Here is a summary of what we as Bermudians seem to want in the airport deal:
- Primarily Bermudians to be employed in building or repairing it
- To own all revenues from the resulting project
- No new debt
Here’s are the problems.
- Employing Bermudians makes the project expensive and risky. Sure we could put the project out to tender and try to get say a Chinese company to fund and build the airport but they’ll insist on using their own labor to keep costs low, control the budget and benefit them. Even still we’d have to give up revenues or increase taxes.
- If we want to own all revenues from the resulting project we need to cover all costs and risks. We simply can’t afford it. We simply don’t have any money. The commission of inquiry showed one thing very clearly, we’re not capable of conducting a large infrastructure project on time and on budget.
- We can’t afford to take on any new debt. If we take on new debt during the period of rising interest rates that we’re facing, I am certain we’ll be forced into mass civil service layoffs. Simply because we can’t introduce a new services/vat tax as that is incredibly complicated and takes a lot of time. We can’t simply tax corporate profits as the PLP extended the exemption until 2035. Passenger taxes are already high so we can’t increase those. That leaves options of, increase duty and payroll taxes or cut the civil service.
The options suck, however the biggest problem we face is that the OBA makes it seem like we only have one choice. We absolutely have choices and that is what the OBA should be putting to the people. The people need to understand why the OBAs choice is the best one, not be told that it is.