News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – The Financial Policy Council (FPC) held its fourteenth meeting on 23 July 2020 via teleconference. All members were able to participate on the call.
The focus of the meeting was a discussion of Bermuda’s economic recovery strategy to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It involved a continuation of an on-going dialogue that began during a special FPC teleconference held on 10 April.
FPC members expressed their support to the sustained efforts made by the Government in relation to containing the public health impact of the pandemic as well as ensuring emergency financial support to those in need of it. Members also supported the swift action taken by the Bermuda government to address the extraordinary financial needs generated by the fiscal imbalances caused by COVID-19. In this respect, Members commended the Government for proactively engaging the international capital markets to not only fund fiscal deficits but also re-finance stocks of existing debt falling due in the short and medium terms. In this respect, Members considered the recent debt raising ceiling from $2.9bn to $3.5bn to be a wise decision.
FPC members discussed a range of strategic matters critical to ensure Bermuda’s economic recovery, and to underpin servicing of the inevitable increase in debt, and highlighted that a comprehensive Economic Recovery Plan should be put in place as a matter of urgency. This would need broad political and societal support as well as appropriate implementation resources. The discussion covered concrete areas of the economy which would need to be part of this plan, and which were deemed best placed to drive the recovery.
In relation to concrete areas of the economy on which to focus recovery efforts, FPC members highlighted the many strengths which Bermuda could draw on, both in the hospitality and tourism sector which is likely to require some reinvention, and in building on the strengths of acting as an innovative and well-regulated international financial centre.
Importantly Members urged the Government to also consider critical factors that enable -or hinder- economic growth, such as immigration. Members acknowledged that Bermuda’s economy had been suffering from over a decade of anaemic performance before the Covid-19 outbreak and that the pandemic offered a unique opportunity to escape this by undertaking a bold reform agenda.
In relation to building the necessary political and societal support, FPC members recommended that the economic recovery strategy should be inclusive and should consider in a sense of partnership the broadest possible range of stakeholders. Further, in order to ensure the effective implementation of economic recovery measures FPC members recommended that the government should give full consideration to the need for appropriate resources to be allocated to all aspects of the initiative, with a robust and comprehensive project management approach to managing the recovery.
In addition to the discussion on economic recovery, the following topics were addressed:
– Recent developments with respect to Bermuda’s engagement in tax related initiatives underway at the OECD and the European Union
– Recent work underway at the Bermuda Government and the BMA in respect to continuing with the development of a recovery and resolution framework for Bermuda banks
– Work underway at the BMA on the impact of COVID-19 on cyber risk management and underwriting in the international insurance sector
– Progress with respect to the development of Bermuda as a competitive, responsively-regulated, FinTech jurisdiction
The next formal meeting of the FPC is scheduled for December 2020.
Notes to editors
The Council is an advisory body supported by the Ministry of Finance and the BMA. FPC’s role is to assess possible threats to Bermuda’s financial stability, and to identify policies and actions to mitigate or eliminate such threats. It also advises the Government on the development of the financial stability framework in Bermuda, and makes policy recommendations designed to support the general economic and financial well-being of the country.
Members of the Council are: the Minister of Finance (chair), Sir Andrew Large (deputy chair), Michael Butt, Jeremy Cox, Dame Amelia Fawcett, Gil Tucker and DeLisle Worrell. Sir Andrew is a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, and now an advisor to central banks and governments. Michael Butt has had a distinguished insurance career, including in the Bermuda-based global insurer AXIS Capital. Jeremy Cox is the Executive Chair of the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Dame Amelia Fawcett has over 30 years of experience in the banking industry and has been Chair of Kinnevik AB since 2018, Chair of the Standards Board for Alternative Investments since 2011 and is the Lead Independent Director for State Street Corporation. Gil Tucker is a chartered accountant who worked at accounting firm Ernst & Young for 35 years, latterly as Bermuda Managing Partner and is currently on the Board of HSBC Bermuda. Dr DeLisle Worrell is a former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, and now a member of the Bretton Woods Committee. Dr Worrell also worked with the International Monetary Fund, focusing on monetary policy, financial stability and stress testing.
The Council has been established under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Finance and the BMA, signed by the Minister of Finance and the CEO of the BMA in August 2015.