporting quality outcomes.” Dr Fountain said: “Unfortunately, not all outcomes are based on the quality of the care received.” She explained that many outcomes are based on other factors including socio-economics, genetics, and psychological and mental health. Dr Fountain said: “We are concerned that this might not be acknowledged. However, audit of clinical processes can provide evidence that clinical guidelines have been followed, supporting reimbursement even if the outcome is not optimal.” The brief can be seen on the Bermuda Health Council website at bhec.bm/fact-sheets.

paragraphPatients whose health records were seized in police raids on Dr. Ewart Brown’s medical clinics do not want their files to be examined by detectives, their lawyer insisted yesterday. Jerome Lynch QC told the Supreme Court that the 150 or so people he represented, whose personal information was taken two years ago without their permission and is still being held as part of a police inquiry, should be able to have a say in how the records were handled. Mr Lynch said at a hearing in chambers before Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams: “The patients are saying ‘we do not want you to have our material’.” He added that the files could contain information on patients with HIV, or mental health issues, or who are facing death in the near future. “It’s difficult to imagine something more sacrosanct than the personal records between a doctor and his patient,” Mr Lynch said. “The anxiety that these people have felt is extraordinary.” Police raided Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s in February 2017 as part of an investigation into allegations that the clinics ordered unnecessary tests for patients to boost profits. Mahesh Reddy, medical director at Bermuda Healthcare Services, contested the seizures in a series of closed-court hearings and the files of 265 patients were sealed on the orders of a judge. The records remain in the possession of the Bermuda Police Service and yesterday’s hearing was to determine a “protocol” for how they could be used, with submissions due to be made by lawyers for Dr Reddy, the plaintiff, and the police, the respondent. However, Mr Lynch argued the proceedings should be adjourned until the court determined if the police acted lawfully when they took the files and whether they had acted illegally since, as alleged in a complaint made to John Rankin, the Governor, last month. Mr Lynch, acting in a separate capacity as lawyer for Dr Brown, made the complaint to the Governor, accusing the police of using sensitive patient information to pressure a potential witness. Police deny the claims. Mr Lynch said yesterday that the patients he represented, who were given permission in November to intervene in the case, did not agree to any protocol. The QC said they did not believe that the police officers involved in the investigation would stick to the protocol or that their personal information would be safeguarded. Mr Lynch said one patient was asked by a detective about medical matters which could only have come from the person’s file. He alleged: “The officers who would be in charge were ... abusing their positions.” Mr Lynch said: “We say that it’s important before the court can fairly adjudicate on the question of access to be able to determine whether or not the police have acted improperly. If they have, what faith can the court have in a protocol that’s to be administered by them?” He said lawyers had identified Chief Inspector Grant Tomkins as “one person in the police service who has acted improperly” along with another unidentified officer. Mr Lynch said that was why they had asked for Mr Tomkins “to be removed from the investigation and we have asked for contempt of court proceedings”. Delroy Duncan, on behalf of Dr Reddy and the clinics, said his client was “duty-bound” to support the patients’ position. Mark Diel, for the police, said Mr Lynch’s application was “a delaying tactic and it should be seen for what it is”. He added that Mr Lynch told the Sherri J radio show on January 22 that 70 of the files seized did not belong to patients of Dr Brown’s clinics, but to people referred there for scans by their GPs. Mr Diel said: “We would seek an order that the protocol be approved in relation to those in any event." Mr Duncan said he was concerned about the “spectre of 70 Bermudians who do not know that their files are in the possession of the police and are going to be reviewed, without their knowledge and without representation”. He added: “We must be in the twilight zone.” Mrs Justice Subair Williams rejected Mr Lynch’s application for an adjournment and ordered his clients to pay the police’s costs for yesterday’s hearing. She said she saw no reason to delay determination on the protocol and it would be dealt with at a hearing tomorrow morning. The judge said it was proposed that the police would scan and send the medical files to two overseas experts, in Britain and the United States, to review and that Mr Tomkins could be excluded from the process if that was found to be necessary. She added: “At this point, I don’t see how any of the issues that have been raised by the intervening party would further prejudice the patients or the applicants from the existing reality ... that the sensitive materials are currently under the sealed possession of the Bermuda Police Service, which relies, to some degree, on its own integrity to abide by court orders.” The judge ordered the media not to reveal the names of any patients involved in the proceedings.

paragraph2019 impact of long term insurance companiesBermuda’s long-term insurance and reinsurance industry is marking a banner year of increased company registrations, driving vital job growth in the jurisdiction. The number of Bermuda-based companies in the sector, which provides global coverage of life, annuity and pension products, more than doubled in 2018, compared to the previous year. A total of 15 new long-term companies were licensed in Bermuda last year, compared to six registrations in 2017 — marking the greatest year-on-year growth across all insurance sectors, according to recent figures released by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. “The growth in our insurance market’s long-term sector underscores Bermuda’s status as a centre of excellence and expertise in this industry,” noted Roland Andy Burrows, chief executive officer of the BDA, which this week launched a video highlighting the industry’s expansion. “Importantly, the sector not only plays a critical role globally, but also contributes a growing number of jobs locally to strengthen our island’s economy.” The long-term re/insurance sector was responsible for the creation of at least 37 corresponding new jobs in 2018, according to the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA). “Bermuda has become one of the most respected global hubs for long-term insurance and reinsurance business, with an accessible regulator and both NAIC qualification and Solvency II equivalence — one of only two jurisdictions in the world to achieve the latter,” said Ronnie Klein, senior adviser to the Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers (Biltir), an advocacy group that represents 58 member companies, including licensed re/insurers and service providers. The life and annuity business has grown substantially during the past few years with the assistance of Biltir, and we only expect future growth in the industry.” Executives of Biltir — which has published a new fact sheet — joined BDA representatives at a lunch hosted by Premier David Burt, Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson, and Minister of National Security Wayne Caines this month to discuss the sector’s growth, its employment criteria, global reach, and local educational initiatives. Among community outreach projects, Biltir provides student internships, an annual scholarship, lunch-and-learn sessions, and a math-tutoring programme for island high-schoolers. Long-term insurance and reinsurance, which help protects consumers from underfunded retirement years and unsupported dependents, is a growing market globally. In Bermuda, the sector comprises a diverse group of companies with more than $300 billion in assets — making it the market’s largest insurance sector by assets. A Biltir study found member companies contributed an estimated $200 million to the local economy annually. “Our industry will continue to grow as world populations age and the need for protection of retirement assets keep rising,” noted Sylvia Oliveira, CEO, Wilton Re Bermuda and a Biltir director. “The life sector complements Bermuda’s traditional P&C insurance industry through risk diversification and longer asset durations. The entire market benefits.” Representatives of member companies, joined by the BDA, will attend the 13th annual ReFocus event in Las Vegas next month. Co-hosted by the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the March 10—13 conference attracts more than 700 attendees. The delegation aims to highlight the Bermuda market’s burgeoning life sector, as well as Biltir’s own annual life and annuity conference, scheduled for Thursday, September 19 at the Fairmont Southampton Hotel.

paragraphThe number of tourists tying the knot in Bermuda has rocketed in the past four years. More than 7,500 people visited the island for weddings last year, compared with fewer than 4,000 in 2015, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The weddings have also boosted Bermudian businesses. But Yolanda Furbert, owner of To Have and To Hold, said the number of tourists who married in Bermuda was even higher because the BTA figures did not include hundreds of marriage ceremonies conducted for cruise ship passengers. She said: “They are coming to Bermuda, getting off the ship and going to the beach or the church to get married.” Ms Furbert said her business had been inundated with calls and e-mails about weddings for this year and 2020. She estimated that she had seen a 10 per cent to 15 per cent increase in destination wedding work, which benefited a range of businesses. Ms Furbert said: “I had one in June who brought 85 people with them. They came a week before the wedding and stayed four nights afterward. This is not just benefiting the wedding planners, it’s benefiting the hotel people, the Airbnb's, the photographers and others.” Nikki Begg, founder of Bermuda Bride, has also seen a sharp increase in demand from couples who want to tie the knot in Bermuda. She said: “We have found in the past two or three years the number of people planning destination weddings in Bermuda has dramatically increased and we have had to adjust our business model to adapt to these changes.” She said the increase had helped her launch a second company, My Bermuda Wedding, to allow Bermuda Bride to focus on larger-scale celebrations. Ms Begg said: “With Bermuda Bride, we have increasingly recognized that people are coming down for three, four or five days. They want to create an experience for their guests, and this is huge. They want to do more than have a nice dinner and dance the night away and go home married.” Ms Begg said the median number of guests for a Bermuda Bride wedding was about 120, but as many as 230 people can come to the island for a larger event. The company has rented out entire spas, organized gin tastings and cruises for wedding parties in the days before and after the wedding. Ms Begg said: “They are not just staying at the resort and going to the wedding any more. They are seeing Bermuda as a vacation for their guests. This is one of the things that I am really excited about for the sake of Bermuda’s tourism because it means the impact is not just for hotels and the wedding planners.” She said Bermuda Bride had already booked weddings for 2021 and now had to limit the number of bookings to ensure a quality experience. Figures released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority last week showed that 7,509 couples and guests flew to Bermuda for a destination wedding in 2018. That was a 34.6 per cent increase on 2017, when 5,538 visitors flew to Bermuda for a wedding, and an 89 per cent increase on the 2015 figure of 3,965. Ms Furbert has also been asked to help organize marriage proposals for guests. She said: “We had one gentleman come down here to propose. He wanted to do it at the stroke of midnight on Horseshoe Bay. All of her family was there. That was another 15 people who wouldn’t have been here otherwise. They were only here for the proposal.” She added that the island was the perfect destination for weddings. Ms Furbert said: “We are absolutely gorgeous. You can come and get married on the beach in January. It is a little chilly, but we have had weddings on the beach in February.” Glenn Jones, the director of strategy and corporate communications at the BTA, said: “This area has been a focal point for the sales and marketing team for the past few years so it’s very rewarding to see these results because we know it means we’re keeping wedding suppliers busy and giving them opportunities to grow their businesses.” The BTA has released a Lost in the Moment Bermuda destination weddings video, hosted Munaluchi Bride’s Coterie Retreat in Bermuda and secured coverage in American magazine Town & Country. Mr Jones said that the BTA would continue to focus on destination weddings, particularly among the “jet-setter audience”, as part of the National Tourism Plan. The island will be highlighted by Modern Luxury Weddings as part of a partnership with the BTA and that David Tutera — a “powerhouse” in the wedding planning industry — will run a symposium in Bermuda in April.

paragraphThe secretary and chief operating officer of the City of Hamilton is to retire this month. A spokeswoman for the City of Hamilton said Ed Benevides “has been at the helm of the city since 2008 and has decided to retire at the end of this month having reached retirement age”. Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, said that Mr Benevides had played an “integral role” at the corporation over the last decade. He added: “I’ve always appreciated his advice and input, as well as the long hours he committed to the city.” Mr Benevides was suspended on full pay after he was charged along with three others in connection with a failed hotel development on Hamilton’s Par-la-Ville car park. Mr Benevides and Graeme Outerbridge, the former mayor, had been accused of agreeing corruptly to obtain property for the benefit of Michael and Yasmin MacLean by authorizing the release of $15.4 million from an escrow account at the Bank of New York. Mr Benevides, Mr Outerbridge and Mr MacLean, the proposed developer of the hotel, were also accused of dishonestly obtaining the money in the account, belonging to Mexico Infrastructure Finance. The MacLeans were further charged with stealing $13.7 million belonging to MIF and using stolen money knowing that it “in whole or in part directly or indirectly” was the proceeds of criminal conduct. The charges against Mr Benevides, Mr Outerbridge and the MacLeans were dismissed last month. Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruled that there was insufficient evidence to proceed. Mr Gosling said: “I can imagine that the court’s ruling was a huge relief to him and his family, as was it to the city.” He added: “I’m just relieved for him and his family that this unfortunate episode is behind them.” Mr Gosling said that Mr Benevides left “momentous shoes to fill” and that he was grateful that he would remain as a consultant until the end of the year. The spokeswoman said that applications to replace Mr Benevides would be accepted “soon”. She added that the full job description would be posted in the Official Gazette and on the City of Hamilton’s website.

paragraphArch Capital Group Ltd posted net income of $126.1 million in the fourth quarter of last year, despite significant catastrophe losses. The Bermudian-based insurer and reinsurer estimated $118.2 million in pre-tax catastrophic losses, primarily related to Hurricane Michael and the California wildfires. The quarter’s net income broke down to 31 cents per share and represented a 5.9 per cent annualized average return on equity. It was down on the $203.5 million, or 49 cents per share, of net income recorded in the corresponding quarter in 2017. After-tax operating income available to Arch common shareholders, a non-GAAP measure, of $189.2 million, or 46 cents per share. This beat the 37 cents per share consensus estimate of analysts tracked by Zacks and represented an 8.8 per cent annualized return on average common equity. The results were helped by favourable development on prior-year loss reserves, net of related adjustments, of $74.4 million, the company said. The combined ratio — the proportion of premium dollars spent on claims and expenses — was 87.8 per cent, compared to 86.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017. Gross premiums written in the quarter increased 16.7 per cent year over year to $1.69 billion. Book value per share was $21.52 at December 31, 2018, a 1.7 per cent increase in the 2018 fourth quarter and a 6 per cent increase for the year.

paragraphBermuda-based reinsurer Maiden Holdings is facing a class-action lawsuit which alleges that it made “misleading statements” about its business. Several law firms yesterday posted press releases to persuade investors who had lost money from the sharp fall in Maiden’s share price over the past year to join the suit. The firms aim to recover damages through the courts for buyers of Maiden shares under US securities laws. The suit focuses on Maiden’s reinsurance of its AmTrust portfolio and states that it failed to ensure that this business was properly priced and that it did not expose Maiden to the risk of excessive losses. The suit, which was filed in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, on Monday, names Michael Wigglesworth as the plaintiff and Maiden Holdings Ltd, as well as former executives Arturo Raschbaum, Karen Schmitt and John Marshalek as defendants. The action is on behalf of all purchasers of Maiden common stock between March 4, 2014 and November 9, 2018, seeking to pursue remedies under the Securities Exchange Act 1934. Maiden’s share price has fallen more than 80 per cent over the past year and the company has reported five losses in the past six quarters. Maiden did not respond to a request for comment by press time last night.

paragraphA police officer charged with causing grievous bodily harm to a motorcyclist by driving without due care and attention after his car and a bike crashed appeared at Supreme Court yesterday. Joel Cassidy told the court that he saw a motorbike hit the passenger side of Inspector Barry Richards’s car and fly into the air. Mr Cassidy, a tour driver and horticulturalist, feared the motorcyclist was dead. He said: “He was unconscious. He was not breathing. He didn’t have much blood coming out of his mouth — there was a little bit, but he wasn’t gurgling or anything like that. I felt for a pulse in his temple, his neck, his hand. At that point I thought he had passed. There was no response. No nothing.” Mr Richards, 50, has denied causing grievous bodily harm to Oronde Wilson by driving without due care and attention on September 19, 2017. Mr Cassidy told the court that on the afternoon of the crash he was driving tourists on a tour around the island in a minibus. He said he was driving west on North Shore Road, singing to his passengers, when he saw two motorcycles overtake him at high speed. Mr Cassidy added: “I looked in my rear-view mirror expecting that someone was chasing them, but no one was there.” He told the court he came around a corner seconds later and saw a car going across the westbound lane as if to enter My Lord’s Bay Road. Mr Cassidy said: “When I came around the corner, the car was well committed. He was already in the middle of the road.” He added that one of the motorcycles that had overtaken him was able to pass behind the car, but the other hit the vehicle and flew into the air. Mr Cassidy said he used his minibus to block the road and went to help the injured rider. He told the court he later left the injured man with a woman passer-by who was on the phone with emergency operators. Mr Cassidy said he approached the driver of the car, which was stationary in a field about 75 metres away. He said the driver, who he identified as Mr Richards, was conscious but holding his side. He also noticed a police radio in the car. Mr Cassidy said he returned to his passengers to apologise for the incident and noticed the motorcycle rider was bleeding heavily from the mouth. He added: “Blood was coming from deep inside his body. It was a dark, dark red. It wasn’t mouth blood.” Dale Fox told the court he was the motorcycle rider that steered around the back of Mr Richards’s car. He said he was driving west along North Shore Road when he saw a second motorcycle pull into the road from Lime House Lane. Mr Fox and the other rider continued west about a half-bike length apart, with a minibus in front of them. He told the court: “We stayed behind the bus for a while. It was doing a tour, so, to me, it was going slow. We remained behind it until we were near Clearwater Guest House and we proceeded to overtake the bus. The road was clear.” Mr Fox said he and the other rider were traveling at “no more than 60km/h” when he saw a car pull into their lane. He said: “We were just riding along and suddenly from the left-hand side coming into our path was a vehicle. I proceeded to go around the back of the vehicle. I observed the rider of the other bike go into the air.” Mr Fox said he rode a short distance farther and stopped. He added that the car had driven on to a field and stopped feet away from a hedge that separated the field from another property. He ran to Mr Richards to check on him. Mr Fox said: “He was in shock. He asked me what happened. He told me to go and make sure the other guy was OK.” Prosecutor Kenlyn Swan told the court the Crown would prove Mr Richards was on the phone at the time of the collision and had driven without due care and attention. Ms Swan said: “The complainant was riding his motorcycle west. The defendant was driving east in his grey motor car, traveling behind a very large coaster bus. We say the defendant was distracted. He was on his mobile phone. He didn’t have a clear line of sight. Although you may hear evidence that the complainant was traveling in excess of the speed limit, we say that it’s because of the defendant being distracted on his mobile phone, in a rush and failing to keep proper care and attention. Failing to have a clear line of sight, he drove into the lane with oncoming traffic, causing the collision.” The trial continues.

paragraphPeter Stubbs, a former chief inspector with the Bermuda Police Service, has died. He was 83. Mr Stubbs, who died on January 31, was buried yesterday after a service at Christ Church in Warwick. He was a senior officer in the Special Branch and a high-ranking member of the Freemasons. He was a devoted sportsman and a founding member of the police rugby club. He captained the side and was later touch judge and president. Mr Stubbs was born in Manchester, England, and joined the Bermuda police in 1957 after serving two years in the Royal Military Police. His service started in central division in Hamilton, followed by the traffic division. A spokesman for the Bermuda Ex Police Association said Mr Stubbs excelled as a motorcyclist and was a member of the Police Motor Cycle Display Team. Other roles included service as a sergeant in uniform in Hamilton, and as a press liaison officer. He spent much of his career in Special Branch, apart from several years as officer in charge of the eastern division. As well as rugby, Mr Stubbs played darts, tennis, snooker and golf for police teams. He retired in 1981 and later served as head of security and building maintenance for HSBC bank. Mr Stubbs presided over the Bermuda Senior Golfers Society and was a director, captain and ranger at Riddell’s Bay Golf Club. He was honored in 2015 for more than 50 years’ service to Freemasonry in Bermuda. He joined the Broad Arrow Lodge in Hamilton in 1963, was installed as Worshipful Master in 1968, and was District Grand Senior Warden from 2006 to 2015. A spokesman for Broad Arrow said Mr Stubbs’s health problems kept him away for the past four years, but that he had been “a kind and caring mentor to all who knew him”. He added that Mr Stubbs was “deeply respected for his in-depth knowledge of the craft and became a master in Masonic ritual and rite”. He was recognized by the Grand Lodge in England as a leader on Masonry in Bermuda. The spokesman added: “He is missed. Not only the Broad Arrow Lodge, but the fraternity at large has lost a Mason’s mason.” Mr Stubbs is survived by his wife, Kate, and two children, Jacqueline and Robert.

paragraphA footballer was fined $1,000 and banned from the roads for 18 months after he refused to take a breath test. Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that Jahkai Hill, 28, was stopped in his car at a roadside breath test checkpoint on January 1. The court heard that he asked police: “Why are you doing this outside of a club?” He refused to take a test and told police: “I’m not going to take the test because I know I’ll fail.” Hill was told by officers that refusal to take a breath test was an offence and he was arrested. He also refused a test at Hamilton Police Station. He told officers: “I know I’m going to fail anyway, so no.” The Warwick resident, who is a defender with First Division leaders Southampton Rangers, admitted the offence. Magistrate Tyrone Chin ordered him to pay the fine by March 12.

Spacer

February 12

paragraphBermuda must focus on air arrivals to keep the tourism industry flying high. Zane DeSilva, the tourism minister, said increases in visitor numbers announced by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, were welcome. He said: “When I consider that this is the third straight year of growth for Bermuda’s Tourism Industry, I have to pause and recognize Kevin Dallas, BTA CEO, all of the men and women of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and our tourism stakeholders. Bermuda should be immensely proud of the hard work and dedication you have all put towards making Bermuda the destination of choice, and helping improve our local accommodation, entertainment and activities. With cruise arrivals contributing the lion’s share of our tourism growth, however, it is time to focus our efforts on growing leisure air arrivals. More work must be done to encourage persons to fly to Bermuda, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and spend time enjoying all Bermuda has to offer. Only then will all sectors of our tourism industry enjoy the full benefit.” Figures revealed by the BTA last week showed an 11.7 per cent year-on-year increase in visitor arrivals and a 28 per cent increase in visitor spending. A record total of 770,683 visitors came to Bermuda in 2018 with 203,697 tourists flying to the island for leisure — the highest figure since 2002.

paragraphThe island’s gambling watchdog has been rapped on the knuckles for the second time this month for a failure to comply with public access to information rules. Cheryl-Ann Mapp, chairwoman of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, did not provide The Royal Gazette with a response after she was asked to review the public authority’s decision to withhold records about the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee. Gitanjali Gutierrez, the information commissioner, in a decision due to be made public today, said failure to reply was a breach of the Public Access to Information Act. Ms Gutierrez said the commission told her the failure to answer may have been because of a “computer and e-mail system failure” in April last year. She added: “The gaming commission submitted that it had drafted the internal review decision and intended to issue it, but due to the system failure, a number of e-mails failed to send. The gaming commission was unaware that the e-mail attaching the internal review decision had failed to send.” The Royal Gazette submitted a Pati request to the BCGC on January 31 last year for all communications between the commission and the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee, a government advisory body set up to combat financial crime. The request asked for reports and documents produced by the commission for the NAMLC, including a “National Risk Assessment Tracking Document”. The commission’s alleged failure to meet a deadline for production of the tracking document was one of the reasons given by former tourism minister Jamahl Simmons for why the BCGC was brought under ministerial control at the end of 2017. He said the document was needed for a national risk analysis being conducted by the NAMLC and the commission had a legal obligation to produce it, but failed to do so under former chairman Alan Dunch. Mr Dunch resigned over the Government’s decision to place the regulator under ministerial control. He and the commission’s former executive director, Richard Schuetz, said no one from the NAMLC or the tourism ministry had ever told the BCGC that it was failing to meet its NAMLC obligations. The BCGC rejected The Royal Gazette’s Pati request on March 8 last year on the grounds that release of the records “could have a serious adverse effect on the financial interests of Bermuda or on the ability of the Government to manage the national economy”. The newspaper asked Ms Mapp to review that decision and, after receiving no response, appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The ICO launched a review and Ms Mapp then sent a response, on January 22 this year, upholding the initial decision to withhold the records. Ms Gutierrez said: “The information commissioner does not require the gaming commission to take any further action at this time in relation to the applicant’s request for an internal review.” She added that she had been given Ms Mapp’s decision and it was now under review by the ICO, at the request of The Royal Gazette. Ms Gutierrez, in a separate decision reported on last week found that Ms Mapp breached the Pati Act through a failure to respond to another request from The Royal Gazette for records on betting shops. She ordered the chairwoman to respond on the betting shops request by March 19.

