MP Scott & Minister DeSilva On BTA Board Bill

November 15, 2018

Minister of Tourism & Transport Zane DeSilva said it “is unfortunate that the Opposition seems more interested in scaremongering and innuendo,” while Shadow Minister of Tourism Leah Scott said the Government’s “standard reply, when they have absolutely no rebuttal to facts and accurate data, is that the Opposition is practicing scaremongering or innuendo.”

This follows after the Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018 was tabled in the House on Friday, with the Bill seeking to “amend the Bermuda Tourism Authority Act 2013 in relation to the Board of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.”

Minister DeSilva’s Comments

Minister of Tourism and Transport Zane DeSilva said, “It is unfortunate that the Opposition seems more interested in scaremongering and innuendo than engaging in a substantive debate on the Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018 due to be debated in Parliament later this month.

“Here are some facts for the public to consider:

  • “The first appointments to the Bermuda Tourism Authority from the Chairman to the Board were essentially political appointments. Individuals appointed by the then OBA Minister under an OBA Government;
  • “To be clear, the BTA was set up unlike any other tax payer funded organization, with the board given the power to continue to reappoint themselves into perpetuity with no input from the Government who funds them and the taxpayers to whom they should be accountable.

“This approach is also not reflective of most other tourism authorities in the region. Our position is that this approach doesn’t make sense and lessens accountability.

“The Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Bill 2018:

  • “allows the Minister to appoint future members to the board of the Bermuda Tourism Authority in consultation with the BTA Board;
  • “allows the Minister to appoint future Deputy Chairs with experience in the tourism industry in consultation with the BTA Chair;
  • “gives the Minister the power to remove future BTA board members at the Minster’s discretion;
  • “gives the Minister the power to provide general direction to the BTA Board following consultation with the BTA.

“The Bill does not allow the Minister:

  • “to remove any member of the current board before the completion of their term of office;
  • “fire the CEO of the BTA or any employee of the BTA;
  • “to determine who is hired or promoted within the BTA;
  • “select contract or grant recipients; or
  • “to determine the day to day operations of the BTA.

“This Government was given an unprecedented mandate for change and part of that change is to modernize our tourism product and enhance entrepreneurial, occupational, training and advancement opportunities for Bermudians in tourism.

“Let us not forget that under the previous government, Bermudian tourism jobs disappeared, while non- Bermudian tourism jobs grew.

“The PLP was elected to transform our economy for the future and to implement policies which put development and investment in Bermudians first to yield long-term benefits.

“We look forward to a substantive debate in Parliament on the Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018 based on the facts.”

Shadow Minister’s Comments

In response, Shadow Minister of Tourism Leah Scott said, “The Government’s bog standard reply, when they have absolutely no rebuttal to facts and accurate data, is that the Opposition is practicing scaremongering or innuendo. How is it scaremongering when it is a fact that the former PLP Government paid out $400,000 of Mr & Mrs Bermuda’s taxpayers dollars on a tourism contract to Andre Curtis that was never fulfilled?

“How is it scaremongering when it is a fact that GlobalHue overcharged Mr & Mrs Bermuda as much as $1.8 million dollars, and averaged 51 percent in media commissions on the business, where industry averages are 10 percent or less? If this is innuendo, Minister, please refute it and demonstrate where the inaccuracies lie!

“The Government’s unprecedented mandate for change is not, in many instances, change for the better for Bermuda or Bermudians. The ‘change’ in the gaming legislation has left the position of Executive Director vacant for fifteen months, an inability to get any bank to accept gaming proceeds, and zero job opportunities for Mr & Mrs Bermuda.

“Minister DeSilva states that under the OBA Government, Bermudian tourism jobs disappeared, while non -Bermudian tourism jobs grew. Perhaps he can define for me, and the general public, exactly what ‘Bermudian’ tourism jobs vs ‘non-Bermudian’ tourism jobs are, because my understanding is that most, if not all of the staff at the BTA are Bermudian. Is he speaking about specific industry sectors? If so, then he should clarify that and quantify his statement with accurate data.

“The PLP efforts to transform the economy has been a detriment to Mr & Mrs Bermuda. That transformation includes imposition of a sugar tax, higher taxes, higher health care costs, zero job creation or growth, a decline in retail sales and GDP.

“The truth is that tourism, as our second pillar, is generating revenue and creating jobs. When will Mr & Mrs Bermuda benefit from the funds ‘committed’ by the four companies who entered into the Fintech MOUs, with the Government. Where are the entrepreneurial, occupational and training opportunities that this proposed “third” sector of the economy is supposed to create? The long-term benefits that these relationships are supposed to yield have not even begun.

“Contrary to the Minister’s comments, we cannot engage in a substantive debate on this particular issue until we meet in the House of Assembly to debate it in the next few weeks.

“The modernisation of tourism began with the establishment of the BTA under the OBA Government, and it continues to go from strength to strength. In my opinion, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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Comments (23)

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  1. sandgrownan says:

    How about a big cup of STFU Zane?

