Scott: Grand Lucayan board awaiting Cabinet signoff for VSEPs

Scott: Grand Lucayan board awaiting Cabinet signoff for VSEPs
The Grand Lucaya Hotel.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Michael Scott, the Grand Lucayan’s chairman, said yesterday that the resort’s board is awaiting Cabinet sign-off to conclude the voluntary separation packages (VSEPs) offer for the more than 200 employees who have applied.

“The matter is with Cabinet,” he said when contacted.

“We’re waiting for the final approval so we can pay people.”

Asked for the total value of the VSEPs as well as the timeline for disbursement, Scott said he was unable to provide those details at this time as the matter is before Cabinet.

“We’ve made our recommendations,” Scott said.

“We’re waiting for final approval and that’s that.”

While Scott was cautious not to divulge details on the offer, Minister of Finance Peter

Turnquest said last Wednesday that exercise will cost more than $5 million.

The minister said that figure includes backpay owed to those employees.

The government has said the exercise will be completed before the end of the year.

Scott originally estimated the VSEP offers would cost taxpayers around $3 million.

He later advised that the line staff and managerial unions which represents employees at the government-owned resort requested payouts that exceeded the resort’s offer by $4.6 million.

Last week, the chairman noted that despite concerted attempts to negotiate and come to an agreement over the final offer, the resort’s board was unable to meet the unions’ demands.

He suggested, however, that the board will make a generous offer in the context of its budget and the country’s fiscal constraints.

The VSEP offer is part of an overall strategy to streamline the operational costs of the resort and put it on a path to potential profitability before its resale.

The government hopes to sell the property before the second quarter of next year.

At last report, around two dozen entities submitted written expressions to purchase the resort.

Yesterday, Scott maintained that figure remains approximately the same.

He said while the board has received additional written expressions, some potential buyers did not make it past the due diligence requirements.

“That process is in full swing,” the chairman said.

“We’ve got offers and some people are being profiled and verified and all the due diligence related to that, but I am not going to give any public details to that at this stage because it is very sensitive.

In a recent interview, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said a preferred bidder could be selected in the first quarter of the new year.

The government purchased the resort for $65 million, with $30 million paid up front.

The $35 million will be a government-guaranteed mortgage paid back over three and a half years.