paragraphDemonstrators hit by pepper spray in a clash with police at a protest outside Parliament over the new airport terminal building have been paid a settlement to avert further legal action. The payment, reported last night on ZBM News, was said to avoid a costly judicial review into the Police Complaints Authority, which had investigated the confrontation with police that took place on December 2, 2016. In August 2017, the PCA’s six-man team reported no misconduct on the part of individual officers, who were sent to remove demonstrators blocking the entrance to the House of Assembly. Protesters prevented MPs from entering Parliament to stop that day’s debate on controversial legislation to set up a public-private partnership with a Canadian corporation to build and run a new airport terminal. The airport proposal by the former One Bermuda Alliance government was criticized by the Progressive Labour Party as well as activist groups such as the People’s Campaign. Several officers deployed to clear the gates of Sessions House on Church Street pepper-sprayed demonstrators, resulting in 26 complaints against police. Fourteen officers were said to have been assaulted during the clash. While the PCA later criticized senior police officers for the tactics used on the day, the group did not blame individual officers. The complainants later called for a judicial review, which was postponed last year. Applicants were not identified in the Supreme Court, and sources told The Royal Gazette in May 2018 that the subsequent retirement of “key players” was likely to complicate a review. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said last night that he could not comment on the matter. A ministry statement said an “amicable conclusion” had been reached with applicants and that the settlement would avoid the cost of a lengthy court hearing.

paragraphThe Bermuda Chamber of Commerce’s Budget Breakfast is sold out. The event, to be staged at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club on February 25, will feature Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, speaking before a business audience three days after he delivers his maiden Budget Statement in the House of Assembly. In making the announcement, Kendaree Burgess, the Chamber’s chief executive officer, said: “We are so pleased with the support and interest this annual event garners within the Bermuda business community. The early interest and sell out of the event should provide for a lively discussion and review of the Budget Statement.” Mr Dickinson will be joined by panellists John Wight, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Nathan Kowalski, chief financial officer of Anchor Investment Management, Roland “Andy” Burrows, CEO of Bermuda Business Development Agency and Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union. The panel will be moderated by Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader.

paragraphProposals to abolish the Corporations of Hamilton and St George’s or turn them into quangos could come into force before local elections in May, the Mayor of Hamilton said today. Charles Gosling said he only learnt of the proposals in a meeting with Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, yesterday, just before “two options to ensure growth and development” were put out for ten days of public consultation. He added: “There has been essentially no consultation.” One option presented by the ministry is to change the corporations into quangos, and the second is to dissolve the local authorities altogether and bring them under direct Government control. Mr Gosling said the dissolution option was unlikely. He explained: “That gets into constitutional issues — I would hope that they would not have the appetite to enter into that.” Legislation brought to the House of Assembly in March 2018 by Walton Brown, then the home affairs minister, deferred ordinary municipal elections from May 2018 to May 2019. Mr Gosling predicted any changes to municipal governance would go ahead before the elections. He said: “Obviously if this goes into law it would have to happen pretty quickly. They have a ten-day period prior to getting this tabled in the House of Assembly. They would have literally a week or two to get it through Parliament before the electoral process would have to start by law. But this is a fait accompli.” A policy document, which went live for public consideration today, can be viewed at forum.gov.bm.

paragraphPolice today warned that fake $50 Bermuda banknotes are in circulation. A police spokesman said 10 of the fakes had been seized by police in the past 10 days. He added: “Employees are once again advised that if counterfeit cash is detected during a transaction, the member of staff receiving the fake money should hold on to it, note the description of the individual who tendered it and contact police immediately. Similarly, members of the public should take a few seconds to examine any money they may receive, especially the larger denominations.” The counterfeit notes have the serial numbers A1402579 and A1361701. The spokesman said anyone who has been given a fake banknote should contact police. He added that anyone with information on the creators of the counterfeits should also contact police or the anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-8477. The spokesman said: “It is a criminal offence to pass to another, possess, make or reproduce any counterfeit currency.” The offences are punishable with up to five years in prison.

paragraphA fake bank e-mail cost a resident thousands of dollars, police have revealed. A police spokesman said the e-mail, which was claimed to be from Butterfield Bank, led to the recipient’s account details being compromised and the loss of “several thousand dollars”. The spokesman said the incident highlighted the dangers of scam messages designed to obtain confidential information — known as “phishing”. He added: “Once again, the Bermuda Police Service would like to remind members of the public to remain vigilant regarding phone calls, e-mails and other correspondence from unknown persons that attempt to obtain personal information or other sensitive data.”

paragraphDrinks giant Bacardi is on the rock for good, its chief executive has promised. Mahesh Madhavan said that the Cuban-founded company was committed to Bermuda as its global headquarters. Mr Madhavan added: “We have completed 157 years of the company — not only another 157 years but the next 500, I hope, will be in Bermuda.” He was speaking as dozens of Bacardi staff on the island completed their annual “back to the bar” event, designed to coincide with the founder’s day at the family-owned firm, at Docksider in Hamilton. Bacardi set up in Bermuda in 1965 after it was forced out of Cuba by the Communist regime set up in the wake of the 1959 revolution headed by the late Fidel Castro. There are signs that the grip of Communism is loosening on the Caribbean island and that the US trade embargo imposed after the revolution has since been relaxed, leading to hopes that exiles may be able to return. But Mr Madhavan said: “For us, Bermuda is home, irrespective of what happens there. We might go there and build a connection, but Bermuda is our home now.” He added: “Bermuda is the place we make all our decisions. The board meets here six times a year and we have a leadership team coming here seven times a year. Bermuda is the hub for all major decisions to be made.” Mr Madhavan said uncertainty caused by Britain’s decision to quit the European and the French social justice “yellow vests” protests, which descended into violence, had hit business in Europe towards the end of last year. He added: “Consumers don’t know whether they should spend or save for a rainy day and that results in them going to cheaper brands.” But he explained that downturns were “cyclical” and affected different parts of the world at different times. The year was good. We are on track with budgets ... we’re on track to deliver what we told the family and board of directors we would deliver.” Mr Madhavan and John Burke, the chief marketing officer and president of Bacardi Global Brands, joined other staff for the tour round 12 bars in Hamilton last Thursday night in a drive designed to promote Bacardi — and get ideas from bar owners and customers on how to develop its brands. More than 7,000 Bacardi staff in 134 cities around the world took part in the event, Mr Burke said: “It’s fantastic to meet real people who are trying our brands and we’re able to talk to them about our brands. We invite our teams to go out into bars and meet people, talk to them about our products and our brands and learn more about our consumers because we’re on a mission to put the customer at the heart of what we do. For us, it’s market research because the people who work in bars are telling us what the customers have told them. That helps us better serve our customers.” Mr Madhavan said: “At times, we get ideas too ... sometimes the best advice comes from our customers. There’s definitely been a bit of a buzz. The fact we had it on radio, we had people talking about it and people were looking forward to it. It was a great way to get people out of their homes. It all boils down to connecting — that’s what Bacardi has always been great at. It’s a reboot. Getting people back to bars and socializing.” The company’s portfolio includes more than 200 brands — and not just rum, but English gin, Italian vermouth, Scotch whisky, French vodka, Mexican tequila and one of its newest acquisitions — a stake in Teeling, an Irish whiskey distiller based in the heart of Dublin. Mr Madhavan said: “People don’t realize the company has all these brands — it’s good to get out and tell them about them.”

paragraphEverest Re Group racked up net catastrophe losses of $875 million as it posted a fourth-quarter net loss. Hurricane Michael, the California Camp and Woolsey wildfires and an Australia hailstorm event were the main drivers of the natural disaster losses, the Bermudian-based reinsurer said. For the fourth quarter, Everest’s net loss was $382.3 million, or $9.50 per common share, compared to net income of $571 million, or $13.85 per diluted common share for the fourth quarter of 2017. However, for the full year, Everest was profitable, reporting 2018 net income of $103.6 million, or $2.53 per share. Dominic Addesso, Everest’s chief executive officer, said: “During 2018 there were nearly $90 billion of insured industry losses, the fourth highest on record. Despite these events, Everest had both positive net income and operating income for the year. This result is testament to the diversification of our business across geographies, classes of business, and sources of capital. Everest’s long-term returns remain impressive, with five and ten-year average returns on equity still in excess of 10 per cent.” After-tax operating loss was $236.9 million, or $5.89 per common share, for the fourth quarter, beating the $6.31 per share loss that was the average forecast of analysts tracked by Yahoo Finance. The group’s combined ratio was 134.1 per cent for the quarter and 108.8 per cent for the year. Net investment income amounted to $140.2 million for the quarter and $581.2 million for the full year 2018, up 7 per cent over the full-year 2017 results. Net after-tax realised losses amounted to $143.9 million for the quarter. Everest’s shares fell $1.42, or 0.6 per cent, to close on $220.38 on the New York Stock Exchange, before the results were released.

paragraphA mother has accused the child protection agency of failing to help her 15-year-old daughter, who ended up involved in drugs and became the subject of a string of cases in Family Court. The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, added that the Department of Child and Family Services had attempted to blame her for its “incompetence”. She said: “It’s a lot of underhandedness and loose ends on the part of Department of Child and Family Services, and I’m paying for it.” The woman said that after she was released on parole for a serious criminal offence, she started to have discipline problems with the teenager. She explained: “She needed an old-fashioned ‘cut tail’, but in my predicament I couldn’t do it, which is why I reached out and asked for help. I went to the Brangman Home and [the Department of] Child and Family Services begging for help, but they pretty much said ‘we can’t do anything until something happens’.” The mother said that the problems escalated until the child left her mother’s house in August last year and moved in with her paternal grandparents. The woman added: “I don’t agree with this residence — it has no rules. She’s able to call the shots, and she’s just literally doing what she wants.” The woman added: “I was getting reports of my daughter smoking marijuana, drinking and being out at all hours. I contacted her grandparents and they said that her dad was providing the weed, so I contacted DCFS and showed them the messages and videos and everything.” But the woman said the grandparents were allowed to keep the child even though the DCFS had not carried out an assessment on the home environment. She explained: “I was told by DCFS that my children’s grandparents were due to come in to get assessed, but they failed to show up for four appointments. Let’s take it a step farther and say it was cocaine — if I say ‘my daughter is on cocaine and her father is providing it and here’s video proof’, if you care about the welfare of my child, how do you keep her in that environment?” The woman claimed the DCFS had omitted her complaints about her daughter’s drug use from documents submitted to court to try to protect itself from any blame. She said: “I found out during custody cases that the DCFS never even put my complaints in the report.” But she added that details of her own conviction had been submitted to the court. The woman said: “Three days after we went to court, there was chaos in the home and she was sent back to my house, but that was never in future reports, either. It’s just all these false, inaccurate and misleading facts in their reports, ultimately just to get what they want.” The woman said that the grandparents had now abandoned the custody battle, but that she had still to attend Family Court hearings about supervision orders for her daughter. She said: “I just started a new job and she’s not my only daughter — I’m the sole provider for my children. I already have to leave for parole board meetings. The woman added that she could not afford a lawyer and legal aid was not offered in Family Court. She added: “I’m trying to get my life back on track and I’m tired of being assessed. It’s unfair to my family and to me. They’ve done a huge injustice to my daughter. They failed her.” A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Legal Affairs said its “policy is not to disclose information to the media on any individual’s case”. The woman’s claims are the latest attack on the DCFS. The Royal Gazette had already revealed this month that two department staff were still under investigation after allegations of abuse and neglect against a boy in the department’s care. Two other staff members were “disciplined in accordance with the government code of conduct, discipline and misconduct procedures” and were understood to have returned to work under supervision. Alfred Maybury, the DCFS director, was put on administrative leave on full pay in August last year over his handling of complaints against his staff and claims that he had failed to follow the Government’s financial instructions. Mr Maybury also returned to work at the end of last month after the complaints against him were found to be “not substantiated” in the wake of an internal investigation.

paragraphA court ruling that cleared non-Bermudian “belongers” to compete in sport for the island affected “a tiny fraction” of youth athletes, a top lawyer said. Peter Sanderson, who has handled cases involving people found to be belongers to Bermuda under the Constitution, added: “Maybe people didn’t appreciate how few people this is — it boils down to probably a couple of dozen children.” Mr Sanderson was speaking after Alia Atkinson, a Jamaican Olympic swimmer, said on a visit to Bermuda to run a clinic that the ambiguous status of some Bermuda residents was “heart-wrenching”. Narinder Hargun, the Chief Justice, ruled last December that two people “belonging to Bermuda” as children of naturalized British Overseas Territories Citizens had the same right to compete in sports events as “a citizen and/or national under Bermuda law”. The Chief Justice wrote: “In my judgment, Bermuda law affords a large measure of equality to the concepts of Bermuda status and belonging to Bermuda.” Belongers cover a mix of categories that Mr Sanderson said reflected the make-up of the island. It included naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens, as well as the spouses of Bermudians and British Overseas Territory citizens and holders of permanent resident’s certificates. Mr Sanderson said, in terms of young people eligible to compete in sport, belongers represented perhaps “one in 20 of the number of Bermudian children” He added: “Out of that, how many of them are in a sport? It’s a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction.” Mr Sanderson, who is the head of litigation at Benedek Lewin Ltd, said that Bermudians should not feel disadvantaged at having to compete against belongers, who could hold multiple citizenship. He added: “The suggestion that belongers can represent two countries, whereas Bermudians cannot, is false. All Bermudians born in Bermuda have British nationality in addition to British Overseas Territory citizenship — they are eligible to represent the UK in sporting events if they so choose and are selected to do so.” Mr Sanderson added: “There are also many, many Bermudians who have a third nationality through a parent — commonly American, Jamaican, Canadian or Portuguese, among others. I understand there are Bermudian athletes who have opted to compete for other countries in the past. Ultimately though, sports federations do not allow dual-national athletes to hop back and forth between nationalities. You have to stick with one or the other.” Mr Sanderson said the Chief Justice’s ruling involved the Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association, but set a precedent that could affect other sports. He added: “It’s not binding on the other sports bodies, but they should be able to see what the law is. The court has ruled on what the situation is. If other sporting bodies choose not to follow it, then they could themselves face legal action.” Mr Sanderson admitted that long-term residents and belongers obtaining Bermuda status was “contentious”. Days of demonstrations shut down Parliament when the former One Bermuda Alliance administration attempted to table Pathways to Status legislation in March 2016. The legislation was designed to make it easier for long-term residents to gain permanent residency and status. The Bill was withdrawn after the protests for a review intended to lead to comprehensive immigration reform. Wayne Caines, the national security minister, is responsible for immigration under the ruling Progressive Labour Party government. He said last month that he expected “key elements” of reform to be debated and passed in the House of Assembly “before the end of July 2019”. Mr Sanderson said: “It’s understandable that there’s anxiety about it. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that just by being born here, you should get status. Everybody accepts that’s not enough. It seems accepted that you should be here for a significant time before becoming eligible. But these are people who are already here and have been here for a long time, so you’re not going to see a massive change in how Bermuda looks.” Mr Sanderson highlighted that “there was a pathway in place for children brought up here, until 2008 — up until 11 years ago, anybody born in Bermuda could apply for status once they turned 18”. He said: “It’s only in the past decade that we have not had a pathway to status for people born and brought up here. This is not the norm for Bermuda — it’s a problem that has been allowed to develop.” Mr Sanderson added that the section that allowed status in Bermuda’s immigration laws expired at the end of July 2008 and that “successive governments did nothing to fix it”. He said: “It seems people have forgotten that — a lot of people got status that way.” Mr Caines has not yet specified what sections of immigration law would be changed first. Mr Sanderson said: “Kids born or brought up here is an obvious one. The other would be adults who have been here for more than a certain number of years. By allowing the process to stall, it has put the courts in the unhappy position of having to enforce minimum constitutional standards. If the Government neglects that area, they end up losing control of the process. The best way for the Government to maintain control is to put forward workable reforms.”

Spacer

February 11

paragraphThe structure of Bermuda’s municipalities could change drastically as the Government considers two options to ensure growth and development. The Corporation of Hamilton and St George’s could be changed to quangos which would give the Government increased oversight of key initiatives. Or the corporations could be completely dissolved — repealing the Municipalities Act and integrating functions into the Government’s administrative structure. The two proposals were put forward following public consultation in 2018 on the future of the municipalities. An Act was passed in Parliament last March to defer municipal elections for a year until May 2019, to allow the Government time to hold consultations to determine appropriate methods to strengthen and modernize governance of the municipalities. Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the City of Hamilton and the historic and cultural town of St George’s were critical to the economic health and wealth of Bermuda. Mr Roban said: “Both must be rejuvenated into becoming vibrant entities in order to attract more visitors and greater investment opportunities for our island and its people. At present, both entities have crumbling infrastructure and empty buildings that do not reflect a thriving city and town that is attractive to both visitors and investors.” He said the municipalities were at mainly responsible for infrastructure. But Mr Roban said the corporations did not have “the financial and other means to achieve and sustain the vision to rejuvenate the cities. It is also evident that central Government has greater access to the resources and expertise needed to achieve the vision.” The Government stated that its vision for Hamilton was to make it a “smart city” with a thriving residential centre, and an entertainment hub with distinct districts to touch all aspects of city life, including a tourism interface. The development of a multifaceted waterfront, increased use of vacant office space, effective traffic management and the development of various industries are expected to help in achieving this vision. For St George’s, the Government envisioned a mega yacht port and marina with enhanced infrastructure, amenities and activities with a management plan for the world heritage site and a sustainable year-round industry. A policy document has been created for public consideration, and consultation will run from tomorrow to February 22. The document can be viewed at forum.gov.bm.

paragraphA new hi-tech electronic tagging system to keep track of offenders and send instant alerts when they break rules is to be introduced. The Government is looking at ways to develop its rehabilitation programmes for criminals and has asked proposals for a state-of-the-art network. A request for proposal from the Ministry of Legal Affairs said the Government planned to bring in a system that uses GPS tracking and wanted at least 50 individual devices. The RFP said: “The Government of Bermuda is seeking to expand and maintain its programmes to monitor, manage and change behaviors in offenders, with the protection of the community as the primary consideration. Electronic monitoring involves having an electronic bracelet — device — attached to an offender deemed to be in need of intensive monitoring and/or having restrictions placed on their movements. As they remain in the community, with mechanisms to promote behavior change and minimize risks to the community, the Government is seeking a reliable partnership with a proponent who will effectively and efficiently manage, maintain and monitor this programme utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and services.” The document, published online, told suppliers they were expected to provide costs for a complete system that used existing technology, as well as prices for optional extras. The RFP added: “Although cost is a significant consideration, product reliability and performance, customer service and support, staff knowledge and qualifications and company financial stability are also critical to the selection of the preferred proponent for the proposed system.” The ministry’s existing electronic monitoring programme uses GPS or cellular tracking devices to keep tabs 24 hours a day on people who are on parole or bail. Potential suppliers of the new equipment were told it must be “highly reliable in a wide range of climatic conditions and environments”. Specifications included that the GPS monitoring devices should be able to “pinpoint the location of any client” and feed back data “at least once every 15 minutes when the offender is compliant and immediately when the offender commits a violation”. The monitoring devices are expected to have at least 36 hours of battery life and work in both fresh and salt water up to three metres deep. Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, told the Senate last July that the “overall design and data” of the tagging system was under review to see how it could be improved. Options included devices that could detect alcohol levels in sweat, home detention devices and units that could be used in domestic violence situations. Ms Simmons, who is also the Minister of Legal Affairs, added that 26 devices were in use at the time and the programme was budgeted at $250,000 a year. A ministry spokeswoman said the average daily use was higher. She explained last week: “We can confirm that on most occasions there are 30 units in active use. The final determination on the number of units for the upcoming fiscal year will be made based on the vendor selection from the RFP process.” The Royal Gazette asked for further information about what was expected from the new contract, including the predicted cost and whether developments such as the detection of alcohol would be included. But the ministry declined to comment because the RFP had been issued and “some of the questions may put potential vendors at an advantage”. The RFP included the opportunity for suppliers to provide details about additional devices or services, such as alcohol monitoring and the associated costs. Anyone interested has until noon on February 28 to submit a proposal.

paragraphProgress reports for primary schools and middle school pupils have to be issued by the end of the month, the education commissioner has told principals and teachers. The information was contained in a letter from Kalmar Richards sent to school staff last Friday on grading and reporting procedures until June, the end of the school year. Ms Richards said that a second progress report would go to parents in April followed by a final report card in June. She added: “These reports will be pulled from Power School.” Ms Richards said that a report on pupils’ “personal and social development” would also be provided. She added: “This report will have to be completed manually and the first report will be sent at the end of February. We recognize that based on what is being asked, we will need to provide professional learning, technical support, and improve the response time for Power School when scores are being entered. The Department of Education will provide the professional learning, a team of teachers will provide technical support, and our IT team has put a solution in place to address technology concerns related to length of time that it takes for Power School to respond when grades are being entered.” Ms Richards added that one of the “major goals” of the Bermuda public school system was to “become a standards-based education system”. She said: “Over the next few years, we will make this transition for the benefit of the children in our schools.” Ms Richards added that a steering committee had charted the path for public schools to move from a traditional grading system to the standards-based model. She said that the expectations outlined in the letter for primary and middle school teachers “take into consideration the reality of where we are in relation to our transition to a standards-based system”. Ms Richards added that the views of principals, teachers and parents were considered and that the targets were “not determined in isolation”. She said that teachers would score pupil assignments using a 0 to 4 scale. A four showed “advanced understanding”, while a zero represented “no or insufficient evidence”. She added that the scale would “promote consistency between scoring from last term and this term”. Ms Richards said: “It is important for you to note well that the scoring process that is expected ... is a traditional approach to grading and that it is only being used as an interim step as we transition to a standards-based education system.” Training in the new system was provided to teachers and principals last month after a request from the Bermuda Union of Teachers.  Teachers have been locked in conflict with the Government over a series of problems, including standards-based grading, which the teaching union said had added stress to already overburdened staff. Shannon James, the president of the BUT, admitted last week that not all primary and middle school teachers had uploaded grades to Power School because of confusion about the introduction of standards-based grading. However, Mr James added that teachers had kept hard copies of pupil grades. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education confirmed last week that there was “variance from school to school” in the addition of pupil grades to Power School. She promised the variations “will be reduced this month forward” and that teachers would be expected to update grades every two weeks as schools move towards standards-based grading. Ms Richards last month apologized to teachers for “insufficient support, training and communication, and for the impact that it has had on principals, teachers and schools”.

