The Grand Lucayan Resort. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
CENTREVILLE MP Reece Chipman has expressed mixed feelings about the government's multi-million-dollar purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort in Grand Bahama.
In response to a question from The Tribune, he said while he understands the need to jump start Grand Bahama's economy, he thinks the matter should have been brought to Parliament for a debate before the government forged ahead. Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller agreed.
While in Freeport on Monday, Mr Chipman said: "I have mixed feelings about the purchase and the reason is that I don't think government should be in the hotel business. However, I do understand the need for the Grand Bahama economy to be stimulated, and so my feelings about the purchase is somewhat mixed."
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and members of his Cabinet toured the hotel property on Grand Bahama on August 22, and later announced that the government had made a $10 million deposit to buy the property at a price tag of $65 million.
Many have criticised the Minnis administration's decision to buy the three-hotel property, even though it would provide over 1,000 jobs for unemployed Bahamians.
The resort closed in October 2016 after significant damage following Hurricane Matthew. Only one property, the 196-room Lighthouse Pointe, has since reopened.
The Tribune spoke with Mr Chipman on the sidelines of an event for the opening of the Pineridge Education Centre on Monday.
"I have mixed feelings about the purchase," the Free National Movement MP repeated. "The only thing I can do is encourage and support my colleagues regarding their understanding in what it is they intend to do."
When asked if he thought that the matter should have been brought to Parliament for debate first, Mr Chipman said absolutely.
"It is my opinion, of course, when we start to get into $10 million, $20 million, $60 million dollars worth of purchase, I think at the very least the team should have been, not involved to an extent where they make a decision, but involved to the extent that we understand the project. How it will be funded and the stages of the project, what is the action plan, and, of course, what is the intention with regards to not only jobs, but careers, and opportunities," Mr Chipman said.
For his part, Mr Miller also felt that the matter should have been brought to Parliament first.
"I think it should have been brought to Parliament for debate, absolutely that's for sure. But until I know all of the intricacies and details, and I can not speak to it from an informed position and would not want to comment," Mr Miller said.