Deputy premier fails to reveal port price tag

| 02/11/2017 | 44 Comments

(CNS): Following the challenges made by both the premier and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell to Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller’s belief that plans for a cruise berthing facility and an expanded cargo port would cost around $350 million, Kirkconnell, who is also the tourism minister, failed to reveal the real price when he made his contribution to the budget debate Wednesday night. Kirkconnell raised a point of order during Miller’s comments earlier in the day, but when challenged by Miller to tell the people, if that assumption was wrong, what the actual cost would be, the minister said he would address the issue when he was on his feet.

However, when Kirkconnell began his debate late in the evening, he failed to reveal the price tag for the project. He spent a great deal of time talking about the continued record-breaking success of overnight tourism but when he spoke about the cruise port and cargo expansion, he revealed no additional information.

The opposition has been increasingly referring to the project as “secret” because, despite claims by government that it is following best practice on this proposed major infrastructure development, more and more of the progress appears to be taking place behind closed doors, and major details, like the estimated costs, remain under wraps. The opposition leader has claimed that he has repeatedly asked for an update on the project but his requests have been ignored.

When Kirkconnell spoke about the project yesterday, he insisted that government would not be paying for it, even though it will be financed through the collection of port fees. He said there had been a considerable amount of ‘fake news’ about the proposed cruise and cargo port development. However, as he recounted the history of the project, Kirkconnell repeatedly claimed that the $350 million price tag was incorrect but completely failed to say what the expected costs are.

He admitted that the redesign, pushing the piers further back into deeper waters, has increased the costs but he gave no indication what the final bill will be. He refuted the claims made by Miller that government has only managed to secure somewhere between a $50-100 million commitment from the cruise lines, leaving a massive shortfall and huge questions about who will be financing the gap between the fees and the costs of the project.

Denying that the government will have any liability, Kirkconnell justified the plan by claiming that the PPM had run on that campaign promise in 2013, and that if Grand Cayman does not develop berthing facilities it will lose what cruise business it has instead of being able to grow to more than 2.3 million passengers a year — the estimated number of passengers that will come as a result of larger and more ships calling.

The minister said he wanted to see successful overnight and cruise tourism, which could be balanced. He suggested that Caymanians in particular are dependent on cruise rather than overnight tourism for jobs and supporting their businesses.

Kirkconnell confirmed that bidders had been pre-qualified, but as the contract was a design-build-finance-maintain model, the final designs would be down to whoever won the contract. He said the process to find the contractor who will do all of that was expected to begin this month.

Although the tourism minister is committed to the project and claims it has support among a significant number of local people working in the cruise business, the public consultation came down three to one against.

Many local tour operators are opposed to the project as they fear the impact it will have on the country’s increasingly successful and more lucrative overnight tourism business. The costly and controversial plan has also caused concerns for watersports operators as a result of significant environmental issues because of the risks to the reefs in the George Town Harbour. They fear the loss of the dive attractions in George Town will put more pressure on other sites, which will be compounded by the massive concentrated increases in passengers in high season seeking activities to do while they are in Cayman for even longer.

While there are a limited number of powerful downtown merchants who have dominated the debate and support the project as they are going to overwhelmingly benefit, many other stakeholders fear Grand Cayman does not have the infrastructure to cope with such an increase in passengers.

See Kirkconnell’s comments on the port in the CIGTV extract of the LA proceedings below  ending at 1:30:30

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Category: development, Government Finance, Local News, Politics

Comments (44)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Anyone else smell the kirkbots out supporting their minister? There, to my knowledge, has never been an article where so many comments have been written supporting a minister. It is not in Caymanians DNA to do so. I call bull. It worries me incessantly that the rise of the orange orangutan in the north has empowered politicos globally (even in Cayman) to generate fake news, never give the facts and have people write on social and news media supporting them.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    The sun may be shining, but just like the original Diogenes, I have to hold my lamp high because even in broad daylight, I can’t seem to find an honest man ( even among the “Honorable” members of our LA ).