paragraphA clampdown on an epidemic of “revenge porn” in schools is long overdue, a psychology graduate has warned. Chardonaé Rawlins said that new laws and a standard set of rules to tackle the problem should be introduced across the school system. Ms Rawlins, who has an honours degree in psychology from Kingston University in London, added: “I am in the process of drafting up a demo of anti-bully and revenge porn policies that are referencing the UK policies to give to the schools. “Every school should have it. There are different protocols for bullying than for revenge porn. Teachers and guidance counselors need specific training. Research has proven that children go to the guidance counselor first rather than their parents and so they need to know the proper protocol otherwise it may do more harm than good.” Ms Rawlins, 22, said she was researching the psychological effects of revenge porn and the online posting of intimate images of people without their consent in Bermuda. She is an intern at the clinical psychology clinic Solstice in Hamilton, and will start a master’s degree in child and adolescent health at University College London in September. She is also awaiting approval from a UK ethics committee to carry out further research. Ms Rawlins said: “We’re currently living in a generation where social media is the highlight of our lives. With social media comes the negatives such as cyber bullying and revenge porn as well as various mental health affects that should be addressed. Many people overlook how mental health can be impacted severely based on these things and I think that’s also important to highlight. Research has shown that victims of revenge porn have almost identical mental health effects as victims of rape, including suicide ideation. Hopefully, my research will be able to shed light on what is actually happening in our community.” She added that she wanted to gather statistics on revenge porn and pornography distributed without consent in Bermuda as part of her research. She said anecdotal evidence suggested that the problem was rife in Bermuda’s schools. Ms Rawlins explained that schoolchildren, as well as adults, send out collections of intimate images and videos of people without their consent during some weeks of the year called Leak Weeks. She said: “Leak Week happens a few times per year and falls on the peer support theory of ‘monkey see, monkey do’ — you see your friends sending it out, you think it’s cool and you send it to someone, it gets in the wrong hands and then it just goes all around the island. For the younger generation, they will be sending the news via Snapchat and WhatsApp. It happens randomly and it is specifically for revenge porn.” Ms Rawlins said that her research in Britain showed that half of people who fell victim to bullying or revenge porn reported they suffered from depression as a result. About 45 per cent suffer from anxiety and 11 per cent have attempted suicide. Ms Rawlins told parents: “If your child goes through this or is exposed in Leak Week — help them and seek help for them. Help them to understand that life moves on it is not the end of the world. Give them a tool kit to get through situations like this — you must uplift them instead of tearing them down.” The Royal Gazette contacted high schools to ask if they had policies in place to tackle revenge porn, but only Saltus Grammar School and Warwick Academy replied by press time. Saltus said it had a “robust” technology use policy that included rules against bullying and harassment and that all pupils and parents were required to sign it. Warwick Academy has an anti-bullying, discipline and internet usage policy and its counselors are trained to spot if a child needs psychological help. Dissemination of pornographic images and videos of anyone aged under 16 is illegal and classed as child pornography, even if the material is of the sender. Bermuda has several laws designed to cover child pornography, as well as illegal use of phones and electronic devices. However, Ms Rawlins said: “I believe that we should amend current legislation to add a specific subgroup for image-based sexual abuse because I feel that victims want to prosecute but there is no specific legislation to aid in the process — it is not tailored towards revenge porn. The law would also stipulate that training be mandatory. Teachers have to be trained in the UK, guidance counselors have to be trained — it is legislated. You have to understand the definitions. The laws do not protect older people — the Criminal Code Act is focused on child pornography. We need to come up with new legislation to protect women and men from revenge porn rather than just trying to piggyback off of different acts. ” Kelly Hunt, executive director of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, said: “We must formulate a healthy approach to internet usage that utilizes education and technology itself to prevent harm and protect our children. We urge the Ministry of Education to adopt a clear responsible use of technology policy so that expectations are outlined and actions taking place on school property are addressed.” Information and support:

paragraphSix divers from the Royal Bermuda Regiment and the police service have completed a tough weeklong evidence recovery and search and rescue course. The group — two police officers and four soldiers — qualified in the National Association of Police Divers course, designed to prepare personnel for work in difficult conditions. Lieutenant Alex Gibbs, who organized the course, said: “It’s coming out of the realm of sport diving and into the realms of professional public-safety diving.” The Bermuda Police Service already has a diving team, but the US-based NAPD programme is different from the course they qualified in, so including police officers is a good way to foster closer relationships. Lieutenant Gibbs, 27, from Smith’s, said: “The nice thing about having the two police officers on the course was that it gave them an idea of how we operate and opens the door to more cross-training in the future.” He added that the RBR’s growing diving capability gave it another string to its bow — and increased its public service role. Lieutenant Gibbs, who will take over as aide-de-camp to the Governor this month, said: “It’s beneficial to the long-term goals of taking people from the regiment who may never have been diving before and getting them all the way to rescue level and public safety diver. We can help the police on operations and also facilitate joint services training — it all adds value to the role of the RBR.” Lieutenant Gibbs, already an experienced diver, served as a rescue swimmer for the 2017 America’s Cup races alongside other RBR divers and also worked in a safety role at the ITU World Triathlon Series event last year. He said: “All this is a new role for the Regiment, outside what the general public might be used to, like hurricane relief.” Lieutenant Gibbs, Corporal Michael Furtz, Corporal Satyrah Robinson, Lance Corporal Nathan Frick and Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley joined Pcs Hugo Benzinger and Richard Marriott for the course, which finished at the weekend. The training involved the use of basic search patterns, evidence recovery, hull searches of ships, as well as night dives. Lieutenant Gibbs said: “We’re not always going to dive in ideal conditions. They have to be prepared to be called out in the middle of the night, in bad weather, for things like a body recovery, which has happened before, and be able to cope with high stress situations.” He added: “As the RBR looks at the strategic review, redefining our role and bolstering our assistance to the civil authorities, diving definitely falls under that remit. It’s all part of being a modern, adaptable force able to make an even more valuable contribution to the community we serve.”

paragraphMortgage reinsurer Essent Group Ltd posted a $128.5 million profit in the fourth quarter of last year. The Bermudian-based company’s results were boosted by the release of most of the reserves it had set aside to cover potential loan defaults in connection with hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017. Net income for the quarter broke down $1.31 per share. For the full year, Essent reported net income of $467.4 million or $4.77 per share. The provision for losses and loss adjustment expenses for the fourth quarter was a benefit of $1 million, compared to a provision of $5.5 million in the third quarter of 2018 and a provision of $17.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. “The provision in the fourth quarter of 2018 included a $9.9 million release of the $11.1 million reserve associated with loans identified as related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that was established in the fourth quarter of 2017,” Essent said in a statement on Friday. Mark Casale, Essent’s chairman and chief executive officer, said: “We are pleased with our strong fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results as we continued growing our high credit quality and profitable mortgage insurance portfolio. Also during 2018, we successfully piloted our risk-based pricing engine, EssentEDGETM, and executed in the reinsurance markets. We believe that increased sophistication in the front end and back end of our business positions us well to shape our insured portfolio and profitably manage the long-tail mortgage credit risk.” The percentage of loans in default as of December 31, 2018 was 0.66 per cent, compared to 0.61 per cent three months earlier and 0.96 per cent at the end of 2017. Essent said its combined ratio — the proportion of premium dollars spent on claims and expenses — for the fourth quarter was 22.2 per cent, compared to 25.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 and 36.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017. The consolidated balance of cash and investments at the end of 2018 was $2.9 billion.

paragraphArgo Group posted a net loss of $43.6 million for the fourth quarter of last year, driven by a fall in the market value of its equity investments during the last three months of the year. However, the Bermuda-based insurer and reinsurer managed to grow gross premiums written to $3 billion for the full year, an increase of 9.6 per cent from 2017. Adjusted operating income was $18.8 million, or 55 cents per share for the quarter and $111.7 million, or $3.22 per share for the year. Full-year net income for 2018 was $63.6 million, up from $50.3 million in 2017. The combined ratio — the proportion of premium dollars spent on claims and expenses — was 99.5 per cent for the quarter and 97.9 per cent for the year. During the fourth quarter, Argo said it recognized the change in the fair value of its equity securities as a pre-tax loss of $83 million, or $66.4 million net of taxes, or a loss of $1.96 per diluted share. “Our results in 2018 demonstrate the continued execution of our strategy to optimize the efficiency of the platform, grow in lines with the most profit potential and scale the business globally,” Mark Watson, Argot's chief executive officer said. “Our business has been performing well against a difficult market environment. We posted 9.6 per cent growth in annual gross written premiums including a 12.1 per cent rise in the US, improvements in current year margins, and a 260-basis-point improvement in the annual expense ratio. While late year volatility in the investment markets masked the full impact of our solid results, we believe we are well positioned to continue to deliver strong shareholder value.” Book value per share was $51.43 at December 31, 2018 compared to $53.46 at December 31, 2017. Argo’s shares rose 35 cents, or 0.5 per cent, in New York Stock Exchange trading today ahead of the release of the results.

paragraphA motorcyclist caught drink-driving with no helmet and two passengers on his bike was fined $2,700 and banned from the roads. Ezra Ararat, 33, was spotted on Front Street by police Magistrates’ Court heard. He pulled over and his passengers ran off. Ararat, from Devonshire, told police: “I wasn’t driving, I had three shots of Hennessey.” A later breath test showed 150 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood — almost twice the legal limit of 80mg/100ml. Ararat admitted drink-driving, carrying two passengers and failure to use a helmet last Wednesday night. He said: “I am fully responsible for my actions and I apologise to the court.” Magistrate Juan Wolffe banned him for 18 months

Spacer

February 10, Sunday

Spacer

February 9

paragraphRenovation work at Sessions House could force the judiciary out of the building and create a backlog of cases, it was revealed yesterday. But Chief Justice Narinder Hargun said that the Government was “keenly aware” of the problem over Supreme Court 1 and wanted to make sure suitable temporary accommodation was available while the work was carried out. Mr Justice Hargun said the judiciary was unable to use a courtroom in the former court registry on the corner of Front Street and Court Street. He added that the loss of the Sessions House courtroom would leave only one court shared between the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, which would also lead to delays in trials. Mr Justice Hargun said: “Last year, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley advised that the accommodation issues had been resolved with the opening of the court registry on Front Street. This meant that the Supreme Court would have available to it two criminal courts — one in Sessions House and one in Dame Lois Browne Evans Building — and the Front Street court could be reserved at all times for the Court of Appeal. However, regrettably the Front Street facility has been closed for health reasons. With the closure of the Front Street court, we do not have a separate facility for the Court of Appeal.” The Court of Appeal has been using a courtroom in the Magistrates’ Court or Supreme Court 1. The Chief Justice said the loss of the registry courtroom meant one of the two courts used by the Supreme Court for criminal cases was taken over by the Court of Appeal for nine weeks of the year. Mr Justice Hargun added: “In addition to the loss of the Front Street court, we understand that it is proposed to totally renovate Sessions House, as was the case with the Senate building. The proposal is that the criminal division will be asked to vacate this court sometime this year. However, to date no suitable space has been found.” Mr Justice Hargun was speaking as the legal profession marked the start of the new legal year in Supreme Court 1. The Chief Justice added that in an effort to prevent delays between conviction and sentencing, the Supreme Court will only order reports in cases of young, first-time offenders and in cases where mental health had to be assessed. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe highlighted the efforts taken to help those who come before Magistrates’ Court to prevent them from falling into a cycle of incarceration and criminality. He said that the Drug Treatment Court and Mental Health Court had both helped give offenders a way to tackle their problems. Mr Wolffe said he had started discussions to introduce a Probation Review and Re-entry Court. The new court would work to reduce the likelihood of people released from prison going on to commit further offences. He said: “I invite every member of this community to step inside Magistrates’ Court on any given day and witness the phenomenal work the magistrates, acting magistrates and administrative staff are doing.” Mr Wolffe called for legal changes to allow online payments of fines, child support or debts. He also asked that video-link evidence equipment should be bought so witnesses in sex offence cases would not have to face the people accused of assaulting them. Larry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said other technology could be used to improve the court system. He highlighted digital disclosure of documents among the Bermuda Police Service, the Department of Public Prosecutions and defence lawyers involved in the case.

paragraphA proposal to slap a tax on rented homes in the Budget has been taken off the table, the Minister of Finance said yesterday. Curtis Dickinson made the announcement after complaints that landlords had tried to use the suggested levy as an excuse to raise rents from next month. He said he had made it clear the residential rental tax would not be implemented to avoid the exploitation of tenants. The minister told The Royal Gazette he had other plans to boost government revenue. A joint press release from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Finance hours earlier repeated that no decision had been made to implement the levy after landlords' attempts to hike rents were made public. It said: “This clarification is provided in response to phone calls to Consumer Affairs from tenants reporting that their landlord has informed them that their rent will be increased 'due to the new tax' as of March 1. Consumer Affairs has addressed this behavior with the offending landlords.” Mr Dickinson said later that he had decided to go a step further. He explained: “I just thought it was important to be very clear that the behavior that was referenced in the press release needs to stop, because there's not going to be a rent tax for residential properties. The best way to do that was to make a public statement.” He added: “I was getting a lot of concern on my part around people potentially being taken advantage of. I have formulated a view on how I intend to take this forward.” Mr Dickinson said that his tax plans will be revealed when the Budget was delivered on February 22. He added that the Pre-Budget report, which included the residential tax proposal recommended by the Tax Reform Commission, was an opportunity to canvass public opinion on proposals. Mr Dickinson said many people were opposed to the levy which, combined with a tax on commercial properties, was expected to bring in $41 million. However, he claimed opinions “varied” and others were supportive of the idea. Mr Dickinson added: “I have figured out that there's probably a more effective way that is balanced, easily implement able and collectable, and has minimal negative impact on the broader economy. I didn't want people to be taken advantage of by folks who were trying to forecast, incorrectly, what it is that's going to be contained inside of the Budget. In the Budget, we will be very mindful of our fiscal situation and we will be very prudent about remedies we will put into place to move us in the right direction.” Mr Dickinson could not confirm how many complaints were made about landlords raising rents. But he said: “If it was one, one was too many. What I didn't want to have happened is to have people be exploited because of a lack of information so in order to remove the opportunity for people to do that I decided, in the case of the rental tax, to be clear about where we are going.” Mr Dickinson added that he had “no idea” if a rental tax would feature in future Budgets. He said: “I need to get through this year first and see how it all plays itself out.” Paulette Robinson, who spoke out against the tax at a Pre-Budget public meeting last week, said she feared the residential rental tax could return inside the next two years. She said yesterday: “I want him to remove it permanently ... it's going to come again next year, or the year after that — I'm looking beyond my nose.” Ms Robinson warned: “They would be taxing the wrong people — if they need to tax, do it elsewhere.” Nick Kempe, the One Bermuda Alliance shadow finance minister, said: “It was clear there was widespread opposition to the residential rental tax, which was causing anxiety among our elderly population in particular. Although the tax was among a raft of new taxes being considered, Government intended to raise taxes by $50 million in 2019-20 and residential rental taxes were set to raise $26 million. So, given that 2018-19 still had a Budget deficit of $89 million and given that Government has not cut any costs, what tax will replace the rental tax after this about-face?” Mr Kempe added: “This government has already introduced new taxes and it is clear its only plan is to introduce more.”

paragraphThe Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered the release of records related to the appointment of a former Director of Public Prosecutions. But the office has upheld a decision by Government House not to release other records because they are protected from disclosure under public access to information law. Gitanjali Gutierrez, the Information Commissioner, said: “In considering the balance of the public interest, the Information Commissioner accepts the applicant’s arguments concerning the general public interest in transparency and the promotion of greater public understanding of the process or decisions of public authorities. It is essential, however, that public officials, have the ability to seek free and frank advice prior to making their decisions.” Ms Gutierrez’s ruling, issued on January 24, came after an applicant asked for Government House records related to the appointment of the DPP in 2013 and 2015. Cindy Clarke, a Bermudian and Deputy DPP, is understood to have been the only applicant to respond to the job advert in 2013. She was appointed to take over from Rory Field, a work permit holder, subject to what George Fergusson, then Governor, said would be as a “suggested transitional period”. But Mr Ferguson said the appointment became “untenable” after “certain subsequent developments”. Mr Field agreed to carry on as DPP in December of that year. He was reappointed to the post in 2015 for a two-year term, but stepped down in February 2016. He was replaced by Larry Mussenden, a Bermudian. A Pati request was submitted in December 2015, after Mr Field’s reappointment, to ask for “all information and documentation on the selection process for the appointment of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2013 and January 2015, including the number of candidates who applied for the role and the number who met the required criteria for the position”. But Government House a month later refused to release the records because they contained personal information and information received in confidence. It revealed after an internal review that there was only one candidate who applied in 2013 and four who applied in 2015, including Mr Field. However, Government House refused to release other documents about the decision-making process. The applicant appealed to the Information Commissioner, but Ms Gutierrez found some of the records were “outside the scope of the Act’s application”. She said Government House accepted in its submissions that there may be a public interest in the recruitment process, but argued the records would also reveal personal information about the applicants. Ms Gutierrez said: “Government House noted that disclosure of the records would provide further transparency about this process. Government House concluded, however, that this interest is significantly outweighed by the privacy interests of the individuals involved. It also emphasized that some of the people to whom the information relates had an expectation that the information would not be made public. This includes the candidates for DPP, as well as some of the individuals involved in the recruitment or interview process.” Ms Gutierrez said the applicant maintained there was “overarching” public interest, particularly given the important role played by the DPP. She said: “The applicant further submitted that public officers in public roles have fewer expectations of privacy and confidentiality compared to an external candidate regarding their candidacy for a senior post, such as the DPP. The applicant reasoned that the public had an interest in knowing why, despite a well-publicised succession plan to ensure appointment of a Bermudian, the candidate was deemed not able to take on the DPP role.” Government House refused to disclose other documents on the basis that they fell under several exceptions, including that they represented information given in confidence and the Governor’s communications with the UK Government. Ms Gutierrez upheld the refusal in the case of several of the records, which she said fell into the excepted categories, but ordered the release of many others, either in whole or in part. She ordered Government House to disclose three documents and parts of another 43 documents by March 7.

paragraphThree “illustrious Bermudians” who have made significant contributions in their fields took their place among a special Bermuda College group at a black-tie dinner tonight. Andrew Banks, Peter Durhager and Wilbert Warner were inducted into the Company of Honorary Fellows of the college. Mr Banks, the husband of former premier Dame Pamela Gordon Banks, is the co-founder of Boston-based equity firm ABRY Partners. He is involved in a number of international charities which work in education and healthcare in the developing world. Peter Durhager has had a career that has spanned banking, telecommunications, technology, insurance and the energy sector. Mr Durhager co-led the Bermuda bid to host the 35th America’s Cup and has said he believed in “giving while living”. He has helped communities through philanthropic organisations and social entrepreneurship. His daughter Margaret accepted the induction on his behalf. Dr Warner, an internal medicine specialist, started his medical career in Bermuda’s health department as the police and prisons medical officer. He said the establishment of a multidisciplinary HIV clinic at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in 1998, and the positive impact that has had on many lives since then, was one of his proudest achievements. Duranda Greene, the college president, welcomed guests to the event at Paget’s Coco Reef Resort.

paragraphA three-vehicle crash led to traffic delays this afternoon. The crash happened on Middle Road, Hamilton Parish, close to Shelly Bay. It appeared to involve two cars and a light truck. Police said there were no serious injuries, but traffic diversions were set up as officers examined the scene. Police said the road was reopened about 6.30pm.

paragraphA former Bermuda police officer badly injured in the Belco riots in 1965 has died. Barry “Tim” Burch, who served between 1962 and 1965, was 79. Mr Burch and then colleague George Linnen were credited by Andrew Bermingham, a retired police officer, with saving the life of seriously injured PC Ian Davies at the height of the trouble on February 2, 1965. Mr Bermingham, then also a constable, said: “It’s fair to say that Tim and George probably saved Ian’s life on that day.” An iconic front page photograph in The Royal Gazette the next day showed Mr Davies sprawled in the road bleeding from head wounds. Mr Burch stood guard over him while Mr Linnen tended his injuries — and a 23-year-old Mr Bermingham is pictured running to their aid. Mr Bermingham said Mr Burch, who arrived in Bermuda in May 1962, was a “methodical and popular police officer”. He added: “In the aftermath of this, he left Bermuda very quickly — he had recently married, had young children, and he quickly moved on like a lot of those policemen. Tim had a nasty injury. Half his ear nearly got sliced off. It definitely took its toll on him and others. There was an exodus after Belco.” Mr Bermingham said: “Many of the players in events that day are fading away.” Mr Davies died in 2005 and Mr Linnen died last year. Roger Sherratt, a former chief inspector who runs the Bermuda Ex Police Association, said Mr Burch started his career a police cadet in Berkshire Constabulary in England. He later served for three years in the British Army’s Royal Military Police before he moved to Bermuda in May 1962. Mr Sherratt said: “While here, he met and married the love of his life, Patricia, who was working as a nurse at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.” The couple married in March 1963 and their first daughter, Sally Ann, was born on the island. But when Mr Burch’s three-year contract ended in late 1965, he left, settled in Ontario with his wife and two children and took up a career in insurance. Mr Burch died on November 30 last year in Binbrook, Ontario. The riots broke out after union supporters picketed Belco’s headquarters on Serpentine Road, Pembroke, to try to gain union recognition at the plant. But demonstrators and the police, deployed with orders to keep the peace, clashed. A total of 17 policemen and an unknown number of demonstrators were injured after the morning of violence — and three officers, including Mr Burch, suffered serious injuries. Mr Burch almost lost an ear and Mr Davies suffered head injuries that affected him for the rest of his life. A third constable, David Long, was stabbed in the neck. Mr Bermingham said the violence marked a turning point for the island. He added: “Of all the incidents we had in Bermuda, nothing outdid this for violence — it was the most serious civil disorder in modern history at that time. This was at the start of a period of unrest that went from 1965 to the general strike in 1981.” Mr Bermingham added: “There had been a dock strike in 1959 where a major confrontation was avoided, thanks to intervention from senior police officers, senior union officials and members of the judiciary. Mr Bermingham said the Belco incident was a day when “tempers and emotions overrode everything and trouble started”. He added: “In my 54 years in Bermuda, I’ve had good days and bad days, but that day was the most dramatic experience I have ever lived through.” The Bermuda Industrial Union commemorated the 50th anniversary of the riots in 2015. Police on duty at the time and demonstrators met at the union headquarters in Hamilton to share their memories. Mr Bermingham said: “It was very much a coming together. There was reconciliation and understanding on both sides.”

paragraphAn angry parent said her son was terrified after a police team with sniffer dogs swooped on his school. Pupils at CedarBridge Academy said a “lockdown” took place at the school as police searched the buildings as part of a security exercise. The mother said: “My son was traumatized, he wanted to come home, he said the girls were scared and some of them were crying. The dogs were running all around them. I think it was really unprofessional, the parents did not know what was going on. What is this world really coming to? It’s sad when you go to school and get searched by a dog.” The mother said she received a text about the incident from her son on Thursday morning. He explained later that teachers were alerted by an e-mail from Kenneth Caesar, the school’s acting principal, to expect a “lockdown safety issue”. An e-mail was sent to parents after the search and asked them to talk to their children about the “importance of learning in a safe environment”. But one mother said she did not get the message and was upset at the effect the exercise had on her son. She added that the police dogs visited every classroom and sniffed bags as well as pupils’ lockers. The mother, who asked not to be named, said the children were “startled” by the exercise but that she was told later it was something that has happened at the school for years. But she insisted parents should have been warned. The mother said: “You don’t take dogs up to school and do all that stuff without the parents knowing, you need to get some kind of consent.” Sources at the school said the police search was a routine safety check and was not linked to an assault on a pupil and teacher during a field trip to St George’s the previous day. An e-mail from Mr Caesar sent on Thursday morning said: “From time to time, it is important we ensure the safety protocols we have in place are functional. Today, the school underwent a code-blue exercise in conjunction with the Bermuda Police Service. The Bermuda Police Service, including members of the K9 unit, participated in the exercise.” The drill came after a fire drill on Wednesday. The school said both exercises were successful. The message advised parents: “This evening, your child may discuss their experiences at school today. Please take the opportunity to speak with your child about their safety and reinforce the importance of learning in a safe environment. Today’s activities are not associated with events that took place yesterday. The planning for this week’s exercises have been ongoing. Please deem this message as a response to all phone calls and inquiries. We appreciate your concern.” A 17-year-old pupil was attacked by two men on Wednesday when CedarBridge Academy staff and pupils visited Somers Gardens in the Olde Towne. The boy suffered scratches to his neck and a 30-year-old teacher suffered a finger injury when she tried to intervene. Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said later that members of the school’s security team would join the remainder of the trip to Somers Garden over the following two days. Bermuda Police Service directed inquiries about the search to the education ministry. The ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Spacer

February 8

paragraphPremier David Burt met with leaders of the Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers at Camden on Wednesday. The discussion included how the Bermuda Government can work with Biltir to grow the long-term insurance industry in Bermuda and increase the number of Bermudians employed in the sector. In a Twitter message, Biltir thanked the Premier for taking time to meet, share views and learn about the sector, and added: “We stand ready to work with you and your government to contribute to Bermuda and Bermudians.”

paragraphLandlords were warned today not to pass a proposed rental tax on to their tenants. The Government said tenants have called Consumer Affairs reporting that their landlord has informed them their rent will be increased “due to the new tax” from March 1. However, the Government stressed that the tax, outlined in the Pre-Budget report, is only a proposal at this stage. A spokeswoman said: “Consumer Affairs has addressed this behavior with the offending landlords. It should be noted that if Consumer Affairs receives a report of any effort by a landlord to impose an increase on a tenant related to the proposed tax, it will be swiftly investigated. If a landlord is found to be doing this, then such actions would be classed as ‘a false, misleading or deceptive consumer representation’ under the Consumer Protection Act 1999 Part III Clause 11.” The new rental tax was included in recommendations from the Tax Reform Commission and mentioned in a Pre-Budget report from the Ministry of Finance last month. It would introduce a 5 per cent levy on rental income from properties with an annual rental value above $22,000. It would also apply to property owners if they own multiple properties with a combined ARV of more than $90,000, even if the ARV of the individual properties is below the $22,000 threshold. The TRC predicted the tax would generate about $41 million a year. Finance minister Curtis Dickinson, who will deliver the Budget on February 22, has stressed no final decision had been made on the tax. Mr Dickinson has said a need to increase Government income must be balanced against extra burdens on people who were already struggling. The Government said in its statement today: “Consumer Affairs has received several telephone calls from concerned members of the public over the past few days regarding the proposed rental tax cited by the Minister of Finance during his Pre-Budget Report. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Home Affairs wish to clarify several points. Firstly, residential units that fall under Rent Control, with an ARV of $22,800 or less, would not be impacted by the proposed tax. Secondly — and perhaps most importantly — the rental tax was only a proposal that was being considered as part of the pre-Budget consultation process. The Government has not announced a decision on this yet and will not do so until the Budget is read on February 22. The proposed rental tax was simply a recommendation of the Tax Commission that was added to the Pre-Budget Report, along with other tax proposals. It was included in order to extract public feedback, which we have been pleased to receive. It should be stressed that no decision has been made by the Government to implement it at this time.” For more information on rent control, visit www.landvaluation.bm.

