A security guard walks by as guests sunbathe at Buccament Bay Resort on July 4, 2013. (IWN photo)

As the Unity Labour Party administration sells 31 acres of lands at Mt Wynne-Peters Hope to “Canadian investors” for hotel development, Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, has called on Vincentians to recall the challenges at Buccament Bay Resort.

Speaking at a press conference last week, Eustace  pointed out that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, whose ULP came to office in March 2001, has been telling the nation, even before he was elected to office, that he has investors lined up to build a hotel at Mt Wynne.

“And every election cycle, he comes up with the same story,” Eustace said at Tuesday’s press briefing.

“The one hotel development on the mainland that has taken place under his watch, has been a disaster,” he said of Buccament Bay Resort, which opened in 2008 but remains incomplete and has been plagued by a myriad of challenges, including an inability to pay its staff regularly.

Eustace said that British-born investor, Dave Ames, who has obtained Vincentian citizenship was bankrupt twice.

He said that Ames was, however, able to convince Gonsalves, and Minister of Works, Sen. Julian Francis, to participate in what has turned into a disaster for Vincentians.

Work at the resort came to a halt some years ago. (IWN photo)
Work at the resort came to a halt some years ago. (IWN photo)

“Just ask any of the people whose lands and livelihoods have been affected by the work they did on the river,” he said of the repeated flooding that has occurred in the village whenever there is excessive rain, as was the case on Wednesday during the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew.

“Just ask any of the numerous people — staff and small contractors –who can’t get paid by Buccament for their work,” Eustace said.

He said that Ames has been under investigation by the United Kingdom financial authorities for years, and he is also now a fugitive from the law in SVG — wanted for the alleged theft and misappropriation of EC$7 million dollars from the state.

“His son is already serving time for a property fraud conviction in the United Kingdom.  And Ames himself was allowed to abscond from this country, after a warrant had been issued for his arrest,” Eustace said.

The opposition leader said that the NDP contend that given the situation, as he outlined it, “it is clear that this ULP administration does not understand the meaning of the word development.

“Their approach to business and the private sector in this country is inimical to proper development. Their track record is dismal, it speaks for itself and it is plunging this country into poverty — which is what Ralph Gonsalves then turns around and boasts about — the bigger numbers of people on Poor Relief,’” Eustace said, using the colloquial expression for the EC$225 and EC$250 dollars given monthly by the state to poor or otherwise vulnerable persons.

UPDATE: Following our publication of this article, we received the following statement from Harlequin Hotels and Resorts, owners of Buccament Bay Resort.

“Buccament Bay Resort is a multi-award-winning hotel that employs hundreds of Vincentians and brings thousands of guests to the island each year. Politically motivated attacks of this kind on a private company are unwarranted, improper, and unbecoming of the wonderful island we are proud to represent on the international stage as a tourist destination.

“The article is strewn with defamatory and damaging statements that we have already clarified in the past. We therefore will not honour most of the claims with a response at this time other than to stress that Mr Ames is not a “fugitive” and his lawyers understand there is no warrant for his arrest.

“Mr Ames has been summoned by the SVG Magistrates court with the intention to be charged for offences he vigorously disputes and the hearing has been postponed due to health reasons.”

 

NDP against sale of Mt Wynne lands to foreigners

5 replies on “As investors eye Mt Wynne, Eustace speaks of ‘disaster’ at Buccament Resort”

  1. According to Eustace:

    “Their [ULP] approach to business and the private sector in this country is inimical to proper development.”

    This is only partially correct. The real issue is that the mainland of SVG is inimical to tourist development which is why it can only attract shady people like Dave Ames and Aldo Rollo (the Ottley Hall marine developer who under the Sir James Mitchell NDP ripped us off big time).

    Mr. Eutace will never be able to get anyone better to build hotels and resorts on our big island.

    1. Yes, It is our system. It attracts the corrupt. We instead need a system that offers good deals to all investors without selling out the country for 30 pieces of silver. It seems to not be in our government character to do things the right way, instead they just want to make a fast buck and don’t care how they do it.

    2. David I see you have found another new word to use. David I love the way that you as a potless person have such a great amount to say about such matters.

      It is better to not build new hotels at all if it means bringing in people like Ames and all those pirates from distant lands. Dave Ames put SVG on the map, until he came along we remained a world secret. You could mention Saint Vincent and people would ask you where that was. But putting us on the map came with a price, the destruction of our good name.

      We should not enter into deals with Essex barrow boys again and that includes the equivalent from the US or Canada.

      If this was a big player coming in Gonsalves would be bandying the name everywhere. Because it isn’t he wants to keep it a secret least he is embarrassed again.

      We must have big bona fide resort developers or none, the Harlequins of this world do more damage to us than good. Already there are a whole batch of Vincentians who have not been paid by Harlequin. There are also pensioners in the UK who have lost their homes because they used them as surety on a loan to buy into Buccament, also lots of pensioners who have lost their life savings.

      The SVG government were warned early on of what was going to happen and yet they still saw fit to give Ames and his family Vincentian citizenship and passports. They even sent the Black Squad down to Buccament when people turned up at the office to claim what they were owed.

      The government must be held culpable in the whole Harlequin affair. After all his woman went to the UK and at Watford gave a speech to a whole lot of prospective buyers which may of in several cases convinced them to buy in, and lose their money.

      Also its not all Ames fault he was promised an international airport for 2011 and the Buccament project was planned with an airport in place for flights from the UK and Europe. The way the airport was planned and built helped put Harlequin out of business. Our government are certainly part of the failure of Harlequin and some of the main people should be held responsible for lying in the first place.

      Also David you just had to add the little spite into the equation by mentioning the Eustace name in a negative light, you just cannot help yourself.

  2. Watching Hard says:

    What would be nice is if there could be some transparency about this deal. Why do we not even know the names of the investors? Customarily in other countries whenever some big development is about to be undertaken the name of the investor or investment company is always enthusiastically announced. Why is that not the case in this instance? Why the secrecy? Peter Binose here is a job for you. I know that you’re good at finding out these things.

    Putting some sort of development in Mt. Wynne is inevitable but I hope that at least the government will secure certain conditions from these folks. The first is that there should be a requirement that a certain percentage of their revenue must be ploughed back into the Vincentian economy. It makes no sense having investors who are going to send a hefty portion of their revenue out of the country. Secondly, the Vincentians that they hire must have decent pay. Thirdly there must be a way for Vincentians to partner with the investors in establishing affiliated tourist businesses in the area. Fourthly, there must be public access to the beach. Its really retrograde and socially backward to exclude Vincentians from beaches that are customarily public. But I guess even this might be asking for too much from these guys.

    1. Beach access is a real problem. When Vincentians are allowed on the beaches with the tourists it seems to attract the scum of Vincentian society, meaning the thieves. Anyone, including Vincentians, who brings a cell phone or tablet with them to Indian Bay and takes a walk or goes for a swim of turns their head for too long knows what I mean.

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