The Premier and Minister of Finance, the Hon. David Burt, has issued the following statement today regarding Bermuda Skyport’s announcement that its shareholder, Aecon, has entered into an agreement with Toronto-based investment asset management firm Connor, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure (“CC&L Infrastructure”) to sell a 49.9 percent stake in Skyport.
Premier Burt stated, “It is disappointing that Bermuda’s elected Government and Bermuda’s taxpayers have to sit idly by while foreign companies sell our airport for their own profit.
During COVID, the taxpayers of Bermuda had to write cheques to Skyport amounting to $50 million in minimum revenue guarantees because of the OBA’s terrible no-bid deal. The fact that taxpayers were required to pay to protect Skyport’s valuations was bad enough, but today – the news gets much worse for Bermudians.
At a time when Bermudians are challenged to make ends meet, at a time when the Government is doing all it can to reduce taxes for workers to cope with global inflation, and at a time when the Government is working so hard to balance Bermuda’s budget, today’s news will anger many.
In 2017 Aecon invested only $65 million of equity into the no-bid privatisation of Bermuda’s airport. Today, with this sale, the value of that equity is now $257 million, an increase of $192 million – which should shock every taxpayer. Aecon’s investment is four times what it was worth just six years ago, while taxpayers were obligated to give Skyport $50 million in revenue guarantees.
The Government was informed by email at 3:59 PM of this sale of equity by Skyport. Many Bermudians, including the Cabinet, learned about it from the international press. Sadly, due to the bad deal passed by the former Government that was opposed by a majority of the voters in Bermuda, the elected Government sits on the sidelines while foreign companies profit at the expense of Bermuda’s taxpayers.
This is why we in the PLP worked so hard to get a fairer deal for Bermuda when we were in Oppostion. This is why Bermudians from all walks of life protested this privatisation and were tragically subjected to pepper spray as the OBA was determined to approve this terrible deal. And today, while Bermuda’s taxpayers are still paying Skyport’s energy bills, still paying minimum revenue guarantees to Skyport, and the Government had to spend $4 million of extra funds for firefighters to keep Bermuda’s airport open with no assistance from Skyport, Aecon is laughing all the way to the bank.
This is why elections and issues matter. I would ask every taxpayer to think what could have happened if the PLP prevailed with our plea many years ago and Bermudians were the investors in our own airport rather than a foreign company that received a 30-year no-bid contract, who today has quadrupled their investment in just six years. If we had prevailed, those extraordinary returns could have benefited Bermuda’s taxpayers – benefiting our economy. Sadly, the only thing the taxpayers will get from today’s sale is a bill on March 31st from Skyport demanding their next minimum revenue guarantee payment.”
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