Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
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Cooper says govt not being transparent on Grand Lucayan

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper yesterday called on the government to reveal how much money it has spent on the Grand Lucayan resort.

“This is not what transparency looks like,” Cooper said in a statement. 

“There is lack of accountability in the spending of taxpayer dollars, apparently to save face politically, and it is wrong. We demand answers on the Grand Lucayan. 

“Since it is the people’s time and the people’s money [is] being so recklessly spent, we expect the FNM (Free National Movement) government to follow through on answering such pertinent questions.” 

The government purchased the resort last year for $65 million, with $30 million paid upfront. It hopes to find a qualified buyer by the end of the second quarter of 2019.

Last month, 150 line staff at the resort received approximately $3.2 million in voluntary separation packages (VSEPs).

On Monday, President of the Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association Obie Ferguson said he is seeking roughly $5 million for the 91 managers at the resort who have opted for VSEPs.

The board of Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd., the special purpose vehicle tasked with running the property and preparing it for sale, has offered the managers $3.1 million, according to Ferguson.

Asked about the amount requested by the association on Monday, Chairman of Lucayan Renewal Holdings Michael Scott said, “That’s not happening.”

Cooper said, “Perhaps now would be a pertinent time to ask the minister of finance to disclose to the Bahamian people just how much of their tax dollars has been spent to date on this frolic. 

“What exactly is the cost so far? How many tax dollars, exactly, are we projected to spend before a sale closes?

“While the minister of finance is at it, we also ask that he state how many bidders for the purchase of the hotel have signed non-disclosure agreements, versus the number of bidders who have actually submitted proposals.

“What is the revised timeline for the sale?”

The Exumas and Ragged Island MP said the government’s failure to reveal the costs of the resort demonstrates a “lack of transparency and accounting” and is “a breach of trust” by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and the FNM.

In December 2018, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the government budgeted $1.5 million for the monthly operation of the resort.
Last month, Scott told The Nassau Guardian that there was “in excess of 60 bids” for the purchase of the resort.


Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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