Thursday 20 June, 2019

Senator calls for independent feasibility study on Tobago Sandals

Senator Saddam Hosein said government should undertake an independent feasibility study on the proposed Sandals project at Goldon Grove estate, Tobago.

In a statement, Hosein said the project remains "shrouded in questions and concerns".

"Most recently, after I posed the following question to the Prime Minister in Senate yesterday “whether a feasibility study was conducted before the execution of the Memorandum of Understanding and if so, what was the projected return on investment?”

"Minister Stuart Young, responded to the question by saying that Sandals Resort International conducted a feasibility study and it was presented to the Government before they entered into the Memorandum of Understanding with Sandals.

"It is with disbelief I noted that the Government is relying on a feasibility study for a billion dollar project that was conducted by the same person who is desirous of undertaking the resort project in Tobago," he said.

Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General, Stuart Young, said in Parliament on Wednesday that a feasibility study done by the Sandals Resorts International Group showed that Tobago stood to benefit from the project.

"I call on the Government to apply some business sense and conduct an independent feasibility study before the project is undertaken. After this Rowley- PNM spent half of their term in office trying to convince the population that the treasury is empty, they are intent on spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars to undertake this project without the benefit of an independent evaluation report into the project," he said.

Hosein also criticised Young's responses, which he said were 'clueless' and said a project of this magnitude should be properly researched.

"Further when pressed about the issue, the Government displayed how clueless it is about this Sandals’ deal: When asked about the capital value of the project, Minister Young did not know the value of the project; When asked about the return on investment, Minister Young stated that there is a10% return on the investment, but did not know the monetary value of it."

"The Government is unaware of its benefits under this project and irresponsibly entered into the Memorandum of Understanding. It must be underscored that there is a lack of procedure for the proper procurement of Sandals."

"The Government did not engage any expressions of interest or advertisements for this billion-dollar project. The entire process is shrouded in secrecy, which begs the question whether this deal was made by a single meeting between the Prime Minister and Sandals?"

"This galvanizes the point that this Rowley-led PNM Government will spend taxpayers’ money recklessly and irresponsibly. This PNM Government continues to parade its incompetence shamelessly as they govern in a vacuum," he said.

Several conservation groups have objected to the proposed site for the resort as the area is prone to nesting turtles and other vulnerable species. 

The Golden Grove Estate partially surrounds the Bon Accord Lagoon and Buccoo Reef Complex which is an Environmentally Sensitive Area, a Ramsar site and Marine Park. 

The Bon Accord Lagoon Complex contains endangered and vulnerable species including various types of coral as well as the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle and at least 119 fish species. 

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