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P&R grilled on the financing of Condor’s new boat

P&R grilled on the financing of Condor’s new boat

Tuesday 21 March 2023

P&R grilled on the financing of Condor’s new boat

Tuesday 21 March 2023


Condor and the Guernsey Investment Fund haven’t yet completed the purchase of Condor’s new boat, according to Policy & Resources.

An update was given during a Scrutiny Hearing of P&R, where the Committee was grilled on various aspects of the Government Work Plan in the wake of the convoluted and controversial tax debate.

Treasury Lead for P&R, Deputy Mark Helyar, fielded several exploratory questions from Scrutiny President Yvonne Burford and Deputy Gavin St Pier, who had been invited on Scrutiny’s panel to help question the financial decisions made by the Committee.

Deputy Helyar confirmed again that £5million of public money will be invested in an infrastructure cell, specifically to help buy Condor’s new vessel, the MV Straitsman. Deputy Burford wanted clarification - since GIF was created to benefit the island - about what kind of return the GIF, and by default the States, would get from the investment in the ferry.

Condor_Islander_MV_Straitsman_.jpeg

Pictured: Condor's new ferry, the MV Straitsman. 

Deputy Helyar said “I can’t answer that question because the paperwork hasn’t been completed yet and the GIF would need to be asked, rather than the States”.

“Just to push you on the expected return,” furthered Deputy St Pier, “you must have a view on that because the States will be an investor into a new cell, with cell particulars - so it’s not just a matter for the [GIF] board, it’s a matter for you.”

In response, Deputy Helyar said the Committee would receive the particulars of the cell, and what objectives it had to provide - return etc - in due course, once the sale of the ferry had been completed and signed off. 

“So we don’t know what the anticipated return is likely to be for the States from this investment?” Deputy St Pier continued.

“I don’t at the moment,” replied Deputy Helyar. He said there would be a commercial return built into the lease arrangements. 

Later, it was Deputy Burford’s turn to quiz the President of P&R, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, about why the Fund chose to invest in the new ferry. She questioned whether it was simply coincidence that Deputy Ferbrache had publicly announced his intention to facilitate the purchase of a ferry prior to the Fund choosing to do so. The point being that the Fund is meant to operate independently of the States of Guernsey.

“Deputy Ferbrache, you’ve made it quite clear for more than a year now of your desire to buy a boat - if they [GIF and the States] are totally independent, why has GIF also come up with the idea of buying a boat?” she asked. “Is it a coincidence?”

While not tackling her question directly, he reiterated once again the separation between GIF and the States: “Of course, we would hope that the transaction is completed, I don’t think there’s any argument or question about that. We would hope that the GIF would proceed to complete it and then we’ll give the details per the return... they [GIF] make their own investment decisions, we cannot say ‘you must invest in a boat or an aircraft…’”

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Posted by Paul Holloway on
Like me, there will be many Islanders wondering what The States wether it's directly or through the infrastructure fund is doing considering investing a ferry when Condor a company whose shareholders include Brittany ferries can't or won't. It appears that Jersey doesn't want to get involved either ! If Condor can't or won't invest then look for another operator. Their wisdom must be in doubt following the purchase of The Liberation, a vessel not suited to the Poole/Guernsey route which is extremely expensive to operate and an environmental monster!
Guernsey should be spending money from the Infrastructure fund to support projects that will offer a permanent future for the East Coast redevelopment bringing jobs and encouraging tourism and not on a boat that will be 19 years old when it starts operating here!.
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