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Overseas Territories director upbeat on Bermuda’s future

Bermuda needs to focus on its future in order to maintain its success, according to Director of the Overseas Territories Directorate (OTD) Colin Roberts.

Mr Roberts, who is meeting with Bermuda public figures this week as part of a whirlwind visit, said he believes Bermuda is in a good position to weather the economic storm.

“Although Bermuda faces the challenges of a small jurisdiction, and one who's range of economic activity is always going to be limited, there are also fantastic opportunities,” he said.

“It's good that people here are thinking about the future, where is Bermuda going to be? Where will it be earning its money in 20 years' time? Where are the fragilities there?

“We do think it's important that this sort of thinking is done so that Bermuda's future is as risk-managed as possible.”

The OTD, a section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), takes the lead in managing the UK's relationship with its overseas territories, including Bermuda, Anguilla, the Falkland Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Mr Roberts arrived on the Island on Wednesday, and is scheduled to speak with a number of public figures, including Premier Paula Cox, Opposition Leader Kim Swan and St George's Mayor Kenneth Bascome before leaving tonight.

“I felt it was important that I visited Bermuda and come to understand better how things are going here, what are the issues that people are thinking about,” he said.

“To a large extent, I'm here to hear, to listen to the things that people are thinking about. I haven't come with a bundle of things specifically to discuss.

“It won't surprise anyone to know that the issues that recur are the economy, what's happening in particular economic sectors, particularly financial services and tourism.”

He said that Government's efforts to sign tax agreements with numerous countries has put Bermuda in a good position for international business, and the fact that the OECD is holding its conference on the Island is a good sign for future business.

He said the British Government wants to build a strengthened bond with its territories, noting a statement made yesterday by Foreign Secretary William Hague, describing a vision of the territories as “vibrant and flourishing communities.”

“It's a very ambitious vision,” Mr Roberts said. “It is a much more positive vision than the previous administration. When they look at the territories, they see something which is of value and a part of the British family.

“There are some territories that are having real difficulties, Montserrat is being destroyed by volcanoes for example, and the Coalition Government plan to make real capital investments.

“In respects to Bermuda, Bermuda is in many ways the most successful of the overseas territories. It looks over its own affairs very satisfactorily. Its one of the wealthiest places in the world. It doesn't face many of the sorts of challenges that other territories do.”

Useful website: www.fco.gov.uk.

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Published March 11, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 11, 2011 at 8:59 am)

Overseas Territories director upbeat on Bermuda’s future

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