Column: Airport Is A ‘Bad Deal For Bermuda’

September 30, 2016

[Opinion column written by Shadow Finance Minister David Burt]

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the biggest threat to the future prospects of the way of life we enjoy in Bermuda today is the problem of the Government deficit and public debt.” Bob Richards – 2016 Budget Statement

Minister Bob Richards is on record stating that the biggest issue we have to confront as a country is the country’s deficit. We in the Progressive Labour Party agree that we must get our budget deficit under control. This can only be achieved by ceasing to spend more than what we earn.

With that stated, it boggles the mind that the Minister of Finance, who claims to be committed to deficit reduction, and the OBA, who were elected with promises of balancing the budget, continue to press ahead with the untendered privatisation of our airport.

David Burt Bermuda September 27 2016

The OBA’s 30-year privatisation of our airport to Canadian company Aecon, who will earn a taxpayer guaranteed return of 16%, will add at least $33 million to our annual budget deficit. Over 30 years, this means an additional $990 million of debt will be added to our already $2.4 billion national debt. If inflation were considered, this number would easily exceed $1 billion of additional debt.

I will break down the numbers as it is important that the taxpayers of Bermuda understand exactly what Minister Richards will ask Parliament to approve this November.

The LF Wade International Airport currently [2016/17 budget] earns $37.2 million a year in revenue, while expenses are only $20 million a year. This results in a $17.2 million surplus annually. That’s right – our airport, as old as it is, turns a healthy profit.

However, under the current agreement that the OBA has signed, Aecon will get all of the $37.2 million in revenue, but will only assume $11 million of expenses. Taxpayers will still be responsible for $9 million of current airport expenses annually. This means that instead of making a $17.2 million a year cash surplus on the airport, we will be incurring a $9.8 million cash deficit, meaning that the net impact on the government’s consolidated fund will be a deficit $26.3 million a year.

This $26.3 million annual hole in our budget does not take into account the estimated $107 million of taxpayer-funded electricity over 30 years. It also doesn’t take into account the exemption that Aecon has been granted from payroll taxes, customs duties and work permit fees.

Further taxpayers will incur $3.6 million in additional annual expenses for the proposed new Airport Quango. This means that the Minister of Finance, who has done his best to convince voters that he is a sound steward of the public purse, will ask MPs to approve a contract that will increase our annual budget deficit by at least $32.6 million a year.

Current Profit vs Future Expenses Bermuda September 2016

These facts paint a different picture than what the Minister said last year about the airport:

“The net effect on the consolidated fund is minimal.” – March 31, 2015

I am sure that the taxpayers of Bermuda will agree with me that $33 million a year is not minimal. $33 million is more than the Government spends annually on tourism. It is larger than the budget of 5 of the 12 cabinet departments listed in this year’s Budget Statement.

The Minister of Finance has repeatedly said that Aecon will also assume the expenses of the airport; however, as the figures above show, they will only assume half of the expenses. The rest of the expenses will be the responsibility of Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer. That $33 million will have to be found somewhere, and the only way it will be found is from increased taxes, cuts to government services, or additional borrowing – all of which can have a negative economic impact on Bermuda.

As taxpayers read this – and scratch their heads in disbelief – we must ask ourselves why Minister Richards is so committed to this project. Why would he press ahead with a project that will increase our deficit, requiring us to borrow more money and thus increase our national debt? What possible motivation could the Minister of Finance have to push through a deal that makes our financial position as a country worse?

One answer could be that the OBA are looking for a short-term boost in employment in advance of an election; however, we must ask at what cost? Is $33 million of extra money borrowed each year for the next 30 years, which will increase our debt by at least $990 million, worth three years of jobs? Is it right to pass this $990 million of debt onto future generations? Should we be handing over our airport to a Canadian company that will earn a guaranteed return of 16% while we struggle to maintain our schools and bridges?

We need to do something about our current airport. The PLP has put forward a less expensive and fiscally responsible plan that extends the useful life of our existing structure, creating immediate jobs that can be filled by Bermudians, while keeping airport profits here in Bermuda which will assist us in getting our fiscal house in order.

Minister Richards’ airport privatisation is a bad deal for Bermuda and will compound our financial problems. We implore all taxpayers to contact their OBA MP and tell them to vote no on this deal that will grant a taxpayer guaranteed return of 16% to a Canadian company while saddling our kids with at least $990 million of extra debt.

