PLP: Auditor General Should Review Airport Deal

November 27, 2016

The “airport scheme has been plagued with a lack of transparency,” Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt said, adding that “given that it will commit the country to a binding 30-year financial agreement, the watchdog of public funds should be able to review this deal in advance.”

In a statement this evening, Mr Burt said, “Premier Michael Dunkley and Finance Minister Bob Richards along with the OBA Cabinet have:

  • 1. Broken their promise to reveal the full details of the proposed contract.
  • 2. Refused to respond to summons legally issued by the Public Accounts Committee, under the Parliament Act, to answer questions surrounding the OBA airport scheme.
  • 3. Violated Government’s Financial Instructions by refusing to issue an RFP on this project.
  • 4. Repeatedly omitted or “fuzzied up” the facts surrounding the process of awarding the contract to Aecon and the impact on Government finances.

“Now, the OBA is asking Members of Parliament to support the OBA’s Airport Scheme; full details of which have not been revealed and, at a minimum, potentially gives away hundreds of millions of dollars of airport revenue over 30 years,” Mr Burt continued.

“Parliament needs to have a fully independent review of the finances of this deal so that every MP, acting on behalf of the people they represent, can understand what impact the vote would have on the government’s finances.

“The best way for this to happen is the reasonable and sensible suggestion that the PLP have brought forward; to request the Auditor General to review the contract in advance, including the documents that have not been disclosed to parliament, and provide MPs with unbiased information regarding the impact of this deal will have on government finances.

“Regrettably, after receiving a written request from the Opposition for such a review, the Premier and the OBA rejected this transparent, sensible and reasonable approach and continue to stubbornly barrel ahead with this scheme.

“We must question: why does the OBA not want the Auditor General to look at this deal and conduct an independent review in advance of a vote by Parliament? What reason could they have for failing to be open and transparent and reveal the full details of the OBA Airport Scheme?

“The entire process has been mired in controversy; given that it will commit the country to a binding 30-year financial agreement, the watchdog of public funds should be able to review this deal in advance.

“We call upon all of Bermuda to demand answers before the OBA pushes forward with a deal that will deprive the public purse of millions of dollars. The OBA is failing in their duty to provide the people with what they deserve: a transparent and accountable government.”

A letter Mr Burt sent to the Premier follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (52)

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  1. Lois Frederick says:

    That is not the role of the AG. Never has been. That’s all you you’ve got after two years of smear and innuendo? The OBA have the numbers, so if the rlp want to object on this very narrow line of attack – go ahead.

    • Curious Mind says:

      Never has been the role of government to give 30 year privatization deals without a tender and without sharing the details with anyone.

      Why would anyone not want the Auditor General want to review this deal to make sure it is sound.

      • aceboy says:

        How about the new hospital *wing*? PPP. Let’s have us a breakdown on that deal. The one that a charity had to be set up to help pay $40M of the cost.

        How about Bermuda Emissions control? That was a seemingly permanent privatization plan. No tender and a $5M unnecessary project turned into $15M.

        How short and convenient your memory is.

      • BDA is Great says:

        Umm… the Base lands were given on a 99 year lease and with that the old airport was built and supported for many years. This never ending sort of recalling selective portions of history just to pretend to make a point baffles me.

        I certainly want my tax dollar for money but the auditor is not the place to have this review done.

        I would also like to get a statement from each member of the PLP that they back that this process going forward on projects so that when they are back in power we can hold them to account as well. Be specific on we are agreeing to the level of transparency and pre project review by an independent body.

      • hmmm says:

        Burt is trying to distract from other PLP shame from the COI and to distract the AG from their other work.

        PLP had the AG arrested, booted out of location historically. Remember that PLP attempt to disrupt and distract.

        Stop getting taken for fools and wake up to the reality that the PLP is playing you to steal your vote for themselves.

      • Truth teller says:

        Coco reef

    • Pondering says:

      Never has been? Never has been a new airport either.