    • Not so impressed says:

      Where’s our $20MILLION on Port Royal Zane????

      • Deep Throat says:

        Not to mention stuff like fourseasons, the debt, the unaccounted $500m under the PLP’s watch, the $1.2m friends and family payment, the court building and new wharf overspends, the AG civil suits …

    • Onion Juice says:

      The way how OBA set this up is scandalous, how the F!@# you have an entity that is Government funded and dont expect Government to be involved, and CEO getting paid $1000 a day.

      • sandgrowan says:

        Because politicians, of all stripes, are generally clueless.

        There is masses of oversight for the BTA, but they key thing is that it was de-politicised. That was a good thing. Let professionals run the show. This is retrograde step given well documented PLP failure in tourism.

        The fact that it’s DeSilva is the icing on the cake. What is scandalous is how Port Royalgate was brushed under the carpet.

      • Jus' Wonderin' says:

        shut up bra…you offer nothin

      • DeOnion says:

        It was done like this to ensure investors/developers know that it is independent/free of government influence. That is a major deal with those people

      • question says:

        How much per day is $1.2m a year? Does the government control that business?

      • ben says:

        It was organized and engineered under the PLP, Vince Ingham and Winfield. Oba only turned the swich.

    • Point boy says:

      The facts are there for all to see. The BTA being irrelevant from political interference has proven itself! Nothing but positives.

      I dare say: bus; ferry; parks; W+E

  2. Kevin says:

    Well Said and definitely accurate….with all sectors of Government failing they need to grasp control of the only success we have and that is the BTA they have done a stellar job in growing what was left in shambles after 14 years of plp control…said it before when you don’t know you just don’t know and if you consider flip flop singing the us national anthem at a Mets baseball game as getting NYorkers excited about Bermuda well then it explains why we are where we are today. Everything they touch turns to stone, we had a chance if they let the BTA do their job …but oh no the control freaks are at it again

    • DeOnion says:

      The reason for keeping bodies such as the BTA – and Gaming Commission – independent is to assure investors ….

      • wahoo says:

        ….and taxpayers…don’t forget them….they are very uncertain about how the money gets spent. Remember Global Hue? There was a jetgate there for sure and a price tag that would have built a bunch of Port Royals.

        How does Zane explain his apparent privilege to somebody like OJ?

  3. trump supporter says:

    Well they need something that works under there hat.
    They cant organize a trash pickup.
    They cant organize a bus schedule.
    They organize to build a small wall in a timely ,manner.

  4. Mark says:

    Lol. I couldnt get past the first line without commenting – did Zane Desilva just accuse the oba of scaremongering?!? Honestly, i can only laugh at his and this governments blatant deceptions.

  5. Ty says:

    I listened to this gentleman on the local news last night and he is SO conniving in his speaking that I can’t believe he actually believed what he said himself.

    I could not stand to hear him speak.

    My quote may not be exact but you’ll get the jist of it. Zane says “If we see something the BTA or BTA board is doing and we do not like it – we (GOVT) should have a say in it and tell the BTA NO”

    Sure as hell sounds like control to me.

    Why don’t you just leave the BTA alone. Should they fail – at least your grubby little hands had nothing to do with it. As the saying goes “If it aint broke – don’t fix it”

    And as for buddy-pal Jahmal – Give up politics COMPLETELY. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. You should be embarrassed. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    • Cranberry says:

      You have to understand that his audience is not you!! It’s Mr and Mrs PLP Sheeple.

      Yes its a word – “term that highlights the passive herd behavior of people easily controlled by a governing power which likens them to sheep, a herd animal that is easily led about.”

  6. Eve says:

    The Shadow Minister should have come up with more than rehashing the mistakes the previous PLP government made. The taxpayer money wasted on Andre Curtis, GloabalHue, Playboy party, Beyoncé and more were at the direction of the Premier who was acting as Tourism Minister. The Premier didn’t have to worry about being held accountable, he did whatever he wanted. The BTA is very similar in that they have moved ahead and not being held accountable to provide ROI facts to taxpayers. Too many taxpayers are accepting what BTA want to do without asking for the proof that BTA is giving taxpayers a return on their investment. If BTA was a government entity and functioning the same as they do now with no interfererence from the government, taxpayers would want to know more about how their tax dollars were being spent. The taxpayers shouldn’t stop asking questions about the BTA just because the BTA is independent of the government and visitor numbers are increasing. Did Jamahl lose the position because he got cozy with the BTA and didn’t take close look at BTA like promised when he got the position?

  7. puzzled says:

    The year of plenty….

  8. Paul says:

    Well Simmons was removed from his post,and now we have Desilva as the tourism minister, Zane and doc Brown will be running the plp from now on..

  9. JOSEPH says:

    Interesting what Eve said; I am scared of Zane but what if he appoits his best golfing buddy (who has lots of financial expertise when it comes to transport and tourism) as the depoty chairman