This Free National Movement Government, headed by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, has wandered into no-man’s land in its decision-making. It’s gotten to the point whereby Dr. Minnis has led this central administration into a bad place. To just say that the government has miss-stepped is a modest criticism.
Quite frankly, the folly of Dr. Minnis and company is very evident. There is a lacking of good sense that prevails, unfortunately for us here in Grand Bahama and the rest, throughout the country.
We remain puzzled as to the reason the government allocated $25 million in the new budget, a couple of months ago, for the Grand Lucayan properties’ ongoing negotiations. Indeed, with the backing of the Cabinet of The Bahamas, one of this island’s five parliamentarians, Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest who was sent to parliament by the voters of East Grand Bahama, and who is also the nation’s Minister of Finance, wrote in $25 million to help with closing the Grand Lucayan deal on behalf of us.
Paul Wynn of the Wynn Group of Canada was still at the table with Hutchison/Whampoa, and continuing discussions with government representatives, in hopes of closing the purchase deal of the Grand Lucayan properties. It is our understanding from reliable sources, that Hutchison Whampoa was holding fast to its purchase price of $65 million.
No amount of cajoling by the government, or middle ground requests from Paul Wynn, were persuasive, according to our sources. It has since come out that our sources were indeed correct. The government’s new point person on the Grand Lucayan issue, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar has confirmed the hard stance Hutchison Whampoa took.
So, why, with $25 million at its disposal for Grand Lucayan, the government did not go to Paul Wynn and offer that financial assistance package?
Why did our political leaders simply hold on to that $25 million in the budget, even though the negotiations between the Wynn Group and Hutchison Whampoa and the Government of the Bahamas, became excruciating?
If that $25 million had been made available to Paul Wynn, the likelihood was great that he would have been able to go to his board and get the OK to come up with the other $40 million to close the deal and take the Grand Lucayan tripartite properties off Hutchison Whampoa. Then, the Wynn group would have been responsible for renovating the various resort entities, marketing them, bringing on staff, stocking the venues, and in general readying Grand Lucayan to make the Lucaya business sector vibrant again and accordingly, give the economy of all of Grand Bahama, a huge bounce.
To the detriment of Grand Bahama, its residents and the rest of the taxpayers in the country, our government opted to go in another direction. Instead of making the deal happen with just $25 million, the Wynn Group was allowed to leave the negotiating table. Paul Wynn balked at the $65 million price tag and the accompanying costs necessary to open the Grand Lucayan properties and make them enticing to visitors.
Amazingly, this government saddled taxpayers with a $10 million upfront payment to Hutchison Whampoa; and installments, with probable interest payments as well, in order to cover the purchase fee. When one factors in renovations; capital for marketing; salaries; backpay to entitled employees; stocking out the properties; networking with an airline to bring in visitors to fill up the rooms; an understood borrowed amount of $35 million; the necessary incidentals; etc.; this government will be faced ultimately with about $300 million at the end of the day.
This burden, as well as the ongoing national financial ones, the People of The Bahamas will have to bear.
Compare $25 million to $300 million and immediately one sees the folly of the ways of this government.
Thus, with all that is unfolding, significant to the well-being of Bahamians, it certainly does not seem as though this government has a good grip on governance.