Government’s airport redevelopment deal with Canadian Commercial Corporation is to be reviewed by an independent panel of local experts in finance, accounting and economics, finance minister Bob Richards announced today.
Richards indicated to the media that he was confident that the panel would conclude that the controversial deal is the best option for Bermuda. He would not be drawn on what the government’s approach would be should the panel make an adverse conclusion, saying the question was hypothetical.
“I have appointed this group of local experts. I am confident they …will come to a conclusion I came to quite some time ago.”
Panel members are Craig Simmons, Economics Senior Lecturer at the Bermuda College, Gil Tucker, retired Chairman of Ernst & Young Ltd., Barclay Simmons, a Managing Partner of ASW Law and chairman of Butterfield Bank, Anthony Joaquin, retired partner of Ernst & Young and Chairman of HSBC Bermuda and Caroline Foulger retired partner of Price Waterhouse Coopers.
The panel will be given full access to all information on the deal – including the project agreement which Government says it cannot make public until financial close.
The Opposition Progressive Labour Party has called on Government to allow the Auditor General to conduct an independent review. That proposal was rejected last year by the Premier who argued that independent assessments had been done and that the Auditor General was not equipped to carry out such a review.
PLP leader David Burt said that his party had not been consulted on the composition of the panel. He was unable to respond immediately with his reaction to the development.
On December 2, 2016, Government’s plan to pass enabling legislation for the deal had to be shelved when demonstrators blocked access to the grounds of the House of Assembly.
Parliament is now scheduled to debate the legislation on February 3. The Bermuda Industrial Union has threatened that the America’s Cup could be disrupted if the airport plan is not withdrawn.
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