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Latest events and what to look out for
by Jonathan Kent

A summary of important developments for the business community in recent months
and what to look out for in the coming weeks:

  • Restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 were stepped up in December as the positive test count rose. The Government ordered bars and nightclubs to close all indoor facilities, while businesses of all kinds had to close their doors by 10pm. Bar workers were offered unemployment benefits to soften the blow, while the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation offered emergency grants of between $5,000 and $7,000 to bars, clubs and restaurants. On January 21, bars and nightclubs were allowed to reopen with table service only.
  • A rare positive spin-of effect of the pandemic became clear with a 9.1 per cent year-over-year spike in retail sales volumes for August, following a smaller increase in July. A major driver of the increase was that many of those who would normally have travelled for the summer holidays stayed and spent at home. Whether the same trend applied during retail’s all-important Christmas holiday period will be revealed in the coming months’ data releases.
  • New re/insurance ventures, inspired by the hardest market in nearly 20 years, began to set up operations on island late last year, including Vantage, a $1 billion start-up led by industry veterans Greg Hendrick and Dinos Iordanou. Expect more throughout the first quarter, with companies such as Conduit Re, whose parent company raised $1.1 billion in a share offering on the London Stock Exchange, among them.
  • On February 26, all business-community eyes will be on Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, when he delivers the national budget plan for 2021-22. While the pandemic has resulted in an increase in government indebtedness, Mr Dickinson has promised not to raise the tax burden on the community.

    Curtis Dickinson Minister of Finance. Photo by Blaire Simmons
  • A shake-up for the tax system is on the horizon, after the legislature passed the Tax Reform Commission Amendment Act 2020, enabling the finance minister to set up the commission. David Burt, the Premier, said proposals were likely to include a tax on rental income, as the Government seeks to overhaul a system that perpetuates. None of the tax changes will take effect until the 2022-23 Budget.
  • Larry Ellison’s SailGP will make the island its first stop this year in the SailGP Bermuda Grand Prix presented by the Hamilton Princess with races on April 24 and 25, pandemic conditions permitting. The event will bring something of an economic boost, with the eight international teams flying in with their entourages and staying for a four-week training camp ahead of the event, and opportunities for entrepreneurs to do business on the back of the event as they did the America’s Cup in 2017.

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