Column: MP Scott Simmons On BTA Legislation

November 27, 2018 | 37 Comments

[Opinion column written by MP Scott Simmons]

The Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018 was passed on Friday. The main purpose of the tabled amendments is to ensure that the Government of the day has input into who sits on the Board of this taxpayer-funded entity.

Currently, the board of the BTA was appointed by the former OBA government, and there are no mechanisms in place for the current government, or any other government for that matter, to replace or appoint additional members. Effectively, the Act allows that the current board can reappoint themselves in perpetuity. Unacceptable.

The OBA government set up the Bermuda Tourism Authority in a manner totally unrepresentative of accountability to the people of Bermuda. In fact, I venture to say, that when set up, the OBA, knowing their time in government was limited, deliberately used this structure and these terms, to ensure that their interests would continue to be put first if and when the seat of Government changed.

The public must ask themselves, does it make logical and practical sense, that any government would pass legislation that ensures that their board of political appointees could be appointed, and then that any incoming government could have no say in any further appointees? Is it ‘right’ that the board could then reappoint themselves over, and over, and over, continually, without any input or consultation from the Government? Let’s remember that the BTA is taxpayer funded, and is there to execute on strategy laid down from the Government of the day.

The purpose of this legislation is not to take away the BTA’s independence. That is a fallacy being argued by the OBA online brigade. The PLP government is acutely aware of the successes that the BTA have worked toward since their formation. We have no intention of micromanaging or destabilizing the BTA.

However, as a taxpayer-funded organization, the BTA does have to be accountable to the Government and to the people of Bermuda. What this legislation does, is ensure the Government of the day is able to have a seat at the table of the BTA and that the wishes of the Government are considered and executed where possible.

We appreciate that there are valued members of the BTA who have a deep wealth of experience in Bermuda. But the OBA’s legislation precludes any further appointments of other Bermudians with experience in Bermuda’s tourism product. The PLP government is about ensuring a better and fairer Bermuda, and we achieve this by ensuring that all segments of the community have the ability to participate.

We must ensure that through the noise, the truth is heard. The Opposition is working hard to distort the truth wherever possible. The PLP Government is committed to working with the BTA to achieve the goal of restoring Bermuda’s tourism product. We are well on our way.

But to do so, we must ensure that tricks and schemes from the OBA administration are done away with so that the board works toward the goals of the Government of Bermuda, which funds the BTA and remunerates the organization on behalf of the taxpayers of Bermuda.”

- Scott Simmons

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Comments (37)

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  1. Double S says:

    Whatever Scott. You explicitly stated that you and your team are seeking to ‘dismantle’ the BTA whilst your Minister colleague stated he was going to ‘tear it apart.’ Those are the PLP words. Always trying to deceive. S

    You end goal is to ‘dismantle’ and ‘tear apart’ anything, good or bad, put in place by the OBA. Just like how Trump is trying to do the same thing to Obama’s initiatives. The parallels between you lot and Trump become clear and clearer everyday.

    One thing the PLP cannot stand is success, hence why they need to ‘dismantle and ‘tear apart’ the BTA. Guess they are not giving out enough ‘Faith Based Tourism’ like contracts to the crew huh?

    • Black Soil says:

      Thanks to the PLP, Bermuda is going backwards. What will the PLP say when the new St Georges hotel comes to a grinding halt???

  2. chart says:

    This opinion shows an alarming attitude towards power. Everything he says is about PLP power; nothing about the results the BTA is intended to achieve.

  3. Politricks says:

    “What this legislation does, is ensure the Government of the day is able to have a seat at the table of the BTA and that the wishes of the Government are considered and executed where possible.”

    Umm, this is a perfect example (however, unintended by the author) of how the PLP is seeking to erode/remove BTA independence.

    And I am pretty sure he and his PLP colleague explicitly stated their desire to eliminate the BTA all together last Friday.

