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Letter: Sandals vs Turks and Caicos government
Published on August 23, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Butch Stewart is the founder and chairman of the board of Sandals International, the parent company of Beaches Resorts, the world’s leading all-inclusive chain of resorts. Beaches is also the largest single employer in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).

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When Mr Stewart and his development team came to the TCI to invest, they negotiated a development agreement with the TCI government and the British Crown that articulated certain obligations and requirements of the developer (Beaches), as well as certain financial concessions and privileges that were granted to the developer by the TCI government and Crown.

The grant of financial concessions and privileges is a tool of inducement commonly utilized by governments worldwide as an honest and transparent means of attracting desirable job creating businesses and development.

One of the elements reportedly contained in the Beaches resort development agreement is a clause that would prohibit “vending” on the three-acre plot of land immediately across the street from the Beaches Italian Village where the TCI government has approved plans for the construction of a new fish fry complex. Beaches has now filed legal proceedings in the TCI Supreme Court. When questioned about the litigation, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office responded by claiming that the dispute arises from “interpretation”.

Once again the TCI government, the TCI Attorney General’s Office and the Crown are embroiled in an alleged breach of contract litigation case with another of our local developers. Sound familiar? Only this time the developer, Butch Stewart, has very deep pockets and will no-doubt pursue a complaint against the TCI government that will undoubtedly siphon ridiculous sums of money for legal fees from our threadbare government budget.

Perplexed about the "interpretation" excuse, I ask my fifth grade friend Harry to define “vending” for me and Harry said that “vending” is a verb that can be defined as: 1.) offering small items, especially food for sale; 2.) to sell as one's business or occupation; 3.) to engage in the sale of merchandise; 4.) to be disposed of by sale. Harry says that definition, from his understanding of the Beaches development agreement, would exclude the fish fry complex from operating on the property across the street from Beaches.

Let me say that I am not taking sides and I have not formed an opinion on whether the fish fry should be moved to that location or not. But, I do have an opinion about the negative and public reputation that the TCI government and Crown, and particularly the Attorney General’s Office, have created for unilaterally violating TCI development agreements with developers whenever they choose.

That negative reputation has remained the single biggest risk and obstacle to foreign investment in the TCI since 2008; the well-known unreliability of the TCI government, the Attorney General’s Office, the Crown and the TCI development agreements they draft.

And, I also object to the unnecessary and obscene waste of taxpayer dollars, millions and millions and millions of dollars litigating cases with developers that would not occur if the Attorney General’s Office would read their own development agreements before acting. This Beaches case is a perfect example.

The TCI constitution empowers the TCI attorney general to “advise” the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, not to direct policy and initiate action without directions.

If Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles wants to continue imposing and inflicting her will on the elected government of the TCI in areas that are severely effecting finances and development, she should register to run for an elected office.

Edith Delancy
 
Reads: 6062





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