The Government of The Bahamas has been giving odd signals to the people of Grand Bahama and the wider country, and yes world, about the Grand Lucayan properties in Lucaya.
This has been the case from day one of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ administration. If readers cast their minds back to the first official move made by this government, it was an offer to Hutchison Whampoa. There was silence on that as it was never made known to the public whether Hutchison Whampoa rejected the government’s proposal or not.
The government never spoke to that matter again. Then, the Wynn Group out of Canada came back to the negotiating table with the government and Hutchison.
Whampoa. Dr. Minnis and others of the government began making comments that gave Grand Bahamians hope that the deal would be closed.
This went on for months. The word came down from government officials that the deal was near to closure and would certainly happen. In the meantime, the government made available some $25 million from the 2018-2019 national budget to the Grand Lucayan.
The general feeling then, was that, surely somehow the deal would be consummated and hundreds of jobs would open up in the all-important hospitality industry. The Lucaya business sector would be revitalized.
Sadly though, the government gave no indication at any time that Hutchison Whampoa was playing hard ball and there was great difficulty faced in the effort to close the deal.
Paul Wynn of the Wynn Group was the one, not our government who finally leveled with the People of The Bahamas. It was he who told of the high purchase price of $65 million, Hutchison was sticking to. When he crunched the numbers, inclusive of renovation, marketing, staff back pay, other incidentals, the cost projection was not something he and his associates could digest.
They pulled out.
Almost immediately, the government through the words of PM Dr. Minnis announced the intent to purchase. Clearly Dr. Minnis and company did not think the matter through thoroughly. They made a pure political decision. No indication was given that there would be a purchase, just to hold, while another buyer is searched out.
Two weeks went by since the purchase announcement by Dr. Minnis. Minister of Finance Dionisio D’Aguilar who seems to be the latest surrogate on the Grand Lucayan issue for the prime minister, now declares that the government will purchase and stop at that.
Now he gives an indication of the tough time the government and the Wynn Group has had with Hutchison Whampoa.
“We have been back and forth with Hutchison Whampoa time and time again, trying to drive a better deal. It’s nothing to them to say, ‘Look, we are going to stick to $65 million and if it has to close: it got to close.’”
That’s a compelling statement and shows that the government has been rendered impotent by Hutchison Whampoa.
What next will come forth from the government about the Grand Lucayan issue?
Thus far, the signals have been odd, and to a large degree, conflicting.
Meanwhile, the people of Grand Bahama look on and hope the government they put in power on May 10, 2017, delivers as promised so many times, on the revitalization of the island’s economy.