The Adrian Loveridge Column – Local Media to Blame

Writing a weekly column on a single subject (tourism) can certainly be challenging at times, especially when you tread that fine line, trying to extract meaningful answers to questions that some of us think should be a matter of public record, but that our politicians and policy makers feel should remain a dark secret.

You stand an enormous risk of upsetting some individuals who somehow often hold the power to negatively affect your well being, or who can influence decision makers that ensure you are held back or stifled in business dealings.

It comes with the territory and if you are going to be labelled as outspoken or controversial by a few, it’s something you have to get used to. Conversely, if our guardians of democracy were more open or candid, would it not benefit the country at large?

Just occasionally questions raised eventually get some attention, even if its years later.

A classic example is the recent disclosure questioning the accountability and payment of VAT (value added tax) by one of our tourism operators.

I raised this very point in the Tourism MATTERS column back on 16th December 2013, after a personal stay at one of the properties involved.

 

 

Fast forward almost six years and only after attention grabbing bold headlines detailing a class action suit, quoting the words ‘alleged tax fraud’ being initiated in the United States and disseminated globally is the matter finally receiving interest at the highest level?

Of course- in the case of Barbados- in the intervening period there has been a dramatic change of Government, but surely with the amount of potential lost taxes involved which could amount in this solitary location to at least BDS$20 million annually – any administration in a self -declared economically beleaguered state would surely want to rapidly deal with the problem and be seen to be doing so?

What puzzles many of us is that we as hoteliers in Barbados are required to submit VAT returns on a frequent and timely basis and if submissions are late, severe penalties with fines and interest are applied and enforced.

So how would it be possible to avoid this legal obligation for so many years without full Government knowledge and possible complicity?

Returning to the start of this column, are ‘we’ wrong to raise these questions and reasonably expect credible answers?

Unless these areas of concern are addressed in an absolutely transparent manner, there will forever remain the belief there is one law applied to some and a different one to others.

Butch Stewart’s Sandals Features in the Fraud Section of the UK News

The following articles is reproduced in the public interest – David, Blogmaster

Sandals Resorts ‘operated decades-long tax fraud by charging guests 12% rates but pocketed the cash in secret deal with local Caribbean governments,’ class action lawsuit claims

  • Sandals Resorts has been hit with a class action lawsuit in Florida on Tuesday over an alleged tax fraud scheme run at its Caribbean resorts 
  • The company is accused of charging guests 12% tax rates but instead of handing over the money, the funds are ‘secretly retained by Sandals for its own profit’ 
  • Plantiff Vitali Feldman stayed at a Sandals Resorts in 2017, 2018 and 2019, along with his wife and two children and claims he fell victim to the alleged scheme
  • His lawyers claim customers were ‘deceived into paying such tax that was, in fact, being secretly retained by Defendants for their own use, benefit and profit’
  • Lawyers claim Sandals Resorts settled with the government of Antigua and Barbuda over unpaid sales tax totaling $37.5M, and paid only 37 cents  
  • The class action lawsuit is seeking at least $5 million
  • Sandals Resorts denied the allegations saying: ‘Our valued guests have never been unlawfully charged for taxes and allegations to the contrary are false’ 

Sandals Resorts has been hit with a massive lawsuit over claims the company worked in concert with local Caribbean governments in a decades-long tax fraud scheme, according to court papers obtained by DailyMail.com.

Sandals is accused of charging guests 12 percent tax rates but instead of handing over the money to local governments, the funds are ‘secretly retained by Sandals for its own profit’, according to the suit filed in Florida federal court on Tuesday.

New Jersey resident Vitali Feldman is the only named plaintiff in the suit and hired Miami-based law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman to represent him, along with any others who join the suit, which is seeking at least $5 million.

Sandals Resorts has been hit with a massive lawsuit over claims the company worked in concert with local Caribbean governments in a decades-long tax fraud scheme, DailyMail.com has learned

Sandals Resorts has been hit with a massive lawsuit over claims the company worked in concert with local Caribbean governments in a decades-long tax fraud scheme, DailyMail.com has learned

Feldman vacationed at a Sandals Resorts in 2017, 2018 and 2019, along with his wife and two young children.

He claims he fell victim to the alleged scheme when he was charged with the ‘all inclusive’ tax rate of 12 percent of the total cost of his stay.

Lawyers claim current and past customers were ‘deceived into paying such tax [in whole or in part] that was, in fact, being secretly retained by Defendants for their own use, benefit and profit’.

