Jackson: Govt Should ‘Be More Transparent’

December 4, 2020

The Government should “work harder to be more transparent before committing what could amount to tens of millions of tax payers’ dollars to vertical farming,” OBA MP Susan Jackson said.

Ms Jackson said, “Government announced in the House of Assembly, confidential negotiations are taking place to invest in vertical farming. In June of last year [PDF], former Senator Vance Campbell announced in the Senate an estimated $35 million tax payer dollars “is being evaluated for indoor vertical agriculture and solar farming.”

Q&A in Parliament today about vertical farming:

“Without any public or farming industry consultation, the Bermuda Government earlier released a public statement “to allow Bermudians to invest in this entity so that they can enjoy the benefits of ownership of local food production.”

Ms Jackson stated, “Again, no one is criticizing concern regarding food security or ‘Government’s vision to create a nation of owners,’ but where’s the public awareness and how is this project going to bring more overseas currency into the local economy? What’s the status of the Bermuda government’s current agricultural projects? The Redemption Farm? Or, almost 300 acres of unused government farm land?

“There’s no transparency in negotiations and Government is expecting the local taxpayer to foot the bill, whether as private investors or out of the public purse.

“Yet, the Minister for the Cabinet Office Wayne Furbert stated in his November 12th press conference, ‘For the past year the Government, through the business development unit, has been working with Aerofarms to design and implement a vertical farming facility in Bermuda.’

“There are so many economic priorities facing Bermuda today. Feeding families and creating thousands of jobs. May I humbly suggest the Government work harder to be more transparent before committing what could amount to tens of millions of tax payers’ dollars to vertical farming when people are hungry now and need jobs now,” Ms Jackson concluded.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Curious says:

    How many commercial farmers are currently producing in Bermuda today? What is the current acreage of arable field use at prersent? How much arable land is unused in Bermuda today? Some of the questions requiring answers before I invest in vertical farming. What is my estimated return on investment and when might I expect return minister Furbert? I look forward to your response.

  2. Craig Looby says:

    from: Craig Looby
    date: Nov 16, 2020, 3:03 PM
    subject: To the Attention of the Finance Minister Good day
    As per my phone call earlier:
    Bermudians presented a detailed infrastructure development plan to the Premier in 2018 at the Cabinet in a meeting with the CEO’s and the lead investor attending via a conference call.
    This document included vertical farming, and sea based aquaculture and fish processing programs to export 1000MT of fish per year.
    This presentation was also presented with a funding program plan, which included securing investment from the Bermuda Infrastructure Fund, who expressed an interest, overseas investors, participation of USA export programs.
    In 2018 we asked a series of questions of the government to move the deployments forward…these questions after repeated attempts to get answers, via email, still remain unanswered.
    Starting from Oct. 9 a meeting with the economic minister was being requested, confirmed for Oct 21, an email was presented with an outline and a series of questions were presented in advance of the meeting…. and since then the minister and his staff have been silent, the meeting never took place.
    The vertical farm plan presented in 2018 to the Premier, cost far less than the $30 million price tag, associated with Mr Furberts vertical farming announcement, making the cost of the produce also more affordable to Bermudians.
    Why is the Bermuda government engaging in discrimination against Bermudians, interlectual property theft, and obstruction / circumvention of Bermudians from securing ownership of infrastructure in Bermuda?
    Why is the Bermuda government attempting to open up businesses, when the private sector has clearly expressed interests to deploy these operations, and provide their own deployment financing solutions, saving the taxpayers millions of dollars in times where the island is in an unsustainable financial situation?
    Why is the government once again signing MOU’s with foreign companies, while Bermudians have presented interests and solutions to deploy these operations, how is this putting Bermudians first, and living up to all the various election slogans and promises just made to the electorate during the last general election cycle?
    The questions asked in 2018 of the Bermuda Infrastructure Fund and the Bermuda government, which have still remained unanswered, need to be answered, and the Ministry of Economic Development’s plans to sign off on the MOU with Aero Farms needs to be canceled, and Bermudians provided with the opportunity to carry out their proposed deployments, as per the two sets of reforms that the PLP govt has / will be making to the Office of Procurement, that are supposed to be presenting un obstructed paths for Bermudians to access opportunities in Bermuda to create jobs.
    Who holds the Bermuda Infrastructure Fund accountable, who are the companies that invested into the Bermuda infrastructure fund, what are the emails contacts for their CEO’s?
    Who are those that make up the body known as the Cabinet Committee for Economic Development?
    I would like their email addresses please.
    Craig Looby

  3. Craig Looby says:

    from: Craig Looby
    subject: Re: To the Attention of the Finance Minister Good day Ms Martin,
    We are following up on the written response from the Minister of Finance, can you provide an update?
    Craig Looby