- David Burt


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  1. Kangoocar says:

    Burt/plp spreading absolute falsehoods is the real ” bad deal ” for Bermuda, Burt please sit down, be quite and let Bermuda move forward, your party has done enough fiscal damage to last us all a life time, thank you!

    • Curious Mind says:

      OK Paid blogger – so you don’t agree with the numbers?

      • lalal says:

        I don’t agree either…. there is far more to it than a 4 line chart… However, Burt is pulling his normal BS… People will believe me if I talk enough!!

        • FYI says:

          Common sense tells me that no foreign company would be interested in investing in Bermuda’s airport if a profit for their purse was not going to be made. In my opinion, the OBA is simply giving Bermuda away to foreign investors at the expense of Bermudians.
          Regardless if the figures are slightly off a bit, at the end of the day this Canadian company is in the deal to make money, AND THAT MONEY SHOULD BE MADE BY BERMUDA FOR BERMUDA.

          • Build a Better Bermuda says:

            Except there isn’t a local entity on this island I would trust to build a new airport, nor is there a local entity set up to be able to finance a new airport. Locals can’t even build a school or office building/court house on budget, how do you think I’d go with something as complex as a modern airport facility. This thing has to be built to stringent international guideline in order to meet the required acceptability to handle international air traffic, know anybody on island that has that experience or money to finance it??? There will be plenty of money to be made by local companies that can perform what needs to be done by them, but in the end we need a foriegn entity with the experience to manage and finance this project.

          • Spit Bouy says:


            So would you want to build any airport and lose money?. Judging by the previous govts numerous capitol project blunders the only ones happy to pay over the top for or lose money on these projects are PLP supporters, those that don’t care and imbeciles, which one are you?.

            So how many Bermudians made money from the numerous projects that the PLP overspent on, did you? Lol

      • Crickets says:

        Based on what the Commission is reporting, no we can not trust the PLPs numbers.

        • Ringmaster says:

          With the information being made public in the Commission of Inquiry, no wonder the PLP thinks the OBA must be up to the same tricks.

          Regarding the “Burt numbers”, the glaring omission is the cost to continue with the existing structure. It needs to be modified, upgraded and maintained. That is not free. Let’s say it takes $100m. That will have to be borrowed, and paid back with interest. Then Bermuda still has the cost of running the airport. All these costs, and revenue, need to be in Column 3, but Mr. Burt has cleverly ignored them to maintain this deal is bad for Bermuda.

          How about some honesty and transparency?

    • already? says:

      When will the older generation grow out of the past and let the younger generation have something we will be proud of? The older generation is the one making the most noise about this. As a young Bermudian I’m happy to see changes to our island which WILL benefit us and future generations to come. Its time move forward and not backwards which seems to be the thing nowadays.

      • Terry says:

        Define what you talk about

      • FYI says:

        Hey Youngin, with age comes experience and wisdom. 1+1 is Always 2 and -2 + (-2) is Always -4. With this said a company will only invest in BDA if their going to make a profit.
        I would appreciate that you as a young Bermudian would be a visionary called to action to create the Bermuda you can be proud of. Wake up youngin, pretty soon you will be a 2nd class citizen in your own country.

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          The only Bermudians that will find themslelves behind are the ones who think they should be in front, just because they are Bermudians. In order for us to control our destiny as a country, we must recognize what makes this country successful and train ourselves to it, to manage it, that means we can’t think like labour and have to think like business. Only then will we be able to control the business of this country to benefit our children. We can be local and be international, but we will not produce success for our children if all we do is think local.

        • Spit Bouy says:


          “… youngin, pretty soon you will be a 2nd class citizen in your own country”.

          Too late, the previous govt has already made us all 2nd class citizens, perhaps you were sleeping or micing while that was going on.

        • Thoughtful says:

          Youngin would never be a second class citizen in their own country because youngin doesn’t look like you and I.

      • Yummy says:

        When will the older generation grow out of the past and let the younger generation have something we will be proud of? When the younger generation get older, wiser and experienced….

  2. hmmm says:

    Burt, thank your for some Burtmaths. A desperate attempt to distract us from all the findings from the commission of enquiry.

