Member of Parliament for Pineridge Rev. Frederick McAlpine, said that the government’s decision to purchase the Grand Lucayan Resort back in August 2018, was a “hotel purchase gone wrong.”
McAlpine, who was making his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Communication, added that despite the government’s every effort to revive Grand Bahama’s economy since coming to office (May 2017), the island still finds itself in an economic doldrum.
“Notwithstanding the purchase of a hotel at the cost of $65 million, which by the way at the time of purchase was valued at $39 million, and due to the fact that we paid for two Golf Courses but only got one due to legal negligence. This is a hotel purchase gone wrong,” McAlpine reiterated.
“After our government told the country that we purchased the hotel to save the Bahamian people their jobs, to only then turn around and give more than half of the people a severance package; which in my estimation should have been paid by the previous owners.
“By the way, the previous owners also left us with a high water bill and electrical bill that the Government of The Bahamas is still paying. This property has cost us well over $100 million and we are still paying, because the property is not yet sold.
“People are asking who the government’s negotiators were and were they sober at the time of these discussions. The government and the people of Grand Bahama were taken advantaged of due to our economic vulnerability,” said McAlpine.
Additionally, as the former Chairman of the Hotel Corporation, McAlpine also questioned whether the present Chairman, is receiving the same salary as he, during his tenure in that capacity.
“When I last stood in this place as Chairman of the Hotel Corporation, I told the people of this country that the government was paying me $12,000 per year to hold that position.
“The people of Pineridge and by extension The Bahamas would like to know, what is the present Chairman of the Hotel Corporation being paid for the position that he now holds again? Can you assure us that it is still $12,000? It is not what we said; it is what we did, Mr. Speaker.”
He continued, “Some would say with Grand Bahama things have gotten worst despite the purchase of the hotel. Port Lucaya Marketplace is still a ghost town. Businesses are closing every day, including the one that we boast about to be the catalyst for the Tech Hub, GIBC.
“The entrepreneurial encouragement and assistance by the government is all good, but the reality is that consumer activity is very low due to Grand Bahama’s economic fallout.
“The government boasts about employment being down in Grand Bahama, but the truth is more people have left the island to go elsewhere looking for employment.
“The government tells us that Grand Bahama tourism numbers are up, which is questionable; but even with tourism numbers being up as suggested in the Island of Grand Bahama, we still seem to be moving at a turtle or snail pace to get the hotel open. It just doesn’t add up to me.
“Perhaps, they’ve been putting in their count thousands as tourist arrivals on the island, when in actuality they have been persons coming to work at the Shipyard and other industries. This is why perhaps for Grand Bahamians the numbers do not match our reality.”
McAlpine furthered that as Grand Bahama is known as the industrial mecca of the country, industrial companies have such been the lifeline of survival for the Grand Bahama community this far.
In particular, he noted, the Grand Bahama Shipyard. However, he hastened to address the recent mishap that occurred at the Shipyard in April of this year and the affect the incident will undoubtedly have on the Grand Bahamian economy.
“Let me address the ‘pink elephant’ in the room. Since the industrial mishap at the Shipyard, the company will have to reassess its position and regroup.
“So, the Grand Bahama economy has suffered another blow and the Government of The Bahamas knows this, and we are acting like all is well because we have a letter of intent (LOI). It is what it is!” McAlpine stated.
“Mr. Speaker, Grand Bahama will tell you, we have been there and we have done that; so, Grand Bahama is not moved by promises.
“We are not excited about groundbreakings or blocks going up. We can take you to West End and show you blocks that have gone up and we can take you to some groundbreakings, where bush is now the order of the day.
“Grand Bahama gets excited when we are cutting ribbons. Yes, the government must sell hope, but we must be careful that it is not false hope.
“My people in Pineridge and Grand Bahama are hurting. The state of Grand Bahama is painful, despite all these promises. Many people will be dead, economically and physically, if we do not improve conditions sooner rather than later,” said McAlpine.