Billions in deposits could be put to work
The chief executive officer of Bermuda's Pension Commission has questioned why the island's new airport was not financed locally.
Peter Sousa was speaking on a panel at “2020 Vision: Straight Up. No Chaser”, presented by recruitment and immigration consultancy firm The Catalyst Group.
Attendees heard from conference organiser Barbara Tannock that some $3.4 billion is sitting in local customer bank deposits.
Mr Sousa said: “Why not issue a 30-year bond and allow local investors to participate?”
Panellists discussed whether money in Bermudian pension accounts should be restricted to being invested only on-island. Ms Tannock said The Bahamas had such a restriction.
Mr Sousa said he was working in the Ministry of Finance in 2000 when the issue of inward investment was reviewed.
He said: “Countries that have such restrictions have them for one reason, and that is Government's own borrowing requirements. It is cheap funding for government.”
Mr Sousa said some had favoured a rule that would have required 25 per cent of pension proceeds to be invested in the Bermuda Stock Exchange.
He said: “Fortunately, the Minister of Finance listened to his advisers. We have no market makers in Bermuda, and no liquidity in the stock market. Investment opportunities are much better overseas, there is huge risk in investing locally.”
Bermuda's approach was now being studied by a Caribbean regulatory group, he said.
“They are looking at the Bermuda model to diversify and invest outside their countries. I think investing internationally is the best thing. People should be allowed to make that decision themselves.”
Mr Sousa added: “There is a lot of money on the sidelines that wants to invest locally, but they want a good investment.”