The Chamber of Commerce president Ronnie Viera has backed Government’s vigorous defence of Bermuda’s international reputation during the Premier’s visit to London ahead of the G8 meeting.

The Chamber of Commerce president Ronnie Viera has backed Government’s defence of Bermuda’s international reputation during the Premier’s visit to London ahead of the G8 meeting.

Premier Craig Cannonier refused to bow to pressure from the UK to sign up to an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/EU tax information exchange convention at a meeting of British territories.

And he and the Finance Minister Bob Richards both spoke of their dismay at the “misunderstanding” in the UK of Bermuda's business model, with many lumping the island in with other jurisdictions with secrecy laws.

Mr Viera said in a press release: “The Chamber of Commerce fully supports recent action by the Government to defend the Island’s international reputation in the lead up to the recently concluded G8 summit and the announcement yesterday regarding pro-active steps to minimize interest costs in its efforts to address Bermuda’s on going deficit funding and national debt.

“In our view, Minister of Finance Bob Richards has tackled two key — but very difficult — issues over the past week, both necessary to maintain the Island’s economy.

“The Minister has begun the process of refuting the impression that Bermuda is a tax haven, and educating the international community with the facts and the true nature of the Bermuda economy, which is essential to maintaining our international business industry and reputation in general.

“He has also embarked on a holistic plan to address the national debt – one of our most pressing problems – and to provide local investors with an opportunity to invest in Bermuda.

“While the Chamber remains concerned about the on-going need to borrow to fund operating account deficits and the level of the national debt, we do support the Minister’s approach of a more proactive debt financing model and agree with the steps taken to minimise borrowing costs.

“The Chamber’s Economics Advisory Committee produced a study on debt restructuring more than a year ago, which was submitted to the then-Government and again to the current Government. The paper, primarily written by the late Kirby Brackstone, called for a proactive and holistic plan for borrowing and the inclusion of a Bermuda dollar denominated bond issue.

We are pleased to see elements of this plan are being adopted.”