London call: The Premier chats with Bermudian student Luisa Olander during a weekend networking event.    *Photo courtesy of DCI
London call: The Premier chats with Bermudian student Luisa Olander during a weekend networking event. *Photo courtesy of DCI

Government plans to expand Bermuda’s London Office, Premier Craig Cannonier has announced.

At a packed networking event at London’s Intercontinental-Westminster hotel on Saturday evening, the Premier sought to reassure UK-based Bermudians that his administration was moving quickly to respond to the needs of Bermudians in Bermuda and abroad.

But his announcement that the London office is to be expanded raised some eyebrows.

“Last time I checked, we’re broke. And now you’re talking about adding to the team,” said Kevin Dallas, an executive with payments processor World Pay. “The Bermuda Government London Office has a website that hasn’t had a press release on it for a couple of years. What does the London Office actually do?”

Mr Cannonier responded by acknowledging that the country is broke but said the island could only succeed with investment.

“It is important that we get out there face to face and tell our story about this wonderful place we call Bermuda — that it is the world leader in asset management, reinsurance, captive insurance. That’s the compelling story that we have now to address — investment coming into the island.”

He said: “You have to spend in order to gain.”

‘Frightening’

Mr Dallas said later that the Premier’s response was “completely unsatisfactory... I fully believe that they do important work but what is that work and how do we actually measure it? I find it a little bit frightening that we are talking about expanding the London Office without having answered the former question about what’s it done so far... Cocktail parties are definitely not enough. If we are paying five people to organize Bermuda Government in London once a year, something is very [wrong]. How many of Bermuda’s new business incorporations are related to the London Office? What specific threats to our regulatory environment have we headed off through the London Office? And how? No one has answered that. And suddenly, we want to hire more people? In an environment when we need to shut Government down? It’s bizarre.”

Government spends about $ 1 million annually on the London Office which is manned by three full time staffers.

We reached out to the Premier for details about the expansion but heard nothing back by press time.

Another Bermudian told the Premier that government should change employment legislation to eradicate discrimination against Bermudians in the local job market.

"The previous Government and this government still allow criteria in every single job description which makes it impossible for people like us to go back to Bermuda and get into these jobs. You need ten or 15 years experience and its widely known in that community that those job descriptions are written for the benefit of bringing specific people in from overseas," he said.

The Premier agreed that Bermuda had “not done right by our Bermudians” but said his administration was taking action to stop employer violations of immigration policy.

“We were the first ones in a long time for years to take to task a hotelier who did just that. We took them and we fined them. You haven’t heard that for a long time — years in fact. We fined them because of that very fact that we knew there were Bermudians that they could have hired and they didn’t.” 


Ayo Johnson
, of ThinkMedia, can be reached via email: ayojohnson@gmail.com