It was welcome news!
Late afternoon on Monday, Minister of State in the Grand Bahama Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Kwasi Thompson, contacted The Freeport News regarding an update communication provided by Hotel Corporation Chairman Michael Scott.
Through Scott, the Government of The Bahamas, set the minds of the Grand Lucayan employees to rest, regarding their future as a result of the ownership change. The government has initiated purchase of the Grand Lucayan properties from Hutchison Whampoa, and as of yesterday, according to Scott, a government subsidiary, the Lucaya Renewal Holdings Limited, took over control.
Scott emphasized that it would be business as usual for the employees in their job portfolios, with the caveat of some being able to apply for retirement packages.
“What it (the transition) means for the employees is business continues as before. In other words, it will be a seamless transition from the operation and control of Hutchison, to the operation and management by the new company, which is being overseen by myself as chairman and a team of professional directors,” said Scott.
His team includes Russell Miller, the managing director of Atlantis Paradise Island and chief executive of Castaways in Freeport; accountant Ed Rahming; and Grand Bahama Shipyard executive Linda Turnquest.
It is good that the government rose to the occasion and spoke to the situation regarding the employees.
With that out of the way, Scott and company can now focus on getting a buyer for the Grand Lucayan. He has a difficult task. Government’s ownership of hotels and buildings, in general, have not gone well over the years. It is customary for facilities under government control, through successive national administrations, to deteriorate.
It stands to reason that the renovations that are necessary at this time, at the changeover from Hutchison Whampoa to the government, will escalate because of the slackness that is associated with state-owned properties. The suggestion here is that Scott lobbies for a bumped-up security force to ensure against encroachment.
The government has said that its ownership would only be temporary. We understand the intent, but there is the possibility that the “temporary” period could stretch into long months or even years.
For now, though, we encourage the government to continue to network with the employees and their union representatives, to eliminate any causes for more problems.