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Government, SACE make agreement on Ottley Hall

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The governing Unity Labour Party administration has refused to honour the terms and conditions negotiated by the former New Democratic Party (NDP) government in 1999 to settle the debt incurred by the Ottley Hall Ship Yard and Marina Project which was originally estimated to cost EC$225 million.

And in support of this position, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Maurice Edwards, Director of Finance and Planning, met last week in London with SACE, the second guarantor of the loan. SACE has been making payment on the debt since the ULP government halted payments in 2001 on the grounds that it will not pay until better terms could be negotiated.{{more}}

The Prime Minister disclosed on Monday, April 24, that during his discussion with SACE, an agreement in principle was made. However, SACE was unable to come to any final agreement until it meets with the banks to further discuss the issue. SACE will meet with the government and the banks in July of this year.

The position put forward by the Government and accepted in principle by SACE is that the Government will pay no more than US$5 million which it is advised that the asset is worth.

Additionally, the mortgage which the banks hold on the property will be released and the provisional liquidation under which Caribbean Chartered and Yacht Yard Holdings (CCYY) functions would be brought to an end by appropriate application to the courts, so that all the assets would be transferred to Government. SACE was given the assurance that the Commission of Inquiry will continue.

Dr. Gonsalves said the Commission of Inquiry is a very important mechanism in this saga.

“We have a moral and political responsibility to find out what happened to the money and that inquiry naturally aids the process of addressing the issue of the indebtedness,” said the Prime Minister.

Other submissions were made to SACE but Dr. Gonsalves said it is not in his place to comment publicly them.

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