The company that leased the Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard from the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has rented out part of the facility but has failed to meet its rent obligation to the state.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves revealed this in Parliament last Thursday in response to a question from Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday.
In his question, Friday noted that in January 2019 he asked a question in Parliament about the rent collected in 2016, 2017 and 2018 from Seafarers Shipyard Group Ltd., the company that leased the premises.
In part, the answer given was that the outstanding amount of rent totalled EC$205,600, Friday pointed out.
He asked the prime minister to tell lawmakers whether the outstanding rent had been paid; how much rent had been collected for the year 2019; and whether any part of the premises had been let or sublet to other individuals or companies.
In response, Gonsalves said that Seafarers Shipyard Group Ltd., which is owned and controlled by Vincentians, have paid EC$30,000 rent in the current year up to the end of July.
This, he said, is far less than the EC$86,400 that became due in July 2019.
As a result, the outstanding amount has risen to EC$262,000, Gonsalves said.
He said that the chair of the state-owned lessor company has informed him that under the lease agreement, parts of the premises could be let to various tenants and that has happened.
In light of the failure of Seafarers Shipyard Group Limited to meet its contractual obligations, the Ottley Hall Marina Shipyard Ltd, the state-owned company responsible for the shipyard, has taken certain decisions in relation to the company and has instructed its lawyer to take certain positions in relation to Seafarers Shipyard Group Ltd., Gonsalves said.
“Clearly, this state of affairs cannot continue for any longer. There’s been a lot of forbearance. Because this is a group of local investors, you are trying to see how they can get it going and so on but clearly there are serious problems,” the prime minister said.
He said he has to be “careful the extent of the details I provide because I don’t want to say anything here that would compromise any possible legal action on the part of the lessors; that is to say, the state-owned company.
“We encourage and we want to help local investors but at the same time, the local investors can’t not make the requisite payments and I think that as a general principle, we have to be alive that there is no misuse or abuse of state property for private interest.
“I think we will all agree on that but I provide the information that has been given to me in answer to what you have asked, Honourable Leader of the Opposition.”
In response to a supplementary question, Gonsalves said he did not know the terms of the sub lease and the rents that were being collected.