    Diogenes of Cayman

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Moses has to be the most honest and caymanian hearted Mla I’ve ever known. He is brining more prosperity to our island and our people than the last 20 tourism minsters

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  4. Anonymous says:

    How in held can the deputy premier give any estimated cost for the project when it has not been put out for tender yet to obtain prices. Any increase in prices will solely be the responsibility of the DOE, the NCC and all the so called environmentalists.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because he should know what they are willing to pay. Not stating a number means he doesn’t care what it costs.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Remember the airport expansion was supposed to cost $55 million. Wonder if they’re within budget?

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I listened to this session on the video and have seen progress, all these good things happening like tourism arrivals increase, new airport, tourism training programs for our children make me proud to be Caymanian

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Its crazy to me how some people want to hang a minister that has actually been one of the best we’ve had in a LONG time. Mr moses is doing a great awesome job for Cayman and our people.

    Keep you head up Mr Kirkconnell and keep making us proud and making Cayman the best tourist island in the world.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Shouldn’t you have called him Mose?

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    • West bay Premier says:

      I think that the CI Government had a perfect opportunity to renegotiate a new deal with the Cruise lines a few weeks ago when all the ships couldn’t go to the other Caribbean Islands . That could have guaranteed financial aid for the Cruise ship dock , but they blew it . Sense Mr Kirkcoonnell won’t say where the money would be coming from , he could just take his own money and build the dock and we name it the Moses dock .

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    • Anonymous says:

      He has an obligation to answer to his peers and to the electorate It shouldn’t be this difficult to be forthright, even if the answer is “I don’t know”. Ego.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    The Minister reminds of the great one up north. Has no intention of keeping his word.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I hope no one was holding their breath waiting on him to comply.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps Moses could specify exactly which vessel(s) a Grand Cayman pier is to be constructed for? If the argument is still that we need to accommodate “essential” super-tonnage cruise ships, then which one(s). Public exchange-traded companies have order book records, disclosed shipyard commitments, and are covered by equity analysts from all over the world. Easy to find this stuff.

    This is what the super tonnage Caribbean-destined order book looks like out to 2020:

    LINER VESSEL $MLNS TONNAGE CAP SHIPYARD THEATER LAUNCH
    MSC Seaside $950 154,000 4,140 Fincantieri Carib Dec 2017
    CCL Horizon $780 135,000 4,000 Fincantieri Carib Mar 2018
    RCL Symphony $1,300 227,625 5,400 STX France Carib Apr 2018
    NCL Bliss $1,100 164,600 4,200 Meyer Alaska/Carib Q2 2018
    CCL Unnamed $780 135,500 4,200 Fincantieri Carib Fall 2019

    Add in Global Existing/Aging Inventory:

    LINER VESSEL TONNAGE CAP THEATER COMMISSION
    RCL Harmony 226,963 5,494 East Carib 2016
    RCL Oasis 225,282 4,074 West Carib 2009
    RCL Allure 225,282 4,074 West Carib 2010
    MSC Meraviglia 171,598 4,500 Med (East Carib from 2019) 2017
    RCL Quantum 168,666 4,180 China 2014
    RCL Ovation 168,666 4,180 China/Australia (w tender ops) 2016
    RCL Anthem 168,666 4,180 East USA/CDA 2014
    NCL Joy 167,725 3,883 China 2017 (delayed due to fires)
    NCL Escape 165,157 4,248 Tendering in GCM since 2015!

    Out to 2025, a handful of ships are planned for unspecified markets, peaking at 200kGT (ie. smaller than existing Oasis Class), none planned larger than RCL Symphony of the Seas expected in early 2018. See also that NCL Escape at 165,157 GTs has been happily tendering it’s weekly haul of passengers since 2015.

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    • Diogenes says:

      They are spending the next two years planning and you think they have this figured out yet, treat just about everything they have said so far as hypothetical, theoretical and subject to change.