paragraphZane DeSilva, Minister of Tourism and Transport, celebrated continued growth in the tourism industry as announced by the Bermuda Tourism Authority. But Mr DeSilva said greater focus must be placed on increasing visitor air arrivals. He said: “When I consider that this is the third straight year of growth for Bermuda’s Tourism Industry, I have to pause and recognize Kevin Dallas, BTA CEO, all of the men and women of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and our tourism stakeholders. Bermuda should be immensely proud of the hard work and dedication you have all put towards making Bermuda the destination of choice, and helping improve our local accommodation, entertainment and activities.” Mr DeSilva added: “With cruise arrivals contributing the lions’ share of our tourism growth, however, it is time to focus our efforts on growing leisure air arrivals. More work must be done to encourage persons to fly to Bermuda, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and spend time enjoying all Bermuda has to offer. Only then will all sectors of our tourism industry enjoy the full benefit.” Figures revealed by the BTA yesterday showed an 11.7 per cent year-on-year increase in visitor arrivals, along with a 28 per cent increase in visitor spending. The increases marked three consecutive years in leisure air arrival growth. A total of 770,683 visitors came to Bermuda in 2018 — the most ever — with 203,697 tourists flying to the island for leisure, the highest figure since 2002.

paragraphThe acting chief executive of Bermuda’s healthcare watchdog set up a company with a top executive from the US-based Lahey Clinic but “immediately terminated” the arrangement because of a potential conflict of interest, it has been revealed. Ricky Brathwaite, the former director of health economics at the Bermuda Health Council, incorporated Dyenic Group International with Linda Moulton, the former chief executive of Lahey’s executive and international health programmes, in Massachusetts in May 2016. Alicia Stovell-Washington, the health council chairwoman, said Dr Brathwaite and Ms Moulton, who met in Bermuda, ended their business relationship in June that year after the BHeC decided there were “potential perceived conflicts with Ms Moulton’s then employer, Lahey International”. She added: “Per recent statements, the health council would like to make mention that Dr Ricky Brathwaite states that he has never engaged in relationships with any aspect of the Lahey business or Dr Ewart Brown outside of his official capacity at the council.” Dr Stovell-Washington was speaking after a report on ZBM News on Wednesday questioned why a “high-ranking officer of the island’s health services watchdog partnered with a person formerly responsible for attracting foreign business” to Lahey, a hospital in Massachusetts. The report included a March 2016 photograph of Ms Moulton presenting a plaque from Lahey to Dr Brown, the former premier, for starting a programme that brought specialists from Lahey to treat patients in Bermuda. Dr Brathwaite joined Bermuda Health Council as programme manager for health economics in 2014 and later became director of health economics. He was made acting CEO of the regulatory body in December, after former chief executive Tawanna Wedderburn was fired. When he met Ms Moulton, she was responsible for helping Lahey to develop markets to provide medical care to patients outside of the United States. Ms Moulton said last night: “An entity was formed in 2016. There was a concept of shared faith, through the Seventh-day Adventist church, and a commitment to service, which led to an idea of helping underserved communities. “Once we realised that it might lead to confusion because of our professional roles, we handed it off. The entity still exists, as you can see from the filings.” Ms Moulton added: “I left Lahey to take my current role working with an organisation that provides healthcare and education in East Africa. It’s really that simple and was formed with good intentions.” Lahey already had a relationship with Bermuda and sent its specialists to the island as part of the programme announced by Dr Brown in 2007, when he was premier in the Progressive Labour Party government. Dr Brown’s own business relationship with Lahey, involving his two medical clinics, would later come under the spotlight when the former One Bermuda Alliance government sued the hospital for allegedly conspiring with him to carry out a “corrupt” scheme “at the expense of the Bermudian government and people”. The lawsuit, filed in the United States, claimed Dr Brown used his position as a government minister to promote Lahey’s interests in Bermuda, and the hospital paid him “bribes disguised as consulting fees” to do so. The hospital and Dr Brown denied the accusations and the case was dismissed by a judge in March last year. Dr Stovell-Washington said the health council was made aware in May 2016 that Dr Brathwaite had incorporated Dyenic, which stands for Dynamic Youth Envisioning New Ideas for Change. She added: “This initiative was one that Dr Brathwaite had begun in 2001 while studying at the University of Maryland. Ms Linda Moulton, whom Dr Brathwaite met in Bermuda, then partnered with him on an expanded initiative to provide support to vulnerable youth and underserved communities in the United States and other African diaspora countries outside of Bermuda.” Dr Stovell-Washington added: “The health council board discussed the potential conflict of interest of the arrangement in June 2016, which resulted in the decision for Dr Brathwaite not to engage further due to the potential perceived conflicts with Ms Moulton’s then employer, Lahey International.” She said: “Dr Brathwaite still volunteers as a mentor and provides support to programmes for youth here in Bermuda and in the United States.” Dyenic’s certificate of incorporation with the corporations division of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts said that it provided “strategic consulting to hospitals and healthcare systems”. Ms Moulton filed its last annual report in April last year and Dr Brathwaite was still listed as having an interest. Dr Brathwaite told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “There was never any operations of any business that took place.” A spokesman for the Lahey clinic said that “employees are required to proactively disclose any potential conflict of interest to Lahey’s health compliance department”. He added: “Linda Moulton is no longer an employee of Lahey Hospital & Medical Centre or any business unit within the Lahey health system.” A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said: “The Bermuda Health Council recruits its own employees — the Ministry of Health is not involved in its hiring. The ministry was made aware of a business partnership, which began years after Dr Brathwaite began employment at the health council. The matter was addressed at the time by the Bermuda Health Council.” The health council was set up to regulate private health service providers, ensure the provision of essential health services and to promote good health.

paragraphA daylight armed robbery yesterday at a Warwick gas station has prompted a fresh call from police for the public’s help. Two men wearing dark coloured clothing — one brandishing a knife and the other armed with what appeared to be a firearm — struck at about 4.20pm at the Warwick Esso Tigermarket. No one was injured, and the two removed a quantity of cash and made good their escape. A police spokesman called on anyone with information, as well as any witnesses, to contact Detective Sergeant Dean Martin at the Serious Crime Unit on 247-1739. Alternatively, information can be provided confidentially via the independent and anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline 800-8477 or online at www.crimestoppers.bm.

paragraphAn American university rugby player’s death in Bermuda last year was the result of an accident or misadventure, a coroner’s inquest ruled yesterday. Coroner Maxanne Anderson extended her “sincere condolences” to the family, friends and team-mates of Mark Dombroski “who I am sure have suffered extreme stress and a great loss”. She said: “It is clear that Mark was a talented, outgoing and generally nice person with lots of friends, who loved his family.” Ms Anderson was speaking as she delivered an eight-page written verdict after a two-day inquest last month into the death of the 19-year-old Philadelphia student. Mr Dombroski’s body was found in the dry moat at Fort Prospect, near police headquarters, on March 19, 2018. He went missing a day and a half earlier after he left a Hamilton bar alone after a night out with friends. Mr Dombroski was in Bermuda with a team from St Joseph’s University to play in the Ariel Re Bermuda International Sevens tournament. Ms Anderson said she accepted the findings of Christopher Milroy, a Canadian forensic pathologist. Dr Milroy said last March that a post-mortem examination found that Mr Dombroski died from a fall and that there was no evidence of foul play. Lisa and John Dombroski, the student’s parents, said last night it was “hard to say” whether or not they believed the verdict was the right one, although it was what they expected. They added that the verdict had not brought closure for the family. They said: “Not at this point. It is very tough as the first anniversary looms ahead of us.” The couple thanked Bermudians for their prayers and support. They added: “We have terrible pain and grief, but faith that God is always there, loving, comforting and strengthening us. Mark was full of life, love, fun and faith, devoted to family, friends, and team-mates. We’ve received many heartfelt, touching letters from friends describing how he was always there for them. They fill a three-ring binder.” The couple described their son as a “terrific athlete” who won 12 awards in six sports over “his too-short life”. They added: “We carry Mark’s legacy forward by trying to live as he did — reaching out to others and being friendly, kind and inclusive. Through the Mark Dombroski Foundation, we are helping young people be happy, safe, and cared for.” The inquest heard testimony from several of the rugby player’s friends, as well as investigators. Jack Heffernan, a team-mate, told police that Mr Dombroski had been in a bad mood because of problems with his girlfriend. Andrew Sullivan, another player, said that his friend was “happy” and “excited” when he saw him at the Dog House bar on Hamilton’s Front Street He added Mr Dombroski’s mood had changed over the course of the night. CCTV footage played at the inquest showed Mr Dombroski’s movements from the time he arrived at the Dog House. He was later captured on several cameras as he walked along Front Street towards East Broadway. Detective Constable Christopher Sabaean testified that in all of the CCTV videos he viewed “there is no one behind” Mr Dombroski. The student was last captured on a motion-activated camera on Alexandra Road in Devonshire at about 1.30am. The inquest heard that alcohol and cannabis were found in Mr Dombroski’s urine at the post mortem examination. A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said yesterday that Mr Dombroski’s death was a “tragic accident that greatly impacted the Dombroski family, and, indeed, the whole community”. He added: “We continue to extend our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Mark Dombroski. Hopefully, the coroner’s findings will bring some closure to the matter.” The spokesman said that police had conducted a “thorough, professional investigation”.

paragraphPolice have met with liquor licence holders to explain their powers to shut down establishments where anti-social behavior breaks out. About 40 representatives met at the Police Club at Prospect, Devonshire yesterday — with further meetings planned for the East and West Ends. Three establishments have been hit recently with 24-hour closures in response to specific incidents. The group met with Superintendent James Howard, Sergeant Andrew Exell — the liquor licensing officer — and Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell as facilitator. The group discussed the obligations of licensed established, and touched on the issues of drug use and underage drinking. Questions over licensing can be directed to Mr Exell at 247-1146 or e-mail at Aexell@bps.bm.

paragraphPupils behind a successful online retail company are to raise funds to travel to a major business convention in New York. The Berkeley Institute youngsters want to showcase their Leisure in the Triangle website at the Youth Business Summit in April. Seon Tatem, 17, chief executive of the company, said: “It’s important for us to attend the summit because it will give us a stepping stone into the real world and give us some real trade experience. The main reason for going is to gain more experience and then we will be able to pass that experience on.” Leisure in the Triangle sells products such as Bermudian-branded bathing suits, lotions and perfumes. The team behind the website have already notched up a top-five finish in the January qualifiers for the Youth Business Summit, which involved 96 schools. Robert Thomas, 16, chief administration officer, added: “It’s important for us to get exposure to the business world but also, because our business incorporates Bermuda, it helps us to expose our island to the world. It puts Bermuda on the map.” The students want to raise a minimum of $15,000 to fund the travel of seven key staff to the New York conference. They said if they beat their target, more pupils involved in the business will be able to join them. Andreaz Glasgow, 15, chief operating officer, said: “We really want to take the whole class of 22 and so we have a series of different fundraisers coming up.” The students will hold a tag day on Saturday outside Hamilton’s Supermart on Front Street, the Phoenix Centre on Reid Street, People’s Pharmacy on Victoria Street, the Bank of Butterfield on Bermudiana Road and at Shelly Bay Market Place on North Shore Road. The pupils will be on site from 9am to 4pm at all the locations. The youngsters will host an open house/pot luck event at the Berkeley Institute from 4pm to 8pm on February 22. Everyone who attends the open house will get a virtual credit card to let them shop at Leisure in the Triangle. Tickets are available from Berkeley Institute pupils, at the school or by e-mail to littbermuda@gmail.com. Tickets will also be available at the door and donations can be made online at ptix.bm/litt The students also plan to hold further fundraisers at the school, including a grub day.

paragraphSushi-loving west enders can rejoice; there’s something new to try. Gulfstream restaurant in Southampton opened a sushi bar two weeks ago to complement its regular seafood/Italian fusion menu. According to general manager Luca Ferrante, things have been going well. “We have had good feedback,” he said. “We have had a lot of regular customers who have started coming in to try the sushi. We have been forward in asking them if we can do anything better, but so far we’ve had a good response from them. People are surprised and happy when they come in and see our new sushi bar. We’ve had three gentlemen who came to pick up pizzas, say ‘oh, my wife likes sushi’. They came back later in the week with their wives to try it.” Gulfstream hired trained sushi chef, Joecel Burgos, to run the sushi bar. “I was born in the Philippines,” Mr Burgos said. “I started working in a Japanese restaurant when I was 20. I started at the beginning and got my skills up, high, high.” He worked in a sushi bar in Cyprus for five years, before coming to Bermuda. “The people are nice in Bermuda,” he said. “I like it. It’s a new challenge.” One of the favorites on the new menu is the volcano roll which has deep fried spicy salmon roll, tobiko and masago (fish roe), tempura flakes, scallions, eel and spicy sauce. “When you eat it is crunchy and spicy,” Mr Burgos. “It is like a volcano in your mouth.” The Kiss of Fire with salmon and jalapeños is also popular, as is the surf and turf roll with soft shell crab and beef tenderloin among other things. Mr Ferrante said one of his favourites is the Kobe beef on crispy rice, one of the most expensive options on the menu at $26. “It’s about the quality of the food involved,” he said. Mr Burgos said none of the sushi options are particularly challenging for him to make. “I love my job, so there is nothing difficult for me,” he said. Gulfstream’s sushi menu also offers a number of Saki options such as sho-chiku bar nigori, a sweet nigori with flavors of ripe bananas, vanilla and melon and creamy sweet rice custard; and horin junmai daiginjo, a combination of fresh spring water and yamada nishiki rice. But the general manager said the addition of the sushi bar represents an upscaling of Gulfstream, not an upgrading. “Things were going well, but we’re always looking for extra service to motivate the customer to come in to try different things,” he said. “Lots of people like sushi so we decided to go for it. Of course, we have sashimi and nigiri as well.” He thought the restaurant’s location on the South Shore across from Horseshoe Bay was in a good spot to pick up hungry people on their way from town headed towards Dockyard. “It is a winning situation for everyone, the restaurant and customers,” he said. Living in Warwick, he said he often just wants to have a glass of wine in the evenings and relax. “To have more pizza and sushi options close by is very convenient,” he said. To install the bar, imported from Italy, they had to rearrange seating arrangements on the west side of the restaurant. But Mr Ferrante said after some tables were moved, and five stools were installed at the sushi bar, they lost only three seats. At the moment sushi is available at Gulfstream only in the evening, seven days a week. But the restaurant is in the process of hiring a second trained sushi chef, a friend of Mr Burgos. By April, they hope to have him in place, to offer sushi for lunch and dinner.

paragraphA bus stop near the airport will be removed to make way for the development of the new passenger terminal. The transport ministry said the stop next to the roundabout connecting the Causeway, Kindley Field Road and Cahow Way will be out of action from Monday. A spokesman said: “The removal of this stop is expected to have minimal impact on service delivery and all buses will continue to service the existing airport facility via Cahow Way. “The new airport will also feature an on-site bus stop providing convenient access for the public.”

paragraphFirefighters had to use cutting equipment this afternoon to free a Bermuda High School primary pupil who was trapped in playground equipment. According to a spokesman for the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, the call for help came in shortly before 1.30pm. The youngster was treated at the scene by medics.

Spacer

February 7

paragraphTwo former premiers will be celebrated at Black History Month dinners. Dame Jennifer Smith, who led the Progressive Labour Party to its historic first General Election victory in 1998, will be honored at an event next Wednesday. Sir John Swan, who was premier under the United Bermuda Party government from 1982 to 1995, will be the star guest on February 23. Both dinners will be held at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. During the dinners, members of the public will get the opportunity to rub shoulders with the honouree at a short reception and hear them talk about their experiences before a three-course meal with the menu picked by Dame Jennifer and Sir John to reflect black Bermudian culture. Some of the proceeds will be donated to charities chosen by the ex-premiers. Dame Jennifer said: “I think this is a wonderful way to celebrate black Bermudian history and culture and I look forward to sharing my experiences.” Sir John added: “Too often, the focus of Black History Month is on American history in this time, so this is a nice way for us to bring it home to Bermuda.” Dame Jennifer’s menu will include Bermuda onion tart, grilled wahoo with oven-dried cherry tomatoes and black olives with bread and butter pudding for dessert. Her chosen charity is the Bermuda Heritage Museum. Sir John picked a codfish breakfast, crispy yard bird and “good ol’ apple pie”, with a donation to go to the Salvation Army. Tim Morrison, general manager of Hamilton Princess, said: “We are excited to be celebrating Black History Month by honouring a couple of great Bermudians.” Both of the dinners will be accompanied with Bermudian cocktails. The dinners cost $90 per person, plus gratuities or $130 including wine pairings, plus gratuities and will start at 7pm.

paragraphA record number of tourists visited Bermuda last year and pumped more than $500 million in the economy, it was revealed yesterday.  See http://www.royalgazette.com/assets/pdf/RG39875626.pdf. The Bermuda Tourism Authority said that 770,683 visitors arrived in Bermuda in 2018, up by 84,775 people or 11 per cent on 2017. Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, said the figures were a tribute to the “real men and women” of Bermuda’s hospitality industry. He added that the tourism industry was “on a sustained path of recovery”. He added that a “totally fresh approach” to tourism was put together by the BTA in 2014 and 2015 which was bolstered by the industry who “believed in our vision and helped build on the new foundation”. Mr Dallas said: “That two-step process is the reason the country’s tourism has progressed so impressively. These stellar results represent real men and women in Bermuda’s hospitality industry who have seen positive impacts on their lives, whether they own a small business or call someone else the boss.” Mr Dallas was speaking as the BTA unveiled the year-end numbers for last year. The number of tourists who arrived by air was up 12 per cent from 2018 and their spending went up by 11 per cent. The BTA said the 203,697 air visitors, up by more than 24,400 people on 2017, was the highest number in 16 years. The authority added that cruise visitors were also up by 16 per cent. A spokesman for the BTA said the “steadily rising number of leisure travelers is driving greater direct spending into the local economy” with total leisure visitor spending up 28 per cent in 2018 from the year prior. He added: “Per person leisure spending fell slightly for air visitors in 2018, not unexpected in the wake of the America’s Cup, but because the amount of these travelers was sharply higher, total spending grew.” The spokesman said that hotel occupancy and the amount of airline seats flying to Bermuda last year both grew “but only modestly, coming in relatively flat”. He added: “This trend could be a drag on near-term growth.” The BTA said the employment of Bermudians in the hotel industry had grown by 23 per cent between 2016 and 2018 “according to the Government’s most recent quarterly statistics bulletin”. Mr Dallas said the past three years was the “first chapter” in Bermuda’s tourism comeback. He warned there was still a “long way yet to go”. Mr Dallas said: “Bermuda can get there though, with a continued spirit of collaboration and using the National Tourism Plan like a North Star to navigate our path to success.

paragraphJurors this evening unanimously found 53-year-old Morris O’Brien guilty of rape in a crime committed 30 years ago. O’Brien said nothing but was taken into custody for sentencing at a later date. Prosecutors in the four-day trial alleged that O’Brien raped a 15-year-old girl in 1988, when he was 23. Earlier, the complainant told the court that in September of that year she had been woken by knocking at the door to her family home. She said when she went to the door she saw O’Brien outside and told him that her sister was asleep and the rest of the family were not home. But she said he forced his way through the door, gripped her by the arms, and pushed her to the living room, where he raped her. The complainant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said that O’Brien “stalked” her after the incident, and on one occasion passed her a love note. O’Brien told the court he had never raped the complainant, and that the night she described “never happened”. But he did admit having sex with the girl three times while she was underage. O’Brien also accepted that he had written the love note, but did not mention it when he was interviewed by police because forgot about it over the past 30 years. The jury debated four hours before returning a guilty verdict around 7pm.

paragraphThe lives of Bermudian veterans of two world wars are to be highlighted as part of a research project. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which cares for military cemeteries around the world, said it wanted to include service personnel from the former British Empire in stories to be published on its website and elsewhere. Victoria Wallace, the director general of CWGC, said: “Everyone understands what the UK regiments did, but the contribution of the people who served in Bermudian regiments isn’t as well known.” Ms Wallace said she was inspired to include Bermudians in the memorial effort after she saw the careful conservation work carried out by the Bermuda National Trust, which includes the care of military graves on behalf of the CWGC. She explained: “We come every year to check on the 140 graves here on the island and it’s been a delight to see such care taken at the cemeteries everywhere. It’s a real credit to the Bermuda National Trust and all the work they’ve done. We hope that by actually making links with the BNT that we have a lovely opportunity to ensure that Bermuda’s role in the two world wars is properly recognized.” Ms Wallace said that the commission had started to post stories on services personnel from other countries on their website, blog and newsletters last October. She added that the CWGC had still to collect information about Bermudian veterans. Veterans’ families welcomed the memorial project. Pamela Darrell, 93, said that her Royal Navy veteran husband, Owen, who died in 2013, would have appreciated the commemoration. She added: “It would mean a lot to him because his time in the navy was very important to him, so I’m sure he would be very proud.” Mr Darrell, originally from Pembroke, joined the navy in 1941 and served on a minesweeper for five years. Joy Jones, 68, his daughter, said: “I have some relatives that are interested in what dad did, and when my grandkids learn about World War Two we can show them that they have a connection to this.” Ms Jones added that personal stories helped to make history feel more real. She explained: “They were both called world wars and I think that the world aspect is made meaningful by having individual stories as a part of it.” Bill Zuill, director of the BNT, said that the commemoration of home-grown veterans would be popular with Bermudians. He explained: “There’s so much interest in our genealogy and people wanting to know more about their ancestors and family members and that’s increasing all the time.”

paragraphA premiums hike in the government employee’s health insurance scheme could hit seniors on fixed incomes, campaigners for the elderly have warned. Now the Bermuda Senior Islanders’ Centre has urged older Bermudians to push politicians to force down health insurance costs in the wake of a rates rise in the scheme for government workers. Contributions from public sector staff and retirees increased by more than 5 per cent last week, which increased their monthly charge to more than $400. Rates for non-employed spouses and dependents were also affected by the hikes. Fred Hassell, the director of Bermuda Senior Islanders’ Centre, said the organisation was worried about the impact on people with limited means. He said: “We’re concerned about seniors affected by increases in the cost of living while on determined incomes. We feel for those who can’t absorb the increase and are forced to use their meager income to cover the additional increase in premiums. Our advice for fellow seniors is to keep up the pressure on MPs to do more to get the cost of health insurance in the reach of all citizens.” Government Employees Health Insurance rates went up last Friday from $381.85 to $402.51 a month for each worker or retiree and the cost for non-employed spouses rose by nearly $31 to $603.77 — a 5.4 per cent increase. The Ministry of Finance claimed the increases struck “the right balance” between availability and cost of the coverage. The change came after seniors and other recipients of Contributory Pension Fund benefits heard last December payments would be boosted by 1.4 per cent, with the rise backdated to August. Claudette Fleming, the executive director of Age Concern Bermuda, highlighted that several problems needed to be tackled as the population ages. A population projections report predicted that one in four residents will be aged 65 or over by 2026. Dr Fleming said: “The state of the GEHI programme is indicative of the severe impact of the demographics of our time. A delicate balance must be exercised to keep the plan solvent while at the same time not causing financial harm to those who may need the coverage the most, especially for retirees. This demographic scenario will play itself out many times over on many different fronts as the Bermuda population ages rapidly. The oversight body of GEHI have a responsibility to ensure that it is available to current employees and retirees. Policyholders can inquire and make a judgment call on how well GEHI is being managed.” Dr Fleming added: “In the meantime however, demographics are not on our side when it comes to insurance. FutureCare remains an option for those seniors who cannot afford increased premiums. However, even FutureCare will have its limits at some point. We encourage seniors to think about options, albeit these options are extremely limited.” The GEHI scheme covers all government pensioners, employees and their dependents, The Government’s website said it was a programme that provided “premium healthcare at fair rates” with swift claims processing. A Ministry of Finance spokeswoman said the increases came after an actuarial report on the scheme. She added: “This premium adjustment will help to ensure that the GEHI plan remains viable in the long term and meets the primary objective for which it was established, to provide affordable health insurance benefits for government employees, retired government employees, and their enrolled dependents. The ministry has considered the impact that these premium increases will have on the members of the plan and believes this adjustment strikes the right balance between social and fiscal responsibility.”

