Sousa & DeSilva On Hearing On Port Royal Costs

April 29, 2016

“As a member of the PAC it was extremely disappointing to hear Opposition MP Zane DeSilva show no remorse or sense of wrongdoing in the Port Royal Golf Course redevelopment – a project that broke rules and went millions of dollars over budget,” MP Jeff Sousa said, while Mr DeSilva said he has “waited years to face his detractors” and the “OBA must be the only entity that came away from the PAC meeting thinking that they scored political points.”

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Public Accounts held a hearing earlier this week on matters relating to the Port Royal Golf Course renovation project, as highlighted in the ‘Special Report of the Auditor General on the Port Royal Golf Course Improvements Capital Development Project’ dated October 2014.

When the report was released in 2014, the Auditor General’s office said it “speaks of cost overruns, a lack of proper oversight and monitoring by the Government, loan financing authorized by the Minister of Finance without the approval of Parliament and a total disregard of established financial practices and controls for government expenditures – including the lack of tendering and conflicts of interest relating to Board members, one of whom was a Government Minister.”

The PAC members are Chairman David Burt [PLP], Wayne Furbert [PLP], Lovitta Foggo [PLP], Cole Simons [OBA], Susan Jackson [OBA], Glen Smith [OBA], and Jeff Sousa [OBA].

Mr DeSilva — who owns Island Construction which was involved in the Port Royal project — appeared before the Committee give testimony on the matter earlier this week.

Jeff Sousa’s Comments

Following the meeting, MP Jeff Sousa said, “As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, it was extremely disappointing to hear Opposition MP Zane DeSilva show no remorse or sense of wrongdoing in the Port Royal Golf Course redevelopment – a project that broke rules and went millions of dollars over budget.

“The Auditor General’s report into the project revealed a morass of unauthorized actions, conflicts of interest and disregard of Financial Instructions, including failures to tender and secure Cabinet approval where required.

“Instead of acknowledging the situation, Mr. DeSilva, who was a Government MP at the time of the project and a member of the Port Royal Board of Trustees, attacked the credibility of the Auditor General and her findings on the project that involved his firm, Island Construction Ltd.

“Mr. DeSilva had the gall to defend Port Royal’s Board payment of a $10,000 finder’s fee that ultimately went to a Board member as “not abnormal at all” — a statement that contradicted the Auditor General’s conclusion that the payment was “inappropriate behaviour… by any standards.”

“It is certainly against the spirit of public service not to use public appointments for personal benefit, and this must surely be one of the lessons we must abide if we are to move forward with care and respect for the public purse.

“I was disappointed with Mr. DeSilva’s testimony because its tenor left no room for acknowledging mistakes and wrongdoing that clearly infected the project, and which became the focus of the Auditor General’s Special Report,” concluded Mr Sousa.

Zane DeSilva’s Comments

In response, Mr DeSilva said, “The OBA must be the only entity that came away from the PAC meeting thinking that they scored political points or that I failed to answer questions or apologize.

“The truth is that it is the OBA who should apologize to the people of Bermuda for their unending campaign of nasty allegations, spurious innuendo and outright lies. Their campaign, which ramped up during the Brown administration, is based on repetitious untruths, none of which they have ever proven.

“I had waited for years for the opportunity to face my detractors in the flesh. I wanted to look them in the eye and try to ascertain the true source of their disturbing fixation on lies. They lied their way to an election victory in 2012 but the electorate have found them out. They will never win another election in Bermuda!”

The Auditor General’s Report on the Port Royal Golf Course follows below  [PDF here]:

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Comments (40)

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  1. Truthhertz says:

    Given the bold faced attacks on the AG spewed by Desilva yesterday I assume that Walton Brown will issue a press release defending Ms. Matthews and admonishing Desilva for his language.

    I mean he did so when an OBA member used the singular word ‘farce’ in relation the current Ombudsman.

  2. campervan. says:

    PLP.

    The Party that tried to intimidate and silence the Auditor General Larry Dennis.
    They arrested him, locked him out of his office, bullied him. Basically made a total mockery of democracy.
    Auditor Generals are” standing strong for Bermuda” and the people thank you.

  3. Coffee says:

    You mean to tell me that Jeff is still seething mad because he didn’t get the contract ? Let it go Jeff , you won’t get anything from the airport either , that’s all going to foreigners ,,, ask Bob , he’ll tell you !

    • Bobby Jones says:

      Anyone with any sense knows what Zane is like. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself and the $ he can make. Look back as to how he won his first seat in the election.

    • Anbu says:

      So no bermudian will be receiving a paycheck from work done on the airport then is what you are saying. Mercy the plp have got it easy when it comes to winning votes. U all cant really be that thick can u?

