Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday called on government to make public the heads of agreement (HOA) it signed with Bahamas Port Investments on Monday over the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort on Grand Bahama.
Addressing the audience during the party’s monthly press conference at its headquarters, Davis slammed the deal as “a tremendous loss” while claiming that the actual sale price of the hotel “remains a mystery, and the total cost of this hotel purchase from Hutchison Whampoa to the Bahamian taxpayers is also a secret”.
“All we know is that the government paid $65 million for the hotel, and tens of millions more in maintenance and operational costs totaling in excess of a hundred million dollars,” he said.
“If the sale price of [$50] million, as stated by the prime minister, is correct, then the Bahamian people have suffered, in our view, a tremendous loss.”
He added, “We will continually express our concern about the competence of this government to effectively negotiate proper deals and arrangements for the benefit of the Bahamian people, and on the face of it, it would seem that we have gotten ‘swing’ again.”
Lucayan Renewal Holdings Chairman Michael Scott on Monday said the final buying price of the Grand Lucayan was $50 million.
However, both he and Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said that after concessions and insurance proceeds, the deal ends up being even to the $65 million government paid to purchase the resort in 2018.
During the signing ceremony on the grounds of the Grand Lucayan, it was announced that approximately $300 million will be invested into the hotel property to “refurbish, renovate and reconstruct 500 rooms in phase one; and another 500 rooms along with 500 villas in phase two”.
The plan is also to include a casino, a water park, a restaurant and retail center.
Additionally, a “cruise port that is to be built in the Freeport harbor to accommodate three ships in phase one and up to seven ships in subsequent phases”.
But Davis raised the question of how that $300 million investment is being proportioned between the acquisition of the hotel property and development of the cruise port.
“We note that they said the acquisition of the hotel would be about $50 million. Of course, that is a loss in and of itself, but let us look at what has been stated,” he said.
“We want to know how much of the $250 million is being shouldered by the taxpayers.
“What is being given away as concessions? What are the net benefits to the Bahamians?”
He added, “Finally, and as they continue to promise, the complete heads of agreement must be made public and be made to withstand the rigors of public scrutiny and critique.
“They campaigned on transparency and honesty in government, and the Bahamian people expect no less.”
However, Davis also said: “We hope that this sale and redevelopment bring the badly needed economic relief to that beleaguered economy.”