KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The government of this country has not contributed one cent of the EC$400 million said to have been invested in the Buccament Bay Resort.
That is the point that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves sought to convey at a press briefing last week as opposition and other concerned persons here continue to raise questions about the investor and the inconsistent payment of wages to some categories of workers there.
Gonsalves said that while some persons are “trying their best to see if they can give it a bad name”, the resort employees 300 persons directly and 700 through subcontracts.
Persons close to the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) including some government paid propagandists have emerged as defender of the project.
Sen. Julian Francis had several weeks before similarly called for defence of the project and blamed the inconsistent payment of wages on the business practices of local subcontractor.
Gonsalves, during his press briefing last week, said that the resort was the largest private sector investment on mainland St. Vincent.
“People think these things happen like that? Over the last 50 years of representative government, you never had one big like that but it is here. And you can’t lift it up and take it anywhere,” he said.
He further stated that the resort is “recognised by everyone who has come here” and mentioned the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, the CARICOM, and the Commonwealth.
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Denzel Douglas lauded the resort during the opening ceremony of an OECS meeting there earlier this month.
“… everybody who goes there acknowledges it as a first-class facility,” Gonsalves said. “I would expect that people who invest all that amount of money would seek to make sure that it is properly run and provide a return to the investors.
“But I want to make this point: not one cent of government money is in that. Government money is not in that. It is not Ottley Hall where EC$180 million was run up in debt and all this time still I have solved the problem with Ottley Hall,” he said of the project constructed during the 1990s under the Sir James Mitchell New Democratic Party administration.
“They forget that you know. Amnesia,” Gonsalves further said of the project for which his government secured debt forgiveness.
“But I am talking about confidence. I am showing it by local, I am showing it by foreigners in this country, I am showing it by a multiplicity of people who invest their money in our bonds and in our treasury bills, and then, of course, there is the cocoa project,” he said.
“All these are signs of confidence in the economy and people investing despite the difficulties which exist in the international and in the regional.”