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      You’ve missed the issue, it isn’t that Jeff didn’t get the contract, it’s that no was offered to bid on the contract and that it was given to the company of one of the trustees… your hypocrisy on this is far too clear, because if Jeff had been a trustee and his company had been given the contract without bid, you’d be crying foul at the top of your lungs and calling for Bermudians to take to the streets. But because it was the PLP you have no problem with them costing taxpayers 10′s of millions that really could be used right now to fix issues at our schools that should have been dealt with 10 to 20 years ago

  4. Long Bay Trading Co. says:

    Thank you Mr. Sousa. A breath of sanity in an insane situation that continues to see little to no accountability for the missing millions.
    What an absolute disgrace Mr. DeSilva and his cohorts are. Shame and double shame on you all and the distress you have caused your fellow Bermudians.

  5. Cow Polly says:

    So what is the next step?
    Port Royal was only value for money for those who play golf and wanted to rub shoulders with Tiger Woods. For the rest of us, it was a total waste of money given that Mid Ocean would have been more than sufficient for the needs of the PGA.

  6. archy says:

    Looking at this rather puerile war of words, would it be nice if neither party ever won a general election again.

  7. Kevin says:

    Do the PAC committee act as independents or does Jeff Souza’s comments represent the committees view. And why no comment from David Burt or Wayne Furbert or do they approve of the shananagans that took place at Port Royal, I mean hell, he couldn’t wait to talk about the airport, but silence over Port Royal
    ” Wonder why “

  8. Its me again says:

    That report is licks…

  9. hmmm says:

    Zane said we got value for money…….I’m curious if the original 4million had instead turned into 6million or 60million would we have value for money?

    Peoples Campaign where the hell are you?????????????

  10. lalalalala says:

    So what Zane actually said was the Auditor’s report was a pack of lies?

    • Where did the money go! Look at those that are dealing with this investigation. The public accounts committee is charged with investigating this project, chaired by no-other than P.L.P M.P. David Burt. What a load of “crap”. Can you see P.L.P. M.P.Mr. Burt saying, “yes, there was corruption and disregard for the people’s monies?
      “We need a thorough investigation by a qualified fraud inspector/s and find out where our monies at Port Royal Golf Course went :-(

  11. Jackpot says:

    I think some of the projects that took place under the PLP were shady but at least things were getting done and Bermudians were working. Where are the projects under the OBA? Where are the jobs?!!!! This government can’t seem to get anything done. When they want to pass laws that upset the people, well that gets done in a hurry. Yes, do your investigation (although I think the police already did an investigation and found no wrongdoing) but get on with doing what you promised and putting Bermudians back to work! You are running out of time OBA…

    • archy says:

      so it’s OK to be shady as long as things get done? Sounds like the mafia, no?

      • Bob says:

        Sounds like politics in general .. Let’s not stop at the PLP – lets shine a bright light on the many dubious deals done during the UBP era …

        Skulduggery didnt begin under the PLP and given the suspect behaviour of the OBA we are sure to see this pattern of deceit be repeated …. Politicians seek power and access to money in most countries and Bermuda is of this world and not another world that we sing about…

    • Joonya says:

      classic example of small minded selfish thinking. congratulations

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      What alternative reality are you living in? PLP didn’t get Bermudians working. They allowed private businesses lay off Bermudians and give the jobs to expats. The only Bermudians that got work were in the civil services. OBA is now following suite. It’s all the same ish different day.

      I agree archy I would rather neither party be in.

      Every minister should be individually elected by the people and forget about parties. There should be less ministers also because they get paid too much to do so little.

    • orange says:

      That will be the Office of Project Management and Procurement delaying everything. It’s gone too far the other way.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Pink Beach, Morgan’s Point, America’s Cup, the prospect of new airport development, ever closer motions to a new hotel in St. G… all of these are slowly rebuilding the demand for employment in the trades industries that are still lagging. Course if you think that ‘shady’ works deals were OK, then you obviously feel that those $10′s of millions that they cost us wouldn’t have been better spent on fixing the crumbling education facilities… that those $10′s of millions wouldn’t be good to have right now, rather than billions in debt.

    • Cow Polly says:

      The only persons I know about who were employed at Port Royal after the project were from Guantanamo Bay. No exactly Bermudians eh?

    • Caitlyn says:

      Because of things like this there is NO money…

  12. Region1 says:

    As a contractor, Island Construction did what any contractor would do – they are there to make money. Correia Construction did the same at Heritage Wharf, LLC did the same at the new court building, name a construction project, the contractor is there to make money. Nothing wrong with that. They have quantity surveyors who look for holes in RFPs, which they take advantage of after they win the project.

    Setting aside the obvious conflict between a Government Minister and Island Construction, the issue here is not so much did Island Construction get paid too much, it’s who and why did the civil service allow them to do so? The internal checks and balances within the civil service, the Financial Instructions, were routinely ignored, as was the advice of the technical officers.