    Just reading through them should make anyone NEVER vote PLP!!!!!

    • Curious Mind says:

      Do you disagree with the figures, or are you just deflecting due to your OBA blinders.

      • sandgrownan says:

        Actually disagree, the expense line is incorrect. It include cost of redevelopment / rebuild /or repair of what we have.

        So, no, Burt’s figures are naturally simplistic to prompt an emotional response from those determined to see Bermuda fail.

        And you took the bait.

        • sandgrownan says:

          Fat fingers… It DOESN’T include cost of redevelopment / rebuild /or repair of what we have.

          • Crickets says:

            Exactly. A few splotches of paint on a canvass does not paid a picture Mr. Burt.

        • Legalgal says:

          Well where can we get the “real figures” from. May be referpshing to have a redevelopment deal without kickbacks, finders fees, local interest contracts etc.

      • doggystyle says:

        Burt what is your plan to deal with the airport I bet my weeks wages you don’t have no plan on how to finance the airport and how to pay for it without public funds.

        A 30 YEAR mortgage to pay for something to me is a good deal without borrowing more money and don’t tell me we don’t need a new airport either. 100 million on the cruise ship terminal that we the tax payer footed the bill didn’t last one season and more millions of our money to fix a new build that was supposed to built right the first time the contractor didn’t even fix his poor work. Got paid and ran all the way to the bank laughing. No more of that BULL S—t.

        • Thoughtful says:

          but the life expectancy of an airport is 30 years so I guess we will find ourselves in the same mess all over again with another 30 year mortgage and again after another 30 years and again and again and again…….

    • TO hhmmm:
      The counter to that is that no one ever votes oba.
      Racism is quite alive in tiny Bermuda.

      • hmmm says:

        @mostly_spineless , What has voting for the PLP got to do with race…

        • Honestly says:

          Are you aware that the OBA is selling Bermuda? There way is not the only way. I will never vote for the OBA. Blind, deaf, just retarded to what they are doing!!

  3. bee says:

    The PLP has proven it cannot cope with this type of project. Let’s just get on with the plan!

    • Curious Mind says:

      Get on with the plan and take on a Billion Dollars of extra debt? OK that makes a lot of sense.

      OBA sycophants out in full force today.

      • lalal says:

        Curious Mind… the only way it will be an extra billion in debt is if the PLP get their hands on it… With Burt’s math it will be 10 billion…

        the numbers I have seen projects us to loose a little less than if WE re-built the airport ourselves (without 10k in finders fees),

      • Rascal says:

        Or maybe PLP acolytes can’t read nor write!

    • To bee:
      The P.L.P. is ever equipped to handle any matter.
      This current “group” have never accepted the errors of their ways. They have strangled democracy!!

      • 32n64w says:

        Completely untrue Lying Betty Trump.

        We have back to back qualified audit reports and explosive growth in successive annual operating deficits and related debt obligations under the PLP which proves beyond question their inability to handle even a p*ss up in a brewery.

      • Point boy says:

        That’s a joke right? Because the hypocrisy?

        Punch line: Your beloved plp put us in this huge mess!

        If you read the statistics we are looking good.

  4. sandgrownan says:

    The PLP and Burt, a legacy unhindered by success.

  5. steve says:

    Ok i will Mr Burts word for it, maybe the airport makes a “health surplus” these days. Well my landlord also makes a “healthy surplus”when he charges me 4k per month rent and allows the place to rot into the ground. Its just a festering huge cost thats time will come.

    • Rascal says:

      The PLP were sold on a new terminal when they were in power. They did next to nothing to maintain the current terminal and allowed the place to rot into the ground assuming they would win the 2012 election and continue with their friends and family enrichment scheme. Now were are talking serious sour grapes.

  6. Stand firm ,Burt.
    By the way… the bulk of blogger haters…..
    Just wanting their nasty piece of Bermuda’s economic pie and not caring one inch for the locals.
    STAND FIRM, Mr. Burt.
    Persevere on even through devil adversity.

    • hmmm says:

      it is you that seems focused on the what is in it for me!!!!! greedy selfish mostly spineless one. Most people on here are looking at is best for the country and all Bermudians!!!

