Government will not turn its back on The Four Seasons Project and is determined to see that it is not only restarted, but carried to completion.
This point was made clear by Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler, as he delivered the feature address last Saturday to mark Standard Distributors’ 50th anniversary celebrations at Accra Beach Resort, in Rockley, Christ Church.
Seeking to clarify a number of issues related to the development, Mr. Sinckler said: "When that project came to a crashing halt it was not due to any fault of this government but because of the international financial crisis and it was patently obvious that without government’s intervention a restart of that $400 million dollar project would be impossible, leaving it to become a massive blotch on the socio-economic and environmental landscape of Barbados."
He contended that the financial and economic environment in which the project was conceived and initiated had "changed dramatically and not for the better". ??Moreover, Mr. Sinckler further explained that the model on which the project was predicated "is now spent and will unlikely be viable again in the foreseeable future".
In light of this, the Finance Minister explained that Government, therefore, decided it should intervene and thus provided "a US$60 million guarantee that allowed the new owners to secure financing to pay off, Barbadian business people and individual artisans who owed millions of dollars for goods and services provided to the project.
"In keeping with the revised plan for the project, the developers, in an effort to secure new funding for the project on a debt and equity basis, have on their own, without any prompting from me, approached a number of potential investors both in Barbados and outside of the country to support their efforts in this regard. These include, but are not limited to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), ANSA Merchant Bank and the NIB."
Furthermore, the Finance Minister underscored that "the IDB, through its private sector arm… along with ANSA Merchant Bank (which is already deeply involved) have expressed a strong willingness to partner with this project. Once it is approved by their boards, make a substantial US$180 million cash injection into the construction of a brand new up-market hotel property, the first such major brand name property on the island in almost thirty years, making this a project that can potentially generate 1,200 jobs during construction and hundreds of jobs once the hotel becomes operational."
Considering the magnitude of the project and its huge potential for generating revenue, Mr. Sinckler stressed that it would be unthinkable for government, "to cut and run, leaving even the US $60 million guarantee on the table potentially to be called, while we sit back and wait for the international financial environment to improve and potential investors to happen along and add life to the old Paradise site."
In any case, he pointed out that if the IDB and others with extensive enterprise and expertise and "expansive due diligence and investment analysis" examined the project thoroughly and were able to determine that it was a viable investment option that could bring "massive returns to both investors and the country, why on earth would anybody in Barbados want to turn their backs on this project?"