The suit states: ‘At all times material, it is represented to the public and Plaintiffs and others similarly situated that the ‘all inclusive’ packages include ”all taxes.”

‘The way the charges were presented to the guests was described in a deceptive way by labeling the charge(s) as a local government tax, when in fact Sandals was charging more money for the room.’

In a statement to DailyMail.com, a spokesperson for Sandals Resorts said: ‘Our customers are our top priority and under no circumstances would we exploit their faith in us.

‘Our valued guests have never been unlawfully charged for taxes and allegations to the contrary are downright false. Not only do we conduct our business with pricing transparency, we meet all of our tax obligations in each of the islands where we call home.

‘We take great pride in being the gold standard in the islands where we operate and have spent close to four decades providing guests with the most comprehensive vacation experience bar none.

‘We will of course vigorously defend against these baseless allegations.’

Sandals is accused of charging guests 12 percent tax rates but instead of handing over the money to local governments, the funds are 'secretly retained by Sandals for its own profit', according to the lawsuit filed in Florida federal court on Tuesday

 

Sandals is accused of charging guests 12 percent tax rates but instead of handing over the money to local governments, the funds are ‘secretly retained by Sandals for its own profit’, according to the lawsuit filed in Florida federal court on Tuesday

In court papers, lawyers claim all guests of Beaches Turks & Caicos, which falls under Sandals Resorts’ ownership, paid a 12 percent accommodation tax.

But ‘unknown to Plaintiffs and others similarly situated is the existence of an agreement between Sandals and the Turks and Caicos government permitting Sandals to retain a significant percentage of such taxes for its own use and benefit instead of remitting the monies to the government,’ the suit claims.

It adds: ‘These tax charges are used to generate extra profit at the expense of Plaintiff and others similarly situated, who were deceived into believing the fees are legitimate charges directly related to Sandals’ owed and paid taxes to the government.

‘In fact, the fees are nothing but profit-enhancers disguised as taxes that have a legitimate purpose, constituting a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.’

Sandals Resorts is accused of running the same alleged scheme at its resorts in Grande Antigua, Barbados and Royal Barbados where guests are charged a 12.5 percent sales tax.

Again, Sandals Resorts allegedly ‘retained a significant percentage of such taxes for its own use and benefit instead of remitting the monies to the government’, due to ‘an agreement between Sandals and the Antigua and Barbuda government’.

The suit adds: ‘By bundling the fees, taxes, and other charges into the all-inclusive package, Sandals is able to conceal the fact that consumers were being vastly overcharged for the all-inclusive resort package due to the agreement to retain a large portion of the taxes.

‘In short, Sandals has, through fraud, deception, omission and/or concealment, engaged in a pattern of unlawful profiteering, deceit, and self-dealing with regard to charging a local government tax and retaining a large percentage of such.’

The lawyers claim in court papers that Sandals Resorts settled with the government of Antigua and Barbuda over unpaid sales tax totaling $37.5 million up to late December of 2016.

Sandals Resorts agreed to pay $1 East Caribbean Dollar, which is around 37 cents, which the government accepted.

‘Because the government stipulated to not collect the $37.5 million and Sandals retained such monies, Plaintiffs and other similarly situated are entitled to these monies as it relates to the taxes they were fraudulently and deceptively charged,’ according to court papers.

The class action lawsuit is seeking at least $5 million, exclusive of interest and costs.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7054509/Sandals-Resorts-operated-tax-fraud-scheme-charging-guests-12-tax-rates-pocketed-cash.html

Questions Need Answering at Sandals in Heywoods

Submitted by Tee White

As someone who grew up bathing on Heywoods beach, I am extremely concerned at the way Sandals construction of their Beaches hotel there is going. Putting aside for now, the current disagreement between the government and Butch Stewart over the indemnities Sandals want signed into law, there are other aspects of what is going on there that need urgent attention.

First, representatives of Sandals have repeatedly stated at public meetings in Speightstown that the construction of the hotel would not result in worse access to the beach for local people than we enjoyed previously. However, Sandals has carried out beach reconstruction which pushes the shoreline out into what used to be the sea. As a result, the traditional path onto the beach from the Speightstown end, which has been used for as long as I can remember, will now be well above the high water mark and so fall squarely within Sandals’ private property. There is a need for an ironclad undertaking from Sandals that this traditional path will remain open for use by local people as an access route onto the beach.