  4. sandgrownan says:

    Among other things, the BTA was setup as an independent body to stop the PLP using it’s funding to support friends and family. And that bites doesn’t it Simmons? Because we all know what happened in the past don’t we?

    Playboy mansion
    Global Hue
    Faith Based Tourism
    California based charities…

    ..need we go on?

  5. sandgrownan says:

    “..Let’s remember that the BTA is taxpayer funded, and is there to execute on strategy laid down from the Government of the day…”

    Exactly what is the PLP’s strategy for tourism? Come on. What is it?

  6. Question says:

    “We have no intention of micromanaging or destabilizing the BTA”

    And then you go on to talk about how you plan to micromanage and destabilize the BTA. Or even dismantle it, depending on when you’re talking.

  7. DeOnion says:

    1. This: In the current form, the former UBP Tourism Minister David Dodwell can sit on the Board of the BTA, and have more say over tourism direction than a Government Minister and never be removed or replaced. Unacceptable.
    He retired over a year ago
    2. This: In fact, I venture to say, that when set up, the OBA, knowing their time in government was limited, deliberately used this structure and these terms, to ensure that their interests would continue to be put first if and when the seat of Government changed.
    Pure speculation – again, PLP acting as if it is still in Opposition. Use facts please – you are in Government now.
    3. This
    We have no intention of micromanaging or destabilizing the BTA.
    Except you are not just looking under the hood, you are tearing the car apart …
    4. This:
    The PLP government is about ensuring a better and fairer Bermuda, and we achieve this by ensuring that all segments of the community have the ability to participate.
    Nope – you are taxing people to such an extent that there is nothing better at all …
    5; this:
    We must ensure that through the noise, the truth is heard
    Through the noise!!!??? hahahaha – best laugh today. I mean, the PLP never created any ‘noise’ did it.
    3 out ten for this – who writes this for you?

  8. red rose says:

    What about these specific claims:

    * Back in March 2014, the then Leader of the Opposition Marc Bean stated that “a PLP Government would ditch the [new] independent Tourism Authority and take its work back in-house or make it find its own funds”. He promised the authority would either “absorbed back into Government proper”

    * he is planning to not only just look under the hood of the BTA, but “he is going to tear the car apart”.

    * what about globalhue, what about faith-based tourism, what about record numbers of tourists?

  9. hmm says:

    The PLP and its MPs know nothing about tourism, that is evident from their past mistakes. The OBA knows this that is why they didn’t want you lot tampering with it! PLP fingers in the BTA will only result in poor performance and ridiculous schemes from the PLP (beyonce concert anyone?)

  10. Rocky5 says:

    This is how the PLP rolls… “Swear Allegiance” to the PLP and you’ll be part of the “PLP Forever Friends & Family Plan “!

  11. watching says:

    Well stated Scott!

    • Double S says:

      Out of curiosity, do you actually ever have any coherent thoughts on an article? Every time a political opinion is published your response is ‘who wrote that for them’ (OBA) and ‘well said!” (PLP).

  12. Mark says:

    Money grab – one of many to come.

  13. Take says:

    Not a money grab! It’s our money and not Kevin Dallas money! He needs to collect on the so called millions from AC! He should not need my money after that major AC success of a 500% return on investment – was that’s why we know it was 100% BS!

    • Come Correct says:

      So let’s just make it part of government again so we can get less for more like we used to. Also where do you get 500% return from? What you typed is 100% BS.

      • Question says:

        Ok then, If you invest $68m and end up with a total return of $355m, what is your percentage return?

        I’ll give you a clue: ‘Take’ was right, you’re wrong. Turns out what you typed is 100% BS.

    • Double S says:

      Once again PLPers don’t understand economic impacts.

  14. Jus' Askin' says:

    BTA must GO!!!!!

    • Double S says:

      Of course you guys want to see the demise of an actual successful government entity. Typical.