      • Honestly says:

        That is untrue! Many of you blogging aren’t locals! Shhhh

        • Point boy says:

          @ Honestly. How do you figure that? Honestly?

        • Thoughtful says:

          This is so true! I pretended to be in support of this deal with a group of expat associates and what came out of their mouths was unbelievable! I even got one to accidentally tell me their pen name(alcohol,the truth juice) People just remember, these are the same people that smile up in your face everyday and sit in the cubicle next too you!Dont trust any of them….they are just as crooked as their teeth!

    • Crickets says:

      There is no pie left to take. The COE is dealing with the projects we know about. there are still $800 mil pieces of pie that the AG listed as “unaccounted for”! Maybe you or Mr. Burt can tell us where that pie went.

    • Rascal says:

      Wow 29 against Burt. 4 For Burt. Nuff said.

  7. flikel says:

    It seems the Commission of Inquiry is lamenting the granting of non tendered contracts.

    Yet, the biggest non tendered contract, in this country’s history, is seemingly off limits with the government fighting to keep the Commission of Inquiry only focused on the non tendered PLP contracts.

    Does this make sense?

    • Too much Herb says:

      Actually, yes it does make sense. The airport contract has not been hidden from the people of Bermuda and / or given to friends, family or party members in the business.

      Berkeley was awarded to a newly formed company called Proactive which had never done any construction of that type. However, it was “somehow”awarded the job, went $60 million over budget , and they “poof” they were gone.

      Then there was Port Royal Golf Course. Awarded to fellow party member, millions over budget, even though nothing was actually built All they did was move soil.

      Who built TCD? Another party member, and what did that cost us?

      The cruise ship pier. Gone to a party member, over budget and had to be rebuilt soon after it was constructed.

      What about the Bda Emissions facility? Family and Friends too. That is a joke in itself. Does anyone know of a single car or truck in 15 years that failed an emission test? No because there is no benchmark. When was that tendered? What does it cost us? It is an expense for government while others make money.

      Many more examples. I just don’t have the time.

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:


    • Rascal says:

      The biggest non-tendered contract also has funding and a performance guarantee.

      How is Bermuda better off with non-tendered projects such as a new dock, emissions controls, golf course and a new courthouse that had massive overruns?

    • What?? says:

      Interesting. 15 dislikes to this statement but not on single rebuttal. So it seems that people see the truth of flikel’s comment they just don’t like that truth.

  8. watching says:

    Polls already show the electorate have very little trust in Richards…in fact the lowest of the OBA and PLP leadership.
    Now the OBA is fighting tooth and nail not to have to testify about the airport at their own Commission of Inquiry. Clearly something is wrong here.
    Why not just follow a tried and true process? What is the big issue?

    • aceboy says:

      The remit of the COI was to review the findings of the auditor general. Attempting to get the airport in as part of it is simply a repeat of what the Public Accounts Committee did, which was to push the Airport to the forefront of the meetings’ agendas with little time for anything else, such as Port Royal.

      The PAC found that the Port Royal development gave the people of Bermuda value for money. The COI appears to have a somewhat different view. But now the distraction of the airport is the goal.

  9. flikel says:

    I notice the critics are not disputing Burt’s numbers…they choose to attack him and the PLP on other matters. A classic case of shooting the messenger without looking at the actual message.

    Critics….can you find flaws in Burt’s analysis and numbers? Or will you continue to reduce yourselves to throwing personal and spurious attacks?

    • Rada Gast says:

      All Mr Burt is giving us is his version of Mr Richard’s numbers. Where are the comparatives for the PLP plan for the airport?

      • Crickets says:

        Their plan (and they had one) was going to cost much more, which is why they do not speak about it.

        Mr. Burt , I trust that you and your advisors read these posts. Would you care to send us a link to the former PLP airport plan.

      • What?? says:

        What has this to do with a possible plan from the past? One that did not happen. How about sticking to the here and now. Are Mr Burt’s figures for the plan that is happening wrong?

    • Too much Herb says:

      The prob is that he has only showed a few of he numbers and left others out. Creative accounting.

