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Finance minister defends use of Kroll Bond Rating Agency

Curtis Dickinson, the Finance Minister, has dismissed criticisms from the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance of the use of the relatively new Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA).

Mr Dickinson said that Kroll was just one of the rating agencies that had recently provided encouraging news for Bermuda, speaking “favourably of the Government’s stewardship during these turbulent times”.

He seized on Moody’s Investor Services’ key conclusions in July and their indication “that Bermuda’s bonds are seen to be of good quality with a low credit or default risk”.

Moody’s affirmed Bermuda’s A2 issuer and senior unsecured bond ratings, along with a stable outlook.

The minister said that the most recent affirmation “indicated that Bermuda’s bonds are seen to be of good quality with a low credit or default risk.

“In the July 2021 annual credit analysis, it was noted that Bermuda’s ratings were underpinned by the country’s very high levels of wealth, strong institutions and regulatory framework and commitment to prudent fiscal policy.

“The stable outlook reflected their assessment of policymakers’ continued commitment to a prudent fiscal stance that will contribute to stabilising Bermuda’s debt burden in the next 2-3 years, following the significant economic shock experienced in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Mr Dickinson said that Moody’s cited the Government’s economic recovery plan and a number of other matters to show that it was on the right path.

He said: “In relation to the Government’s fiscal strength, the Moody’s analysis states, ‘The current Progressive Labour Party Government has maintained fiscal consolidation, which allowed Bermuda to keep debt metrics relatively stable.’

“The public should take note that this was accomplished despite significant economic contraction and higher crisis-related spending adding increased pressure on Bermuda’s debt burden.

“The report further emphasises that Bermuda’s debt burden continues to be in line with that of A-rated peers, and it is also expected that Bermuda’s fiscal performance will remain stronger than that of related peers.”

Mr Dickinson said that Kroll had followed up with equally high marks for aspects of the quality way Bermuda’s economy was being handled.

But if the OBA questioned the reasoning behind the use of the “11-year-new” Kroll rating agency, comparing it with its century-old and more widely known competitors. he defended use of the agency.

He pointed out:

• Kroll derives no compensation from the Government for the surveillance report on Bermuda

• Kroll approached the Government and offered the annual rating

• Kroll provides ratings for a number of Bermuda financial institutions

• Bermuda maintains its relationships with the other leading rating agencies

• They all view Bermuda highly and also see the upside of Bermuda’s fintech policies

The minister said: “Bermuda’s credit ratings are critical when it comes to our ability to borrow money at favourable rates and are also relevant to the companies who operate from and within Bermuda.

“They also are key to the continued strength and growth of our economy. Therefore, we will continue to do what is necessary, with the support of the people of Bermuda, to maintain and strengthen these ratings in a way that helps to secure a brighter, better tomorrow for all.”

Curtis Dickinson, the Finance Minister (File photograph)

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Published November 02, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated November 02, 2021 at 8:01 am)

Finance minister defends use of Kroll Bond Rating Agency

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