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$30 million Buccament Bay loan has been repaid – Finance minister

$30 million Buccament Bay loan has been repaid – Finance minister
CAMILLO GONSALVES

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The $30 million borrowed by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines for the acquisition of the Buccament Bay Resort has been repaid in full.

This was disclosed in Parliament this week by finance minister, Camillo Gonsalves, in response to a question posed by Dr Godwin Friday, the Leader of the Opposition.

Government sought the approval of Parliament last August to borrow the funds, which were required to acquire the Buccament Bay Resort, lands contiguous to the resort and additional lands to facilitate the relocation of farmers dislocated by the acquisition of the hotel development site.

This was part of the process in the government’s plans to sell the resort to Sandals Resorts for development. Prior to entering into a deal with the well-known resort company last year, the Buccament Bay Resort had been closed since 2016.

“The ministry of finance, having received the approval of the House of Assembly to spend the money, approached the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines for short term loan to finance the settlement of the acquisition cost of the property. A $30 million loan was contracted with the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines for a period not exceeding five months, at a rate of 5 per cent per annum,” Gonsalves said in Parliament on Wednesday.

He said the loan was disbursed in two tranches — $13 million on August 28 and $17 million on September 15.

These funds were used to pay the trustee in bankruptcy, the 50 owners of the 54 villas on the site, and to compensate farmers who were relocated and resettled on other lands.

The finance minister told Parliament this week that the loan amount was repaid in full, plus interest on November 27, 2020, days after Sandals Resort paid its second installment of $30.3 million to acquire the resort located on the Leeward side of the island.

He added that Sandals is up to date on their schedule of contractual obligations but that the coronavirus pandemic has delayed some actions on their side. The pandemic has also delayed some actions on the side of the government as it relates to auctioning some assets still on the property.

Gonsalves also acknowledged the recent death of Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, who served at the helm of the family-owned company.

“…We extend our condolences to the Stewart family in that regard but we’ve been in touch with them and everything is still on track for commencement of works in the facility in late February, early March,” he said.

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