Sinckler tired of waiting for FTC ruling on Sol deal

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler today reported that the sale of the Hilton Barbados Resort, which is valued at more than US$100 million, was at “an advanced stage”, while accusing the local Fair Trading Commission (FTC) of stalling a similar size deal that is viewed as critical to the island’s economic recovery.

The Freundel Stuart administration has been banking on the sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Ltd. (BNTCL) –– which is owned by Barbados National Oil Co. Ltd. (BNOCL) –– to the Sol Group.

However, the US$100 million sale is now tied up in the law courts after Rubis challenged the sale which is yet to be approved by the FTC.

Without making reference to the court process, Sinckler today expressed frustration over the length of time it was taking the regulator to render a verdict on the matter.

“I believe the Minister of Commerce [Donville Inniss] has indicated . . . gently I am sure . . . to the FTC, that the issuing of its final decision on the state of the sale of the BNTCL is now long overdue and must be done expeditiously, whatever that decision might be,” Sinckler told participants in this morning’s annual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados.

“It is simply taking way too long in my opinion and frustrating all parties involved and potentially jeopardizing our economic plans,” he said, while seeking to make it abundantly clear that at this stage, he was less concerned with what its decision will be, than the fact that “after near nine months [and] no decision has been made”.

He stressed that the FTC needed to issue its ruling “so we can move on”.

And without giving any details on the Hilton sale, which was first announced in his Budget speech back in May, Sinckler said the sale of these assets, together with a short-term loan now being negotiated, would give a one-time major injection into the island’s foreign reserves, if executed in a timely manner.   

Sinckler also suggested that the expeditious conclusion of these transactions would also give the country the breathing space it needed to address the medium and longer-term challenges with foreign exchange earnings and retention for the island as a whole.

Today Sinckler also sought to reassure members of the local business community that even though the level of foreign reserves was way below the 12-week import cover, the stability of the dollar was maintained.

“It is true that a healthy reserves position is the bedrock of maintaining the desired peg against the US dollar and, as I highlighted before, our reserves have declined to a less than comfortable levels. However, reserves of just above eight weeks of imports are yet enough to defend the local currency,” he said.

The Minister of Finance also explained that Barbados still has access to second-tier reserves which are held by other financial and commercial institutions that could be tapped into if necessary.

“We do not anticipate that such a move would be necessary and to ensure that this will not be the case, we, the Government that is, are working with the Central Bank on a number of fronts to boost the reserves in the short term as we move forward,” he stated.

Today, he also called on the private sector to play its part in ensuring that there could be an economic turnaround.

“In this regard, while Government is going to play its role in trying to stabilize the situation in the near to medium term, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t call upon the leadership of [the Barbados Private Sector Association] to in turn call upon the members of all its various organizations to assist the country at this critical time by bringing more of their foreign earnings onshore and even redeeming some with the Central Bank of Barbados,” Sinckler said.

“I am sure the members of your organization would agree with me that such a move would be yet another great demonstration of commitment to the success of Barbados and Barbadians by our private sector. So there will be no devaluation of the Barbados dollar,” he emphasized.

emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

9 Responses to Sinckler tired of waiting for FTC ruling on Sol deal

  1. Breadfruit. November 11, 2017 at 12:41 am

    tings getting desperate yuh De bucket like it hit de bottom a de well.

    Reply
  2. Ralph W Talma November 11, 2017 at 8:11 am

    1. Please Mr Sinckler do retain at least a 49% stake in the Resort and in any other future sales you are contemplating. The first world has learnt (especially here in the UK) the error of their ways in doing in the past what I now believe you are about to do.
    2. Furthermore, have you considered letting the B’dos dollar float to its correct level? In my opinion Sir, retaining the current ludicrous US/B’dos rate is doing severe damage to an already severely ailing B’dos economy, and much hardship to my fellow Bajans.
    3. Finally, since the primary resource of funds into the B’dos treasury comes from tourism. Surely, it is your prime responsibility to ensure that a fair proportion of the profits made by entities such as Sandals et al are received by the Treasury and not diverted abroad. Always think ‘Barbados fist’.

    Reply
    • Sue Donym November 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      @Ralph W Talma, much like the Cornwallis, Stavronikita and the MV Trident, those ships have sailed and sunk.

      Have you not heard about the sweetheart deals given to Sandals, allowing them twenty to twenty five years on various tax concessions. Then you’ve no doubt missed the complaints that even with such sugar-coated allowances to Sandals, local merchants have not seen the increased trading expected from a heavily occupied hotel property – which suggests a further flight of foreign exchange.

      One point of disagreement: the Barbados dollar-US dollar peg is probably the bravest and wisest thing this government has done re economic policy

      Reply
  3. fedup November 11, 2017 at 8:17 am

    He int nuh Sir!

    Reply
  4. MARIA Holder November 11, 2017 at 8:17 am

    FTC do not be rushed – at the end of the day your professionalism will be called in to question when these politician ride off into the wind and return to their original jobs.
    At the eleventh hour they trying to run every public officer blood to water. Ministers signatures will not be on these documents. yours will be. TEK WUNNA TIME

    Reply
  5. BimJim November 11, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Put in Solutions Barbados and demand they institute an irrevocable new law which requires all politicians of the ruling Party to pay off – out of their own pockets – the portion of national debt they caused when they finish their term.

    Let us see both RESPONSIBILITY and TRUE ACCOUNTABILITY legislated and not “just don’t-care” behaviour in our leaders, and we may surely return to level-headed government.

    I don’t care about how they do it anywhere else, enough with irresponsible and ignorant leadership in Barbados. We need to return politics to a place where honest, decent individuals provide public service, and no longer just a place for hogs and sows to smirk and snigger at the taxpayers through the news cameras while getting personally rich out of the public trough.

    And perhaps if Ministers had to pull their own pockets when they eventually get voted out they might choose a humble and reliable Toyota or a Ford for a car of state instead of a million-dollar flash but unreliable Mercedes.

    Reply
  6. Ann Thomas November 11, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Wow!

    Guess what Mr. Sinckler, Barbadians are tired of waiting on lots of things:

    tax returns for over three years;
    public servants tired of waiting for a salary increase after about seven years, especially since you got back yours;
    businessmen tired of waiting for their VAT returns after years;
    motorists tired of waiting for roads to be fixed, since announcements of road projects some dating back to 2013;

    We just tired of waiting period.

    Reply
  7. Sue Donym November 11, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    How can this be a serious comparison when the only thing in common is that they are both Barbados owned assets being considered?

    Sale of hotel property – in an industry with many owners and types of accommodation vs. a sale that would see a single player in control of sourcing, refining, distribution, wholesale, retail of petroleum products – in a market that is already down to two players at wholesale and retail level. Hmm.. okay.

    Reply
  8. Solutions Barbados November 13, 2017 at 9:05 am

    “a short-term loan now being negotiated, would give a one-time major injection into the island’s foreign reserves, if executed in a timely manner.” I wonder where this loan is coming from? could it be from CAF Latin American Development Bank? How much money are they borrowing? what are the terms of repayment? we need to watch this very closely.

    Reply

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