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      Your point proves OBA can push anything THEY want through :-(

      Road to Election 2017 :-D

      • James Rego says:

        2000+ jobs! Something the PLP don’t want to see happen!

        • That 2000 job lie is played out, it might work for a few fools again.

          • Build a Better Bermuda says:

            It’s not a lire, it is just not a reality realized yet. The road to recovery was never promised to be an easy one, but at least they stopped the accelerated hemorrhaging of jobs that was rampant under the PLP. It may be taking longer, but at least there is hope on the horizon that things are turning around.

      • Sandgrownan says:

        Not the role of the AG. The hipocracy is laughable but but entirely expected.

  2. wahoo says:

    $800M would make it all better….Ricola!

    • Curious Mind says:

      It will be interesting to see how the OBA bloggers try to wiggle out of this one.

      • aceboy says:

        Wriggle out of what? The auditor general audits financial statements. They don’t *vet* projects beforehand. Funny, the PLP locked up the last AG. All those qualified accounts and Burt as Chairman of the PAC has not done his job and looked at anything other than a better cheaper plan for the airport than his party came up with. Now he wants the AG to perform work out of their remit?

        The PAC looked very briefly at Port Royal and seem to have concluded that Bermuda received value for money which completely contradicts the small amount of detail that the COI has released, calling what they found outright fraud.

      • Sandgrownan says:

        Wiggle out of what exactly?

        We know why the airport can’t go out to tender, we know we can’t renovate.

        Burt needs to come up with an alternative plan

    • Justin says:

      Ya, maybe the former shadow finance minister knows where the $800m went!

  3. Enough says:

    Think this highlights how unqualified anyone in the PLP is to lead a country.

    • Intrigued says:

      Actually I’m impressed that the PLP is putting forward something substantive. Why shouldn’t the Auditor General review the deal? If its a good deal what’s the harm?

      • BDA is Great says:

        I do like the idea but it will cost time and money to be completed. I suspect this is a delay tactic. Unfortunately what I suspect is that the PLP are hoping they can delay this until they are back in power then all this transparency will be forgotten. Or better yet the “independent” reviewers will be the very people bidding on the build…. As stated above the AG is not necessarily the right team to do this and if I remember Deloitte already did a review so have them submit an updated review!

      • Its a case of do as I say not as I do.

      • jt says:

        It will be reviewed as part of the annual audit process.

  4. Kangoocar says:

    To all the plpers out there! Do you remember these famous two quotes? ” We don’t care what you think ” and ” The opposition will have its say, but the Government will have its way! ” now please just sit down and stop getting in the way of progress!

  5. Intrigued says:

    This is a decent proposal from the PLP. It seems to make sense, and I don’t see any harm in letting the Auditor General review the deal. I for one am curious to see the result.

    OBA, if you have nothing to hide call the PLP’s bluff and lets get on with it.

  6. steve says:

    If Burt gets his way and the airport not built, his/PLP goal will be one step closer to the goal they set for themselves following the last election: see to it that the OBA accomplishes absolutely nothing for Bermuda during their term.
    PLP Election mantra 2017: Burt…” so tell me my fellow real Bermudians, what exactly did the OBA accomplish in the last 4 years”
    I find it all to much to bear some days

    • reddamtibi says:

      Steve – did someone from the PLP actually say – as you put it – “see to it that the OBA accomplishes absolutely nothing for Bermuda during their term.”
      or did you make that up? You with your slanted narrative do not get to dictate reality. One could then use the narrative that the OBA promised to make Bermuda better for all Bermudians when clearly to this point it is only better for some…and unlike the airport deal the OBA has produced the numbers to prove it!
      It is true that if the PLP had attempted this you would be reacting in the same way the opposition is doing right now – do not lie!
      For Petes sake because you are in support of the OBA that means you will support them in something that if done by another party you’d disagree (strongly) with?
      There is a word that starts with the letter H that accurately describes you and your ilk.