  10. Andre says:

    So…sandgrownan……you contend that all of the numbers provided by Mr. Burt are fictitious??? Well I can tell you without a doubt that they are not. If you were not so enchanted with the government that most likely looks more like you than me, you might take the time to actually prove your statements and not just parrot the inane responses that generally come directly from our current government. What happened under the PLP was wrong…..even die hard PLP supporters know that to some degree. But your purely partisan approach to this issue is extremely worrying……and not only because I know you are not alone…but because the OBA continue down the same road with the same glaring mistakes so often attributed to the PLP. Look around the world right now….there is chaos coming and we MUST ditch these extremely partisan approaches to every issue. We are a little place in a little world. We need to prepare for what is coming as a country, because unless we do that the OBA, the PLP and ALL that we know and love will disappear before our very eyes. I have never written to this particular forum, but having read Mr. Burt very sensible and thought provoking article and seen the caliber of the responses, I had to interject. Hopefully someone will hear me.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Burt is disingenuous.

      If he were not part of the group that created the mess in which we currently find ourselves, then I think I’d take a little more notice.

      • What?? says:

        Whatever your opinion of Mr Burt those numbers are correct. They are easy to verify using the OBAs 2016/17 Budget Book. How about you comment on the actual information?

        • sandgrownan says:

          You miss the point…as I alluded to further up. The numbers don’t include any capex of any sort. Very misleading.

          • What?? says:

            You missed the point. Mr Burt is debunking the oft repeated idea that THIS capex plan is not going cost Bermuda anything. It clearly is going to have a serious impact on the budget. The numbers are correct and clearly demonstrate that fact! That’s the point!

            • sandgrownan says:

              Burt’s numbers don’t include the current cost of keeping the existing decaying infrastructure.

              The problem with his analysis, is that the numbers are cherry picked to suit a particular view.

    • sandgrownan says:

      The full cost comparison of the different types of approach are here:

      Only took me a few minutes to find it.

      • Rascal says:

        Funny I thought you used the word comparison. Not there.

        • sandgrownan says:

          Apologies – I should not have used the word “cost” – the comparison of the different approaches is there.

          In a nutshell, this is the option because we’re broke. And we’re broke because of Burt and Co.

    • mixitup says:

      Andre the people are watching and MOST are aware of what’s going on in fron t of their eyes… This next Election will be a very important one…. pay attention people.

      • Rascal says:

        Every election is important but few make a difference.

        • sandgrownan says:

          So, what’s the solution then?

          All I am hearing is “no”, but nothing constructive. So, we’re broke, we need a new airport, what do we do?

          Perhaps, you should analyse the cost of borrowing. How about that?

    • Crickets says:

      I believe what most people are saying or feeling is that he hand picked a few numbers and line items and used them to pint the picture he wanted. His numbers are very basic and leave out a lot. He also fails (once again) to show how the PLPs airport plan was going cost us less, save us more and how they were going to pay for it.

      Personally, my feeling is that this airport deal could have waited until we were in a better place financially. But that being said, the PLP can’t argue that it is a bad idea because they had their own plans to replace the airport. All Burt has offered us is criticism but no solution. With the amount of time he has had to prepare for this – I am surprised at how week his reply is. Show us the PLPs plan, that we paid for already – let us see what we would get for that money and how we would pay for it. You don’t wish to bring it up, because – truth be told – it is no better and it would cost more. In addition, when you take into consideration the amount of projects that the PLP was responsible for that went over-budget , that is even scarier. Berkeley, Port Royal GC, Pier, Dame Lois Bldg. You get the picture.

  11. Rada Gast says:

    That’s not how inflation affects debt, and I suspect Mr Burt knows this perfectly well. The principal of a debt does not increase with inflation.

    If borrow $1 million this year to buy your house, and only made interest payments, next year you would STILL owe $1m. The mortgage principal would not go up to $1.04m because inflation was 4%.

    Also, looking at the effect on the consolidated fund of building a new airport, it is disingenuous to compare the costs of the CURRENT airport with the costs of the NEW airport. How about comparing the costs of building the airport using Aecon vs the costs of Bermuda borrowing the money and doing it?

    And how about the PLP provide the comparative figures for their plan for the airport, so the electorate can decide which is better for Bermuda based on all the facts, rather than the facts Mr Burt chooses to present?

    The PLP still has a long way to go before they can be taken seriously – talk of the current government borrowing money and passing on the related debt to future generations rings hollow when the current debt mountain under which we are laboring was created by the previous (PLP, natch) administration.

