Categorized | National News

PM: “We’re doing the right thing.”

Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis said  yesterday that  his government is “doing the right thing” with the acquisition of the Grand Lucayan Resort. In a detailed report in the House of  Assembly, he went to great lengths outlining   why talks with the Wynn Group collapsed and why his government instead opted to get into the hotel business and temporarily own the  Resort. 

The government first sought to have a private group purchase the Grand Lucayan hotel, this however fell through.

In July, the government continued its negotiations with Paul Wynn and another operator to the point of a draft heads of agreement for the Grand Lucayan.

However, after giving Mr. Wynn an absolute deadline, Mr. Wynn in turn presented the government with additional changes to the heads of agreement.

“The government must pay its 15 per cent share upfront, instead of overtime as previously agreed. 

“Two, the government agrees to ensure Paul Wynn is provided with electricity at a reduced 20 percent discount rate.

“The government must pay 20 percent of the electricity rate of the hotel, for an investor, when many Bahamians electricity is off.

“Three,  Paul Wynn would be permitted to employ 420 non-Bahamians for work on the project.

“What would that do to Grand Bahama,” he said.

According to the prime minister, those requests didn’t end there.

There was also the demand for an annual marketing subsidy of $750,000,  no casino taxes, a commitment from the government to purchase the Grand Bahama International Airport or build a new one within two years and pay for any losses that Paul Wynn incurred and guarantee him seven per cent return.

All things considered, the government made it clear that the requested concessions could not be agreed, yet, the government stressed that the Grand Lucayan had to be saved.

Having already made a $10 million down payment on the property, the government is seeking to pass a resolution guaranteeing a $35 million loan to complete that purchase.

“We  could  let the Lighthouse Point, the last remaining open section of the hotel to close,” he said. 

“This would lead to the economic collapse of much of Freeport, with even higher unemployment, greater despair and a loss of hope for many Grand Bahamians, for many, many more years.

“In essence Mr. Speaker, we could sit idly by and watch the Grand Lucayan sink into a state of disrepair, becoming a ghost town like the once vibrant  but now dying, International Bazaar.”

Dr. Minnis said while he understands the concern and reluctance, he and his government are convinced that they’re doing the right thing, and to its newest employees, the government assured that the existing union agreement and employee contracts continue.

The government is hoping to sell the hotel property, sooner than later, but according to the prime minister, the idea’s not to just recruit an investor just for a quick sell. 

“There are a number of entities that have expressed serious interest in purchasing the  Grand Lucayan property, and indeed discussions have begun with a number of individuals for the sale of the said property,” he said.

“The board recognizes that its responsibility is to do more than ensure a swift sale of the Grand Lucayan.

“The  board recognizes  that it has the responsibility to identify a well-funded group with a vision to create a sustainable tourism destination to whom the assets can be assigned in an outright sale,” said the Prime Minister.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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