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Swan sees opportunities for investors who ‘think globally and act locally’

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By Jonathan KentPremier Paula Cox and joined former Premier Sir John Swan on a panel at a conference focusing on infrastructure in Miami yesterday.

The discussion marked the start of KPMG’s “Infrastructure Summit: An Island Perspective of a Global Challenge”.

The panellists included both heads of state and leaders from the private sector, each side offering unique perspectives on public private partnerships (PPPs) as they pertain to island economies.

Stephen Beatty, Partner, KPMG, Canada and Americas Head of Global Infrastructure, directed the discussion with questions centered on key challenges for island governments and the private investors who work with them in infrastructure investments.

Sir John, chairman of the Swan Group of Companies, stressed that global change certainly represents a critical challenge for islands. At the same time, he noted, opportunities exist for island governments and investors willing to think globally but act locally and address local needs and issues.

Premier Cox pointed out that island economies usually have little fiscal space in which to manoeuvre, so they often seek alternative sources of funding, looking at, for example, outside investors in addition to strategies based on PPPs.

Bahamas Finance Minister Zhivargo Laing added that islands, like other government entities, are monitored by credit rating agencies, so they must be prudent in their project funding. However, this prudence can enable islands to borrow money at favourable terms during economic downturns.

OB Sevinger, Minister of Integration, Infrastructure and Environment of the Government of Aruba, noted that his country has a large number of PPPs. However, he emphasised that any development should be based on a vision of the island as a whole and how infrastructure development will support this vision.

Two panellists Nicholas Bliss, partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Nick Chism, partner and global head of infrastructure, gave strong voice to many issues raised by the other panellists.

Mr Bliss stressed the importance of keeping PPPs and development projects as simple as possible, with transparent, straightforward government policies.

In like manner, Mr. Chism stated that government effectiveness is key, with projects conducted in a transparent, non-politicised manner.

John Herhalt, partner and global head of infrastructure, of KPMG, emphasised the need for infrastructure based on a forward-looking culture.

Yesterday Ms Cox was in Miami to participate in KPMG’s Infrastructure Summit, themed “An Island Perspective of a Global Challenge” (see separate story).

Other Bermuda participants in the event are Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy, the Walter Roban, Health Minister Zane DeSilva, former Premier Sir John Swan and HSBC Bermuda CEO Philip Butterfield.

“The Miami conference is particularly well timed given the strategic planning required on a number of Bermuda’s significant capital projects, as was done with the building of the new hospital,” Ms Cox said.

Mr DeSilva will participate in a panel discussion on health care infrastructure, in which one of the other panellists will be David Hill, CEO of Bermuda Hospitals Board.

Mr Butterfield will take part in a forum called “Structuring Sensible and Sound Financial and Credit Plan Support Supporting a Typical Infrastructure Project”.

Today’s discussion entitled “What Will It Take to Get Ready For the Future in PPP Infrastructure”, will feature a panel including Mr Roban and Belco CEO and Tourism Board deputy chairman Vincent Ingham.

Photo by Rodrigo Varela Meeting of minds: Premier Paula Cox (third from left) and former Premier Sir John Swan (far right) are pictured on a panel at KPMG's infrastructure conference in Miami yesterday. Also on the panel are Bahamas Finance Ministerb Zhivargo Laing; OB Sevinger, Minister of Integration, Infrastructure and Environment of Aruba; Nicholas Bliss, partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Nick Chism, partner and global head of infrastructure; and John Herhalt, partner and global head of infrastructure, KPMG.
Making her point: Premier Paula Cox

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Published September 23, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated September 23, 2011 at 9:50 am)

Swan sees opportunities for investors who ‘think globally and act locally’

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