Secondly, Sandals has given repeated assurances that the construction of the new hotel would be done in such a way as to avoid damaging the local environment. However, they have been using crushed limestone as part of the reconstruction of the beach. This material which is produced and supplied by C.O.Williams Construction Company Ltd is entirely different in appearance and texture to natural beach sand. I understand that the intention is to deposit this material in the sea and use dredged beach sand at the later stages of the project to finish off the beach. However, the use of this material is having a negative impact on the environment. When it is placed in the sea, it is producing a white film that covers the water and nearby reefs and also causing increased cloudiness in the water, thereby affecting the sea life. In addition, while it is stacked on the beach it is interfering with the nesting of the turtles, particularly for the hatchlings which have difficulty digging their way out of it.

Sandals promised that the Heywoods beach would be reopened for public use by December 2018. It’s now April 2019 and the beach is still not opened. It’s essential that the people of Barbados do not allow Sandals to break any more of their promises with regard to the construction of this hotel.

Mia Mottley Refuses to Dance the “Sandals Shuffle”

Afra Raymond unpacks the Sandals matter in his recent blogpost , Property Matters – Sandals Shuffle, AGAIN – David, Afra Raymond


“…we are running a Country, not a Company…”
—Mia Mottley QC MP, Barbados PM – from her inaugural budget Wednesday, 20 March 2019

This title occurred to me due to the quiet backsliding of the main supporters of the Tobago Sandals project. This is the kind of situation where people thought they were operating safely in the dark, until someone suddenly opens the door and turns on the lights. The emergence of Sandals’ recent skirmishes have also reminded me of a shuffle.

Those shameless promoters told the public repeatedly about how satisfactory the existing arrangements were for State-owned hotels and went on to explain the special benefits of Sandals and so on and so forth. The steady exposure of the rickety arrangements for the existing hotels and the publication of the Tobago Sandals MoU have combined to end the scheme. Sunlight is really the best disinfectant.

The decisive point here, in terms of the important issue of Caribbean Leadership Standards, is that our current political administration agreed to make tax/duty/work permit concessions to Sandals for that Tobago project which the State was funding. In all the other Sandals projects and their various issues about concessions, about which we are hearing so much, those hotels were built by Sandals. In Tobago, our Treasury was going to fund the entire resort and yet our politicians were intending to grant concessions, facilitate transfer-pricing and allow Sandals free choice in respect of goods and services. No wonder those Sandals officials were smiling the whole time. I tell you.

Please note that this kind of deal is not found anywhere else on the planet. That is for those supporters who want to chat about how Sandals transformed here or there. Here is the only country in which we were going to pay for the entire resort. Under the terms of that MoU Sandals was putting no money at risk. None.

None of the former defenders of Tobago Sandals seem ready, willing or able to defend their proposals, now that the actual agreed intentions have been disclosed. We are yet to hear any T&T leader even hint at repudiating any of the detrimental terms agreed in that Tobago Sandals MoU.

That position is quite different from that of the Barbados PM Mia Mottley QC who in delivering her first budget on Wednesday 20th March 2019 spoke strongly against Sandals proposals to obtain certain guarantees which would have prevented them from being taxed any differently for a term of 40 years. PM Mottley was clear in rejecting the Sandals proposals as being inimical to the stability of their country, and diluting the role of Parliament in establishing taxes. ‘…we are running a country, not a company‘ was a striking phrase used by PM Mottley, one for us to remember.

https://videopress.com/embed/uODmNqeW?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0

Read full blog post –

Property Matters – Sandals Shuffle

Graphic credit: Afra Raymond

Sandals Barbados Backstory

The following letter was shared by a trusted source – David, blogmaster


Dear Editor,

The Sandals Barbados fiasco: Throwing out the baby with the bathwater, otherwise known in the Caribbean as snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My name is James Bristol. I am a lawyer from Grenada and I negotiated the incentive agreements with the government of Barbados on behalf of Sandals.

I have read the recent statements both from the Prime Minister and Sandals and would like to clarify certain matters.

May I state from the outset that I have no political axe to grind and no political affiliations in Barbados.

I met the former Minister of Finance for the first time during the negotiations of the incentives and have not met him since.

I know the Prime Minister both as a colleague and as a friend.

The Sandals Barbados incentives are based on those which I negotiated for Sandals in respect of the Sandals Grenada hotel. The Barbados incentives are more generous than those in respect of Grenada.

The present Prime Minister of Grenada publicly expressed his initial concern over the generous incentives granted to Sandals in Grenada by the previous administration.

