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No longer ‘the place’ to reside

Dear Sir,

Compliments on your recent editorial of February 9, except I would entitle it “Without new remedies, no new money” because that is the bottom-line point.

Your editorial well states the egregiously negative impact of the work permit rules, the residency regulations and the denial of citizenship to long-term contributors to Bermuda, but I fear that many of your readers will still not see the problem.

Bermuda's restrictions have run many businesses off the island, as you state, eliminating thousands of jobs for locals, and those businesses will never return. Other, new businesses may come, but only if Bermuda's restrictions were removed.

Your article fails to note another very serious, related problem.

It isn't only jobs for foreign companies that have been lost. There is another kind of “employer” here: wealthy foreigners who own homes here, many of whom spend seven figures a year on the island — as the undersigned has been doing for almost three decades — on home maintenance, improvements, import taxes, land taxes and on purchases at local stores. The list goes on.

There are several hundred such wealthy foreigners with homes here, and there could be many more if the Bermuda restrictions were removed. When we first moved here, in the 1980s, Bermuda was the destination resort for second homes for many North Americans, such as us, and there was a steady stream of new money coming to the island.

Over the years since, as Bermuda's restrictions have become worse and worse, the stream of new money has shrunk to a trickle, and, now, to zero. Just ask any realtor about the sales of high-end realty (over $10 million): there have been virtually no sales, annually, for many years, and there are virtually no renters for such homes, either. Bermuda is no longer “the place” to reside.

Who cares? Every contractor, subcontractor and workman who make a living servicing those homes, and those employed making deliveries to those homes, and the merchants who sell to those homeowners and their wealthy, ubiquitous house guests. These wealthy foreigners and their guests are not buying T-shirts; they are buying the high-end merchandise and the best of everything on the island — from sound systems to TVs to air-conditioning systems, security systems, landscaping, you name it.

Millions and millions are poured into Bermuda's economy by these wealthy foreigners annually, but less and less and less because the spigot of new money was long ago cut off. The word is out: Bermuda is no longer “the place” to relocate.

Bermuda and Bermudians attracted new money for decades because of Bermuda's scenery, beaches, climate, location and welcoming attitudes, but no more.

The undersigned speculates that he and his family have spent some $25 million — not counting the cost of real estate — over the years in Bermuda on everything from services to taxes to charities and to parties entertaining locals. Bermuda needs “donors” such as that; it needs new money, period.

Your editorial rightly begs for new remedies. We would simply add the reason: new remedies will produce new money from new residents — corporate and individual alike.

We hope that some of the locals will finally realise that Bermuda is too small to generate the money that it needs for its locals from its locals. The locals simply don't have enough money to sustain the relatively speaking lavish lifestyles of the average Bermudian. If Bermuda wants to sustain anything like its “highest per capita” incomes that it has boasted for aeons, it will need to do as your editorial suggests.

The world has moved on, leaving Bermuda behind. The locals don't get it, yet. Hopefully, they will before its income standards fall in line with those in the drug-driven Caribbean.

So, we agree. Bermuda desperately needs new remedies, which will attract wealthy foreigners with new money.

THIRTY-YEAR BERMUDA RESIDENTS

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Published February 15, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated February 15, 2016 at 8:10 am)

No longer ‘the place’ to reside

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