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DeSilva accuses Scott of ‘scaremongering’

Greater accountability: tourism minister Zane DeSilva

Tourism minister Zane DeSilva has dismissed criticism over a Bill to give him extra powers within the Bermuda Tourism Authority as scaremongering.

He was responding to claims by Shadow Minister of Tourism Leah Scott that the move amounted to political interference.

Mr DeSilva said: “It is unfortunate that the Opposition seems more interested in scaremongering and innuendo than engaging in a substantive debate on the Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018.”

He said the first appointments to the BTA were “political” and that the authority was set up with a board given the power to reappoint itself with no input from the Government or taxpayers who fund it.

“This approach is also not reflective of most other tourism authorities in the region,” Mr DeSilva said. “Our position is that this approach doesn’t make sense and lessens accountability.”

He highlighted that if successful, the Bill would give him the right to appoint future members to the board and to appoint future deputy chairmen in consultation with the BTA.

It would give him the power to remove future board members and to provide general direction to the aboard in consultation with the BTA.

He added that the Bill would not enable him to remove any board member before their term of office was complete, to fire the CEO or any employees, to determine hiring or promotions, or to select grant recipients.

Mr DeSilva said his party had won an “unprecedented mandate for change” and is committed to modernise the island’s tourism product and enhance entrepreneuralism. “Let us not forget that under the previous government, Bermudian tourism jobs disappeared, while non-Bermudian tourism jobs grew,” he said.

“The PLP was elected to transform our economy for the future and to implement policies which put development and investment in Bermudians first to yield long-term benefits.”

Mr DeSilva said he looked forward to a “substantive debate” in Parliament “based on the facts”.