Nearly 900 special work visas granted
Government has seen a thousand applications from those who wish to take advantage of the “Work from Bermuda” initiative in its first year of offer, the finance minister Curtis Dickinson has said.
The Minister also signalled the success of another government initiative, the Economic Investment Certificate, offered to attract the world’s well-heeled to the island, with a $2.5-million investment ante and five year residency.
But the Minister had a message for the world’s most powerful countries during a wide-ranging discussion on the recent Bermuda Business Development Agency webinar, Bermuda Angle.
In the pivotal cabinet post for some 30 months now, Mr. Dickinson said the end result of a global tax effort was yet to be determined.
It involves a plan to impose a minimum effective global tax rate of at least 15 per cent on the earnings of major corporations.
The final deal being worked out by 20 countries, may have a deleterious effect on Bermuda’s international business, as large countries seek to claw more tax revenue out of their multinationals and other companies.
The Minister stated that the global plan was in a fairly early stage. He said: “We will continue our advocacy with respect to how we think this should be done so that it makes sense, without creating any undue harm.
“We appreciate the concern the leaders of G7 and G20 countries are trying to address, but we also ask that they be mindful of the potential impacts of their policy solutions on countries like Bermuda, who provide great value that is sometimes not fully understood in other parts of the world.”
The Work from Bermuda Initiative – allowing visitors a year-long, on-island work visa – was launched last August to take advantage of Bermuda’s low Covid numbers.
Minister Dickinson said: “The programme was very successful. I think there are approximately 1,000 applications and close to 890 approvals.
“And there are a number of persons who arrived last August for a one year stay who are exploring the opportunity to extend their stays beyond a year. The focus of the programme was one of safety, but also to try to encourage some degree of economic activity.
“The persons who come here, rent homes, they buy groceries, they work, and they go out to restaurants when restaurants are available. They try to enjoy themselves and...spread the good word about how beautiful Bermuda is, and how friendly the people here are.”
Asked how he would grade the island’s Covid response, he said: “I would grade us - and I am a bit biased because I am a part of the government - I think we would be deserving of an A-plus rating on handling the pandemic. And would also say that we have had to adapt and learn from this crisis.”
He said the government maintained policies that worked, modified those that didn’t, and adopted successful ideas from others.
“There is frustration around. I would call it Covid fatigue. Our people are just tired of having to deal with this. And I think the best way we can come to the other side of it is to follow the rules around the health guidance. Consult your doctor.
“Inasmuch as you decide to get vaccinated, get vaccinated.
“Follow the health measures around social distancing, and masking and hand hygiene.
“And I think that we will be in a better place six months from now, should we follow the rules.”
The Minister also said it was a combination of strategy and timing that allowed the government to borrow money inexpensively to help mitigate pandemic issues.
He said: “We were able to access the capital markets to raise $1.3 billion at the lowest rates Bermuda has ever achieved in history.
“That afforded us the ability to fund programmes that we needed to support those persons who could not work. It also allowed us to refinance our existing indebtedness at cheaper rates.
“We then worked on putting in place an economic advisory committee to work with the government to come up with strategies around getting the economy back up and running, once we passed through the worse phase of the pandemic.
“The economic advisory committee’s work resulted in the development of an economic recovery plan, which has about 31 initiatives in it for which the government is focused on implementing over the next two to three years.”