OBA calls on government to release details of Fairmont Southampton concessions – The Royal Gazette
Updated: April 24, 2022 7:13 PM
The Opposition today challenged the Government to give details of 15 years of concessions for developers renovating the Fairmont Southampton Hotel.
The remarks by Craig Cannonier, the shadow tourism minister, followed Friday’s tabling of a Development Bill presented to MPs by Vance Campbell, the tourism minister.
A government spokesman said concessions projections had been made by the Department of Finance, but details would be given on May 6 when MPs debate the Fairmont Southampton Hotels Act 2022.
Mr Cannonier asked if the projections were ‘the same numbers that former finance minister Curtis Dickinson was looking at and decided to resign or, are these Prime Minister Burt’s numbers?’
Mr. Burt has held the finance portfolio since February, when Mr. Dickinson stepped down ahead of the 2022-23 budget.
Mr Dickinson later told the House he had resigned in principle over “the amount and form of government support for redevelopment”.
Mr Cannonier said “a few things stood out” after Friday’s session – and the law as presented failed to answer “two glaring questions”.
“First, the concessions must include a 15-year tax relief period.
“Secondly, to justify the concessions, the Minister prefaced the law by saying that the economic benefits will far exceed the value of the concessions.”
Mr Cannonier called the 15 years of tax relief “unprecedented”, saying they “must be justified”.
“Unfortunately, there are no attachments that would allow the public to clearly see everything Bermuda is getting as the minister talks about it.”
He said the Progressive Labor Party as the opposition in 2014 called “vehemently” for details to be made public on the St Regis resort development framework agreement in St George’s.
“They went on to say, ‘How can Parliament be expected to give its consent to something that we haven’t seen? “”
Mr Cannonier said any sweeteners linked to the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton hotel must be made public “in order to support such historic concessions”.
The resort, the largest in Bermuda, has been closed since 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic shut down tourism, and its owners, Miami-based Gencom, have balked at securing funding, forcing the government to intervene and cover the severance pay of hotel employees. until Gencom is able to reimburse.
Mr Cannonier said: “Many more details should be available for such a critical project.
“Having to wait for the debate as the minister said is disappointing.
“What is clear is that these new industrial concessions will inevitably create unequal conditions of competition for those already operating in the hospitality industry.”