  12. LostinFlatts says:

    “We need to do something about our current airport. The PLP has put forward a less expensive and fiscally responsible plan that extends the useful life of our existing structure, creating immediate jobs that can be filled by Bermudians, while keeping airport profits here in Bermuda which will assist us in getting our fiscal house in order.”

    So there is a tangible PLP plan that I can see right now, that patches up the existing airport at no additional cost, adds jobs and most importantly gets Bermuda’s fiscal house in order?

    Excellent, can someone please link to that? I’m particularly interested in how the PLP plan on fixing the debt burden they created.

    • Rascal says:

      There is no PLP plan, just words. The PLP already agreed the terminal was beyond economical repair. Now they are patching it up knowing they are doing nothing about the eventual flooding.

      Are they going to build a dike around the whole thing first?

  13. I OWE I OWE says:

    How come the math matician never brings up an idea to pay off the current debt we are in, mostly from his party. Just saying, these guys keep beating ONE drum. There a whole set there, something you should just keep to yourself.

  14. Jus' Askin' says:

    The Road To Election 2017 :-D

    SAD DAYS AHEAD for Bermudians :-(

  15. King Jammys says:

    PLP is a bad deal for Bermuda……

  16. bluebird says:

    The PLP/BIU have given the children and grandchildren a$2.3Billion Dollar “DEBT”
    The OBA have cut a deal where we get a “NEW AIRPORT” without Increasing the “DEBT”
    And NO Aicon do not keep all the Profits as the Bermuda Government gets half and don’t have to pay for or increase the “DEBT”
    The PLP/BIU are really “T’ed” OFF.
    OH! it is still costing us Half a Million Dollars per day in “INTEREST”
    on the Debt that the PLP/BIU created.

  17. Y-Gurl says:

    Either way this project is going to rammed down our throats in a similar way to the PLPs Hospital, we need to change Goverment again

  18. steve says:

    listening to the PLP give fiscal advice is allot like visited a thrice divorced marriage Councillor. They sound so confident and have you convinced until you consider the source during the drive home.

  19. Rich says:

    First, these figures may have been taken from the current accounts. They completely ignore capital account expenditure that has been allocated and will still be allocated and spent in future years repairing and maintaining the current airport terminal.

    Second, they also fail to realize how much money we are going to save in debt servicing costs by keeping the cost of redeveloping the airport off Government’s balance books and away from the rating agencies’ assessment of our ability to service debt.

    Finally, they are making very crude straight line assumptions which fail to appreciate the dynamic nature of public revenue and spending.

  20. O.M.G says:

    Mr Burt I so wish you took more of an interest in your party when they were raping the country dry. You should had been the math wiz to Mrs Cox and gave her your b@lls to stand up to the bully brown. Now please give us the old paper work on how the PLP would have built us an airport and where we were getting the monies to built it.
    Another over run I sure it would have been.
    I truly believe that the vision of the OBA is for Bermuda and BERMUDIANS not there pockets.

    God help us we all need to make a better country.

  21. Hey says:

    I had a nightmare last night. The PLP had won the next election, and all the Ministers were on stage dancing to the tune “we’re in the money”

  22. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    That chart doesn’t add up. Mostly because even Burt doesn’t know what the fiscal deal is going to be for the redevelopment, so what he has put out is just speculation based on a political agenda point. As for the PLP plan to repair, it is already known that that will cost at least over half of what the redevelopment would, given that the airport would have to remain running, and what would we end up with; more debt as we would have to pay for the inevitable cost overruns running up the final cost we would have to borrow, a facility that is still past its expiration date and visitors still having to get on and off planes through inclement weather.

    And if Burt is in so much agreement with Richards that debt is such a threat to our future, why is it the PLP’s plan, as stated in their throne speech reply, to return us to spending levels that are in excess of $400m budget deficit??

    The answer, this is nothing more than a continuation of their electioneering campaign that began in 2012/13 that lead them to form the PC. Misinformation, mislead and if needed lie, to get voted back in.

    • What?? says:

      Exactly where is the error in the numbers as presented. They are right out of the 2016/17 Budget Book and information on the contract that has been released. So please demonstrate exactly where the numbers don’t “add up”?