paragraphCatastrophe losses drove Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd to a net after-tax loss of $146.8 million for the fourth quarter of last year. The quarter’s costly events included wildfires in California, Hurricane Michael in the US and Typhoon Jebi in Japan. The operating after tax loss was $124.4 million, or $2.23 per share, worse than the $1.03 loss per share average estimate of analysts tracked by Yahoo Finance. Aspen is going through the process of being acquired by funds affiliated with private-equity firm Apollo Global Management in a deal worth $2.6 billion. Chris O’Kane, Aspen’s chief executive officer, said: “Aspen’s fourth-quarter 2018 results were impacted by the significant natural catastrophe activity that we witnessed across the industry during the period. However, we improved our underwriting performance for the full year and achieved our target for reducing our expense ratio. We are making good progress with our proposed transaction with the Apollo Funds and have received most of the required regulatory approvals. We anticipate completing the transaction during the first quarter of 2019.” The closing of the deal is subject to closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals, as well as the maintenance of certain financial strength ratings by Aspen’s subsidiaries. Gross written premiums of $603.1 million in the fourth quarter fell by 12.4 per cent compared to the $688.3 million recorded in the corresponding quarter a year earlier. in the fourth quarter of 2017 Aspen’s total expense ratio was 36 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared to 46.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017. Amortization and non-recurring expenses of $5 million included $11.6 million of expenses related to the operational effectiveness and efficiency programme, $5.7 million of retention costs and $0.4 million of adviser fees relating to the proposed transaction with the Apollo Funds, partially offset by the write-back of a $14.1 million buy-out provision.

paragraphTwo men held up a Warwick gas station in an armed robbery today. Police were called to the Esso Tigermarket on Middle Road at about 4.20pm. A police spokesman said two males completely covered in black and wearing full face helmets brandished a bladed article and an apparent firearm, demanding money. They left with an undisclosed amount of cash. No staff were injured. The pair were described as between 5ft 10in and 6ft. Although the incident was similar to an armed robbery last week at Ice Queen in Paget, the spokesman said the matter was early in its investigation and no links could be made. Anyone with information was asked to contact CID on 295-0011 or the confidential Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.

paragraphA schoolboy was attacked during a field trip yesterday and a woman teacher needed hospital treatment after she stepped in to help him. A group of CedarBridge Academy pupils were on a visit to St George’s when the incident happened about 1pm. Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, vowed later to take action and said school security staff will escort two field trips to the Olde Towne over the next two days. Police said pupils and teachers were entering Somers Garden when a 17-year-old was attacked by two men and suffered scratches to his neck. The 30-year-old female teacher tried to intervene and suffered a finger injury. She also dropped her black iPhone 8, which the robbers grabbed before they fled. The teacher was taken in a private vehicle to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for treatment. An initial police report on the incident said the attackers had grabbed a gold chain from the teenager. In a later update, a spokesman explained that was not supported by “preliminary inquiries”. Mr Rabain said: “The antisocial activities that took place against a CBA teacher and student today will not be tolerated and will not go unaddressed. Whether students are in the classroom or off-campus, it is their right to feel safe and secure at all times. The safety of our students and teachers is a top priority for the Ministry of Education and the Department of Education. An immediate plan of action is that members of the school’s security team will accompany students tomorrow and Friday on the remaining tours of Somers Gardens. However, this incident has caused the department to explore safety procedures to implement while teachers and students are on field trips.” Mr Rabain added: “The Bermuda Police Service has our full co-operation while carrying out necessary investigations and we appeal for any witnesses to contact the police. My deepest regrets and heartfelt thoughts go out to the families of the teacher and student who were involved in this incident today.” Police said one attacker was believed to be aged between 18 and 20, 5ft tall and wearing a black tracksuit. His accomplice was about 5ft 5in and wore a green or grey tracksuit. Police have appealed for witnesses.

Spacer

February 6

paragraphA government minister rejected advice from civil servants to block all-terrain vehicle tours on the Railway Trail, a court heard. The Supreme Court heard yesterday in a civil case that Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, overruled technical officers from the Department of Parks and licensed tour operator Rudolph Hollis to run ATV tours on sections of the Railway Trail in the West End. Ben Adamson, the lawyer for the plaintiff Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, said that officials had warned that to allow the tours on the Railway Trail, Scaur Hill Fort Park and Hog Bay Park would breach several laws, including some designed to protect the natural environment. Mr Adamson added that the use of ATVs on the Railway Trail was “unlawful at the time of the decision, and they remain unlawful today”. He said that the officials had raised “palpable points” about “the safety, illegality, and environmental impact” of the plan. Mr Adamson added that Colonel Burch did not offer any reasons for why he disagreed with the advice. Permission for the tours was granted under the former One Bermuda Alliance government in 2017. Mr Adamson said that officials had warned Colonel Burch the tours would breach the Bermuda National Parks Act and the Road Traffic (Western Section of the Railway Path) Order 1955. Charles Richardson, representing the minister, said it was “absurd” to suggest that Colonel Burch had not considered the advice from officials, He explained: “I think it can be said as a bold headline that the reason why the licence hasn’t been granted, in fact, is because the minister wants to make sure that all the crooked roads are made straight so that no one is actually acting illegally.” Mr Richardson said BEST’s legal action was “highly premature”. Mr Richardson said: “No one has done anything illegal yet ... It’s a decision that hasn’t been acted on.” He added: “It’s almost like saying I’ve decided to go outside and cut the lawn and therefore my neighbour can get an injunction on me for noise, when I haven’t even started the lawnmower. Absurd.” Mr Richardson said that Colonel Burch could make a decision to grant a licence but withhold its issue until required legal changes were made. He added: “That’s exactly what’s happened here.” Mr Richardson said that it was not necessary for Colonel Burch “to list every single iota” that he had considered when he made the decision to grant approval. He added that if Colonel Burch had said he had “considered all the facts” and carried out “due diligence”, that was sufficient “unless my learned friends can show positively that he didn’t do that”. Mr Richardson added that concerns raised by officials were still under consideration. He insisted that the tours did not represent a major change of use of the Railway Trial. Colonel Burch announced in the House of Assembly last March that he had granted approval for a “licence to use vehicles on Government of Bermuda Property for a trial period of one year”. He said that the conditions of the licence would allow for termination if conditions were not adhered to. Mr Richardson emphasized that a permit to operate the tours had not been granted. Hundreds of objections to the plan were made by members of the public during a consultation period in 2017. Legislation to introduce the quad bike tours was approved by MPs last July.

paragraphPrison officer patrols around Westgate prison will be stepped up after a drone was seen hovering above the facility. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said plans were being drawn up to make the area around the Ireland Island North prison a “no-fly zone”. Mr Caines also warned the use of technology to commit crimes would not be tolerated. Acting Commissioner of Corrections Keeva-Mae Joell-Benjamin contacted Mr Caines early on Sunday and told him that a drone was spotted flying over the prison. Police were also alerted to the drone sighting. Mr Caines said: “While there is no evidence indicating the drone was used for illegal purposes, I want to remind the public that it is an offence to drop contraband into prison grounds, and the use of technology to commit criminal offences will not be tolerated. As a precaution, patrols in the area will be enhanced, prisoners will be closely monitored and any persons found committing offences will be brought before the courts.” A government spokesman said meetings were to be held with the ministers responsible for telecommunications and transport, telecommunications companies and the Attorney-General “to find immediate solutions to prevent future occurrences and to make those areas a no-fly zone”.

paragraphThe owners of a company that was poised to make tens of millions of dollars from a controversial casinos deal with the Government are now involved in buying a Bermuda bank. Bermudian businessmen John Tartaglia and Michael Moniz, owners of MM&I Holdings, were named last week on a notice to incorporate Permanent Capital Holdings Ltd, a local affiliate company of a private American investment firm, which announced yesterday that it was purchasing Bermuda Commercial Bank. The pair were listed in the legal notice alongside lawyers Mark Pettingill and Grant Spurling, of Chancery Legal law firm, and Logan Sugarman and Lewis Katz, managing partners of New York-based Permanent Capital. Mr Pettingill, a former politician who is Permanent Capital’s lead counsel in Bermuda, told The Royal Gazette the intention was to “maintain the status quo” and “grow” the bank with its existing team. He said providing banking services to the gaming industry was “absolutely not a focus” and did not form part of BCB’s business plan. Mr Pettingill added: “There is no gaming industry on island to bank.” A spokesman for Permanent Capital said Mr Tartaglia and Mr Moniz were directors of a local holding company that was being used to enable the merger agreement to go ahead, and neither they, Mr Pettingill nor Mr Spurling would be the ultimate owners of BCB once the transaction was completed. Mr Sugarman added in a statement today: “It is unfortunate that in using a local law firm and its recommended interim legal structure, Permanent Capital was linked to another local business with which it otherwise has no association. The sole owners of Permanent Capital Ltd and the sole owners of BCB post-close, are and will be Lewis Katz, Logan Sugarman and Chris Maybury.” Mr Tartaglia and Mr Moniz were behind an attempt to land a lucrative government contract to provide a cashless gaming system to any casinos that opened in Bermuda, as outlined in a special report in The Royal Gazette in October 2017. MM&I entered a non-binding memorandum of understanding with the Government a year before casino gaming on the island was approved in Parliament — while Mr Pettingill sat in Cabinet as Attorney-General, along with the late Shawn Crockwell, who was the tourism development minister and responsible for gaming. The ten-year deal, with the option for another ten years, would have allowed MM&I to reap 40 per cent of gross gaming revenue from all electronic gaming devices on the island, as well as an 8 per cent transaction fee on money exchanged for chips on dealer-operated tables. The rewards were expected to be substantial, based on projections in a 2010 green paper on gaming. The government-commissioned report estimated that casino gambling could generate potential revenues of between $84 million and $146 million a year, with electronic gaming accounting for about three quarters of that. The potential cashless gaming deal was flagged up as a cause for concern by the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, which warned that individuals associated with MM&I’s partner firm, Florida-based Banyan Gaming, had previously surrendered their gaming licences in two major US gambling jurisdictions. The MOU was terminated by the Government in July 2016. Banyan representatives appeared as “expert” panellists at a Progressive Labour Party forum ten months later and told the audience that a cashless system for casinos should be mandated by law. Present at the forum were Mr Pettingill and Mr Crockwell, who set up a private law firm after leaving Cabinet, which went on to represent MM&I. In response to The Royal Gazette’s special report, MM&I said in a statement issued by Mr Pettingill that it would give the majority of any profits it made from a casinos deal to “churches, community clubs, vulnerable citizens’ programmes, etc”. Mr Tartaglia said in July last year that MM&I no longer had “any interest in participating in the gaming industry in Bermuda”. Banyan’s chief executive, Ken Jarvis, said the company had “no intention of becoming involved in the Bermuda gaming industry”. No casinos have opened in Bermuda since the law to allow them was passed in December 2014. Regulators said one of the key stumbling blocks has been the unwillingness of local banks to be involved in the industry. The Royal Gazette asked the island’s three largest local banks a year ago if they had decided whether to conduct financial transactions for any casinos that open here. HSBC said it had taken a global decision to limit its involvement with the gambling sector. Clarien said it would make a “risk-based decision” on whether to have further discussions with its stakeholders, including its overseas correspondent banks, once it had a better understanding of the island’s casino legislation and regulations. Butterfield Bank declined to comment.

paragraphA woman who claimed she was raped 30 years ago denied yesterday ever having “consensual” sex with her alleged attacker. Kamal Worrell, for the defence, suggested that she had sex with his client on at least three occasions, twice in her family home and once on a beach during a camping trip in St George’s. The 45-year-old said that the only time she had sex with the defendant was when he raped her when she was aged 15 and that the only time she had camped in the St George’s area named was when she was “4 or 5 years old”. She added: “He was not around at that point.” Neither the alleged victim or the defendant, a 53-year-old Pembroke man, can be identified for legal reasons. The woman told the Supreme Court on Monday that the defendant forced his way into her family home and raped her on the floor of the living room in September 1988. At the time the defendant, who denies a charge of rape, was 23. She added the defendant had later “stalked” her and gave her a “love letter”, but she kept the incident a secret for almost a year before she told her mother. The witness said yesterday she had known the defendant since she was about 6 or 7 years old and regarded him as a family friend. She said his family had lived near her own and that before the incident she thought he was a kind person. The woman denied having any sexual relations with the defendant before or after the incident and that she tried to avoid him after the attack. The woman was questioned by Mr Worrell about why she had waited until last year to report the alleged attack. She told the court: “I just want justice and relief. Do you know how hard it is to have something over your head for so many years? Sometimes to get rid of the pain when I was younger I went out drinking. Smoking weed. I did other drugs just to cope.” She added: “I don’t sleep. I never could sleep. It plays on my mind sometimes. It’s like you are playing a record and the record just goes over and over and over.” The witness said she only gave a statement to police about the incident on April 3 last year. She explained that after she told her mother about the attack, her mother approached a family friend who was a police officer. The family later went to a lawyer to get a restraining order against the defendant. The witness said during the meeting she heard the term “statutory rape” being used instead of “rape”. She said: “I remember the officer saying it was something we had to go to a lawyer with because it was very serious.” The woman told the court she was not aware at the time what “statutory rape” meant. She said: “Back then, no. Now, yes. Statutory rape is sex with a minor.” She told the court that she did not pursue a case at that time, but a restraining order against the defendant was filed. The woman added that she did not remember if the restraining order was ever lifted. She offered to re-enact the alleged attack with Mr Worrell in the court. The woman grabbed him by the arms, pushed him to the floor and forced his legs apart with her knee. Mr Worrell afterwards questioned her on her statement to the police, where she said she could not remember how the defendant had pushed her legs apart. However, she insisted after the re-enactment that he had used his knee. The woman said: “It’s like when you are in an accident. When you go to the scene, things click in your head.” The trial continues.

paragraphChubb Limited has reported fourth quarter profit of $355 million, or 76 cents per share, a fall of about 76.8 per cent year-on-year. Core operating income was $935 million, or $2.02 per share, down from $3.17 per share, however that beat Wall Street expectations, with eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expecting the earnings to come in at $1.93 per share. The Zurich-based company’s property and casualty combined ratio was 93.1 per cent. Its after-tax catastrophe losses for the quarter were $506 million. For the full year, Chubb achieved a $4 billion profit, or $8.49 per share, up 2.6 per cent, with core operating income of $4.4 billion, up 16.5 per cent. Evan Greenberg, chairman and chief executive officer, said: “Chubb performed well in a quarter marked by elevated natural catastrophe losses, on the one hand, and stronger premium revenue growth, improved commercial P&C pricing globally and record net investment income, on the other. Core operating income was $935 million compared with $1.5 billion prior year, which included a one-time tax benefit and lighter CAT activity. Our P&C combined ratio of 93.1 per cent included 8.5 points of pre-tax CAT losses.” Mr Greenberg said the full year results provided “a more meaningful perspective given the natural quarter-to-quarter volatility of the risk business. Net premiums written grew 4.5 per cent. The full-year P&C combined ratio was 90.6 per cent, compared to 94.7 per cent [in the] prior year, and that’s with $1.6 billion of CAT losses — about $700 million more than we expected.” Mr Greenberg added: “We have good momentum as we execute on our business initiatives across the globe and take advantage of an improving price and underwriting environment that the industry needs. Our organisation is optimistic about the year ahead and we are off to a good start.”

paragraphWhite Mountains Insurance Group has reported a $141 million comprehensive loss attributable to common shareholders during the fourth quarter. For the full year, the loss was $146 million. That compares with comprehensive income of $23 million and $631 million for the fourth quarter and full year, respectively, in 2017. The 2017 full-year figure included a $557 million gain from the sale of the OneBeacon insurance company. Bermuda-domiciled White Mountains reported book value per share of $896, and adjusted book value of $888 at the end of 2018. Book value for the fourth quarter was down 5 per cent, and for the full year was 4 per cent lower. White Mountains said that the estimated gain of $55 per share as a result of a transaction announced this month by MediaAlpha, an advertising company in which it is a significant equity holder, would have resulted in its book value per share being $951. Manning Rountree, chief executive officer, described the fourth quarter as “tough” and said the book value of shares was impacted by “the rout in the equity markets on our investment portfolio”. He said: “BAM enjoyed a strong fourth quarter, ending the year at new highs for par in force, total premiums and claims paying resources and, in December, making a $23 million cash payment on the surplus notes. NSM posted mixed results across its existing business lines in the quarter, while closing two new bolt-on acquisitions. MediaAlpha had yet another strong quarter, ending the year at new highs for revenues and Ebitda [earnings before interest, taxes and amortization].” BAM is a mutual insurance company that is owned by its members. It insured municipal bonds with par value of $5.4 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $3.3 billion in the final quarter of 2017. For the full year it insured municipal bonds with par value of $12 billion, up from $10.3 billion. For the fourth quarter and full year BAM had pre-tax losses of $8 million and $61 million, respectively. Seán McCarthy, CEO of BAM, said: “Total premiums grew 7 per cent in 2018 to a record high of $111 million, despite lower new-issue municipal bond volume. Solid investor demand for BAM’s guaranty, including increasing interest from large institutions, helped BAM’s secondary market activity grow 21 per cent. We also completed our first assumed reinsurance transaction, bringing total par in force to a new high of $52 billion.” Meanwhile, NSM Insurance Group, which is a full-service MUG [managing general underwriter] and programme administrator for speciality property and casualty insurance, reported a pre-tax loss of $3 million for the fourth quarter. MediaAlpha reported break-even results and pre-tax income of $9 million in the fourth quarter. It had advertising and commission revenues of $79 million ad $296 million for the fourth quarter and full year, respectively. White Mountains announced this week that MediaAlpha has signed a definitive agreement to sell a significant minority stake to Insignia Capital Group in connection with a recapitalisation and cash distribution to shareholders. White Mountains will receive an $85 million cash payment as a result of the deal, and will retain a 42 per cent ownership interest in MediaAlpha. During the fourth quarter, White Mountains repurchased and retired 7,425 of its common shares for $6 million, at an average share price of $841. For the full year, the company repurchased and retired 592,458 of its common shares for $519 million, at an average price of $877. White Mountains total return on invested assets declined 4.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, and 1.7 per cent for the year. Mark Plourde, managing director of White Mountains Advisors, said: “These are disappointing results, driven by our asset allocation and the sharp decline in equity markets in the fourth quarter. The fixed income portfolio returned 1.2 per cent for the year, outperforming the BBIA Index return of 0.9 per cent. Common stocks and other long-term investments returned -3.6 per cent for the year, outperforming the S&P 500 return of -4.4 per cent. Our international equity portfolios under performed, while our other long-term investments portfolio outperformed.”

paragraphA businesswoman will continue her father’s work for the Corporation of St George after she won an election to represent the town as a councillor. Cyniqua Anderson beat Mark Soares by more than three votes to one at the polls yesterday. She is the daughter of Phillip “Phoopa” Anderson, whose death last year created the vacancy. Ms Anderson claimed 237, or 76.45 per cent, of the 310 votes cast. The total number of registered voters for the extraordinary municipal election was 1,326, meaning turnout was about 23 per cent. Ms Anderson is the owner of Just Dreams Event Management and design firm Decor, both based in St George’s. Her father was elected a councillor for the Corporation of St George in 2012 and died in December, aged 58. Ms Anderson told The Royal Gazette previously: “Notwithstanding the desire to continue with my father’s dedication to the town and impactful work, I am a child of the soil. I have lived in St George’s my entire life and have seen how the community has been shaped.” She added: “I have strong ties to this town and, essentially, a duty to run for this post to ensure that St George’s is a place that inspires others to see what I see in the often overlooked parish of Bermuda.” Mr Soares, the owner of the town’s Bermuda Yacht Services, has been chairman of the East End division of the Chamber of Commerce and cofounder of the St George’s Marine Expo. He said after polls closed yesterday: “More people came out than I thought, I guess I didn’t really know what to expect. I understand close to 300 or more came out ... it’s a great turnout. It’s nice to see that people care and come out to cast their vote and voice their opinion; that’s greatly appreciated.” Mr Soares believed he and his fellow community members were “all concerned citizens” and the voters were interested in typical issues such as policing and taking care of the municipality’s streets. Results were published on the Parliamentary Registry website shortly before 9.20pm. They came several hours after Ms Anderson was declared prematurely as the winner when the site was being put through its paces. Tenia Woolridge, the Parliamentary Registrar, explained last night: “During the testing of the Parliamentary Registry website earlier today, test data was inputted and some visitors to the site may have seen a winner declared. Once the test data was deleted, the page showed no results.”

paragraphPolice warned motorists to always drive with their doors locked after a man on a motorbike was filmed opening the driver’s door of a moving car. The video, shot on York Street, St George’s, also showed the man moments earlier attempt to open the door of another car, but pulling away when he found it locked. The biker managed to get the door of the second car open, but rode away. The incidents, which happened on Sunday about 7.30pm, were recorded and distributed on social media. A police spokesman said an investigation into the incidents had been launched and appealed for the drivers of the cars and whoever made the recording to come forward. He added that anyone who had a similar experience should contact police on their main number or use the 911 number in an emergency.

paragraphA bookstore said yesterday a cyber attack on its computer system could have “wrecked” the business. The owners of the Bermuda Bookstore said the ransomware attack, in which hackers freeze a company’s data and demand cash to unlock it, had meant the loss of important order and inventory details. The owner said the attack had not compromised customers’ personal details. Miriam Kaye, one of the Hamilton store’s managers, said: “We’re still in business. We have lost our inventory and our customer orders and our e-mail has been down, for the most part.” She admitted: “I never understood what ransomware was, and I really feared for our business the first couple of days. We are an institution. We’ve been in business more than 70 years and at this location more than 50 years. It’s tough enough doing business as it is. This could have wrecked us.” Staff discovered on Saturday that their IT system had been hacked, probably through a staff home computer linked to the shop system, which locked them out of their business network. The store found the message: “Hello, dear friend! All of your files have been encrypted. Do you really want to restore your files?” The store was told to contact the hackers, who would later demand cash to restore the network. Police advised management not to respond to the message and the shop is rebuilding its data with the help of an IT professional. Ms Kaye said: “We had to think outside the box and come up with a contingency plan. Patrons have been quite understanding. But we will be increasing our security.” Ms Kaye warned: “This does not just happen to multinationals and governments. It can happen to anybody, of any size, and it can be devastating. So don’t think it can’t happen to you.” She added: “Be on the alert — and back up everything.” Ms Kaye said customers with a special order should contact the store at 295-3698. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said the public should be wary of e-mails from unknown people or businesses and not to click on any links in suspect e-mails. He added suspected internet fraud should be reported to the Financial Crime Unit at 247-1757 or fraud2@bps.bm.

paragraphBar bosses clashed with police over their stance on security at a sports club after an early-morning brawl left six people injured. Superintendent James Howard said operators were obliged to make sure customers behaved, but Southampton Rangers Sports Club management claimed it was “disturbing” for officers to try to shift the blame to its on-site security staff. Police visited the venue during a function last Friday, but ruled out a more long-term presence. Club management said they had asked for officers to attend at its 3am closing time, when a brawl broke out in the grounds. The disturbance resulted in six men aged between 21 and 32 attending the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for treatment. They were all later arrested, as well as a 27-year-old woman who drove three of them to KEMH. The seven have since been released on police bail. Mr Howard announced a 24-hour closure of the club in the wake of the incident. Police told licensed premises it was “imperative” that they take “social responsibility” for customers’ safety and conduct. Mr Howard said on Monday: “It is the responsibility of the relevant licensed premises to ensure orderly behavior throughout its time of operation, particularly at times of closure where the impact on patrons in regards to standards of behavior should be managed. We are now working with the executive team at Southampton Rangers to identify why their security staff were not able to prevent this situation and to ensure no such incidents occur again in future.” Mr Howard explained: “Southampton Rangers employed a private security firm to manage their event on Friday evening, which is consistent with the action of many licensed premises across Bermuda. During the course of the evening, the Bermuda Police Service conducted visits to licensed premises, including Rangers to ensure orderly behavior and compliance with relevant licensing requirements. The BPS responded to a call of disorder at Southampton Rangers early Saturday morning, at the time of its closing, and attended promptly. Given the demands on the BPS during this time, and the assessment of activity at Southampton Rangers earlier in the evening, it was not appropriate to place dedicated officers at this location.” Southampton Rangers’ management said on Sunday that a security team was in place for the fundraising event “along with a police presence requested for closing as is standard” for any function at the premises. They strongly condemned the weekend’s antisocial behavior and said the club had worked hard to stamp out violence in recent months. The management team insisted yesterday that police have been informed on “numerous occasions” of people hanging around the car park “waiting to harass individuals” at closing time, and that is why a police presence was routinely requested. They said: “It is not enough for the police to say it was not appropriate for officers to be there.” The club added: “The management team finds it disturbing that the police would try to shift blame to the security team on duty that night.”