      Don’t forget the JGHS project is now more than 10 years old and is being reworked so don’t have high hopes

      Diogenes

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    • PD says:

      Don’t worry the perfume, jewelry, watches and other stuff they are selling will move pretty good.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    what I don’t understand is how cns could hear this whole speech and then write this article???? did they miss most of the speech???

    CNS NOTE: By way of explanation for readers who don’t understand that CNS is a private sector news website that chooses what stories it will cover when it wants. Editorial decisions are based on myriad reasons including and certainly fundamentally what we believe to be of public interest. It is not our role to rehash or report on everything politicians say in the LA (or anywhere else for that matter) especially when the entire proceedings are freely available on line posted regularly by the team at GIS as well as on the government TV channel and on Radio Cayman. We will continue to selectively cover what we believe is of interest to our readers and will do so in a manner we feel is accessible which may mean that certain headline news items may be singled out and addressed in short form albeit from a longer speech before more coverage of that speech may or appear later. We thank all our readers for their contributions.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I travel frequntly to other Caribbean islands and have friends in many others and i can tell you withour a shadow of a doubt that caymans tourism team is the industry leader.
    Our island is in much better shape than any of the others and it is clearly due to the professionalism of our tourism heads and minister.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I just watched the whole video and I think the journalists here missed most of the story…
    Seems like this is the best organized department of tourism and the best results we’ve seen in forever.

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  14. SMH says:

    Moses shall leadeth these beloved Cayman Islands to financial ruin with his poor leadership. SMH

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CNS for posting the video of Minister Kirkconnell’s contribution in the LA. I’d encourage everyone to click on the WATCH ENTIRE VIDEO link. I really appreciated hearing a clear explanation of the many exciting and successful projects. Makes you realise how blessed we are in Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He didn’t give us the budgeted cost of the dock though as he promised when he, the Premier and the speaker interrupted Mr miller’s debate . That is the problem with the speech. The speaker interrupted Mr millers debate no less than 7/8 times. He should have really paid keen attention,he might have learned something.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    I hate to quote Donald trump but this really is a bunch of fake news. Ppm got elected 5 years ago saying they would build a dock. They got re-elected again this year after approving the dock.

    It is loud and clear that the caymanian people want and need this dock.

    Only people against it is all the divers and expats and tender ship guys

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    • Diogenes says:

      If the PPM really thought that the public was behind this cruise berthing facility they would have included it on the 2017 ballot, as a ballot initiative. If they had included it on the ballot and the majority voted for it then they would have the mandate they need to push it through the house with little resistance from the opposition, The fact that they left that option off the ballot should tell you that they aren’t confident that their plan is popular.
      Since you actually believe that people want the PPM to build this then why did the people of the Cayman Islands elect 9 independents and only 7 PPM members ( 8 Independents and 8 PPM when you include Ms Rivers in the PPM)

      Since the people are so happy with this grandiose cruise berthing idea shouldn’t the PPM have won in a landslide? Oh wait, maybe people are divided on this issue (and other portions of the PPM agenda and policy) and that is why they barely held on to power and are now forced to get into bed with Mckeeva the same man the spent the last 15 years insulting and rivaling. Don’t forget a few short months ago they were at each other’s throats vying for power and now they are buddy buddy. I don’t buy it and neither should anyone with common sense.

      Diogenes

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    • Anonymous says:

      Only people for it are rich merchants and their cronies, in and out of government.

