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Premier denies Fairmont Southampton deal caused finance minister to quit

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David Burt, the Premier has taken over the role as Finance Minister. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Premier has denied that Curtis Dickinson’s shock resignation as finance minister was due to a bust-up over Government support for the $200 million Fairmont Southampton hotel redevelopment.

David Burt said: “I don’t believe that is accurate to say.”

He added: “Our 2020 election manifesto said that the Government will support the following major public and private sector building projects, and the second one on that list was the redevelopment of Fairmont Southampton hotel.”

Mr Burt was speaking after he appointed himself finance minister – despite a warning from elder statesman Sir John Swan not to take on the two top Cabinet posts at the same time.

Mr Burt took over the portfolio two days after Mr Dickinson’s sudden resignation and just before next Friday’s Budget statement, which the Premier said would be a “tough” one.

Sir John said earlier that “everybody knows” Mr Dickinson had reservations about the Fairmont Southampton deal.

Mr Burt said: “I think it’s rather amusing that today the Minister of Finance is held up as a beacon, shining star performer, but last week there were front page headlines talking about his matters of travel.”

Mr Burt, speaking at a swearing-in ceremony at Government House, also brushed aside Sir John’s insistence that Mr Dickinson’s departure will damage the economy and Bermuda’s international credibility.

He said: “The fact is that people can have whatever opinion they wish, but governments must continue to run and to function.”

He added: “The fact is that the Government will continue to work through the issues that we are challenged with.

“I continue to maintain good relations with international business.

“I have no doubt that we will continue to maintain the stellar reputation that Bermuda has had.”

Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister (File photograph)

Mr Burt said: “This will be an extremely difficult budget as we strike the balance required to stabilise public finances, promote economic growth, deliver on our election promises, and provide relief and services for the people of this country.

“I have invited Her Excellency the Governor to assign to me the responsibility for the Finance portfolio.

“Needless to say, we are on the cusp of the delivery of a Budget for the next fiscal year and I can confirm that the schedule for the Budget is unaltered.”

Mr Burt added that work on the Budget had started last October and was “largely completed” before Mr Dickinson tendered his resignation on Monday.

Mr Burt told the House of Assembly on February 4 that he expected a deal to be signed with developers Gencom over the landmark Fairmont Southampton in the near future, but no announcement has been made.

He added that legislation for Government-backed support for the reopening of the resort would be tabled in the House of Assembly.

Mr Burt said that the move would “provide certainty to the various investors who stand to inject over $200 million into this redevelopment”.

The Premier again refused to disclose the travel and accommodation costs for a trip he made to a cryptocurrency conference in Chicago last December.

Mr Burt has said only that organisers paid for the visit, but he had claimed $23.48 in expenses for meals on the trip.

Mr Dickinson revealed that two visits to New York in recent months had cost taxpayers more than $17,000.

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Published February 17, 2022 at 2:53 pm (Updated February 17, 2022 at 2:53 pm)

Premier denies Fairmont Southampton deal caused finance minister to quit

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