    • wahoo says:

      I hope they take you with them if they do. The second paragraph pretty much sums up that the current government are looking for some cash for their friends. You should be concerned that plp are still attacking the OBA is it because they need to create distraction from their own incompetence? Where are all the good ideas? Where are the jobs? You got played and it was easy I think we need some criteria for being allowed to vote other than just being born here, a simple test on how Bermuda’s economy works would go a very long way towards getting good governance for ALL Bermudians.

    • Mother Theresa says:

      The stupidity of the PLP supporters is CRAZY! It’s unfathomable! We are so doomed…….

    • Mother Theresa says:

      The lack of intelligence of the PLP supporters is CRAZY! It’s unfathomable!

    • Mother Theresa says:

      Please, enlighten us as to why the BTA should go……. it’s beyond successful, as has been proven. Please provide us with your intellectual (or lack there of) reasoning for shutting it down.

      • Jus' Askin' says:

        how do You measure success?

        ALL Private entities paid for by Public Purse should be dismantled ;-)

        • Double S says:

          I would say 11 consecutive quarters of growth is success.

          But once again PLPers show how much they hate non-PLP successful ventures.

          Party before country as always.

    • Timothy J says:

      Please, enlighten us as to why the BTA should go……. it’s beyond successful, as has been proven. Please provide us with your intellectual (or lack there of) reasoning for shutting it down.

  15. Truthhertz says:

    As you can see from comments above PLP supporters are so accustomed to PLP failures spun as being successes that they actually view a non-PLP successful venture as being a failure.

    Can I ask just one of you to explain why you would want to get rid of a successful organization that is awaiting in the recovery of an economic pillar? Does your love for your political party outstrip your love for your country? Because that can the only reason why you would want to see the BTA folded.

    • Ringmaster says:

      @ Truthhertz.

      Crabs in a bucket comes to mind.

    • Take says:

      The OBA had their chance and decided to throw a boat party for their friends! Bob Richards told me on more than one occasion that the Government had no money yet they found tens of millions for a boat race which in the vast majority benefited themselves! Just follow the money and you will see who made the big bucks! Instead of doing that they could have invested in balancing the budget! When we hard working people saw that a boat party was achieveable then we realized that the OBA were not doing the right thing and then they gave out Airport income away for 30 years for an airport of the scale and grandeur that we simply don’t need!

      • Truthertz says:

        Nice attempt and deflection via misleading ‘facts.’ Now can you actually attempt to address my query? I challenge you to do so.

        PS: The OBA more than halved the PLP’s $400mn annual deficits which has to be eliminated first and foremost to balance the budget. Your beloved PLP ha already reneged on their promise to balance the budget by 2019. Guess that had to pay off their already rich former leader first. Priorities I guess.

      • Truthertz says:

        Also, how do you feel about the PLP’s hospital wing development which sees $30mn being paid to a private entity for 30 years? You know the main driver behind the persistent increase in our health care costs n recent times?

        Doubt you will answer it, but needed to throw in out there to highlight the massive hypocrisy that you PLPers love to practice.

  16. cpm says:

    All BTA members should resign and let the plp destroy tourism-we can always pick up the crumbs after our competitors have had their pickings

  17. Real talk says:

    25 million….oh 100 million AC. ..really…no WiFi public school to purposely hold kids at a disadvantage. ..mmmmmm. ..

  18. Infidelguy says:

    Be not mislead by Mr. Scott’s duplicitous, slick and well spun words. The primary purpose of these amendments, are to “dismantle” – the word used by Scott Simmons in the HoA last Friday – the BTA because they opposed the idea from the very beginning. The Act as it stood, already provided the government adequate power over the BTA; they are government funded (remember Mr. Scott?) and if they were not happy with the appointment of Board members, they could simply withhold funding.

    Nice try!

  19. Up D Hill says:

    Go ahead ZD tear the BTA apart and find ,NOTHING!!! Then What?? oh thats right……. NOTHING!!!! WINDBAG!!!

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