PLP leader Marc Bean blasts Ministers’ South Beach ‘junket’ – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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PLP leader Marc Bean blasts Ministers’ South Beach ‘junket’

Government's decision to send a Bermuda delegation to a conference in Miami has been branded “a junket on South Beach” by the Opposition.

Premier Craig Cannonier, along with three Ministers and three civil servants, are attending the two-day KPMG Island Infrastructure Summit, which kicked off yesterday with the aim of examining ways in which infrastructure projects can be developed.

But Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean pointed out that he attended the same conference as a Government Minister last year and an infrastructure development strategy was subsequently devised.

The plan — which cost taxpayers $500,000 — was still being drawn up when the One Bermuda Alliance won last December's general election, although according to Mr Bean, it has since been completed.

“As Minister, I attended the summit in 2012 and as a result issued a Request For Proposal for the development of a comprehensive infrastructure strategy for the use of future Bermuda Governments,” Mr Bean said in a statement.

“Multiple bids were received and PWC was selected as the successful bid. In the fourth quarter of 2012, PWC was paid approximately $500,000 to produce the infrastructure strategy.

“Naturally, the creation of the strategy was ongoing by the December 17 election, and upon completion, was to be presented to the incoming government.

“The Infrastructure Development Strategy is a key component of the PLP's plan to get Bermudians back to work. It would also remove arbitrary politically motivated decisions and replace them with a holistic approach using planning based on a sound economic rationale.”

Mr Bean said that the Opposition had repeatedly asked the new Government for updates on the strategy, “even calling for them, via our national response of July 22, 2013, to implement it as a means to stimulate the construction sector and facilitate the creation of much needed jobs”.

“The OBA have ignored our request for a status update, to the point that the public can be forgiven for thinking that such a strategy does not exist,” he said.

“The KPMG Summit is not for discussions as an end in itself, but rather, as a means by which respective Governments may engage a professional firm such as KPMG to develop a strategy.

“The other governments attending the KPMG Summit are there to begin a process that Bermuda commenced two years ago and completed several months ago. We urge the OBA, for the good of our Bermudian construction workers and companies, to stop wasting time, stop wasting money and implement the Infrastructure Development Strategy.”

Pointing out that one of the civil servants currently in Miami accompanied him to the same summit last year, Mr Bean added: “It is clear that the OBA instead of accepting the advice of their technical officers, would rather spend taxpayers funds on what amounts to be a junket on South Beach.

“My disappointment grows deeper when I consider this waste of taxpayers funds in the context of pay cuts for government workers, the Premier's call for collaboration, and the oft touted OBA slogan of ‘shared sacrifice'.”

Opposition Leader Marc Bean
... While Premier defends trip

Premier Craig Cannonier last night issued a progress report on the Miami summit, claiming that Bermuda was “ahead of the curve” in advancing new developments.

Leading a panel discussion before an audience of almost 140 investors, developers and service providers, Mr Cannonier said a reduction in bureaucracy had resulted in the speeding up of development projects on the Island.

He praised the Economic Development Committee, saying it had made a significant difference in cutting through the red tape for business proposals while bringing transparency and integrity to the process. “The Bermuda team is very encouraged at the positioning that Bermuda has experienced at this summit in relation to our competitors,” Mr Cannonier said.

“While we are all experiencing similar economic challenges and face growing demands from the private sector for major infrastructure developments, Bermuda is ahead of the curve in providing innovative solutions through private/public partnership by lowering the risk for investors through collaboration, for example the new Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Hospitals project.

“Several attendees have applauded our initiatives and have stated that they will look to implement the same model in their own countries. We are at this summit to attract investors. I applaud KPMG for bringing together a captive audience of keen Bermudian and international investors who are interested in the types of capital projects like the ones that exist in Bermuda.”

Government officials from 13 islands are attending the conference. In panel discussions slated for today, Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz and Tourism and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell will discuss strategies for successful capital project management, the redevelopment of the Bermuda airport and the creation of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

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Published September 23, 2013 at 11:06 pm (Updated September 24, 2013 at 1:47 pm)

PLP leader Marc Bean blasts Ministers’ South Beach ‘junket’

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