      • steve says:

        hey reddam- nobody from the plp publicly(to my knowledge) made that statement(yet) and I thought that would be understood. I was using sarcasm to draw attention to the general circle of statements from the opposition.
        I am not a fan of the OBA at all, its just many of us middle age folk have witnessed the last 20 years and happen to believe they are the only hope Bermuda has.I expect the PLP will be elected next election and perhaps I will be proven wrong. Also the H in me wishes they were victorious in the last election. None of pesky inquiries,the airport would be a winner,send a few more expats packing their bags…everything would be totally cool. thats some more sarcasm in case you cant detect it. Is sarcasm really the lowest form of wit or is the inability to recognize it the lowest?

  7. Widget says:

    Note to the PLP:

    Give us all a break and work on something more productive. This airport is going to be built because it’s a good deal and the country needs a new airport.

    Have a good nite.

  8. Warlord says:

    Dear Burt
    The airport is going to get built whether you like it or not.It will create jobs and give us a new airport long overdue.
    Kind regards,
    Real Bermudian

  9. jt says:

    Concerns. Of course. It’s a large undertaking.

    Mired in controversy. According to script.

    Investigate? Before or after a qualified audit? Pesky things. No?

  10. It is the Government’s right to proceed with plans that it haves: the airport, etc, etc. Mr. Burt has held over the government’s head that a PLP government would cancel any deal , as it relates to the airport. At best , the country will be out of pocket some $18 million dollars compared to the $100′s of millions that the PLP is saying that we will over spend under this deal. This is the junction that we are at as a country . We need jobs, but just not from the airport built by the OBA. It can be built cheaper, but the PLP’s plan was for a $525 million dollar airport. The thirst for power is everything. Neither Party can do anything right in the eyes of the other . We are a divided nation .You dare not take a middle stance on any decision in Bermuda, because you will be attacked by both sides ,OBA/PLP . What is the way forward Bermuda ? Go Figure!!

    • bdaboy says:

      “What is the way forward Bermuda ? ”

      Bermudians are not forward thinking, they still think they’re the jewel of the world because of pink sand.

  11. John says:

    Built it now build it now build now ! Yes yes yes yes

  12. Jus' Askin' says:

    I am actually pleased the PLP has suggested this ;-) ;-)

    OBA should want to but they will not :-(

    The OBA and it’s members should be forced to pay the penalty for cancelling this deal.

    The UBA ~ United Bermuda Alliance will Make Bermuda Great Again!!!

    • Double S says:

      And PLPers should be forced to pay for the $900mn hpsital wing (over 29 years) and all the so called cost ‘overruns’ on all their capital projects.


  13. the real Terry says:

    Is this the same party that had the Auditor G. arrested, his office locked, and finally moved to an office so small they couldn’t function properly, Give me a Break Burt.

  14. reddamtibi says:

    It is sad to say but the OBA is going to lose the next election by a wide margin. Why? because of their governance – in this case doing the same thing they would have chastised the PLP for doing.

    And for all that argue that these sensitive business ventures should remain secret I agree! But guess what? This particular agreement is between a Private entity and a Public one (the OBA) – therefore all should be readily available for review and discernment else we are no better than what we should have learned from in the past.

    Remember – the past is prologue to the future – always has been always will be.

    And I do recognize the economic improvements that we are currently witnessing in Bermuda – but do not be so quick to forget the explosive growth witnessed during the 1998-2008 PLP years…what caused that car to derail has been subject to great debate clearly, I am only cautioning that the same global forces that caused the last decline are still present and will trigger the next – this time the OBA is at the helm – lets all hope we give them more fair judgement than what was afforded the PLP – including their improprieties.

