The Hilton Barbados Resort will not be sold for less than it is worth, but Barbadians will have to wait longer to know who might be the new owners of the multi-million-dollar state asset.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy gave the assurance tonight as he contributed to debate on the Appropriation Bill 2018 in the House of Assembly, where attention focused on the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport.
Government has faced increasing criticism over plans to sell the 350-room Needham’s Point, St Michael property which was rebuilt in 2005 after the original 1966 structure was demolished.
The administration was accused of signing a secret deal to cheaply dispose of the hotel for quick foreign dollars as the country tries to boost its dangerously low foreign reserves position.
But Sealy, Member of Parliament for St Michael South Central, insisted that no deal was signed. He, however, refused to give details on who was the likely buyer or the possible terms for the sale.
“There has been a lot of chatter on the Hilton. We are negotiating with a particular party on the possibility of taking over the Hilton. No sale agreement has been signed yet. . . . What I would say for those persons who seem to be of the view that it is some grand loss to the selling off of the Hilton, if you look at the net position in terms of profit gained from the Hilton, you are talking somewhere in the vicinity of BDS$2 million,” the Minister revealed.
He said that in 2015 it was even less, at just $1.5 million and in 2016 it was $2.4 million.
“Why do you keep an asset that can only net $1.5 million or $2 million to the Consolidated Fund when if you appropriately leverage that asset, it could gain to the economy 20 times that?” Sealy questioned.