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Dr. Gonsalves settles Ottley Hall debt dilemma

Dr. Gonsalves settles Ottley Hall debt dilemma

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The Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard has been a bitter pill to Vincentians for over a decade – synonymous with fraud, controversy and a huge debt approximating EC$167 million – but on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves returning from London brought back good news that the country in a matter of months would be freed from much of its financial woes after receiving a massive reduction of EC$150.8 million on the loan.

The elated Prime Minister credited the reduction to skilful negotiations staged by Maurice Edwards, the Director of Finance and Planning and himself.{{more}} He disclosed that unlike the entire principal and subordinated loans which had been renegotiated by Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace when he was Prime Minister (which at the last date amounted to EC$167 million), what he Gonsalves negotiated now leaves the country with a debt of merely US$6 million or EC$16.2 million to pay. Dr.Gonsalves said in other words there is a debt relief of $150.8 or 12.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“I have been a lawyer for over 20 years and in my capacity as a lawyer I have negotiated for clients in all sorts of circumstances. I don’t want to be immodest but it is an area in which the Comrade got some skills,” said Dr.Gonsalves as he made a broad smile adding that he is firmly satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations.

The Prime Minister then gave the assurance that though the outcome of his trip is yet to be ratified formally it is a “done deal”.

A representative of SACE will be visiting St.Vincent and the Grenadines at the end of March to hold further discussions.

Besides the debt reduction, as part of the settlement, the Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard will be transferred to the Government and the provisional liquidation will be brought to an end.

Dr. Gonsalves promised that SACE will continue with their legal action against culprits in the saga and the government will continue with its inquiry.

Roslyn Harry, Secretary to the Commission of Inquiry announced on Wednesday that the Inquiry will resume on February 5 at the Sunset Shores Hotel.