Preliminary Comments on the Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility RFP Proposal
Voices of BEST
This RFP poses another Public Private Partnership (PPPs) proposal using privatisation as a means of improving or sustaining Bermuda’s infrastructure and services. While claims may be made that PPP and or privatization will allow the public sector to benefit from the supposed commercial dynamism, innovative skills and efficiencies of private sector investors, we believe these claims to be credible must be supported by hard and long-term evidence.
As a major stakeholder in Bermuda’s environmental, social and economic sustainability, the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) has several concerns. We make the following points:
- We have not seen credible evidence that Governments (the Bermuda Government included) save money on PPP or privatisation of public services. The key issue is accountability and privatisation would seem to add a layer that further shields providers of the service from being held accountable to users of the service. We are not convinced that the public will be better, more economically or more efficiently served just because a service has been privatised.
- When infrastructure refurbishment or development becomes unavoidable (Tynes Bay, the Hospital, the Causeway, etc.) we often then discover that no or inadequate financial provision has been factored in to the operating budget. We suspect this may be the principal driving factor for the Bermuda government: a need to refurbish or replace with private instead of public money in order to avoid taxation, expensive borrowing and/or other problems more subject to public scrutiny.
- Logically, if there is to be divided ownership at Tynes Bay, capital assets should be retained by the government, with a private company providing the services. Further, the cost to the consumer of all refuse services (over 15 years) should be projected by an independent specialist.
- What is the expected length of the contract period? This question is important because over a 30 year period, for example, there is a likelihood that the political party in power could change several times. Each successive government could be reluctant to inherit PPPs, particularly as these will undoubtedly reduce their fiscal management options. Also, even large companies do not necessarily survive for 30 years, which signals possible trades in PPP contracts and attendant issues.
- With a comfortable long-term contract, would a private company be compelled to retain Bermudians in preference to cheap foreign labour? Would they be given “concessions” such as an easing of requirements that they retain the skills, quality of workmanship and environmental standards set by law and expected by the public?
- What Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) will be required as part to the RFP and to what international standard will it be held? Will a Special Development Order (SDO) have full public disclosure, adequate time for public discussion, and cooperative rather than adversarial consultation with stakeholders?