Our Island has a history of rebuilding itself
19 March 2014
This is a follow on to the debate on recent legislation where Dr Grant Gibbons proposes to allow International Business to purchase high-end residential and commercial properties. In my view it is an understandable step to create some movement or liquidity in certain sectors.
However, with the nervousness that some people feel about Bermuda's economic future, it may also create an opportunity for capital flight. I know we shouldn't look at the potential negatives of every proposal without also weighing the possible benefits.
Bermuda has a history and legacy of rebuilding itself through various epochs when the country was facing economically destitution.
From our early 18th century maritime years with our failing agriculture we sold our cedar-made ships that became popular for their longevity and speed from buoyancy, moving along up through the years to the development of the forts and the scandalous amounts spent on Dockyard.
Tucker's Town, the naval bases, the Bank of Bermuda, all in a measure was an exercise of trading our assets to gain currency, so it's not a new phenomenon, it's a characteristic of our economy that we can anticipate from time to time.
Aside from growth, what is also characteristic is the disproportion which time has not healed but with each step justifies another setback. The people of Tucker's Town know all too well the poverty they and the Island faced at that time.
There was no money around until the windfall began and over the decades billions of dollar values began to pour in and benefited the Island as a whole, but for those who made the sacrifice, to date, no measure of conciliation has been derived that matched the pain of exodus for the descendants of Captain John Smith and their very historic and inherited 140 acres of land.
In Canada the commercial property tax in many cases is about 800 percent higher than residential tax. Now that we are entering the arena of commerce owning property we need to reconsider progressively the tax on commercial buildings and owning.
With regards the dispossessed, forcibly disentitled descendants of Captain John Smith, they should receive a royalty as was the case with all the British Empire where we have paid royalties and in return we have deeds and trade and commerce over former Crown lands.
Similarly the Hon Dr Grant Gibbons in his tooling of legislation must craft a component that reaches down and nourishes the ground upon which the new commercial opportunity will thrive. A small royalty as an added commitment would go a long ways in ameliorating history.