Sell resort to Barbadians, Government advised

Home drums must beat first in the sale of the Hilton Barbados Resort, and the process must be transparent, the Freundel Stuart administration has been advised.

The local private sector Wednesday backed Government’s decision to divest itself of the Needham’s Point, St Michael property, with some members recommending this should be only the beginning.

Those who gathered at the 350-room property Wednesday morning in a post-Budget breakfast seminar organized by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) felt the proposed sale was a good idea.

However, the issues of transparency and ownership, as well as protection of the brand, occupied the minds of many of the business leaders.

“When we think of the Hilton where we are sitting right now, I would also like to strongly urge that there be transparency in the divestment and that it be offered to local hoteliers and others who might be interested in the asset. It would be better for us if it were,” President of the Barbados Bankers’ Association Donna Wellington said.

In presenting the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in the House of Assembly Tuesday, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said Government planned to relinquish its ownership of the prime property, valued at more than US$100 million, given its substantial investment in the Wyndham Sam Lord’s Castle project, estimated to be in the range of US$250 million.

Sinckler said Government was expecting to receive no less than $100 million in net proceeds from the sale, taking into account the property’s liabilities.

However, with the pending sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited still tied up in court after Rubis challenged its sale over a lack of transparency among other reasons, the private sector officials insisted Government must not allow the same to happen with the Hilton, which currently employs just over 400 people, nor should it ignore Barbadians when it seeks a buyer.

“The Hilton is obviously a brand near and dear to our hearts. We are hopeful that when we talk about the sale of the asset, we are talking about the sale of the asset and the brand remains. We don’t want to make the assumption, but we hope that based on the contractual arrangement and details the brand of the Hilton does not leave our shores,” Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Roseanne Myers insisted.

Stating that there were global partners who helped to market the island using the Hilton brand, Myers said she did not want any uncertainty in the market about the future of the international chain.

“So if the brand Hilton is not affected in any way and we maintain that Hilton international contract, we need to put that out there very early and we would hope that is the situation,” she said, while agreeing that Barbadian investors should be allowed to put forward their offer for the purchase of the hotel, offering ordinary Barbadians the opportunity to be shareholders.

BCCI President Eddy Abed has been a strong advocate of the sale of state enterprises, and Wednesday he, along and PwC’s Head of Advisory Services for the Eastern Caribbean Oliver Jordan, pressed home the point.

Jordan called for “bold and transformational” change, stressing that Government could no longer afford to provide some of the social services and therefore needed to hand them over to the private sector, or increase user fees.

“We definitely support the notion of divestment and giving Barbadians an opportunity to participate,” he said.

He identified Grantley Adams International Airport and the Bridgetown Port as two entities that should be sold, joining fellow business leaders in stressing that “any investment should give Barbadians the opportunity to partake”.

Meantime, Abed added the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation to the list of state enterprises that ought to be privatized, saying they were losing too much money.

“It is time we sell these assets off to Barbadians,” Abed said.

10 Responses to Sell resort to Barbadians, Government advised

  1. louis walker June 1, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Giving barbadians the opportunity to participate in the whole-sale sell-off of state-owned enterprise is a bit of a Red Herring.It is nothing but an atempt by BCCI to gain entry through the back-door.They know by experience, that any investment by participating bajans will somehow end up in their hands;leaving them sole owners and laughing all the way to the bank
    All this may be hypothetical,but I ask myself;why would anyone want to invest in something that was losing money hand over fist.
    Also if private finance,having dividens to pay can operate at an adequate level of profit ;why can the state not do the same?
    My final observation is that the British Labour Party has pledged to take back into public ownership all that was privtised and is now making vast profit for the rest of Europe.

    Reply
  2. smiley June 1, 2017 at 10:46 am

    BnB (republic bank) Blp sold to Trinidad among other companies.All of the parties sell out Barbados to foreigners.we don’t have any loyal sons and daughters in government.

    Reply
  3. Ralph W Talma June 1, 2017 at 11:33 am

    1. It would be a disaster to sell off en-toto the companies listed above. If there is no other way of acquiring necessary funding then do what great Nations of the world have done in similiar situations: sell 49% and maintain State ownership of 51%. This should have been done with Sandals et al, as some Leaders of the past, I believe, had intimated in their retirement.
    2. In the unstable world, it is vital that Government maintains ownership of its National assets. Please Leaders, learn from the mistakes of others.

    Reply
  4. Milli Watt June 1, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    sell to WHO…………..SSTTUUUPPPSSSEEE look try and get some US dollars in de place and leave de locals to buy eye lashes, hair, rims and tyres. I need de foreign exchange this crowd don’t have a clue unless it is death and even then it is a surprise.

    Reply
  5. Donild Trimp June 1, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    No, no, no, no.

    Sell Needam’s Point Hilton Hotel to Bajans?

    Give me a break.

    You all mean give it away to Bajans just like you gave away Time Out Hotel in St.Lawrence Gap to Bajans.

    Reply
  6. Alex Alleyne June 1, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Some of us bought some shares in the then BNB , then the wise PM at that time sold it to T&T lock stock and barrel. Soon after the name change to REPUBLIC the BAJAN share holders were paid out quick so. And not so long after that, BANK CEO was boasting of all the profits the bank is making. I take it with the LION share going over to T&T cos only them know how to spend money.
    I will not spend a penny of mine in HILTON cos next thing it might turn out like CLICO and BAJANS leave “holding the bag”.
    JENKINGS FULL ALREADY.

    Reply
  7. Sisleen Greene June 1, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    I would like to encourage the credit unions purchase it.

    Reply
  8. sam June 1, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    let c o williams buy it i think it will be good

    Reply
  9. Alex Alleyne June 1, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    The BAJANS who bought shares in ICBL still own them due to the fact that they do not pay much otherwise we would have been done bought out. The BNB shares paid way higher than ICBL.
    I do not know how it is handled in payments, but BAJANS use to get a good piece from BNB shares (and was paid out) while you get next kint to nothing from ICBL and BAGANS are stuck with them.

    Reply
  10. Milli Watt June 3, 2017 at 10:40 am

    this crowd sell the Barbados Light and Power first chance they get, Barbados Shipping and Trading, Brydens man I could go on …….oh yeah Barbados National Bank. this crowd ain’t bout nuttin that would require some level of intellect to learn about, keep an eye on, have an educated opinion on. look bring my foreign exchange DO

    Reply

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