When the press release first came out yesterday, you can’t blame most people for thinking it was an April 1st prank.
We should all thank long-time insurance leader Don Kramer for pulling together a bipartisan group called Bermuda First, co-chaired with the Premier and Opposition Leader, to brainstorm ideas for Bermuda’s future.
The effort will be led by a 17-member steering committee, supported by a 68-member advisory committee encompassing the PLP, the UBP, and the private sector, as well as representatives from diverse areas of expertise including organized labour, education and employer groups. They will be facilitated by the giant strategic consulting firm McKinsey & Company. A report will be produced by end of May of this year, and will eventually be made public.
The costly project will largely be funded by the private sector. The cynic in me says that this is a frank admission that our political class have no clue what to do – beyond the daily cut and thrust of partisan politics – in terms of managing Bermuda’s economy. The optimist in me says that this is the best thing that can happen to Bermuda, pulling both sides of our political divide together, and bringing our business community (who are largely excluded from political dialogue) to the table.
Mr. Kramer says:
“We expect that the intensive research to be undertaken by McKinsey will reveal some counter intuitive findings about our economy as well as several strategies for dealing with the impending global economic storm.”
Some of the subjects identified by Mr. Kramer are:
- US and European hostility to tax havens
- The decline in tourism
- The forecast decline in construction
- High housing costs
We must hope that McKinsey will act as impartial analysts breaking through all the clutter of spin, idealogy, and tradition that hampers the good management of Bermuda’s economy. Some have argued that most of the advisory groups working with Government so far have been overly “handpicked”, creating an echo chamber of what their organisers wish to hear.
Many of the albatrosses of Bermuda political debate will surely be brought to the table … such as tax, term limits, and status. The question then is, will the subjects that are politically unpalatable be addressed sensibly by our leadership?