Whatever were the underlining reasons to rush with haste and fully transfer state property into the hands of world rich and famous British race car driver Lewis Hamilton on election eve 2008, still remains a mystery to most Grenadians.
To date this deal has not resulted in any tangible benefits for the island. Instead the Treasury lost years of much needed revenue as a result.
The fact that Lewis Hamilton’s grandfather is from Grenada, which gives him Grenadian roots, is reasons good enough for Grenadians everywhere to feel proud and celebrate his heroic achievements by winning the Formula One championship on more than one occasion. But the burning question is how this really connects with our prime Grand Anse Beach property given away to him freehold.
Race car driving, although recognised worldwide as a growing and popular sport, is not so popularly recognised among Grenadians when compared to athletics, cricket, football and even basketball, hence the reason why there are so many unanswered questions behind the true motive for such a move.
Not even our local golden boy Kirani James was afforded such a huge reward, for being the first Grenadian to win Olympic gold. Lewis Hamilton only became known to most Grenadians after winning his first Formula One championship event.
Grenadians were told by Dr Mitchell that Mr Hamilton was to negotiate a deal with then hotel owner Mr Issa Nicholas to purchase and develop what was formally known as the Grand Beach Resort, i.e. the property that occupies the said land in question. This upgrade hopefully was going to bring the hotel to a five star status.
The then NNP government was outfoxed in the deal when they move hastily to sign over the property on the very eve of an election to Mr Hamilton, before the deal between Mr Nicholas and Mr Hamilton was properly negotiated and signed off.
It so turned out that Mr Hamilton was not happy with the asking price for the hotel, since he felt the asking price was above market value and as a result would take him too long to recover his investment. No one can fault Mr Hamilton if he considers the offer to be non-viable, which is a reasonable conclusion to come to by a businessman who values his money.
The common sense thinking that should follow after the collapse of the deal was that the state of Grenada should be given back the property. To date, Mr Hamilton, a multi-millionaire, has failed to do the right thing and return that property to the state of Grenada.
In a time when Grenadians are called to make sacrifice, both young and old, rich and poor, Mr Hamilton is continuing to cash in on the collection of annual revenue on the property, monies that the Treasury of Grenada can do with to help meet recurrent expenditure.
The failure by Mr Hamilton to return the property to the state of Grenada led former Grenada PM Tillman Thomas to lead the process of acquiring the lands back to state ownership. This decision by the NDC administration was fully supported by the people. As a result, Mr Hamilton took the government to court, pending an outcome of the case.
Upon its return to office in 2013, the NNP administration ceased to challenge Mr Hamilton in the courts to clear the property in Grenada’s name. And the property once again is back in the hands of Mr Hamilton.
As a result, Mr Hamilton is due once again to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from his freehold property at Grand Anse, while the poor people of Grenada struggle daily to make ends meet.