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Spot on mate, spot on

Thomas C. Famous. Photo: VINO/File
By Thomas C. Famous

"I know we Bermudians like to think that we are a cut above all other offshore financial centres…I was personally a fierce proponent of that viewpoint, both at home and abroad…But I have had a “road to Damascus” moment on this issue because, try as we might to differentiate ourselves, to adversaries such as Mr Moscovici and his EU staff, all the dots are the same — illegitimate!

We must therefore work with other offshore financial centres if we are going to survive this existential onslaught," Former Finance Minister of Bermuda, E.T. Bob Richards, Royal Gazette March 18,2019

Let me firstly say that whilst we are on differing pages politically, the Op-Ed by Bob Richards was, as the British say, “Spot on.” 

He clearly articulated what, or should I say who, is the root of the recent EU blacklisting.

Ever Shifting Goalposts

For the last twenty plus years, successive Bermuda governments and related organizations such as ABIC, ABIR and BMA have jumped through every hoop presented by external forces and in some cases, such as with Solvency 2, went above and beyond any other jurisdictions.

Yet, somehow we still find ourselves in the crosshairs?

Mr Richards, in the same Op-Ed, also states the following:

 “I would not jump to early conclusions pertaining to the narrative that Bermuda was blacklisted because our government was “playing games”.

Knowing the attitude of the officials in Brussels relative to Bermuda, this may be an excuse for doing something they were determined to do anyway”

Nevertheless, Mr Richards has, as he stated, come to “Damascus” moment in the realisation that we have to unite with others who find themselves in the exact same predicaments in regard to the EU Blacklists.

It is interesting that when the point was made years / months / weeks ago that the Overseas Territories (OTs) must unite to fight for economic survival, we hear the knee jerk reaction that we should have nothing to with the Caribbean.

Now that we clearly see the UK/EU have no problem throwing us under the bus for their own purposes, those in the know, are now openly saying thewe actually do need to unite and work closely with our Caribbean cousins who are facing the exact same threats.

Regional Solidarity

Fortunately, for us all, regional leaders have indeed been working together for sometime in regards to our financial services sectors.

In July of 2018, during the CARICOM Conference in Jamaica, the Overseas Territories of Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands spoke at length with fellow Caribbean leaders in an effort to seek and ultimately gain assistance in the matter surrounding the UK Government’s move against the OTs, regarding Public Registers of Beneficial Ownership.

Similarly, at the recent CARICOM conference held in St. Kitts every Head of State in the Caribbean, including Deputy Premier, Honourable Walter Roban, clearly articulated the need for regional solidarity and action to protect our individual and collective financial service industries.

Recently, BVI Premier, Andrew A. Fahie (pronounced Foy, not Fahy) stated the following in Virgin Islands News Online.

“Our struggles in this Caribbean basin have always been one and the same and it manifests itself in the modern day through our shared interest, in having to defend and protect our different financial services sectors from unfair and onerous demands from a few in the United Kingdom Parliament, in particular in our case; and the European Union in all of our cases.”

He says that the VI will continue to seek solidarity in standing up to a new aggressive push from outsiders, “which seems determined to issue edicts to its overseas territories in the region, without paying attention to the expressed will of the people, and ignoring our own values and customs which are deeply fashioned by both history, geography and our faith.”

With all of that being said, as individual islands and as a region, we must not only work together reactively when it comes to matters of urgency such as hurricanes and or blacklists, but more importantly, we have a lot to learn proactively from each other.

This will include not only the respective governments, but the people themselves.

Cross Caribbean Conversations

As with all relationships, it all starts with open and honest communications between individuals.

To this end, on Sunday, March 31, 2019, we will be having yet another “Cross Caribbean Conversation” with folks from around the region.

Joining Host Kim Swan and myself on “Orders of the Day,” on Hott 107.5 FM, between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM, will be Cayman Island’s own, Woody DaCosta and Mr Sutcliffe Hodge of Anguilla.

We will be discussing the recent UK Government Foreign Affairs Committee report.

Suffice it to say, there is not one Overseas Territory that is in agreement with the recommendation to allow UK Citizens who reside in OTs, the ability to vote or to run for office.

Incidentally, Mr Bob Richards has a similar view.

“The British Foreign Affairs Committee is a child of that Parliament…I have appeared before it once in the past myself…The recommendation of that committee to give British citizens automatic voting rights in Bermuda is a non-starter. It also breaches our constitution.”

Spot on mate, spot on.

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