Government will provide full details of the sale of the Barbados Hilton Resort “very soon”, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has promised.
There has been mounting pressure on the Freundel Stuart administration to make public, the details of the announced deal, following reports that the hotel had been sold for less than expected.
Pressed today for an update, Sealy would only say that talks were ongoing with a buyer “and there will be more to say when it is appropriate to do so”.
“Numerous parties have displayed an interest and the process by which the partner was selected was completely transparent. There is someone who we have been talking to, yes,” Sealy told Barbados TODAY.
“It is at an advanced stage and we continue to advance those discussion and we will be, of course, discussing publicly exactly where we are going in that regard,” he added.
The opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has been calling on Government to reveal the full details and process for the sale of the Needham’s Point property.
Shadow Minister of Tourism Ronald Toppin said in Parliament this month that reports suggesting that the recently refurbished hotel had been sold for US$80 million, US$20 million less than Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s stated price, was reason enough for the administration to be transparent with the transaction.
“The Government has previously indicated that it intends to sell the Barbados Hilton for US$100 million. What is the process informing this sale? Who is doing the independent valuations? Where is it being advertised for sale? We need to be told by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler before any further action is taken,” Toppin had said.
“The BLP would like to ensure that this hotel, one of the most valuable jewels in the Barbados economic crown since it was originally opened in 1966, is not sold at a cut-rate price like Blue Horizon Hotel appears to have been.”
He added that there should be no doubt in any Barbadian’s mind that the accepted international criteria and standards were being followed in securing the best deal for the country and its citizens at all times.
It was at the same sitting of Parliament that Minister of Housing Denis Kellman had accused the BLP of using two of its political candidates who sit on the board of the National Insurance Scheme to block the Hilton sale, although he provided no evidence to support his claim. .
In his Budget presentation on May 30, Sinckler had said Government would only accept offers in line with the hotel’s real value and expected “no less than BDS$100 million as the net proceeds from the sale, taking into account the liquidation of existing debt liabilities attached to the property”.