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Senators spar over infrastructure investment

The Tynes Bay Waste Treatment Facility (File photograph)

Senators sparred over infrastructure projects and the replacement of the Tynes Bay Incinerator during the Reply to the Throne Speech debate in the Upper House today.

Owen Darrell, the Junior Minister of Public Works, attacked the One Bermuda Alliance for deciding to “burn money on bad, bad decisions” during its 2012 to 2017 tenure.

Mr Darrell also hit back at Ben Smith of the OBA for highlighting a low voter turnout in last year’s General Election – saying it was the OBA’s voters who opted to stay at home.

He criticised the OBA for spending on the Morgan’s Point development, the airport deal and the 2017 America’s Cup instead of investing in infrastructure.

Mr Darrell said Progressive Labour Party plans for an overhaul at the ageing Tynes Bay facility got shelved after the OBA took power in 2012.

He told the Senate the $100 million refurbishment could have been left with “money in the bank” without costs including the $200 million on Morgan’s Point, or the $41 million paid out so far in revenue guarantees for the new airport terminal.

Mr Darrell praised the PLP government’s infrastructure plans in the Throne Speech, such as the new St George’s marina and upgrades to the island wide CCTV security network.

He said he had learnt earlier that day that some of the strategic plans of the Throne Speech would get started before the month’s end.

He slammed the OBA for not proceeding with a 2014 review of the island’s prisons, calling it “just another example of the former OBA government’s decision that it was not important at the time to take care of maintenance and necessary infrastructure improvements”.

But Marcus Jones, the Shadow Minister for Economic Development, hit back that the OBA had spent $12 million on new equipment for capital upgrades at Tynes Bay in 2014-15 – doubling its electricity output.

“The idea that the entire facility has to be replaced six year on rings hollow,” he said.

Mr Jones said the OBA took power in 2012 after the PLP “left the coffers fairly empty”.

“I would hate to see where Bermuda would have been without the stimulus of the America’s Cup,” he said.

Mr Jones told the Senate the PLP’s plans for a new airport would have added to the island’s debt when “Bermuda was already over the red line” – and said the pandemic meant any Government would have had to pay minimum revenue guarantees for low flights “whether we had a new airport or not”.

On electoral turnout, Mr Jones said 55 per cent of voters had gone to the polls last year compared with 72 per cent in 2017, and 71 per cent in 2012.

He accused the PLP of putting election gains ahead of health and safety in 2020.

Mr Jones said the Throne Speech pledge to enhance the immigration department’s digital capacity fell short of the “massive immigration reform this country needs”, and that immigration legislation needed a complete overhaul.

He also faulted the slow pace of the Economic Recovery Plan announced in March 2021 – questioning why the Government would have to pay the accounting firm KPMG to oversee it.

Mr Jones added: “This Government needs to move at the speed of business.”

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Published November 19, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated November 19, 2021 at 7:55 am)

Senators spar over infrastructure investment

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