Parliament passes hotel loan authorization bill

Parliament passes hotel loan authorization bill

A bill which sought authorization from parliament for the government to borrow a loan of US$50 million to finance construction of a hotel in the Mt Wynne/Peters Hope area was passed without amendment last evening.

The Mt Wynne/Peters Hope Hotel Project Loan Authorization Bill 2018 was presented to parliament by Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves yesterday morning during which it had its first and second reading and was debated. By evening, despite issues raised in the debate, the bill was passed, having gone through all stages.

The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), though in support of the hotel project, raised issue with the lack of information when the finance minister introduced the bill.

The finance minister assured parliament that he was not opposed to what the opposition members said in that respect but that he would repeat the same information he presented to the parliament in response to questions asked about the project.

The finance minister simply repeated the information. In his presentation, Gonsalves said the government intends to borrow 50 million US dollars, hotel project and that the Government has already executed a letter of intent with the Export/Import Bank of the Republic of China on Taiwan to secure the required financing . He said that earlier this year the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines held conversation with management of a hotel brand to gauge the feasibility and desirability of partnering in the operation of a large hotel on mainland St Vincent. He said that whereas these major brands were in the business of owning and operating hotels worldwide, their current preferred model is to manage, market and brand facilities that are owned by others, or built by others to their own specifications.

Minister of finance Hon. Camillo Gonsalves (Photo credit iwin)

Gonsalves said discussions led to visits by two of these major brands to St Vincent and the Grenadines and the delegations, which were led by very senior officials of these chains, visited the Mt Wynne site, examined the tourism data and held meetings with various state officials and agencies which both expressed strong interest in operating a hotel at the Mt Wynne site. He said further discussions with those brands led to the production of a shortlist of architects with whom they have worked in

the past and who have a record of designing iconic hotels in the Caribbean and Latin America, and the government short-listed two of those architects and commissioned them to develop concept designs for a 250-room hotel at the Mt Wynne site in accordance with the brand specifications of our potential partners.

The finance minister said the architects came to St Vincent and the Grenadines, explored the site extensively and toured the country. He said they held discussions with tourism investment and state officials about the

type of hotel the government is seeking to build.

“Based on analysis of per room cost for hotel construction, our conversations with our potential operators and our own analysis of what is prudent and responsible in our current economic circumstances, we instructed the architects to produce designs that would lead to a hotel in the $50 million range – that’s US 50 million dollars. The

architects produced two striking but very distinct conceptual manifestations of the visions we discussed. As one would expect, each design had its own set of pros and cons and implications. Those designs have been shared with the relevant entities for their feedback, and both architects have refined their vision in accordance with that feedback,” Gonsalves told parliament.

Gonsalves said the selection of the architect to complete the final designs and drawings is imminent, pending final discussions with potential operating partners and that the final cost of the project cannot be determined with complete certainty at this point in the process. He noted that some design elements are still being refined and will have cost implications but it is anticipated that the loan will be enough to complete the hotel.