Political leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Senator Nazim Burke has questioned the recent signing of an agreement between the Keith Mitchell-led government and others giving commitment to foot the bill for Government’s intended acquisition of the Rex Grenadian Hotel.
Sen. Burke is taking issue with the announcement made by Government Minister Roland Bhola at last week Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing that the “people who are interested want the property to improve the hotel room stock and have signed an agreement that they would do all (in) their power and are prepared to meet whatever costs there will be.”
Speaking at the weekly NDC press conference last week Wednesday, Sen. Burke called on the ruling New National Party (NNP) Government to “stop the practice of a lack of transparency” and to come clean and decent with the nation on the Rex Grenadian issue.
He said, “the question is who have they (government) signed this agreement with and what are the terms and conditions of this agreement.”
In the February 5 issue of the Government Gazette, the Mitchell government announced its intention to acquire the 30-acre property located at Point Salines, St. George for the public purpose of enhancing the hotel stock there.
However, Sen. Burke holds the view that the “government has not demonstrated that it is acting in good faith,” and warned that this kind of situation can “trigger unnecessary legal cost” for the Government and People of Grenada.
He noted that Minister Bhola has given assurance that “the Government of Grenada will not spend any monies on this (Rex Grenadian acquisition process)…he assured the nation that not one cent of Grenadian dollar would be spent to either fight a case with Rex Grenadian or to compensate them.”
However, the NDC Political Leader questioned the motive behind the agreement.
“What is this company giving us in return for its promise that it would pay whatever acquisition cost involved?” he asked.
In an effort to keep the hotel property, the owners of the Grenadian by Rex Resort have file court paper seeking a judicial review and an order from the court to prevent government from revoking its 99-year lease agreement.
The applications, filed by the local legal firm of Grant, Joseph and Co. on instructions from John Carrington, QC of the British Virgin Island, was heard in Chambers last week Friday at High Court 4 on The Carenage in St. George’s before British Judge, Justice Walldank.
The NEW TODAY understands that Justice Walldank was expected to deliver his decision this Wednesday and urged both parties to refrain from public statements on the issue.
Sen. Burke pointed to another major pronouncement made by Minister Bhola at his post-cabinet briefing when he declared that based on the law “the Court cannot deny the Government of Grenada the right to acquire the property if they wanted to and all that has to happen is that the government has to compensate them.”
According to Bhola, “the most the courts can do is simply increase or reduce the quantity of compensation.”
However, Sen. Burke stated that from his rudimentary understanding of the law “the government must satisfy the court that any acquisition of the property must be done for a public purpose.
“In other ward, if the purpose is not a public purpose then the acquisition laws of the country is not triggered and the constitutional protection that is afforded to a property owner, that they cannot be deprived of their property without due process and without prompt compensation remains intact”, the NDC leader told reporters.
“If what Minister Nicholas Steele, (who recently addressed the issue at a recent post-cabinet briefing) said is true, that the government’s real motive is to bring Rex Grenadian to the negotiating table and not to acquire so that it can improve the quality stock of the hotel stock in the country… any court looking into this question would have to review whether the motive of the government is genuine or acting in bad faith.”
“You do not invoke the acquisition laws of the country to bring a company to the negotiating table…it is bad and it’s a bad motive…. this is a matter that needs to be cleared up.”
In a press release last week Tuesday, the owners of Rex Grenadian pointed out that they are “deeply disappointed in the government and its attempt to unilaterally seize the hotel especially because they are in full compliance with all of the terms and conditions of the lease and are up to date with all their payments and with all taxes owing to the government.”