A senior government minister has come out in defense of the action of the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to compulsorily acquire the Rex Grenadian Resort property in the south of the island.
Speaking to reporters at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele said that although government is moving ahead with the clearance from the high court to acquire the Rex, it is not something that they are taking pride in doing.
Steele told reporters that a transparent process is being unfolded to determine the value of the property as part of the acquisition process.
“What needs to be settled now is the value for the acquisition. There is a process that would be followed that is dictated by the courts and they determine that value and settlement….”, he said.
“…There will be a board, a grouping of individuals that will be appointed by both parties and they will go through and determine a value,” he added.
Rex is said to have already rejected an offer of EC$9 million put on the table by government as compensation for the acquisition of the hotel.
According to Minister Steele, the move by government to take over the hotel was done in an effort to get the property to serve the public in the way that it was supposed to always be.
“Government’s decision to acquire the property is based on the fact that we need to see that property performing a public good – that is the mandate that government has. So it is government’s mandate to make sure that that property performs a public good to (the) maximum benefit of the people of Grenada,” he said.
He stated that an opportunity was given to the operators of the hotel to turn it around in order to prevent the acquisition.
According to Steele, this was done to give the operators a chance to meet the conditions of their contract and to continually expand service in the industry.
He said in the end government had no choice but to seek acquisition of the property.
In the face of reports that the operators of the resort had put together a proposal to government, offering a $12 million upgrade to the property, Minister Steele said this was not enough to transform the property.
“The issue (acquisition) as I’m stating quite adamantly is to make sure that the property is maximised and you can read into that – the $12 million that they are talking about, I mean you have all seen the property, it’s too little too late. That property needs a lot more than $12 million in upgrade.
“…I think it’s an insult to the people of Grenada to say that the last minute proposal is for a $12 million upgrade when we can all see with our own eyes that the property needs a lot more than $12 million.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has criticised the Mitchell-led government for what it deemed as a “hostile” takeover of the hotel.