THE HON. I. CHESTER COOPER DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER,MINISTER OF TOURISM, INVESTMENTS AND AVIATION MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR EXUMAS AND RAGGED ISLAND
Upon coming to office, the new government appointed a Cabinet sub-committee led by the Deputy Prime Minister, that includes the Minister for Grand Bahama, the Minister for Economic Affairs, and the Attorney General; to explore options to expedite the redevelopment of the Grand Lucayan Resort.
We examined the current deal the former administration negotiated and came to the conclusion that the way it was structured was not in the best interests of the Bahamian people. The government was frankly not satisfied with what was proposed or that the project would be advanced in the short or medium term. We were not willing to continue on without clear timeline for completion and were of the view that many of the terms were not in the best interest of the Bahamian people.
For example, the Minnis administration via Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited (LRHL) had agreed to lend money to Bahamas Port Investments Limited (BPI) to renovate and develop the property. In summary, the deal was not a win-win for the Bahamian people.
Therefore, yesterday the boards of Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited and Lucayan Beach Casino Holdings Limited terminated by mutual consent the 2020 purchase agreement between themselves and Bahamas Ports Investments Limited (BPI), a joint-venture partnership between Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCL) and ITM Group.
This effectively cancels the agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and RCL/ITM for the sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort.
We are pleased to note that BPI maintains an ongoing commitment to the development of a world-class port facility in Freeport. RCL remains committed to the Grand Bahama Shipyard in which it holds a 40% interest.
The Progressive Liberal Party committed in its Blueprint for Change to find a swift solution for the sale and redevelopment of the Grand Lucayan Resort to help restore hope to the people of Grand Bahama, and that is what we will do.
This is a major step forward as it now allows the board of Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited to negotiate directly with other suitors.
Thankfully, there are several noteworthy entities that have a credible interest in the property. The ideal candidate in our view is an entity with significant resources and a clear vision for the properties that is aligned with the Ministry of Tourism’s vision and the long-term strategic plan for Grand Bahama as a destination.
We do not plan to belabor this process. The Grand Lucayan Resort has already cost taxpayers well in excess of $150 million. Talks with other potential investors will start shortly. We will keep the Bahamian people abreast of developments with this project as they occur.
We have a strong Board led by LRHL Chairman Julian Russell CPA and Deputy Chair Attorney Cassietta McIntosh Pelecanos that will guide the process for the desired outcome.
We thank the outgoing Board of the LRHL for their stewardship.
Source: Bahamas Information Services