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    August 04

  • 09:07 PM

St Vincent govt: Buccament Bay deal not final yet

CMC,

Added 24 July 2020

camillogonsalvesstvincent

Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves. (GP)

Kingstown – The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines says that notwithstanding Wednesday’s signing ceremony with Sandals Resorts International, it still owns the property at Buccament Bay, formerly known as Buccament Bay Resort.

However, according to Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves, that will change soon, possibly in 90 days when Sandals, which made a down payment on Wednesday, is expected to pay the remainder of the funds – to take the title of the property.

Gonsalves made the statement while speaking with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), on the sidelines of the signing ceremony.

He did not disclose the amount that Sandals will pay to acquire the property but said it would be made public soon with the registration of the contract.

Buccament Bay Resort – which was owned by Harlequin, closed its doors in December 2016 when the state-owned electricity company disconnected the power supply due to non-payment.

In the months leading up to the negotiations hotel workers were protesting against the non-payment of wages, which still remain outstanding.

“Well, legally Sandals doesn’t owe them [former Buccament Bay Resort workers] any obligations, nor does the state — and I’m speaking legally now so I don’t want the headline to be the government says they don’t owe anybody anything.

“Legally, their rights still exist against Harlequin, because Harlequin is the one who hasn’t paid them and there’s a process by which the bankruptcy trustee has to pay out debtors and creditors.

“But that is not the way in which the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines operates.

“So what we’re trying to do at the moment is to quantify the number of employees and the amount of money owed to them to get an idea as to the universe of what that number is, and then ascertain what we could do, not out of a legal obligation, but out of a belief that we want to assist particularly in this time of COVID,” he said.

Gonsalves said that his government wants to have a discussion with the former workers but has raised with Sandals the issue of employment of these former workers.

“Additionally, we’ve had extensive discussions with the human resource personnel at Sandals, who are here today and explained to them that there were some very skilled, very well trained workers at this hotel, some of whom have obviously found other work in the intervening years, but have skills and, in addition to skills, a knowledge of the property, and Sandals, which is intent on hiring over 700 people, has expressed an interest in rehiring those people once we get to the stage of an open resort,” the minister said. (CMC)

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