Cole Simons warned about concession comments
The Leader of the Opposition claimed he was told by a former finance minister that the planned residential units at the Fairmont Southampton will be given concessions by the Government.
Cole Simons was ordered by Derrick Burgess, the Acting Speaker of the House, to stop misleading the public after he persisted with questioning on the issue during the debate on the Tourism Investment Amendment Act 2023 on Friday evening.
The legislation, which was passed on the night, will give extended concession periods to hospitality developers and investors.
Mr Simons said: “The residential units will enjoy all of the concessions granted to the Fairmont Southampton and yet they will not form a part of the hotel development.
“These are residential units, and yet the investors in the residential units will get hotel concessions and their properties will not be in the hotel stock.
“Again, I am saying we are giving far too much away, and we are not examining the details of these concessions that we are giving. We are so eager to please.”
First, Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, interjected with a point of order.
He said: “It has been said very publicly that the residential component is not benefiting from any concession packages that have been designed thus far. I don’t understand why the Opposition is misleading the public in this way.”
Mr Burgess said: “That was clarified in the last sitting, and please give correct information, or I will stop you.”
However, Mr Simons pressed: “Mr Speaker, I have this information from a reliable source.”
Mr Burgess responded: “You heard what I said — don’t mislead the House. That information has been here and verified — it is in legislation.”
Mr Simons went on: “Mr Speaker, I have taken this information from a statement made by the former finance minister.”
He did not name the minister or specify whether it was Curtis Dickinson, the last finance minister, who resigned last February for reasons including the Government’s proposed extensions of concessions to hoteliers.
Mr Burgess interjected: “Mr Simons, if you are going against my ruling, you know what’s the next step is, don’t you? I will advise you again, stay away from that.”
Legislators face being ejected from the House of Assembly for non-compliance with Parliamentary rules.
Under the Fairmont Southampton Hotel Act 2022, developers of that hotel are entitled to full relief for 15 years from customs duties and certain taxes among other concessions.
The new legislation extends similar concessions to new and existing hotels, and offers others to restaurants and tourism attractions, subject to an application process.
The Government did not respond to questions about whether residential units would be granted the concessions by press time.
Mr Simons did not respond to questions regarding the information he said had been shared with him.