New year’s resolutions for our government

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  • Escalating debt: it's time for our government to explain how it's going to deal with this ball-and-chain burden

    Escalating debt: it's time for our government to explain how it's going to deal with this ball-and-chain burden


New Year is fast approaching, now almost 20 years into the new millennium. It’s once again a time to reflect, to put aside the past year’s less-than-positive outcomes in your work, relationships, health, and philosophies. Whether you defined these as mere blips on the radar of life or utter failures, they are over, gone, never to be thought of again.

It is time to look forward to, motivate and plan for continued successes for yourself, your family and your community.

But, whether you do or not, you’ll be doing your best to bring fresh perspectives to your life, making changes as necessary to stay on track with your financial plans, and career goals.

It is time for change. Change is inevitable. Change is the one thing in our life that is a constant. Embrace change, or be left behind.

Government’s new year’s resolutions

You, individually, may consider making another new year’s resolution to provide additional incentives for this planned focus to your life.

And if you can make some personal resolutions, so can the Bermuda Government for all of us. Let’s make one for them, shall we?

The third Fiscal Responsibility Panel report was presented to the Government on December 21, 2017.

The panel provides Bermuda’s Parliament, the Minister of Finance and the Financial Policy Council with an annually published assessment of the island’s fiscal strategy, focusing on progress in meeting the Government’s medium-term objectives for public spending, taxation, borrowing and debt reduction.

Using the Swot (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) mantra in reviewing this detailed no-holds-barred report, there are many items for focused changes.

Here are the most important four, in my opinion.

1. Balance the budget

A little known fact. The Bermuda Government budget has not been balanced for more than ten years — the last time in 2007. The late Larry Burchall’s (he is so missed) astute assessment of August 29, 2012, “Harsh truths about our national finances” states that “for 40 years — more than a generation — from 1968 to March 31, 2007, the Bermuda Government had always ended every Financial Year with ‘cash-in-the-bank’.

“Under the seventh Minister of Finance, the Government actually ran out of cash. From March 31, 2008 until now, the Bermuda Government has been cash-strapped and dependent on bank overdrafts.” ( https://goo.gl/pqrHXu )

Unfortunately, there is government budget performance slippage again with the goal of a balanced budget pushed forward to fiscal year 2019/2020. Don’t you think it is time we get our house in order?

2. State the concrete plans for reducing our ball-and-chain debt principal. It’s not just about renegotiating interest rates. Recently, the Government again just borrowed overdraft money from a now foreign-owned “local” bank.

3. Pass the 2018 CFATF compliance assessment. The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s assessment of Bermuda’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing measures.

4. Sort out the immigration morass. We can’t make economic progress in the workforce if our residents don’t know where they belong.

Enough said.

Thank you, readers!

A great big thank you to the many readers who took precious time to write to me this year with questions, topics of interest, commentary, compliments, critiques, and research/reference sources. I am so appreciative of all your efforts. You readers are the reason I continue to write on local finance.

Please continue to contact me with any items of interest, or help on specific topics. I am always happy to answer your queries, in general, as well as referring you for specialist help of your choice for personalised individual problem advice.

These are just some of the topics of interest scheduled for Moneywise commentary for the Year of our Lord, 2018.

• The third Fiscal Responsibility Panel report.

• The statements of the Bermuda Government Consolidated Fund for the year ending March 2017, tabled in the Parliament on Friday, December 8, 2017, showed net debt had increased by $243 million in the past fiscal year. When will that report be released, by the way?

• Analysis of the budget for 2018/2019 as yet to be released.

• The report of the CFATF assessment of Bermuda’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing measures.

Additionally, some of many information requests from readers:

• Family emigration from Bermuda to elsewhere.

• Retirement planning and relocation to Canada, the US and the UK.

• How to find out whether you have rights to foreign pensions.

• What happens if a government defaults on its debt?

• Review of the Bermuda retirement pension structures and recommendations for changes.

• Insurance, why do you need it?

• Estate planning and the probate process.

• Why won’t our banks pay higher deposit rates?

• The consequences of divorce in Bermuda.

• Multinational individuals, families, and ownership of small businesses that are resident in Bermuda. The complex planning and traps in abundance that are necessary for international tax compliance. Ignore these personal profile circumstances at your financial peril.

• Technology, technological skills and assessments. Blockchain, digital currency, trained bots, smart computers, escalating hacker and coder threats, co-option of personal freedoms, privacy and other invasion threats.

The Bloomberg headlines of February 27, 2017: “JP Morgan software does in seconds what took lawyers 360,000 hours”, by Hugh Son, is a perfect example of workplace threats and opportunities in the future. https://goo.gl/7RwMuW. Are we ready for these changes?

Change is the one thing in our life that is a constant.

Embrace change, or be left behind.

Keep writing to me with your questions. I welcome them all, and will respond personally, or with a composite case article (to protect all confidential information).

Happy new year and may the force be with you.

The very best wishes for you, dear readers, and continued personal financial success in 2018.

Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders with multinational families and international connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com

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Published Dec 30, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 29, 2017 at 11:41 pm)

New year’s resolutions for our government

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