Florida Finance Chief Faults BP's Slow Checks, `Shut-Up Money'
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Florida’s chief financial officer led fishermen and business owners in faulting BP Plc for inadequate compensation for incomes slashed by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
BP’s checks to Gulf Coast residents fall short of losses reported by businesses, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink told BP Senior Vice President Bob Fryar today at a meeting of a state task force helping businesses recover losses from BP.
“You know what they call the $5,000 checks they get?” Sink, a Democrat, said at the Tallahassee meeting. “They call it shut-up money.” Compensation so far is “nothing compared to the losses they are experiencing,” Sink said.
The spill may put almost 195,000 Floridians out of work and cost the state $10.9 billion should tourist traffic be cut by half, Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, said today. Executives have said BP will pay as much as required to compensate everyone who is harmed.
BP has paid more than $48 million in claims in the past month, mostly in checks of $5,000 or less. Of the almost 1,000 “large loss” claims BP received for damages exceeding $5,000, about half are from Florida, Darryl Willis, BP America vice president of resources overseeing claims, said yesterday.
The process is taking too long, putting individuals and businesses in danger of bankruptcy, said Sink, a candidate for governor.
“I don’t think speed is in your vocabulary yet,” Sink said to Fryar, who joined today’s meeting after BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward declined an invitation. “Your definition of speed and mine are two different things.”
Shrimp Processor Paid
Fryar said BP is aiming to get interim payments to large businesses as well to individuals, and last night approved a $420,000 payment to a shrimp processor.
BP is providing Florida with an additional $25 million, requested by Governor Charlie Crist, to help in response efforts. BP agreed to work with state officials on efforts to boost tourism, Fryar said.
A prior $25 million, less than the $35 million Florida request, paid for television ads aimed at out-of-state tourists and included a message that the “coast is clear.” The ad was pulled after oil began washing up on beaches in northwest Florida last week, Chris Thompson, head of the state’s tourism office in Tallahassee, said yesterday in an interview.
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