Bermuda’s public sector represents a relatively small percentage of GDP compared to the major developed economies.
Total current account spending as a proportion of nominal GDP in 2012 was 19.5%, with capital expenditure of $59.5 million, or 1.1% of nominal GDP. Before the global economic and financial crisis in 2008
and 2009, the Government’s economic planning and budgetary measures helped the economy grow at an acceptable rate. Public debt was kept within the limits set by law and the Government’s stated policy. Subsequent to the
financial crisis, net Government debt has increased and stood at $1.5 billion at the end of the 2012/2013 fiscal year.
Bermuda is not unique in facing the economic challenges resulting from the global crisis. The former administration’s policy response during this difficult and challenging period was to protect vital sectors of the
economy through tax concessions and relief, which was financed by borrowing. The former administration also tried to maintain the focus on sound social policy and programs and strived to preserve key delivery of Government services. The current administration considers the rise in debt as unsustainable and recognizes that it will take time and changes in policy to actually begin paying down the debt. Meanwhile, the Government will focus on growing
the economy coupled with continuous cost containment to reduce the debt to more manageable levels.
On February 22, 2013, the Government amended the Government Loans Act 1978 to increase Bermuda’s legal limit for loans (net of the Sinking Fund balance) from $1.45 billion to $2.5 billion. At March 31, 2013, the Government had total debt outstanding of $1.57 billion. The amount of total debt does not include the following obligations:
(i) a guarantee by the Government of
the Bermuda Hospital Board’s payment obligations related to the repayment of construction financing for the King Edward Memorial Hospital, estimated at $260 million over a term of 30 years;
(ii) the guarantee by the Government
in respect of $200 million in aggregate liquidation preference of preference shares issued on June 12, 2009 by the Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited, which guarantee is for a period of ten years from the date of the issuance of the preference shares;
(iii) various other construction and education guarantees totaling $66.9 million. Further, this amount of total debt also does not reflect the estimated Sinking Fund balance of $97.1 million at March 31,