Spacer

February 5

paragraphA clerk from the British Parliament has been seconded to Bermuda to work on financial oversight with the Public Accounts Committee. Stephen McGinness, the clerk of the House of Commons PAC, will work alongside the group whose job is to look at how public cash is spent and scrutinize value for money. A press release from Westminster said the Bermuda PAC would welcome Mr McGinness from February 4 to 15. It is part of the UK Overseas Territories Project, a three-year project on public financial oversight involving the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, the UK National Audit Office and the Government Internal Audit Agency. The release said the move would “provide bespoke face-to-face assistance in the preparation of inquiry planning, public reporting, and communicating findings with the aim of strengthening the capacity of the committee”. Mr McGinness said: “With 20 years in the UK Parliament, and eight as a parliamentary clerk, I hope I will be able to bring my experience and expertise to assist in the day-to-day running of the Bermuda Public Accounts Committee. I also intend to build long-lasting relationships with colleagues in Bermuda that can continue to support the work of the PAC as well as my own work in the UK.” The UK Overseas Territories Project has organized previous clerk attachments to PACs in Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, St Helena and Turks and Caicos Islands, drawing on expertise from the legislative bodies of Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Wales and Jersey. The release also said PAC chairwoman Patricia Gordon-Pamplin will attend the UKOTP Oversight of Public Finances Forum in Miami in March. The forum will explore progress in Territories, address common challenges faced by PACs, internal and external audit agencies and explore further potential development of public financial oversight.

paragraphTroops will be out in force at an island business this weekend as they practice public order skills. Soldiers from the Royal Bermuda Regiment are to take part in a drill at the Link Bermuda headquarters in Devonshire. The exercise is part of their training to protect key points around the island. Major Preston Gill, who will command the drill, said: “Our soldiers continually work on their skills in order to provide the most professional support to the civilian authorities possible. We are always grateful for the support the RBR receives from the people we work to protect and no one need feel alarmed if they see soldiers on maneuvers in and around Link Bermuda on Saturday and Sunday.” He said 60 soldiers will be involved in the training but no disruption to traffic or homes in the area was expected.

paragraphResidents on BHB’s Gordon Ward have access to an electric scooter, thanks to a donation from Bermuda Red Cross. The donated scooter will be used by various residents who have mobility issues, to help them within and outside the hospital building. Mr Roland Peters, Clinical Resource Nurse for Gordon Ward, comments: “We are very grateful for this kind donation which is very much appreciated by our unit residents. Some of our residents have physical disabilities, but very much want to be able to move around and get outside. This scooter will help improve the quality of their lives and give them some independence.” Ann Spencer-Arscott, Executive Director of Bermuda Red Cross, comments: “We are so happy to donate a scooter which will be such a valuable resource for Gordon Ward residents. This is part of our mission to meet the needs of our local population. While this scooter was a donation, we also have a number of scooters available to rent for people who might have temporary mobility issues or are visiting the island. These are a resource for people in Bermuda and they can call us to book one as needed.”

paragraphBudding students can apply for funding of up to $35,000 to help cover the costs of their learning. Diallo Rabain, the education minister, announced today that a number of scholarship options will help people of all ages and backgrounds. They included money for books, incentives for teachers in training and second chances for adults to follow college or university studies. Mr Rabain said: “The Ministry of Education has been intent on introducing new scholarships and making them more accessible to students. We have continued to expand opportunities for postsecondary education and training to help support Bermudians of all ages and various backgrounds and career interests. Through these investments, we are demonstrating that we value promise, growth and achievement. The ministry will continue to provide scholarships and awards for public school students, students with disabilities, those studying technical education, mature students as well as top scholars from public schools, private schools and Bermuda College.” The minister said the committee received 301 applications in 2018, which was about double the number for the previous year, and resulted in a total of 50 awards and scholarships. A Non-Traditional Student Award has replaced the mature student award to help people aged 25 and older “who need a first or second chance to attend college or university”. This was previously open only to people aged at least 35 and it has been expanded to include applications for online study at accredited institutions. Minister’s Bermuda College Book Awards help students in financial need to buy books and a Minister’s Exceptional Student Award is for graduating students, school leavers or people with disabilities up to the age of 25. Further Education Awards of up to $10,000 are offered for students with at least a year of college or university credits who are pursuing overseas postsecondary study. The Minister’s Achievement Scholarship is for graduating public school students and offers $25,000 for postsecondary study abroad. Graduating senior school students, as well as college and university students, can apply for Bermuda Government Scholarships of up to $35,000 for postsecondary tuition and basic accommodation. Awards of $5,000 are available for graduating dual-enrolment students in Bermuda College’s Applied Technical Programme. They fund the completion of an Associate’s Degree after public school graduation. A shortage of local teaching candidates in certain areas is addressed with the Teacher Education Scholarship for promising Bachelor of Education students. Subjects included social studies, geography, English language arts, mathematics, modern foreign languages and special education. Successful applicants of the $20,000 awards must return to teach in the Bermuda public school system. A Minister’s Technical and Vocational Award is available for graduating public school students or recent public school alumni attending Bermuda College with a strong interest in technical and vocational studies. More detailed information on scholarships and awards, including eligibility and application requirements are available at www.Bermudascholarships.com. Questions can be sent by e-mail to scholarships@moed.bm.

paragraphLast week the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports the Hon. Lovitta Foggo JP MP presented completion certificates to some of the 15 individuals who recently finished their Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) professional development training. Participants representing the Automotive, Electrical and Landscape industries, the Occupational Advisory Committee, the Industry Assessment Panel, and staff from the Department of Workforce Development completed the PLAR training and have now received Certificates as PLAR assessors to support National Certification. The training session, which was sponsored by the Department of Workforce Development, was led by Dr. Charles Joyner and Mr. Mark Allison Gallupe from the Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment (CAPLA). As a part of their training, participants learned methods for assessing individuals based on their informal learning, prior experience and on-the-job training. As a result of the training that they received over the summer, these individuals now serve as Industry Assessment Panel (IAP) committee members, assisting tradesmen in obtaining national certification in their designated occupations, through a series of assessments. “This process creates a pathway for persons to obtain National Certification based on their work experience, demonstration and job portfolios,” explained Minister Foggo. “Recognizing skills and competencies is a priority for the Department of Workforce Development and the National Certification process. Our future prosperity depends upon our ability to assess and recognize the learning of all our Tradesmen. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a philosophy with immense value for those who work with tradesmen. The main principle is that everyone has knowledge and skills that can, and should, be recognized. We can help tradesmen identify and prove their learning by using reliable tools and supportive systems that take into account their unique needs. Whether transferring academic credits, seeking completion of a formal diploma or submitting workplace competencies to employers for recognition, the use of quality RPL tools, systems and policies can make it happen for them.”

paragraphDrink-driving road crashes could be cut even more if breath test checkpoints were not advertised in advance, the former head of the Bermuda Police traffic unit said yesterday. Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, who led the Roads Policing Unit from 2013 to last month, said: “I would like to think that eventually we will move away from the need to publish the specific dates and that it will become the norm on any given day. Perhaps when we move to this the impact will be even bigger.” Mr Cardwell said the checkpoints were still an effective deterrent to people driving after drinking or using drugs. He added: “Certainly when we started, we would catch anywhere between six and nine impaired drivers on any given Friday night. I note that more recently this number has dropped to one or two. As Bermuda is such a small community, I hope that this number will eventually drop to zero. When it does, we will see this starting to impact the number of fatal road traffic collisions. We have determined through investigation that most of our fatal traffic collisions occur after the deceased has attended a social event and has consumed alcohol.” Legislation to allow breath test checkpoints was passed last year, but police must advertise the parishes involved and the days of operation in advance. Mr Cardwell, 46, who was promoted to chief inspector earlier this year, is now in charge at Hamilton Police Station. He backed the objectives of The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign for the introduction of checkpoints, better speed control and a higher standard of training for the roads. Mr Cardwell said that Rachael Robinson, the Transport Control Department’s interim road safety officer, had worked with the Bermuda Police Service on improvements to Project Ride, a car park-based mandatory motorbike training course for school pupils He added: “As an ex officio for the BPS on the Bermuda Road Safety Council and working with the other road safety advocates, it has been identified that more work must be done in training our youth on the roads, I know Ms Robinson has worked tirelessly with the BPS to revise the Project Ride syllabus and I think that revision is very near to implementation.” Mr Cardwell said that technology, enforcement and higher penalties were all part of the solution to excessive speed on the roads. He added: “The roads policing unit goes out and literally issues thousands of speeding tickets a year. “I think that resolving the problems associated with excessive speeding is a combination of having the resources available to enforce speeds supported by effective technology to manage speeders. We should also take a second look at the penalties for speeding to see if the consequences are sufficient enough to deter.” Mr Cardwell said the implementation of the Bermuda Police Road Safety Strategy was one of his biggest achievements as head of the traffic police. He added: “In the first year, 2015, we managed to gain a lot of momentum in the road safety messaging and we saw road traffic fatalities fall to only seven. I really wanted to see an even more substantial reduction in road traffic fatality and serious injury collisions. My research in writing the Road Safety Strategy left me to draw conclusions that enforcement played such a small role in reducing collisions.” Mr Cardwell said an attachment to the Essex Police traffic unit in Britain last year, where he learnt about their approach to road traffic death investigations and forensics, was “a real eye-opener”. He added Bermuda could learn from the way the UK dealt with drug-drivers. Mr Cardwell said: “I understand the amount of drug-driving arrests in the UK is now up and over the number of drink-driving arrests. I would like to think that drug-driving legislation will soon come online in Bermuda to increase road user safety even more and be an added tool to combat instances of impaired driving not only through alcohol but also through drugs.”

paragraphVoters will go to the polls today to elect the newest member to the Corporation of St George. They will choose between Cyniqua Anderson and Mark Soares for the position of councillor. Both are East End businesspeople who agreed that the people of St George were its greatest strength. A vacancy was created in the Corporation of St George after the death of Phillip “Phoopa” Anderson — Ms Anderson’s father — in December. The Parliamentary Registrar reminded voters yesterday that the polling station will be open from 8am until 8pm at the Pennos Wharf Cruise Ship Terminal. A statement added: “To be eligible to vote, the voter must be registered within the municipal area and bring a valid photo identification to the polling station.” Voters were reminded that using phones and other portable electronic devices was banned inside the polling station. The Parliamentary Registrar’s office will also be open from 8am until 8pm today to help voters with identification cards and other election information. 

paragraphWest End Development Corporation is again looking for “ambassadors” to welcome Dockyard guests and make sure they enjoy their time in the former naval base. The ambassador programme was launched in 2017 to positive reviews from guests and the quango. Aqueelah Somner, who oversees the programme for Wedco, said: “Feedback from Dockyard guests was excellent, so we decided to repeat the idea. We would like to hire four ambassadors who will start work in April until August. They will all be trained in customer service by Wedco and will become Certified Tourism Ambassadors. In addition, all the ambassadors will receive first aid training and two will be CPR certified.” Andrew Dias, Wedco’s general manager, added: “We are very happy to be repeating this ambassadorial service. We know last year’s team did a superb job and were very well received. As a popular place for locals and tourists alike, we need to ensure that we treat our guests extremely well.”

• For more details of the job, visit dockyardbermuda.com/jobs/

paragraphA 45-year-old woman has faced the man alleged to have forced his way into her home and raped her 30 years ago. The woman told the Supreme Court yesterday that she did not tell anyone about the attack until almost a year afterwards because she felt “ashamed”. The woman was a 15-year-old schoolgirl and her alleged attacker was 23 at the time. The defendant, now 53 and from Pembroke, denies a charge of rape. Neither he or his alleged victim can be identified for legal reasons. The woman told the court she was awoken by a knock on the door of her family home on a September night in 1988. She said she went downstairs, cracked the door open and saw the defendant outside. She told him that her sister was asleep and the rest of her family were out. She said: “That’s when he forced himself in. He pushed open the door and gripped my arms. I was walking backwards and he was pushing.” The woman added he pushed her on to the floor in the living room and raped her. She told the court she remembered pain but was unable to cry out. “I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t scream. Words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. It was like someone reached inside my throat and pulled the voice out.” The woman added she blacked out and when she regained consciousness the man had left. She said she cleaned blood off the carpet with a kitchen cloth, took a shower and returned to bed. The woman added: “My brother came home and went upstairs and heard my crying. He asked me what was wrong and I said nothing.” She said she went to school the next day, but left after two classes. She added: “I was hurt. I was ashamed.” The woman said she saw the defendant several weeks later as she walked home from school. She added he asked her if she had told anyone about what had happened. The woman told the court she said she had told no one and asked him to leave her alone. She added she saw him at the same spot on repeated occasions over the next few months. She said: “He used to be there watching like he was some sort of stalker. Just watching.” The woman added that on one occasion the man gave her a “love letter”. The defendant was alleged to have written in the note, which was read in court, that he loved her, was worried about her and wanted to “make love” to the teenager. She said she broke her silence and told her mother about the attack ten months after it happened, when she had turned 16. The woman added she also gave her mother the note, which her mother had rediscovered just over a week ago. The trial continues.

paragraphA child sex offender is to be released from prison in less than a week, the legal affairs minister announced yesterday. Kathy Lynn Simmons, also the Attorney-General, said Melvin Martin will be freed from Westgate prison on Sunday. Charities welcomed the public notification last night and said it was “another step in the right direction” to better child protection. A joint statement by the Coalition for the Protection of Children and Saving Children and Revealing Secrets said: “Again, we are encouraged that this offender’s profile has been issued as a general warning and hope that the preventive measures outlined are in place for this and other individuals who are proven threats to our children.” Martin’s release date was announced after consultation with police under legislation designed to highlight sex offenders feared to “present a risk of significant harm”. The 33-year-old, from Sandys, was jailed for sexual exploitation of a minor, making child pornography, accessing child pornography and unlawful carnal knowledge. He was sentenced to 8½ years in November 2009, but his jail term was increased to 14 years by the Court of Appeal in 2010. The CPC and Scars praised the legal affairs ministry for issuing the information to the public. They said: “This is another step in the right direction towards better protecting our children. We hope that all youth-serving organisations and caregivers take note and we would like to remind the public that all forms of child pornography are both illegal and exploitive.” Debi Ray-Rivers, founder and executive director of Scars, a charity dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse, added: “Scars is calling for every parent and or caregiver to become educated in prevention. This includes every youth-serving organisation, faith-based centre, schools, camps and clubs to be certified in prevention, require background checks, implement codes of conduct, including a social media policy, travel policy and transportation policy, and monitoring the employees’ and volunteers’ activity after hiring.” Kelly Hunt, the CPC’s executive director, said: “The Coalition for the Protection of Children continues to advocate for the three-pronged approach for sex offenders which includes mandated, evidenced-based treatment as a provision of parole, ongoing supervision in the community on release and limitations surrounding access to children.” The Women’s Resource Centre also supported the public announcement. Elaine Butterfield, its executive director, said: “It has been a long struggle with many years of advocacy by helping services, with many attorneys-general, to get to this very necessary point where the public can rely on those who should be protecting them to take this bold stand. Although there is more to be done, we commend the Attorney-General for what is now a consistent action. We look forward to continuing to support the Attorney-General to create a community where women and their families are emotionally and physically healthy, safe, confident and able to realize their potential.” The Government’s statement said that the minister had also decided to inform schools of Martin’s release. It explained the notice was in line with section 329H of the Criminal Code 1907, which provided Ms Simmons with the power “to disclose information in relation to sex offenders who are considered to present a risk of significant harm to the health or safety of the public, an affected group of people, or an individual”. The Government statement was accompanied by fact sheets designed to help parents and guardians who wanted to speak to their children about the risk of sex assaults. They were advised: “If child abuse is suspected, contact the Intake and Investigations team at the Department of Child and Family Services, Magnolia Place, 45 Victoria Street, Hamilton, or the Kidsline at 278-9111. Additionally, contact can be made with DCFS co-ordinator Lisa Talbot at 294-5882, or supervisor Maureen Trew at 294-5876.” The announcement came a year after the release date for Jonathan Cumberbatch, then 55 and from Warwick, was publicised. Ms Simmons ruled that the convicted sex offender, sentenced in 2010 to 12 years’ imprisonment for crimes against children, was “of the highest risk to the community”. The Progressive Labour Party promised before it was elected in 2017 to name sex offenders for “certain offences”. The pledge came after public outrage when sex offender John “Chalkie” White was released in November 2016 without the families of his victims being notified.

paragraphA group of men denied involvement in a brawl that caused the temporary shutdown of a Hamilton bar. Zachary Fox, 20, Paul Smith Jr, 21, Ayinde Eve, 25, Sanchea Douglas, 24, and Jahni Holder, 24, all from Pembroke, pleaded not guilty yesterday in Magistrates’ Court to being involved in the fight in The Docksider Pub & Restaurant on Front Street. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe released all five on $1,500 bail and ordered that they stay out of the bar, keep to a curfew and report to Hamilton Police Station twice a week. The fight happened about 3am on January 19. The court heard there were no reported injuries, but police ordered Docksider to close for 24 hours. Mr Douglas and another man, Jah’Rico Smith-Gardiner, 20, from Sandys, also denied being involved in a separate fight on Court Street on the afternoon of January 21. Mr Smith-Gardiner was released on $1,500 bail and Mr Douglas was released on $2,000 bail. Both men were also ordered to avoid the area of Court Street north of the junction with Victoria Street. Mr Wolffe adjourned both cases until March 11.

paragraphA new partnership built between landlords and an island charity will mean rundown rented homes can be repaired. Sheelagh Cooper, the chairwoman of Habitat for Humanity Bermuda, said: “Over the past few years we have come across so many homes and especially apartments in desperate need of repair that were occupied by tenants.” She was speaking after the charity introduced a new policy last year that allowed tenants to benefit from its renovation projects as well as homeowners. A trial was successful and the programme is now expected to be expanded. Ms Cooper said: “Ordinarily these properties would not fit the criteria for Habitat help because the applicant was a tenant rather than the homeowner. We struggled with this for some time and last year we piloted a new approach which involves a contract between Habitat and the landlord of the property ensuring a continued reasonable rent, or even a reduction in rent, for a specified period after renovations are complete. Other variations include a repayment plan in which a portion of the rent going forward is assigned to Habitat to cover the renovation costs. In either case, there are clear conditions put in place to ensure that the landlord does not exploit the generosity of Habitat by increasing the rent once the property is upgraded. 2018 was another banner year for the charity which exceeded its annual goal of 12 projects with 15 homes renovated. All but one of the projects were completed pro bono with the use of a great deal of volunteer labour and generous contributions from building supply companies. Everyone who has done renovations knows just how tricky these things can be as one never really knows for sure what one will encounter.” The island charity is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, which was founded in the United States in 1976 and has built or repaired more than 400,000 homes for families around the world. It was established in Bermuda in 2000 to address the need for good, affordable housing and its target is to restore neighborhoods with refurbishments to one property at a time. Habitat for Humanity fixes common problems like leaky roofs, mould, broken windows and doors, as well as major electrical or plumbing troubles that can lead to hazardous living conditions. Ms Cooper said people often asked why “Habitat project” signs are not put up at sites on the island where the charity is carrying out its work, in the same way as they are in the US and Canada. Ms Cooper explained: “We don’t do that here out of respect for the privacy of our partner families.” She emphasized the charity works only in Bermuda as there had been confusion with other organisations that do “wonderful work” abroad. She added: “We just feel that the need is so great here that we have plenty on our plate. In 2020, Habitat will have been repairing homes in Bermuda for 20 years and we remain an all volunteer organisation with no paid staff, so every donor dollar goes directly into one of our projects. We do, however, need to pay for skilled labour such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and masons, so we are appealing to folks who have those skills to come forward and donate even a few hours of their time to extend this important work in our community.

