Categorized | National News

Lawyers Slam Hotel Purchase

Two of Her Majesty’s Queens Counsels  have roundly  criticized the decision by the Minnis administration to purchase the Grand Lucayan Resort in Freeport Grand Bahama.

Making their contributions to the now controversial decision  onthe Love 97 Radio Afternoon Show “On Point”,  Attorneys Fred Smith and Maurice Glinton, two senior members of the Bahamas Bar condemned the thought of the purchase.

Mr. Smith said, “the purchase will represent a never-ending hemorrhage to the Public Treasury. The government  should not let  Hutchinson Whampoa  off  the hook so lightly. That company has collected some $80 million  from Insurance after the hurricane damaged   the resort. If the government purchases the  hotel, it would  pay another $200 million to  buy it, repair it, and outfit it. The tax payers in the Bahamas, excluding the people of Freeport should not have to bear that cost. After all, we  in Freeport don’t pay any Business license fees and Real Property Taxes. The Bahamian people would be taking on a white elephant.

He said, “Hutchinson under its agreement to own  50 per cent of the Freeport Harbour, 50 per cent of the  Airport and 100 per cent of the Container  Port was supposed to  build  and maintain a first class   hotel and a Casino. That was the negotiated position. A purchase by the government would release them ofthat obligation, “ said Mr. Smith.

“”Further, there will be no incentive for a new buyer to purchase the property,” he said.

Attorney  Glinton who has lived in Freeport since 1980 says, “ the purchase of  The Lucayan by the government will be a big mistake.”  He chastised  the present government for its inability to do anything properly.

“There is no reason  to buy that hotel,” said  Glinton. “The government is  not in the business of  owning hotels. They would still have to go out and get someone to run it. The government will be paying money for the management; that money will come off  the top. For all the shortfall, the government will have to produce the money.

“Rather than putting $200 million in a hotel, the government should put that money into National Insurance. It would be easier for NIB to subsidize the people.  What is the incentive to purchase the hotel?” he asked.

Mr. Glinton said, “ a reasonable  foreign investor, a hotelier said that he would not buy the hotel and make a fool of himself; and that he would rather lend the government money to buy  it.”

He was referring to a statement made to a local daily newspaper by Paul Wynn of The Wynn Group that was in negotiations with the Christie administration and subsequently with the new Free National Movement government for the purchase of the property.

Despite the numerous objections to the government’s intention to make the purchase, including one from former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham,  it is understood that there  is already Cabinet agreement to purchase the property.

Prime Minister Doctor Hubert Minnis said on the weekend that he will outline his government’s plans later this week.

He said the hotel’s closure will cause a domino effect resulting in the potential loss of more than 400 jobs.  He said, “you also have the Our Lucaya  Strip and therefore, the marketplace that will close. That’s  hundreds of jobs. The tour buses will not have any where to carry their guests, if there are any.  The taxis will have problems. The loss of staff from the closure of the marketplace will have a greater impact on the supermarkets.

Dr. Minnis said that the commerce within Grand Bahama would be significantly affected with the hotel’s closure.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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