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Eustace questions lease of Ottley Hall Marina to investors

Eustace questions lease of  Ottley Hall Marina to investors

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What are the benefits that can be derived by the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines if the Ottley Hall Marina is leased to investors for a 15-year period?

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, speaking on the New Times radio programme on Monday, says he is concerned {{more}}that the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has taken a decision to lease the Ottley Hall Marina without informing the people of the country.

Reading from a letter, which he said was signed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Eustace said the arrangement came into effect at the end of April.

“We really need to know the terms of this lease and they already have an option to renew it after the 15 years. I don’t know what the performance criteria included in any such lease is and I believe as Leader of the Opposition of St Vincent and the Grenadines and I believe the public of St Vincent and the Grenadines should know what are the terms and conditions of the lease.”

Declaring that the marina was a major asset to the country, Eustace questioned the terms of the lease and the benefits that were to be gained by the Government.

He also expressed disappointment that the Government was taking a project, which was forgiven debt to the tune of $165 million, and placing it into the hands of private investors to run.

“To me, this should be an open and shut case. If you or the Government or the Cabinet has taken a decision to lease, say what it’s leased for, so people can make a judgment of the suitability of the lease. What is the benefit to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines?” the Opposition Leader questioned.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves confirmed that discussions are ongoing regarding the leasing of the Ottley Hall Marina.

However, he declined to give details on the matter until discussions have concluded.

“On that matter, Cabinet has taken certain decisions in relation to the process and certain specific things which we want to see. And the person who is directly in charge with interfacing with those investors, overseas and local, is the chairman of the board of the Ottley Hall Marina Company, the director general of Finance and Planning, Mr [Maurice] Edwards,” Gonsalves said.

The Prime Minister revealed that it was not the first time that he had received offers to lease the marina, but for one reason or the other, those offers were declined.

“I’ve had a policy for the lease of the Ottley Hall Marina to appropriate investors with certain objectives,” he said.

“To add value, create wealth, to create jobs and to arrest any deterioration. That’s the policy. Several different people over the years since I’m here, they have come. People have come to me, say they don’t want to invest in it, they want to manage, I tell them no; then others have come say they want to invest, but what they want to invest is not sufficient for the purposes, so I said no.”

Gonsalves, in response to a question by a member of the media, said the letter referred to by Eustace, which had been circulating on social media, was possibly released by the investors.

Gonsalves told reporters that he had no issue with its circulation and that he is positive that the letter is “a sensible, well-worded letter, which doesn’t compromise the good of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”(BK)

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