Bermudians should understand that the PLP government will never ever say the airport project is a good deal for Bermuda – no matter the facts, no matter the positive professional judgments on the deal, even by their own consultant LeighFisher.
They will never acknowledge the oppressive economic realities that surrounded the deal – including a PLP record in office that left Bermuda economically hobbled, with thousands out of work and government finances severely compromised.
They will never acknowledge that the OBA government managed to negotiate and agreement with the Canadian Government that guaranteed the project be delivered on time and on budget and be paid for over time by users of the airport, not Bermuda’s taxpayers.
They will never acknowledge – as their consultant did – that the Agreement achieved important benefits such as:
- No increase in sovereign debt
- No impact to Debt/GDP ratio
- No effect on Bermuda’s credit rating
- With room left available for other projects and priorities
The PLP’s obsessive commitment to negative spin on the airport makes it impossible for them to the forest for the trees. As a result, Premier Burt’s statement on Friday locked on the fact that the airport contract, like virtually all contracts, are binding, and that to break it would cost Bermuda dearly.
The Premier’s spin ignored his consultant’s conclusions that:
- “The terms and conditions of the Project Agreement are broadly consistent with other similar contracts.
- “The interest rate for the long-term debt is within market range.
- “The return on investment for the equity sponsor, Aecon, is within market range, and
- “The balance of risk/reward is consistent with other similar projects.”
The Premier’s spin ignored the judgment of a Blue Ribbon Panel put together by the OBA government to assess the Project Agreement – a panel comprised of highly reputable, independent-minded Bermudians who concluded that the transaction was “commercially sound and reasonable…”
His spin also ignored his consultant’s recommendation that the Project Agreement contained optimizing opportunities to expand workforce development, training and jobs for Bermudians; as well as social investments to promote education, productivity, better health and social inclusion.
We say: “Get on with it. Stop spinning. Do your job.”
Bermuda negotiated a good deal for a new airport in the midst of serious economic challenges and in the face of extreme political opposition – a deal that is generating jobs for Bermudians that will support their families while rebuilding infrastructure critical to the future of the Island.
That’s not spin.
On a final note, given the Premier’s words on the importance of government transparency, he should report the cost of the airport review by LeighFisher and disclose whether or not it was a sole-sourced contract.