Spacer

February 4

paragraphA political agenda, not price, was behind union opposition to the airport redevelopment project, the man who spearheaded the deal has claimed. Bob Richards said that he did not believe a claim made by Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, that the organisation was opposed to the redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport solely because of the cost. He added: “Mr Furbert and his colleagues were against this for a political agenda.” Mr Richards, the finance minister in the last One Bermuda Alliance government, was speaking after a press conference was given by the head of the island’s blue-collar union last week. Mr Furbert claimed that the union was never opposed to the airport project in principle. He said: “Let’s just be clear, because I think that, somehow or the other, [Craig] Cannonier and the One Bermuda Alliance, and some of the other people ... would have you believe that we’ve always been against the airport project. We have always been against the cost of the new airport project.” Mr Richards said that he saw the comment made by Mr Furbert while at an airport in London, England. He said: “When I read it, I laughed out so loud people started turning around and looking at me.” Mr Richards said that Mr Furbert and the BIU “had an organized opposition to this airport almost from the start”. He said that the union had urged its members to reject a proposal when airport staff shifted from being Government of Bermuda employees to Skyport workers, “even though the proposal contained a significant pay rise for the staff”. Mr Richards added that at the time there was a government employee pay freeze in place. He said that in addition to the pay raise, the proposal also let workers keep their government benefits. Mr Richards added of the union: “So they clearly weren’t acting in the interests of their members.” He added that staff took the offer “irrespective of what the union was urging them to do”. Mr Furbert also took issue with comments made by Craig Cannonier, the leader of the OBA, who had claimed that the Progressive Labour Party had “tried to shut down” the airport project. Mr Cannonier said: “The hypocrisy and the irony that this government now is full-heartedly embracing the airport — I’m saying to Bermudians ... exercise your discernment when you see these things.” Mr Cannonier was speaking after the completion of the airport’s new terminal building was marked with a roof-wetting ceremony. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, Lawrence Scott, the Government Whip, and Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, took part in the event. Mr Furbert highlighted the OBA’s opposition to a public-private partnership redevelopment at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, which opened in 2014. He said: “Let’s just rewind the clock back a little bit because my understanding was the hospital project was started under the PLP government.” Mr Furbert said Mr Richards had expressed concerns about the hospital deal while the OBA was in Opposition. He added: “Two years later, his government is down there for the opening ceremony for the hospital.” Mr Richards said that likening the two projects was comparing “apples and oranges.” He explained: “While there were some concerns about the cost of the hospital wing, the level of protest and objections and civil unrest — there’s no comparison between those two. To make a comparison is really conflating two different things.” Mr Richards said that the “resistance and interference” run by the OBA to the hospital project was nothing like that by the PLP and the union to the airport project. He added: “The union was out on a mission to prevent that thing from happening. “And I don’t think we ever did that for the hospital.” Mr Richards said that details of the public-private partnership deal for the hospital redevelopment, which was struck under the PLP government, were never made public. He added; “There could be nothing more public than the process that we had for the airport. We bent over backwards to provide the public the details.” A report by overseas consultant LeighFisher last February found the terms and conditions of the airport contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and developers Aecon were “broadly consistent” with similar public-private deals. The report also stated that the interest rate for long-term debt and the return on equity for Aecon were “within market range”. But the LeighFisher report said the project was not competitively tendered, which could increase negotiating leverage, maintain competition and lead to best value for money. The airport deal won the 2017 North American Deal of the Year at a ceremony in New York last year organized by London-based IJGlobal magazine, a leading specialist publication in project finance and construction.

paragraphA teenager and another woman were arrested after a fight on Front Street in the City of Hamilton. Police attended a report of two women involved in an incident at about 3am on Saturday. The 19-year-old, of Devonshire, was arrested and later released on police bail. A 26-year-old Pembroke woman was also arrested and was in custody yesterday. Anyone with information or video footage of the incident was asked to call police on 295-0011.

paragraphThe board of Bermuda-based reinsurer Sirius International Insurance Group Ltd has elected a new chief executive officer and a new chief financial officer. Kernan “Kip” Oberting will succeed Allan Waters as CEO of Sirius Group, and Ralph Salamone will replace Mr Oberting as CFO, in each case effective February 9, 2019. The company said it was implementing its succession plan. In addition, Meyer (Sandy) Frucher, the chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Sirius board, was appointed as interim non-executive chairman. Mr Waters has stepped down as a director of Sirius Group, effective February 9, 2019, and will stay on to provide advisory services to Mr Oberting and other senior executives. Mr Oberting, 49, has served as president of Sirius Group since September 2018 and CFO since April 2016. He has also served as president of Sirius Capital Markets since April 2016. Prior to that, Mr Oberting served as a senior partner of White Mountains Capital from July 2012 until April 2016. Mr Salamone, 52, is the CEO of Sirius Global Services, a position he has held since 2010. He has also served as the CFO and treasurer at Sirius America Insurance Company since 2012. Mr Frucher said: “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Allan for his remarkable leadership as CEO. Allan has left a significant legacy and made lasting contributions to Sirius Group. Under his leadership, Sirius Group was publicly listed and diversified its shareholder base with four globally recognized investment firms as cornerstone investors. Today’s leadership announcement is part of a thoughtful succession plan culminating in Allan’s existing management team being appointed to continue to lead Sirius Group into the future.” Mr Oberting said: “I am honored and privileged to be the next CEO of Sirius Group, and I appreciate the confidence that Allan and the board of directors have placed in me. I also want to thank Allan for his constant support, and am fortunate to have him as both a mentor and friend.” Sirius Group is a Bermuda-based holding company with re/insurance operating companies in Bermuda, Stockholm, New York and London.

paragraphBermuda-based White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd will receive an $85 million cash payment as the result of a deal involving a company in which it owned a majority stake. MediaAlpha has signed a definitive agreement to sell a significant minority stake to Insignia Capital Group in connection with a re-capitalization transaction. The transaction values MediaAlpha at approximately $350 million. White Mountains will remain a significant equity holder in MediaAlpha going forward with a 42 per cent ownership interest on a fully diluted basis. MediaAlpha’s founding managers will continue to lead the business, and each will remain a significant equity holder. MediaAlpha is an advertising technology company that has developed distinctive platform solutions for auto, motorcycle, home, renter, health and life insurance. White Mountains said the $85 million payment it would receive would result in a gain of about $55 to the insurance group’s book value per share. Manning Rountree, chief executive officer of White Mountains, said: “This transaction is an important milestone for MediaAlpha. It recognizes the significant value that the MediaAlpha team have created to date, and it sets the stage for further value creation going forward. “We are excited to welcome Insignia Capital as our new institutional investment partner. The Insignia team has a proven track record of investing in high-growth marketing technology businesses, and their strategic and operational guidance will be highly valuable.” The transaction is expected to close within 60 days. It is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and MediaAlpha securing new third-party debt financing of approximately $100 million, the proceeds from which will be used to effect a dividend re-capitalization.

paragraphQatar Insurance Company, the parent of Bermuda-based Qatar Re, made a profit of $182 million last year. Gross written premiums were $3.5 billion, an increase of 8 per cent. Although the company was impacted by severe catastrophe losses in the second half of the year, its combined ratio decreased from 105.8 per cent to 101.3 per cent. The underlying combined ratio — excluding prior-year reserve developments and natural and man-made catastrophe losses — was 98.7 per cent. Khalifa Abdulla Turki Al Subaey, president and chief executive officer of QIC Group, said: “For the global insurance industry, 2017 and 2018 were the costliest back-to-back years on record. Insurers and reinsurers had to digest catastrophe losses close to $230 billion. Still, rate increases remain elusive as the growth of alternative capital with lower return hurdles places secular and not just cyclical pressure on (re)insurance margins in the low-frequency, high-severity space. Against this backdrop, our strategic decision, taken more than a year ago, to shift the underwriting focus to a lower-volatility segment has proven right.” The group said it has entered a phase of consolidation in its international operations, shifting its underwriting to lower-volatility classes and shedding under-priced business. Mr Al Subaey, said: “This comprehensive de-risking was successfully completed towards the end of 2018 and we should be able to reap the fruit of this effort in 2019 and beyond. At the same time, as Qatar’s dominant insurer and a leading regional operator and investor, our group is set to benefit from Qatar’s impressive recovery from the economic blockade that was imposed on the nation by some of its neighboring countries in June 2017. For these reasons, we are cautiously optimistic for the remainder of the year even though global economic and industry uncertainties continue to loom large.” QIC’s international carriers, Qatar Re, Antares, QIC Europe Limited and Markerstudy achieved gross written premiums of $$2.7 billion, and increase of 11 per cent, year-on-year. Qatar Re is now ranked at 27 among the global top 50 reinsurers, according to AM Best.

paragraphThe annual Relay for Life event has brought vital aid to Bermudians lacking insurance coverage, a Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre spokeswoman said. The 2019 relay is to be launched today at City Hall, when this year’s theme will be announced. Now in its sixth year, the 24-hour walk dedicated to cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers has raised millions. Deborah Titterton Narraway, the BCHC’s chief marketing officer, said that there was “no out-of-pocket payment” for patients coming to the charity who were underinsured or who did not have health insurance. Patients’ treatment can be subsidised through the organisation’s Equal Access Fund, which gets a major funding boost through the Relay for Life. Last year, more than $780,000 was raised at the relay — all of it going to the Equal Access Fund to cover diagnostic services and radiation treatment. Close to $3 million has been raised over the past five years of Relay for Life, Ms Titterton Narraway said. Its first four years drew $2.2 million towards the building of a $10 million Radiation Therapy Unit. The unit can treat 95 per cent of cancers where radiation is recommended, allowing residents to get care on the island. Ms Titterton Narraway said: “Being able to do it at home where people are still able to go shopping, still able to go to work, to celebrate a birthday with family, adds so much to the quality of life.” The financial assistance offered to those who are uninsured or underinsured have also helped patients to cope. Ms Titterton Narraway said: “When patients find out they don’t have to pay anything from pocket, that is such a huge weight taken off their shoulders.” She added that at least 82 of the 226 courses of treatment carried out over the past 18 months in the Radiation Therapy Unit went to patients who were either uninsured or underinsured. This allowed patients to receive $2.4 million worth of radiation therapy, courtesy of the Equal Access Fund. The cost of radiation treatment depends on the type of cancer and the course of treatment required. Treatment can range from $5,000 to $10,000 for pain management and upwards of $100,000 for treatment of prostate cancer. “For patients who don’t have insurance to show up at the doctor and hear that you have cancer, no matter what stage of life you are in, not many people plan for the cost of cancer treatment,” Ms Titterton Narraway said. In the past two years, BCHC has subsidised over $2.5 million in diagnostic services and radiation therapy. “Relay for Life plays a huge role in raising funds — it’s raising funds to support our community,” Ms Titterton Narraway said. She added: “Relay for Life is all about the community, celebrating survivorship, remembering those whom we have lost and fighting back against cancer.” She said the large support yearly “speaks volume to what the community will do to support each other”. Over the years, the insurer Liberty Mutual, formerly Ironshore, has been the top sponsor, contributing more than $488,000 through corporate sponsorship, combined with the work of its staff. This year’s relay is to be held on May 17 and 18.

paragraphPrayers were offered for swift repairs to a Warwick church after part of its ceiling fell in. Services at St Mary the Virgin have been moved to a hall until the damage is fixed. A statement on the Anglican church’s Facebook page said: “Sadly, this week’s heavy rains brought down the ceiling in church. “In order to be safe, we will be holding the services in the church hall until further notice. We are very, very sorry about this, but the repair work — inside and out — may take several weeks, and will involve extensive time, logistics and costs.” Worshippers were advised to speak to church wardens for more information. A photograph posted on the social-media page showed where a section of the ceiling had fallen away, including part of a moulded design around a hanging light. In another image, pieces of what looked like plaster were strewn across the aisle and between pews. It was understood no one was inside the church when the damage happened. One user wrote: “That is so sad. Really hope the clear up op isn’t too challenging. You are in our thoughts.” Another commented: “So sorry to see this. Prayers for a swift clean up and repair. Grateful no one was hurt.”

paragraphSix men will be banned from Southampton Rangers Sports Club for life after an early-morning fight that left several people injured. The club’s executive took a zero-tolerance approach towards those involved in the brawl, which also resulted in a 24-hour police shutdown for the venue. Seven people were arrested in the wake of the incident on Saturday and two football matches scheduled for the ground yesterday were played elsewhere because of the closure. Club management insisted yesterday there was no room for violence at their premises and the latest action has increased the number of banned to 12 since its annual meeting last November. They said: “The Southampton Rangers Sports Club management strongly condemn the antisocial behavior that marred the club’s grounds after a fundraising event had concluded early Saturday morning. The management team has worked diligently since the most recent AGM to eliminate any forms of antisocial behavior which has resulted in six ban letters being handed out in that short period of time. The new disciplinary team has been given the names of the individuals involved in this incident and registered letters are being mailed out this week to inform the persons involved that they are not welcomed on our property. It should be noted that a security team was in place along with a police presence requested for closing as is standard for any event held at our club.” The management said police were not present at the venue’s 3am closing time, when the brawl broke out on its grounds. Officers and ambulance crews were called to reports of a disturbance at the club and two men, aged 23 and 32, were taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. Another four men, aged 21, 24, 25 and 30, went of their own accord to hospital for treatment. All six were arrested and last night the 24-year-old and 32-year-old remained in custody with the rest released on police bail pending further inquiries. A 27-year-old woman who drove three of the men to KEMH was also arrested before being released on police bail. The club was closed for 24 hours from 10pm on Saturday as the Bermuda Police Service told licensed premises it was “imperative” that they took “social responsibility” for customers’ safety and conduct. Southampton Rangers management said yesterday: “We are appealing to the police and the courts to do their utmost in assisting the community clubs and other establishments in preventing incidents like this from happening again where a few individuals are traveling the island intent on causing trouble. The management team have been encouraged by the support we have received from our surrounding community. We ask that if anyone is able to assist in any way around the club that you reach out as we have learnt that many hands make light work and that it will take all of us to stamp out these acts of antisocial incidents within our community.” It came little more than a week after police ordered a 24-hour shutdown at Docksider Pub & Restaurant on Front Street as a result of a fight. Superintendent James Howard, of the BPS Tactical Division, said on Saturday: “Antisocial behavior will not be tolerated. The public expect a robust response from the police where the conduct of certain individuals causes or is likely to cause significant harm. Our focus of activity will therefore reflect this and we will respond to incidents of antisocial behavior where vulnerability and or a high risk of threat or harm has been identified. If this is the case, then liquor licensed premises can expect to receive an order from me authorizing the closure of their premises. I am hopeful that the closure will allow the management of any establishment to use the time to review any incident, in addition to improving security measures.” Ben Smith, the One Bermuda Alliance shadow minister for both national security and sport, said any closure order would make bar managers think about how they can better protect their customers. Yet he believed that issues related to violence must be addressed by the country as a whole. Mr Smith said: “The antisocial behavior is happening constantly now and obviously the clubs are the ones that are getting the black eye for it, but it’s just another venue for the bad behavior, so we have to figure out a way to tackle the bad behavior. There is a lot of effort going into planning and coming up with ways to help people not make bad choices but the shame of it is, bad choices are happening week after week.” He added: “Part of the problem now is, it seems to be treated as if it’s some people’s responsibility and not everybody’s. I think across the community we are going to have to start conversations, come up with a plan, then everybody’s got to be in on it. At the same time, we are going to have to look at increasing our security when there are events.” Mr Smith suggested that the Royal Bermuda Regiment could be recruited to support police in that regard. Anyone with information about Saturday’s incident was urged to call the Criminal Investigation Unit at 247-1744 or the anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-8477. Southampton Rangers management team can be contacted at southamptonrangers@gmail.com.

paragraphViolet Lightbourne, a Salvation Army stalwart and “prayer warrior” known across the community as Auntie Vi, has died at 96. A retired major at the charity, Ms Lightbourne was internationally known through her dedicated service. With her late husband, Albert, a Bermudian and also a Salvation Army major, she travelled throughout the Caribbean. Their work ranged from Belize, Barbados and Grenada to Jamaica, before they settled in Bermuda with their family in 1961. Ms Lightbourne hailed from Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts & Nevis. Her daughter, Jasmin Stewart, said her mother joined the Salvation Army “quite young, at 18 or 19” through her husband. Ms Stewart explained: “We believe that you have to be called into the service. It’s not a vocation. She was deeply spiritual — she gave her heart to the Lord at a young age and was convinced that service was needed. It was not just to live a good life. It was to serve.” As a young woman, Ms Lightbourne was nicknamed “deep waters” for her quiet demeanor. But she could be “fiery, if you crossed the line”, Ms Stewart said. “She could be strict. She was never afraid to say what was what, and she was very strong in her faith.” Fearless and devoted to helping, Ms Lightbourne would go by herself into bars to talk to patrons and hand out Salvation Army literature, she said. “Her empathy impressed me,” Ms Stewart said. “She would comfort people and cry with them in a genuine way. Not everybody can be like that.” Ms Stewart grew up with two brothers: the late Ron Lightbourne, and their eldest, Oliver. But they shared some of their childhood in Grenada with Stuart Hayward, the Bermudian former MP and environmentalist, who was sent to live with them at age 14. Mr Hayward recalled traveling with “Uncle Albert” to the island, to get his schooling back on track in the 1950s. “Aunt Vi was as bubbly as they come, very religious, and a good sport,” Mr Hayward said. “I always felt I was part of her family. She gave me a lot of encouragement and laughed at my jokes. I think she helped very much in my transformation from a troubled soul to a relatively healthy and promising human being. She encouraged my, shall we call it, creativity, even when it strayed into something more like mischief.” Grenada took a battering from Hurricane Janet in 1955. The storm, which Mr Hayward found an adventure but which frightened “Aunt Vi”, “curtailed any more school”, he said. His sister, Sylvia Hayward, spent much of her teens with the family in Bermuda, and called Ms Lightbourne “a great cook and a very loving, generous soul”. Ms Hayward said: “She personified her Christian beliefs, always doing good. Her reproofs were gentle. She laughed a lot, hugged a lot and always was interested in what was happening in my family life. She loved Stu fiercely and admired him for his fearlessness. She loved my mom and dad just as much and encouraged Ron to hang with him, so much so that Ron was like a second son to my dad.” Calvin Ming, the Bermuda Salvation Army’s public relations and development director, said her kindness and empathy were “infectious”. Mr Ming said: “She was joyful and, in Christian terms, always praising the Lord. She was unafraid to talk with anyone.” Ms Lightbourne would comfort addicts and the homeless, and much of her Bermuda work was devoted to the elderly. Mr Ming said: “Auntie Vi was what we call a prayer warrior. Every community needs a person who takes on the tough issues and prays earnestly. Many children all over the community where bought into Ms Lightbourne’s influence. You always knew that you were loved, and the Salvation Army was central for her. She loved everyone. That can only come from one place.” A celebration of Ms Lightbourne’s life was held on Saturday at the Hamilton Citadel of the Salvation Army.

Spacer

February 3, Sunday

paragraphAxis Capital Holdings Limited made a net loss for the fourth quarter of $198 million, or negative $2.37 per diluted common share, compared to loss of $38 million, for the same period in 2017. The combined ratio increased to 117.3 per cent, a rise of 16.6 points year-on-year. Gross premiums written increased by $76 million, or 7 per cent. The Bermuda-based company’s profit for the full year was $400,000, which compared to a loss of $416 million in 2017. The combined ratio was 99.9 per cent, down 13.2 points compared to 2017. Gross premiums written were $6.9 billion, up $1.3 billion, or 24 per cent, year-on-year. Commenting on the fourth-quarter results, Albert Benchimol, president and chief executive officer, said: “In 2018, we delivered improved full-year underwriting performance, both with and without cats. Following three quarters in which we achieved tangible progress towards delivering on our financial goals, however, heavy attritional property and catastrophe activity led to unsatisfactory results in the fourth quarter. Throughout the past year, we took a number of significant actions to strengthen our portfolio and, over the past few months, we’ve accelerated these initiatives. Additionally, we anticipate that recent improvements in pricing and market discipline will also have a positive impact on the pace of our improvements.” Mr Benchimol said Axis has made significant progress in advancing its strategy and in strengthening our business. He added: “We furthered our relevance and positioning in key markets, including transitioning our London operations to a leading position at Lloyd’s with the integration of Novae, and we scaled up a transformation programme that is improving our efficiency and our agility in a rapidly evolving market.” The book value per diluted common share of Axis Capital in the fourth quarter was $49.93.

Spacer

February 2

paragraphBermuda will find it hard to promote itself as a “sparklingly clean” gambling jurisdiction if the industry regulator is not upfront about its own finances, overseas experts have warned. Gene Johnson, a gaming consultant, told The Royal Gazette that a report on the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission’s rejection of a public access to information request for records about its income and expenditure raised red flags about its accountability. Mr Johnson said: “Bermuda, to do it right, wants to present itself as a sparklingly clean, all above board, heavily regulated gambling jurisdiction. It’s a question of transparency. This is not comforting to investors or banks looking to engage with the gaming commission and provide financial wherewithal. For any regulatory authority, its No 1 attribute, the primary quality that makes it relevant, is trust and accountability. The reason you have that regulatory authority is so you can have the trust and confidence that everything is going to be above board and regulated in the transactions that go on in casinos. If a taxpayer-funded agency is not providing information on how they are spending their money, that tends to erode the credibility and trust.” Mr Johnson, executive vice-president at Victor Strategies in New Jersey, said: “If I’m not mistaken, the gaming commission in Bermuda is taxpayer-funded, so essentially what they are saying is Bermuda’s citizens won’t be able to see how their tax dollars are being spent.” Roger Gros, publisher of Nevada-based Global Gaming Business Magazine, said the commission’s refusal to release records was “very unusual”. He added: “Regulatory agencies are supposed to be transparent. That’s why they are there. If you can’t count on them to give you the most basic of information, they are being far from transparent. They are being totally opaque.” Mr Gros agreed secrecy was likely to deter any reputable casino operators from considering Bermuda as a place to invest and discourage banks’ involvement in the fledgling industry. He said the banks are not going to come in unless everything is above board and squeaky clean. Mr Gros added that the Pati refusal was the latest in a series of warning signs related to the commission, including its inability to recruit a new executive director for the past year-and-a-half and the Government’s decision to lessen its independence and bring it under increased ministerial control. Mr Gros added: “I don’t see the Bermuda casino industry moving forward at any kind of speed.” The gaming commission has been given at least $5.4 million of taxpayers’ cash since it was set up in 2015. It turned down a Pati request from The Royal Gazette last November for details of its income and expenditure for the last two financial years on the grounds that the records contained information received in confidence. It also refused to release:

• the total amount it spent on legal fees for a civil case against its former executive director Richard Schuetz;

• any memorandums of understanding it has or has had with outside agencies;

• details of any agreements it has with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission; and

• the consultancy agreement it has with George Rover, the former deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Commission chairwoman Cheryl-Ann Mapp upheld the refusal on January 22, the same day the commission published details in the Official Gazette of contracts it holds worth $50,000 or more, in line with the Pati Act. The Official Gazette notice revealed that it had spent almost $600,000 on legal services over the past two years, including nearly $66,000 on an injunction against Mr Schuetz. Ms Mapp did not respond to a request for comment.

paragraphOnce a week garbage collection is to become permanent, the public works minister announced yesterday. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch said that the aim was “to rid the country of garbage and manage the expectations of the public by not falsely promising something we cannot deliver”. He added: “There are a number of factors that indicate that we can adequately transition — and have done so — to once a week garbage collection”. Colonel Burch said the number of vehicles in service, workers being subjected to abuse, unreliability of pick-up, injuries to staff and high overtime costs had all influenced last year’s decision to cut twice-weekly collection to one day. He added the yearlong trial has been successful, with overtime cut by more than half and injuries and accidents reduced. He added: “If I spent $1.2 million in overtime to do garbage collection and I still cannot collect the garbage on time, and I am now spending $320,000, that gets my attention. We as a country are currently in budget. And we have spent time trying to get in the cash limits that have been set by the Ministry of Finance so that the Government can meet its mandate and its commitment to the people of Bermuda and also manage the debt. At the end of the day, the money that we spend, the money that the Government spends, comes from all of us in this country who pay taxes. And so if we can encourage folks to modify their behavior and effect some savings and still not be a detriment to our community then I am inclined to do so.  Residents had adapted magnificently to the new schedule and only a few still complained. The common refrain I have heard is that most people are pleased with the reliability of collections.” Colonel Burch added that the weekly collection would remain despite the addition of five new trash trucks to the fleet. He explained the new trucks, which have twice the capacity of older vehicles, were expected to improve collections in areas that have communal bins. "The new trucks could lift bins, which would tackle complaints from areas that use the large grey communal bins. The trucks arrived last December and are expected to hit the roads within the next three weeks “assuming all goes well with the manufacturer’s representative”. A new wash station is expected to be created at the Marsh Folly depot in Pembroke to ensure the latest trucks are kept in good condition. Colonel Burch also warned people to make sure waste was bagged properly. He said: “We are determined to address this bad behavior by encouraging our workers to take pictures of any infractions, report it to their managers so that we can take actions. They are not expected to collect trash that is thrown all over the road because of someone’s bad behavior, Members of the public can also take pictures of poor disposal and send them to the ministry. We will enforce the rules and address the guilty as appropriate. We, as a people, all of us must do better.” He added that householders and businesses should consider recycling and composting.  “We are experiencing an increase of maggots in the waste mainly due to the combination of food waste and the climate which are the perfect condition for them to flourish. Government had bought 395 wheelie bins and 45 recycling bins, which were expected to arrive soon. These will be sold at landed cost and target neighborhoods that use communal collection.”

paragraphA woman denied conspiracy to import more than $45,000 worth of drugs yesterday. It was alleged in Magistrates’ Court that Kenneita Wade, 32, attempted to bring about 897 grams of cannabis and 24 capsules of methamphetamine — crystal meth — into Bermuda. The incident is alleged to have happened on December 27, 2017. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe adjourned the case until March 4 and released Ms Wade, of Warwick, on $5,000 bail with the condition that she did not leave the island.

paragraphTwo East End businesspeople are to face off next week for a seat on the Corporation of St George. Cyniqua Anderson, daughter of the late Phillip “Phoopa” Anderson, whose death in December created the vacancy, is the owner of Just Dreams Event Management and design firm Decor, both based in St George’s. She is up against Mark Soares, the owner of the town’s Bermuda Yacht Services, to become a Corporation of St George Councillor. Ms Anderson said: “Notwithstanding the desire to continue with my father’s dedication to the town and impactful work, I am a child of the soil. I have lived in St George’s my entire life and have seen how the community has been shaped. She added: “I have strong ties to this town and essentially a duty to run for this post to ensure that St George’s is a place that inspires others to see what I see in the often overlooked parish of Bermuda.” Mr Soares, who has been chairman of the East End division of the Chamber of Commerce and co-founder of the St George’s Marine Expo, said: “Working in partnership with the Corporation of St George’s, and with very little investment, we were able to secure St George’s to be the host for many of the vessels during the Superyacht Regatta of the America’s Cup. I believe that the town of St George’s is in a period of rebirth, and I would like to volunteer my time to the Corporation of St George’s and be part of some of the decisions that will guide the town to a prosperous future for the sake of the residents and business owners.” Ms Anderson said her main concern was the lack of a consistent effort in tourism. She added: “Tourism is our bread and butter. The lack of a regular cruise ship is one of our biggest issues, but not our only one.” Ms Anderson added she wanted to improve the tourist experience in the town, which would also help business owners. She said she also wanted to encourage youth employment in tourism and tackle the ageing sewage and water systems. Mr Soares highlighted crime as the biggest threat to St George and said that he would work for a stronger police presence in the town if elected. He said: “I agree with the concept of community policing in the town, and, to the Bermuda Police Service having more of a presence in the town.” He added he wanted to bring more events to St George and pedestrianise some streets on a part-time basis.  “This should encourage and add to the atmosphere in the town for both residents and visitors with al fresco dining and other things.” Both candidates agreed that St George greatest strength was its people. Ms Anderson said: “St George’s has a host of talented individuals who are extremely passionate and extremely proud of our town. We need to not only leverage that, but promote and support each other’s talents and contributions.” Mr Soares added: “St George has a wide cross section of residents with a broad range of ethnic and economic backgrounds. The people are the heart of this great town.”