  15. LostinFlatts says:

    Burt has been in government long enough to know the answer to this:
    “We must question: why does the OBA not want the Auditor General to look at this deal and conduct an independent review in advance of a vote by Parliament? What reason could they have for failing to be open and transparent and reveal the full details of the OBA Airport Scheme?”

    Is the role of the auditor general now to personally check off every capital project ahead of breaking ground?

    Because if you look at the timelines of when the AG works on things, that will essentially stop us ever building anything again.

    That is literally not the function of the AG. And Burt knows this, he’s just creating yet another political straw man to be obstructionist and try and score points with his supporters.

    We are broke because of the PLP. We need a new airport. Therefore, we need someone else to finance it. No one will do that if they don’t make a profit. That is pretty much the entirety of the argument. The company doing this is part of the Canadian government, and one that does more PPPs than any other company in the world.

  16. watching says:

    Why not have the Auditor general take a look at it now, rather than 5 years down the road?
    If the OBA is so confident this is the best deal then it shouldn’t be a problem? Why are Premier Dunkley and Min RIchards so resistant to a another pair of eyes? If anything they should welcome this to ratify their decisions. It really makes you wonder.

    • Double S says:

      Yeah because the numerous ‘other pair of eyes’ just aren’t sufficient. And these would be:

      - The UK Government
      - Deloitte & Touche
      - Independent value for money report (can’t remember firm name)
      - The Canadian Government
      - 2,000 emails released by the People’s Campaign (and yet no smoking gun)
      - Commission of Inquiry queries
      - PAC meetings
      - Airports Council International

      All you want is a report that fits into you and your team’s narrative. Despite all that has been issued, not one of the claims by you and your team are factual.

      Do you realize that the AG office has no experience or expertise to determine value for money? Please tell me you understand what the AG’s role is? Burt is playing you guys for fools, and he knows it.

      The OBA should have just went to the PAC meeting and threw our figures to justify the value for money as opposed to commissioning and paying for so many reports.

      I mean that’s what Burt and the PLP did when it came to reviewing the highly-suspect, non-tendered Port Royal contract. You know the one that somehow ended up with a sitting PLP MPs company who also just happened to sit on the Board of Port Royal at the time and that just happened to go $20mn over budget.

      When discussing that at PAC the PLP reps stated that they were comfortable with the value from a gut feeling. But yet you and yours stayed quiet.

  17. What?? says:

    Why not let the AG have a look? If it’s beyond the scope of their expertise or mandate the AG’s is, I’m sure, professional enough to say so. What can it hurt? Is another few weeks really going to make a difference? This is possibly the largest civil project in Bermuda’s history. Let’s take the time to get it right.

    • Terry says:

      What part of ‘this has nothing to do with the AG ‘ don’t you get.

  18. Terry says:

    Nothing to do with the AG.
    Nothing has even happened yet.

    Just more hot air and diversion

    Move on.

  19. Jahstice says:

    The PLP do not want the OBA to turn Bermuda around, as a result of their rule.

  20. clearasmud says:

    I find it rather interesting that the Finance Minister went and got a relatively unknown company to conduct a review of the value for money proposition rather then get Deloitte the globally known and respect company to do it. Since it was Deloitte that first identified the problems in their initial assessment for the UK I believe that they would have been best positioned to review whether or not the government had adequately addressed all of the previously identified short comings. This would have given the new assessment more credibility!

    • Double s says:

      Unknown to you maybe. But to people involved in the transport industry are well aware of Steer Davies Gleave’s reputation. But then again Bernews posters know better than anyone else.

      As part of the granting of the letter of entrustmentment the UK government, they mandated that the BDA Govt rectify the shortcomings as outlined by the Deloiite report.

      The entrustmentment letter was issued because the BDA government adequately addressed these areas of deficiency.

      Keep on trying tho.

      • What?? says:

        There has been no further letter from the UK stating that they are satisfied that the conditions of the initial entrustment letter (including filling the Deloitte report gaps) have been met. The only entrustment letter is from 2015.