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  17. Jotnar says:

    Well, if the project is going to be a design build and operate model, with the final design determined by the selected contractor, the Minister cannot possibly know what the cost of building will be. But to worry about how much the project will cost to actually build is the wrong question – its what control over the port operation will the government have to give up so the developer will finance the construction – not just future loss of berthing fees but other sources of revenue such as retail operation and the Port authorities revenue.. Now lets see, who can think of a developer who has enough money to finance construction of this magnitude, has existing retail operations catering to cruise shippers, and has a track record of being prepared to invest heavily in Cayman infrastructure in exchange for then completely dominating his chosen markets. I wonder.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you don’t want to get screwed, you start with what you are willing to spend and ask what can be designed and built for that price. He should have a number in mind now.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Moses is one of the best and most productive elected members we have had in decades.
    We will have a new airport and sea port after his final years of service to this country and I hope that he ends up with a statue in hero square for his contributions to the country.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Also, the Government’s own consultant reports said ‘you’ll get more return on investment by improving the tourist experience in GT than by building piers to bring (no) more tourists in (no) faster to go to where?’ (Sandbar, Cayman’s #1 attraction, is already at tourist capacity.)

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Kudos to the Tourism Minister and his Ministry. They have done a superb job of growing our tourism industry. Our arrivals are at an all time high, and that has created good job opportunities for our young people. Keep up the good work!

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  21. Anonymous says:

    No big surprise there. This is another project that may look good to a few people on paper but is potentially a financial disaster for these islands. Despite Ezzard’s comments the true figure for cruise line commitment to this project is $0. Not one extra cent of real cruise line money (the FCCA doesn’t count because it hasn’t got any money of its own) has been promised.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    And in other news today the deputy premier also failed to note any conflicts of interest of the minister for tourism with regard to family businesses, nor did he confirm that this would be a transparent transaction in the interests of the public.
    Time to come clean, get the fully priced proposal on the table and get public debate going. To do otherwise is pretty much proving the nay sayers right (and I am one of them), that this is self serving as opposed to Cayman serving. Ironic that the only fake news is the Kirkbots plugging their cause on here amongst other place, using racism, false facts, non facts, blatant lies and downright cheating comments. A disgrace. He should be sacked. A walk into the Georgetown shops will show you how many Caymanians are employed there-precious few. It will benefit the few, not the many. Alden must owe him big time.

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  23. A. Caymanian says:

    Dear Government of National Unity Members

    Please enlighten the public and provide clarity on the following questions:

    1. Will the public be informed of the full details before you commit to the final agreement in Q2 2018?

    2. (a) When will the public be able to review details?
    (b) Is it a secret?
    (c) Why are details being treated as a secret?

    3. How will the project be financed? Cruise lines will not pay for the cargo expansion component.

    4. Has the government updated the Outline Business Case given the new design and financing projections?

    5. Will the results of the new Environmental Impact Assessmebt be made public? If so, when and how will the information be shared?

    6. How will Cayman accommodate the 2.3-3million Cruise passengers per year?

    7. Is new infrastructure being put in place along the SMB to accommodate the volume that wish to soak up the world famous beach and it’s pristine waters?

    8. Where is the transparency that was promised and the Progressives campaigned on in May 2017?

    9. What exactly do you have to hide? Is the deal that bad?

    Unfortunately, the attitude and behavior being displayed by the government, Cabinet Members , caucus and ministry officials regarding the promised public consultation and information sharing phase with relevant details suggests that there are significant issues that may embarrass the government. The question to be asked then is why are you committed to moving forward at any costs? In fact your collective actions are reminiscent of the conduct of the previous UDP administration during its covert negotiations with China Harbour Group in 2011-12.

    Sincerely,

    A. Caymanian

  24. Anonymous says:

    from the ppm…the folks who could not even build a school……zzzzzzzzzz

  25. Anonymous says:

    port development and its logistics are beyond the capabilities of CIG.
    we have been given the same updates for the past 10 years. We are still at square 1 with no design, no cost and no timeframe……..

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  26. Diogenes says:

    All the duty free merchants in GT will get their way and the PPM will do their bidding, anything for a quick buck, just add it all to the government credit card for future generations to pay off (maybe they can reuse Mac’s old one). If expenditure continues to rise without diversifying our government income you can kiss the “140 million” surplus goodbye surpluses in general will be a thing of the past

    Diogenes

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