• The election will be held on Tuesday, February 5. The polling station will be at Pennos Wharf Cruise Ship Terminal and all registered municipal residents are eligible to vote

paragraphA terrified fast-food restaurant manager said he feared for his life after he was confronted by knife-wielding raiders in the early hours of yesterday. Shane Curtis was punched in the face by one of the robbers and later learnt a colleague had been threatened with what appeared to be a handgun during the robbery at Ice Queen in Paget. Mr Curtis, a night manager at the popular takeaway, said: “I had gone into the office, I was just scribbling a note for the next shift and then, all of a sudden — ‘bam’ — they just burst in. This guy comes in with a knife, shouting ‘Where’s the safe? Open the safe.’ Apparently he had jumped over the counter and he just ran right through. I saw my life flash before my eyes. The boy had a knife, I got robbed — he found my bag on the shelf, he took my wallet. When I stood up to confront him, that’s when he hit me and I just fell back. I said ‘this can’t be happening’.” Mr Curtis was speaking after three men wearing helmets and dark visors entered the restaurant at about 2.45am yesterday. Two others were working in different areas of the building and one had a gun pushed into his side by a man who demanded that he open the till — which only the manager can do. Police said the third man was also armed with a knife and the gang escaped with “a quantity of cash”. Mr Curtis added: “It happened so quickly, according to the video, the incident lasted all of a minute and 40 seconds — and then they were gone. They were like stealth ninjas because by the time I got on the phone to call 911 they were gone and nobody saw which way they went. We have security cameras on the property but I wonder if there are security cameras on the street, because then the police can figure out which way they went.” Mr Curtis suffered a cut above his right eye and said that there was “a lot” of blood. But, he said he declined medical treatment, although he and his two co-workers were shaken. Mr Curtis added he suspected the men, who fled on foot, waited until the late night takeaway had no customers. Mr Curtis, who has worked at Ice Queen for more than two years, told The Royal Gazette: “It wasn’t terribly busy, the perpetrators must have been watching the place to pick a time when there was nobody there. It’s almost as if they were casing the place.” He added: “When I started this endeavor, I thought I was going to bring some kind of decorum and acumen to this place but it is what it is. It’s a fast-food restaurant and people are going to do what they’re going to do.” Mr Curtis thanked the police for their response and pleaded for anyone with information on the robbery to come forward. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said inquiries into the raid continued. Two of the suspects were said to be 6ft tall. One wore a camouflage-design helmet and a black hoodie with white writing on the front. The other had a black helmet and black clothes. The third man was said to be 5ft 6in, wearing a black helmet and a black varsity-style jacket with white sleeves. Anyone with information should call the police serious crime unit on 247-1739 or the independent and confidential Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.

paragraphSeven babies made their debut at the hospital in the space of just 24 hours, it was revealed yesterday. The births of five boys and two girls happened between Tuesday and the early hours of Wednesday at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman said such a high number of births was unusual, but not unprecedented. She added that the last time so many births had been recorded in such a short space of time was 2017, but that similar events had happened about 14 times “in recent history”, with the highest number being nine births in a similar time frame. The spokeswoman commended hospital staff for their professionalism over a busy day. The parents and babies born on Tuesday and Wednesday are: Gina Liburd and Wayne Wales, daughter Glow Gentle Wales, 11.04am January 29, 2019.  Ouafae Hajjioui and Kevin Daley, son Ryan, 11.54am January 29. Lichel Tumulak and Mario Ferraro, son, 1.55pm, January 29. Kristen and Daniel Heinlein, son Hayes Heinlein, 5.28pm January 29. Brittany Bean and Leon Weekes, daughter Maci Barstowe-Weekes, 6.39pm January 29. Yuedi Ding and Alvin Du, son Jackson Du, 11.41pm January 29, and Vanessa and Michael Thompson, whose son has not yet been named, 5.41am January 30.

paragraphAn early morning fight at the Southampton Rangers Sports Club that left six injured and five in custody has resulted in a 24-hour ban at the establishment. Police said this afternoon that they would shut down the club from 10pm tonight until 10pm tomorrow. As a result, the Paget versus Boulevard game that had been scheduled there for Sunday has been moved to the Pembroke Hamilton Club field on Middle Road in Warwick. Superintendent James Howard of the Bermuda Police Service’s Tactical Division said: “It is imperative that liquor licensed premises take ‘social responsibility’ for the safety of their patrons and the conduct of those persons who threaten that safety, which has a profound effect on the community that they are a part of and Bermuda as a whole.” A police spokesman said police and ambulances responded to a report of a brawl at the club at about 3am. The spokesman said: “A 23-year-old man and a 32-year-old man were transported from the scene via ambulance to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries, which were not considered to be life threatening. The 23-year-old man was admitted to hospital for further medical assessment. Three men, said to be 24, 25 and 30-years-old respectively, believed to have been involved in the antisocial incident, arrived at the hospital in a private car for treatment of their injuries while a fourth man, said to be 21-years-old, also attended the hospital separately for treatment.” The spokesman said all four men who went to hospital “of their own accord” were later arrested along with their driver, a 27-year-old woman. Another 32-year-old has also been arrested in the wake of the incident, and all five were this afternoon in police custody. Mr Howard announced the 24-hour forced closure of the sports club, saying: “Antisocial behavior will not be tolerated. “The public expect a robust response from the police where the conduct of certain individuals causes, or is likely to cause, significant harm. Our focus of activity will therefore reflect this and we will respond to incidents of antisocial behavior where vulnerability and or a high risk of threat or harm has been identified. If this is the case, then liquor licensed premises can expect to receive an order from me authorizing the closure of their premises. I am hopeful that the closure will allow the management of any establishment to use the time to review any incident, in addition to improving security measures.” Anyone with information about the fight is urged to call the Criminal Investigation Unit at 247-1744 or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline at 800-8477.

Spacer

February 1

paragraphCanadian tax authorities have launched about 100 audits into taxpayers named in the Paradise Papers, a huge batch of documents stolen from the database of law firm Appleby. The audits were revealed in the Canadian Parliament, the Toronto Star reported. Three thousand people or corporations were identified by the Canadian Revenue Agency as having “links” to the Paradise Papers database. Some 100 Canadian taxpayers named in the database have been selected for audit, but the CRA reported that none had been referred for criminal prosecution for tax evasion and no money had been recouped. “Audits and criminal investigations such as those linked to the Paradise Papers are complex and, due to those complexities, can require months or years to complete,” the documents state. The documents known as the Paradise Papers were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The CRA stated that 25 employees had been assigned to work on Paradise Papers issues specifically, including “research, data analytics, risk assessments, audits and co-ordinating efforts with the agency’s international partners”.

paragraphSir John Swan has found the enemy — and the enemy is us. Bermuda’s longest-serving premier, for decades one of the island’s most successful businessmen, said more must be done to improve conditions in Bermuda. He was speaking in the context of The Royal Gazette’s five-part series addressing Bermuda’s shifting demographics over the next seven years, and the challenges they present for the island. “The country’s big economic middle class is rapidly sliding into economic despair,” Sir John said. “Nobody is talking about it, no one is saying ‘I am hurting and we need to do something about it. People should be shouting at the top of their voices because the promise of Bermuda is not being fulfilled when we once had so much. We had so much, in fact, that people thought we had too much. Now, we don’t have enough and we, as fellow Bermudians, are not doing enough to restore things to the extent that would afford our people the confidence and the security that their needs can be met and that there are opportunities for economic growth. Even the Chamber of Commerce, the Employers Council and companies generally have all put their heads down. It is no secret than many businesses are not doing well. However, business people are not involved enough in getting something done, so we have stagnation. We talk about international business, but on the domestic side, we are not doing near enough ourselves. We are like the comic strip character Pogo, who said ‘I have found the enemy and the enemy is us. We must grow the economy by creating a critical mass so that we can get economies of scale on things such as healthcare and food that have become excessively costly due to our small numbers. Contributions to the Bermuda economy can vary by industry sector. The service and hospitality industries require a lot of manpower,” Sir John said. “We don’t have enough Bermudians to fulfil all those jobs. We have brought foreigners in to fill the gap. Most of these workers do not or cannot bring their families with them and therefore must support their families at home by sending them a regular portion of their income. Therefore, this money does not circulate in the Bermudian economy and does not contribute to the creation of jobs through the use of goods and services.” The island’s Fiscal Responsibility Panel, in a report released in November, said that immigrants and returning Bermudians with the right skills will help to create jobs, not displace them, in a growing economy. Sir John says he understands that an increase in the number of foreign nationals in the workforce can be a highly political issue. “Bermudians feel the foreigner will displace them,” he said. “However, if a person is displaced due to a lack of economic activity, that person is displaced anyway. We have to look at how we can serve the Bermudian people by creating conditions that bring about economic activity and accept that we can’t always do it by ourselves. How much tolerance do we have? There might be naysayers, but we need to attract foreigners here like we did in the past. Those non-nationals created jobs that you, or maybe your parents or even your children enjoyed, and that allowed people to have a comfortable middle-class life. By middle class, I mean you pay your bills, your rent or mortgage and have money left over for recreation and to educate your children so you can prepare for their future.” Steps must also be taken to reinvigorate the City of Hamilton, Sir John said. “We have to create economic activity for the City of Hamilton because, like it or not, it is pretty dead,” he said. “We need to look at Hamilton as we once looked at Dockyard years ago. We asked ‘what should we do with this place’ and our answer was a tourism and cruise ship resort. Similarly, we need to make Hamilton an economic growth destination by allowing buildings — hotels or apartments — to be owned by foreigners. That will bring foreign capital into Bermuda and would not be a drain on our Bermuda dollar position.” Sir John called on Bermudians to support Government’s efforts to diversify the economy. “Fintech and blockchain technologies have great promise for Bermuda if we get it right and I think we can,” he said. “That is why we should support the Government in their efforts to bring the industry here. There will always be the naysayers when something new is being introduced. I encountered that when I was negotiating the tax treaty with the United States, but with persistent perseverance for five years, it happened, and we enjoyed the greatest period of success we ever had. At the time, we had no debt as we do today and far more Bermudians enjoyed a comfortable middle-class life. Therefore finding an additional pillar of the economy is a must. I am giving support where I can and I ask everyone to do the same.” The time to act is now, Sir John said. “Not only are we on the edge of a cliff, we are falling off,” he said. “We have an ageing population, a shrinking youth population and the number of non-nationals in Bermuda has decreased by over 4,000. Unemployment of Bermudians has been on the increase. The number of people covered by health insurance is shrinking and the cost is going up. People can’t afford healthcare, corporations can’t afford healthcare, and there doesn’t seem to be enough being done to change things and ease that pressure. Economic growth is desperately needed to restore our economic viability.”

paragraphKathleen Faries is the new chairwoman of ILS Bermuda, having filled the deputy role since 2015. She succeeds Greg Wojciechowski, who served as chairman during the past four years. The new deputy chairman is Tim Tetlow. Ms Faries and Mr Tetlow will work closely on the launch of the seventh Bermuda Convergence event, scheduled to be held at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club in October. “It has been a privilege to contribute to the success of ILS Bermuda and our annual ILS Convergence event since our inception in 2013,” said Ms Faries, who is head of the Bermuda branch of Tokio Millenium Re. Over these past seven years, we have witnessed the impactful growth of this ‘alternative’ now referred to as ‘partner’ capital coming into the reinsurance market. With the market now at $90 billion, these capital providers have continued to increase and broaden their knowledge of the market and we like to think that our ILS Convergence event, and certainly Bermuda as a world-class reinsurance and ILS jurisdiction, has facilitated this growth and sophistication.” She thanked Mr Wojciechowski for his commitment and leadership of the organisation, and said she looked forward to continuing to work with him as part of the leadership team. Meanwhile, Mr Tetlow said: “Having directly participated in the expansion of ILS outside of property catastrophe, it is a delight to serve as deputy chair of ILS Bermuda as ILS shifts to ‘partner’ capital from an alternative.” Mr Wojciechowski, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Stock Exchange, will remain an active member of the ILS Bermuda committee. He said: “It is an honour and privilege to have worked with the talented members of the ILS Bermuda committee over the years and I look forward to continuing our commitment to provide a solid commercial platform supported by world-class infrastructure and a well-respected regulatory framework, which contributes directly to Bermuda’s position as a centre of excellence for the creation, support and listing of ILS vehicles”. The Bermuda Stock Exchange accounted for about 80 per cent of the global market capitalization of ILS at the end of 2018 with approximately $30 billion of outstanding volume. At the end of 2018, Bermuda had 28 new Special Purpose Insurers registered in Bermuda, an increase of over 14 per cent on the 2017 total.

paragraphIn the final article in a five-part series examining the impact of the ageing of Bermuda’s population, The Royal Gazette looks at the potential solution: economic growth. Facing an ageing and shrinking population, declining workforce, spiraling healthcare costs, unfunded pension liabilities and a national debt in excess of $2.4 billion, experts say there is only one sensible path for Bermuda to follow if we are to avoid a long period of economic decline. “The only realistic counter to the island’s demographic challenge of a rapidly shrinking and ageing population is significant positive migration of people of working age,” the island’s Fiscal Responsibility Panel wrote in a report released in November. “Immigrants and returning Bermudians with the right skills will help to create jobs, not displace them.” Bermuda’s demographic challenge is outlined in the recently released report, Bermuda’s Population Projections, 2016-2026. The report reveals that, based on current projections, by 2026 the island’s population will decline by 111 people — and the share of seniors in the population will climb from 16.9 per cent to 24.9 per cent. Elderly dependency rates will rise to 40 per cent, meaning there will be 40 seniors for every 100 working people. One in nine of us will be 75 or older; the median age will be 49. “By the standards of most developed countries, this is an extraordinary rate of change,” the panel wrote. “And with a fertility rate of only 1.4, these trends will accelerate in subsequent decades, absent policy reforms that raise fertility or enhance net immigration. The threat this poses can hardly be overstated; this would be a downward spiral of demographic and economic decline. If these projections materialise, the Government will have no choice but to continue to raise taxes on the ever-shrinking proportion of the population in work — further encouraging emigration of the young and skilled — while at the same time reducing the quality or quantity of services provided to the growing number of elderly people. The political, economic and social consequences for all Bermudians — but especially those most dependent on government services — would be severe.” Our ageing population, declining workforce, underfunded public sector pension funds and escalating healthcare costs are “a certainty, not just a risk, which will result in serious medium and longer-term pressures on public spending and challenges to growth”, the panel wrote. “It will also make it more difficult to deal with a large debt overhang. While demographic trends are, by their nature, slow-moving and may not be immediately visible to the public, this is perhaps the single most serious long-term issue Bermuda faces and one that now needs to be addressed with some urgency.” The question, of course, is how to go about growing the economy in order to create more jobs. Government has identified growth through economic diversification as a priority. “In principle, it is clearly desirable to reduce Bermuda’s dependence on insurance and reinsurance,” the panel wrote. “This would reduce both the short-term risk to overall employment and tax revenues from cyclical conditions in that sector, and the longer-term risk that technological or market developments cause the sector to continue to consolidate. Diversification would also provide alternative employment opportunities for Bermudians. However, meaningful diversification will be easier said than done. Beyond tourism, Bermuda has few obvious sources of natural comparative advantage — it is small, remote, high-cost and its domestic skills base is insufficient at present to support new high-growth industries. Given these restraints, the obvious candidates for new sectors in Bermuda are in the [broadly defined] technology and financial services sectors, which are high-value, can be delivered remotely and where Bermuda’s world-class regulatory and legal infrastructure is a valuable asset. The Government’s focus on promoting fintech, while liberalizing regulations that currently inhibit the growth of financial and related services beyond insurance (such as global law firms and banks) is therefore appropriate. We would caution, however, against excessive focus on particular niche products such as digital or cryptocurrencies where there are potentially significant financial and reputational risks. It would be very damaging for Bermuda, at a time when it is already under international scrutiny in relation to tax and transparency issues, to be perceived to be providing an excessively lax regulatory environment for products where there clearly are major issues with manipulation and fraud. Attracting and growing new sectors will, above all, require access to a skilled and flexible workforce. Obviously, the prospective shrinking of the labour force will limit future economic growth prospects (a challenge also recently underscored in the report of the Tax Reform Commission). As we noted last year, improving the quality of Bermuda’s education system at all levels should be a priority. The recent Census revealed the sensitivity of Bermuda’s growth model to the changing age and education composition of its citizenry. It also revealed the relatively weaker position of those in the younger age groups in terms of their low level of completed education and higher unemployment rate. Potential productivity growth will be further weakened by the propensity of those with higher education to emigrate. It is important to note that, in the context of growth and diversification, jobs for Bermudians and higher levels of skilled immigration are likely to be complements — that is, go together — rather than being substitutes or alternatives.” Said John Wight, president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce: “Bermuda has a strong value proposition. Our regulation is second to none globally. Our infrastructure is sound. Our proximity to the northeastern United States is an advantage, and we have a pristine reputation for doing business the right way. There are many reasons why businesses should operate in Bermuda. We just need to work collectively, Government and the business community, to seek these opportunities in the same way that we did to achieve Solvency II equivalence, which was such a critical issue for insurance and reinsurance companies in Bermuda.” Other countries face similar challenges, Mr Wight said. “Canada has recently announced they are going to bring in one million immigrants over the next three years in order to support and sustain their economy because they have an ageing population like we have. They have recognized that they proactively need to bring in people with certain skill sets to maintain and grow their economy. We can’t turn a blind eye to what our ageing population means to our economy.” Government, the panel wrote, must reform immigration practices and policies if Bermuda is to return to a sustainable economic and demographic trajectory. “Modernising and liberalizing Bermuda’s administrative immigration practices and policy might facilitate at least some net growth in the labour force, particularly if combined with measures to encourage the return of overseas Bermudians with marketable skills and some moves towards the provision of citizenship to the families of non-citizens that have been long resident in Bermuda. Recent actions to accelerate the processing time for work permit applications and to implement a re-organization of the Immigration Department are very welcome indeed, and now need to be followed up with broader reforms of practices and policies. We welcome the new impetus behind reform in this area signaled by the Government, and were encouraged by our conversations with ministers, officials and other stakeholders. We hope that 2019 will indeed see fundamental changes to administrative practices and policy that will streamline and ease the process of acquiring work permits and, in the words of the Throne Speech, ‘simplify issues surrounding Bermudian status, the status of PRC holders and Bermudian status for mixed-status families’.” Liberalization of immigration policies could help Bermuda to become less prone to outside forces, said a leading financial analyst. Nathan Kowalski, a columnist with The Royal Gazette, said: “One aspect that would attract investment and hopefully make immigration to Bermuda by future entrepreneurs and businesses more palatable would be an open and transparent immigration policy that has a path to citizenship. Otherwise, Bermuda could risk remaining a transitory nation subject at an ever-increasing rate to the whims of the global economy.” Economic growth can also be generated through a form of economic immigration, says Don Mills, chairman and senior partner of Halifax-based Corporate Research Associates and a partner in local firm, Total Marketing & Communications. In 2015, Mills — speaking at a conference in Bermuda — proposed the sale of citizenship to a limited number of individuals willing to make a $5 million investment in economic activity to create jobs on the island. If 100 people were granted citizenship on that basis, he said, it would create a $500 million investment in Bermuda. Personal spending, he said, could increase that number to $1 billion. “There is an opportunity to open up citizenship to people who can bring economic benefits to the island,” Mills says now. “I am pretty sure you can find 100 people in the world who would be interested in having citizenship in Bermuda, and who would have no significant impact on Bermudian society but who would have a significant impact on the economy. My comments in 2015 were not received very favorably — and I understand that — but something has to be done.” In light of the looming demographic shift, the fiscal responsibility panel said that Bermuda must take steps to ensure the viability and relevance of Bermuda’s social welfare framework. “Our two previous reports argued for a dialogue with all Bermudians on the challenges that will arise as the population ages and on the need for a revisiting of existing views on the work-retirement balance during the elderly years,” the panel wrote. “And like other countries, Bermuda must now respond to demographic changes with policy reforms that encourage individuals to work longer, incentivise the retraining and employment of older workers as the work environment changes, liberalize immigration policies, and confront the challenge of an increasingly elderly population in need of additional caring services. Simply put, from the perspective of fiscal sustainability, the need for these changes is serious and urgent.”

paragraphOpinion. By Bill Storie.  "In the Royal Gazette's final article of five in conjunction with the Bermuda’s Demographic Challenge series, the over-65s are highlighted. Today we discuss the fourth and last age group — the over 65-year-olds. Commonly referred to as “The Silent Generation”. In Bermuda, this age group numbers about 11,000 today and by the year 2026 will rise significantly to about 16,000, according to government projections. The characteristics of this generation include being hard-working when they were employed, have strong willpower and determination, and respect authority. Like most people in this cohort around the world, the over-65s in Bermuda have four core concerns — health, sustainable income, family and lifestyle.

Ideas to consider

• Bill Storie is CEO of The Olderhood Group Ltd, a Bermuda-based company and exclusive Bermuda Partner of Career Partners International, with over 350 offices worldwide. He is also producer and host of The Ozone, a weekly radio show on Magic 102.7FM.

 

Spacer

Admiral Sir George Somers, Bermuda 1609 Historic Houses History 1500 to 1699
History 1700 to 1799 History 1800 to 1899 History 1900 to 1939 pre-war
History 1939 to 1951 History 1952 to 1999 History  2000 to 2005
History 2006 History 2007 Jan and Feb History 2007 March
History 2007 April History 2007 May History 2007 June
History 2007 July History 2007 August History 2007 September 1 to 10
History 2007 September 11 to December 31 History 2008 to 2010 History 2011 through 2012
History 2013 History 2014 part 1 History 2014 part 2
History 2015 January History 2015 February History 2015 March
History 2015 April History 2015 May History 2015 June
History 2015 July History 2015 August History 2015 September
History 2015 October History 2015 November History 2015 December
History 2016 January History 2016 February History 2016 March
History 2016 April History 2016 May History 2016 June
History 2016 July History 2016 August History 2016 September
History 2016 October History 2016 November History 2016 December
History 2017 January History 2017 February History 2017 March
History 2017 April History 2017 May History 2017 June
History 2017 July History 2017 August History 2017 September
History 2017 October History 2017 November History 2017 December
History 2018 January History 2018 February History 2018 March
History 2018 April History 2018 May History 2018 June
History 2018 July History 2018 August History 2018 September
History 2018 October History 2018 November History 2018 December
History 2019 January History 2019 February History 2019 March
History 2019 April History 2019 May History 2019 June
History 2019 July History 2019 August History 2019 September
History 2019 October History 2019 November  

Bermuda Online

Last Updated: November 29, 2019
Multi-national © 2019 by Bermuda Online. All Rights Reserved