Before Government proceeds with its plans to sell the Hilton Barbados Resort, there is some unfinished financial business which this country’s Auditor General Leigh Trotman would like to have urgently settled.
In his just-released 2016 report, Trotman revealed that over $6 million was owed by Needham’s Point Holdings Limited to Government, following an agreement signed back in June 2005 to facilitate reconstruction of the luxury hotel.
The loans carried an interest rate of 2.5 per cent on the reducing balance.
As at March 31, 2016, a total of $6,023,083 inclusive of interest due was owed by Needham’s Point Holdings to Government, the Auditor General said, while pointing out that so far the company had failed to make a payment towards the outstanding principal.
Trotman also reported that no evidence was submitted for audit inspection to indicate that efforts were made by the Freundel Stuart administration to recover the outstanding debt, which was one of several outstanding loans totalling $983.9 million, flagged in the latest Auditor General report.
Also of concern is the sum of $141.5 million owed by the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc (BTI) with accrued interest of $19.3 million.
As in the case of Hilton, the Auditor General said as at March 31, 2016, no formal contract existed between Government and BTI for the loans made to that institution. Equally, no repayments were received on the amount which has owed since 2009.
The Auditor General also highlighted a loan of $28 million to the Small Hotel Investment Fund dating back to 2010, $120 million to the Four Seasons Development Project dating back to financial year 2011/2012; $6 million to the Rural Development Commission
dating back to 2012 and $4.2 million to the Sanitation Service Authority dating back
With these financial matters still outstanding, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler Tuesday announced in Parliament within the context of a $537.6 million deficit, that Government would be embarking on a number of measures with a view to pulling the country out of the red, including the immediate sale of the Hilton, in which the Government of Barbados is majority shareholder, for at least $100 million.
Sinckler also announced several new taxes and levies in his austerity Budget, which aims to raise $542 million in revenues and to put Government back on a sound economic footing.