‘WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT’: Cooper paints grim picture of Grand Lucayan purchase deal

‘WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT’: Cooper paints grim picture of Grand Lucayan purchase deal

“There has got to be a new day for Grand Bahama too”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said yesterday that as a part of the sale of Grand Lucayan resort, the purchasers wanted a loan from the government to develop the property during the second half of the next decade.

Cooper, who has called the proposed sale an “egregiously bad deal”, said it was worse than previously thought, though the former administration “colorfully booked this as an investment”.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper.

“I take no pleasure in being right in this instance,” Cooper said during debate on the Speech from the Throne in Parliament.

“In fact, the deal the former administration was prepared to enter into was worse than I thought.

“After the government pumped over $150 million into this property, the group at the table wanted a loan from the government to develop the property, which they were only interested in developing during the second half of the decade.

“Now, although I am tempted, I will reserve further comment on this matter.

“But suffice to say there has got to be a new day for Grand Bahama too.”

The government purchased the resort in August 2018 for $65 million.

The move received heavy criticism, but the government of the day said it made the tough decision to save hundreds of jobs at the resort and to jumpstart Grand Bahama’s economy.

A letter of intent (LOI) was signed in March 2019 for the intended sale of the megaresort and the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour.

The plan included the development of a cruise port at Freeport Harbour.

It was expected to accommodate three ships in phase one and up to seven ships in later phases.

In September, former Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said he was disappointed about the government’s inability to close the sale of the Grand Lucayan prior to the Minnis administration’s demitting office.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.