    The question should be then – who authorized the award of the contracts, and who authorized the subsequent additional payments?

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      It was intersting to hear Mr. DeSilva’s defence of being the sole sourced contractor for the work. I believe he stated that his company had been the contractor on every golf course renovation for the prior 20 years with the exception of Belmont… other than Belmont and Tucker Point, I can’t really think of any other major golf course renovations in the past 20 years… and I don’t think Tucker’s Point was a complete rework like Belmont was, and Belmont was the most recent. So by his own statement, there should have been at least one other company invited to review and tender for this project. He also said he recused himself of any meeting where his company was being discussed… but what about when they were deciding to do the renovation and that it should be sole sourced… was he not attending meetings? Additionally, as a government MP at the time, he was in a position to highlight that the course the board was taking violated financial instructions. He should have known, he was a member of government… why didn’t he speak up???

    • Hmmm says:

      I agree, every construction company is in business to make money. The difference is that as a Government Minister and on the Board of the Port Royal, Zane should have either resigned from the Board (and his Ministry) or not bid on the project. Conflict of Interest is a difficult thing to overcome. The fact that there was no oversight also comes down to Zane. As a Minister he should have been “protecting the peoples money” but it seems he was allowing it to be spent foolishly!!!!

      I believe “Conflict of Interest” is the tip of the iceburg, but actions leave nothing to the imagination.

  13. Jackpot says:

    Archy, you are missing the point. The only word that stuck for you was “shady”? The point is where are the jobs that the OBA promised? Why can’t things get done? Why is it taking so long for casinos to get going? People are struggling out here and need this government to make things happen. We may feel good if this new Commission found some wrongdoing and brought someone to justice but will that pay the bills for those who are out of work or put food on their tables. NO! Wait and see how much this Commission is going to cost. I would have preferred the government use that money to help families in need. But probably not you Archy.

  14. Wow says:

    Are we surprised? NO! Cannot wait to see where the rest of the millions went. Name, shame and blame.

  15. Joonya says:

    The arrogance and lack of accountability on Zane’s part is astounding!
    Let me tell you something mate, if I went to my boss at the IB company
    I work for and told him that I had overspent the budget by 600%, he would first laugh at me, then when he stopped laughing would swiftly hand me a piece of paper and escort me to the front door. Unreal!

  16. steve says:

    I saw the outcome of the first meeting and it became clear this will become or is…a waste of time. I find it disgusting. You question a man on a golf course and he wants to talk about the airport and AC,plantation questions? Hey Desilva if you were chomping at the bit to look your detractors in the eye, then stick to the topic and defend yourself and let the truth flow for all to see!Are you not pleased the AG attempted to put together a thorough(but never perfect) report?Are you not pleased that someone or anyone is actually making steps to call people to account?now and in the future? I personally dont care if you made a healthy margin on the project however I can see that you have no interest in properly addressing questions from this group. How is that helping your country? Do your constituents want you to answer pac honestly ?Have you asked them? I guess not.

  17. Rene Clarke says:

    See Good Governance Act 2011 it is an offense to not follow Financial Instructions. I hope this matter is being investigated properly.

  18. just saying says:

    hey zane did we get get good value for dollar in dockyard for the megaship peirs?
    I don’t think so!!

    • Anthony Fubler says:

      I’d like to read there findings on this situation, to see the nuts and bolts of this contract, I don’t agree with no finders fee I’m plp all the way but right is right, and I would like to hear from our members, too silent, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • Anthony Fubler says:

      We would have been in bad bad shape if the vision of the plp did build the docks, money well spent, especially knowing this dock paid for itself in a short time we need more of this, my hats of to the Americas cup vision, now let us maximize it for all, as the dock was and is for all of Bermudians.

      • Maybe so, the docks are being paid off in a short time but that has NOTHING to do with the Progressive Labour Party. It has been done under One Bermuda Alliance leadership of Bermuda :-(

  19. Grizz says:

    And yet our Airport is about to be given away basically! Keep worrying about the past; THE FUTURE SHOULD BE SCARING THE CRAP OUTTA YOU! While people are being DISTRACTED with the past; OUR future is being SNATCHED away. And before the naysayers start with their nonsense; No, I am not saying people shouldn’t be held accountable but y’all better pay attention to what’s going on NOW!

    • Hmmm says:

      Given away is a little Harsh… Basically instead of paying 200+ million (I shutter to think how much if Zane was involved)to replaced the aging airport the OBA are getting it built for us. Yes we will lose some revenue BUT we have no capital outlay. Looking at the choices (having Zane or Dennis build it)I think the deal with the Canadian company is by far the best deal for Bermuda as a whole.

      Having done some work in the Airport (some years ago) I can say I’m surprised the existing building is still standing. It’s well past its “sell by date”!

  20. Navin Pooty Tang Johnson says:

    anyone ask Zane where the sand came from