Oh, the irony
The latest in the saga concerning duty relief for The Smoke Shop actually made me laugh. We certainly need something to cheer us up during these times of hardship and uncertainty in Bermuda.
You may have read Michael Heslop’s Letter to the Editor clarifying the recent, erroneous inference by the Premier in the House of Assembly — that the Gibbons family had ownership or participation in The Smoke Shop and/or tobacco business. Mr Heslop confirmed that he owns and has controlled the business since 2013, and the Gibbons family and their business interests have no ownership or participation in The Smoke Shop.
OK, that was not funny and actually it shows how dangerous the shield of parliamentary privilege can be. You can stand up in “the Big House” and say what you believe — or would like — to be true without any consequences when you are wrong.
I checked the Hansard on the Premier’s statement in this particular House session and in addition to the “Gibbons family” comment, he stated that The Smoke Shop was repeatedly asked to submit up-to-date audited financial statements — which had yet to be received — before any duty relief could be considered.
While that is certainly a reasonable request, it is also hilarious. Why? Because the Auditor-General has asked the Government for 30 years to provide up-to-date financials and yet, despite its noncompliance, we all still keep paying them with no questions asked.
Not sure the Premier considered the irony of his statement.