How much public money is exposed in the Four Seasons project?
In the year 2012 under the DLP government of Freundel Stuart, Bajans aren’t quite sure how much public money is ‘invested’ or ‘guaranteed’ towards the Four Seasons Resort project.
Is it US$52 million through the IADB loan that is guaranteed, and another US$60 million in National Insurance Scheme cash? Or is that the other way around? Or something altogether different? And what about infrastructure guarantees and construction costs coming from the taxpayers? We’ve heard so many different versions from government and the news media that we don’t think anyone in government or media can provide a definitive answer.
We at BFP think that the Four Seasons project support is out of control with the amount unknown – that the government will not, cannot, provide a comprehensive and accurate answer about how much Bajans are invested and exposed.
Today we found this old article in some old notes we made back in February 2010 while David Thompson was our Prime Minister.
PM Thompson’s comments at the time make for interesting reading. Perhaps our accidental PM Freundel Stuart should read them too…
“Now of course the first objective is not for Government to give guarantees to projects of this type. So the Government is not available, generally speaking, for that kind of thing and I want to make that abundantly clear. It is extremely risky. It has brought down Governments in other countries and I don’t intend to let it bring down my government. And it can sometimes smack of an element of favouritism and once you start it, it becomes like a rolling stone that will gather moss…and therefore, we have to be very careful,”
February 2, 2010 – Prime Minister David Thompson in the Barbados Advocate article PM defends stance on Four Seasons
Are we ever happy that we preserved a copy of the Barbados Advocate from February of 2010, because the BA’s online version of the article seems to have disappeared! What a surprise!
Maybe some of our readers are better searchers than we are, so if anyone finds it let us know the link and we’ll include it.
Meanwhile, here is our copy:
PM defends stance on Four Seasons
By Regina Selman Moore
Government could not sit idly by and watch a player of the size and significance of the Four Seasons Resort, pack up and move away from Barbados.This was just one of the reasons why the present Democratic Labour Party administration intervened to lend its support to restart the stalled multi-million dollar Four Seasons Resort project.
Over 700 workers were sent home in February 2009 after the project ran into financial difficulty, at a time when banks were pulling out of property investments around the world. A new agreement reached with lenders, creditors, private residence owners, shareholders and developers, will see Government supporting the refinancing efforts to complete the project.
Prime Minister David Thompson drew attention to the project once again, while touring the upscale Award Winning Portico Apartments, located on Prospect Beach, St. James yesterday. Just like Portico, which was awarded the prestigious 2009 Best International Apartment by International Property Awards in association with CNBC Arabia, the Four Seasons has a good reputation worldwide and Barbados stands to benefit from this, Thompson suggested. He also outlined in detail the reasons why Government felt it necesary to intervene.
“I know there has been a little controversy in some articles I have read in the media in some parts of the world, about why a government would want to get involved in the way it is proposed in a project of this nature. But since the question of Four Seasons was so preponderant on the minds of a number of investors, I felt it was necessary for Government to see what it could do to assist,” he outlined.
“Now of course the first objective is not for Government to give guarantees to projects of this type . So the Government is not available, generally speaking, for that kind of thing and I want to make that abundantly clear. It is extremely risky. It has brought down Governments in other countries and I don’t intend to let it bring down my government. And it can sometimes smack of an element of favouritism and once you start it, it becomes like a rolling stone that will gather moss…and therefore, we have to be very careful,” he remarked.
“But the point is, that when that property was sold way back to Sandals when I was Minister of Finance, it was something that I always felt needed to be developed and it is a pity that it has spent 20 years in bush and became derelict, because it is important in terms of its size, in terms of its location, in terms of the quality of its beach and its amenities, in terms of its ability to create jobs and in terms of the strategies that successive Governments have pursued,” he continued.
“The second point is that Four Seasons is a very reputable name, just as I assume Portico now assumes internationally, so name and brand recognition is extremely important and we certainly would not want for a player of that size and significance to walk away from Barbados, while Government folds its hands and essentially does nothing. So those are the kinds of reasons why we feel that we have to get involved,” he stressed.