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Sandals to shell out over US$14m

Sandals  to shell  out over  US$14m
PRIME MINISTER Dr Ralph Gonsalves

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Sandals Resorts International will pay approximately US$14.75 million for the property that housed the former Buccament Bay Resort and other lands surrounding the area on the south Leeward coast of St Vincent.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who said in Parliament last Thursday, August 13 that the company had already paid 10 per cent of the purchase price.

“They paid the 10 per cent; US$ 1.475 million,” he said. “By the 20th of November, they are to pay US$11.25 million and some time is given thereafter to…pay for the portion of land, which includes as we explained in the finance committee, the bits and pieces here and there on the resort site, owned by the government.”

Parliamentarians debated and passed an Appropriation Bill in Parliament last week, which sought approval for a loan of EC$36 million to purchase a large footprint of land in the Buccament area, which is to be sold to Sandals for development.

The land being acquired includes: that occupied by cabanas purchased by persons over the life of the Buccament Bay Resort project; land owned by farmers, the Roman Catholic Church and a local land owner, whose family owns a bulk of land in the area.

There are approximately 51 cabanas in the Buccament Bay Resort footprint and Gonsalves said at least 38 owners have already signed and agreed to the sale.

With regard to farmers, the prime minister said the land was bought from them for EC$12 per square foot which was agreed to by four of five farmers.

Gonsalves said two of the farmers who jointly own 2.74 acres of land struck a deal to receive money for 0.74 acres of land and land in exchange for the remaining two acres.

He said the government intends to purchase six acres of land from the Roman Catholic church in the same area; two of which will go to those two farmers.

And he added that cheques were at the Treasury for the .74 acres that they agreed to sell.

Gonsalves said however that one farmer does not accept the offer of EC$12 per square foot for his lands.

“Well, that’s fair enough, but what I will do…I’ve given instructions to put his money in the Treasury and inform him and he is open to take a lawyer and go to the tribunal established under the act, the Acquisition Act and take that and say I want more,” the prime minister said.

Gonsalves said, according to the Act, certain factors such as emotional value and not wanting to sell do not come into play once Acquisition is involved. He also added that the government was offering the current market value for the land, which is contrary to what the law suggests.

“In fact, we are doing things, way and above beyond to help beyond the land acquisition act. For instance, on all those lands, there’s a restrictive covenant. We lift the restrictive covenant so that immediately by lifting the restrictive covenant…the value of the land goes up,” he said.

Gonsalves said the local land owner has agreed to receive a mix of land and money for his lands to be purchased for the Sandals development in Buccament.

The Government and Sandals Resort signed a heads of agreement last month for the sale of the Buccament Bay Resort, which closed in December 2016.

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