However, on attaining office and seeing the financial benefits of the Sandals investment in Grenada, the Prime Minister, not only endorsed the incentives granted, but added to them by including a tax stabilization clause to ensure that the incentives, and therefore the financial viability of the investment by Sandals, was not threatened or whittled away by future legislation.

The Sandals Grenada incentives took effect during a period of financial austerity under the IMF. The IMF program was successfully completed notwithstanding the Sandals incentives which incentives were fully implemented and respected by the Government at all times.

A large part of Grenada’s economic recovery has been attributed to Sandals and I am aware that the Grenada Government is doing all that is within its power to facilitate a Beaches Resort here.

Grenada’s enhancement extends to one of the most sophisticated call centres in the region with over 100 employees and increasing. All from Sandals!

As it is well known, Grenada‘s performance has been applauded by the IMF and Grenada is recording one of the highest rates of growth in the Caribbean.

Indeed, the Sandals incentive model has been adopted by the Government of Grenada for other hotel investments.

If Grenada can survive an IMF program while these incentives are in place and come out with flying colours despite the incentives, why is Barbados finding it difficult to honour an agreement reached in good faith between itself and Sandals?

The Barbados agreement was given effect by Statutory Instruments laid before Parliament under the applicable legislation. I drafted those statutory instruments in conjunction with the government’s legal department.
Far from insisting on additional incentives, Sandals is simply seeking to have certain incentives, not within the Statutory Instruments but within the Incentives Agreement, embodied in some form which would give a level of comfort to its bankers and itself to the extent that the financial basis for the investment remains stable so as to guarantee the ability to repay the loans in respect of the proposed Beaches project.

The Barbados incentives agreement contains a clause which mandates the Government to pass all laws and take all steps which are necessary to give effect to the agreement.

So, the Government is mandated to find avenues to give effect to its obligations under the agreement.

Much has been said over the years about Barbados giving Sandals too much by way of these incentives. Indeed, the same has been said in Grenada and Antigua.

The truth is that none of these countries has given away anything because without the incentives Sandals would not have invested. If Sandals did not come the Government would not have a development nor the benefit of the taxes. Therefore, if Sandals does come and pays reduced taxes, the Government has lost nothing. On the other hand, by Sandals coming, the Government has gained everything by way of the investment and its associated benefits. Sandals is the entity taking the risk by investing its money and being unable to dig up its hotels and take them away if things turn sour.

The way I see the incentives agreement is akin to an invitation to a friend to come to one’s home. The invitation allows them through the door and once inside the benefits of that friendship accrue.

The initial investment which Sandals proposed was the construction of two hotels: Beaches and Sandals.

But an added benefit arose as the Sandals Casuarina hotel has morphed into two hotels, Sandals Barbados and Royal Barbados, at about the same level of investment which was envisaged for the two original hotels, the total invested thus far being over US$300 million.

With the Beaches project the total investment is about US$750 million. Barbados now stands to benefit from 3 hotels as opposed to 2.

The corresponding employment and other benefits have been well documented by others with greater knowledge than me in this regard.

No one can argue that Sandals has delivered over and above what it agreed to do. Has the Government fully delivered on what it contracted to do?

The simple question I would pose to the Government and people of Barbados is this: would it benefit your country if there were no Sandals hotels? Think of the benefits of Sandals building the five star Beaches as opposed to the negative impact on your country and economy if the project is cancelled?
The answers are obvious: any investment of the type made by Sandals is a benefit.

Do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Mia please call Keith. Keith, please explain to Mia.

James Bristol
Henry, Henry & Bristol
P. O. Box 386
4 & 6 Lucas Street
St. George’s
Grenada

Should Sandals Follow Lok Jack’s Footsteps?

Submitted by Fatimah Mohammed

The billionaire businessman, Arthur Lok Jack, spoke on Wednesday night at the Sandals forum at UWI on the reasons why the proposed hotel resort pulled out of Tobago.

Lok Jack was visibly and audibly angry. He said his long-time friend, Sandals Chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart disclosed to him the real reason for the withdrawal. Lok Jack said Stewart was really upset with the criticisms of Sandals by the UNC Opposition.

Both men believed that the UNC denied its supporters in Trinidad the opportunity to grow and supply agricultural products to Sandals in Tobago. Lok Jack said: “It’s the same people in the United National Congress (UNC), it’s the Indian constituencies of this country who are the farmers” who would respond to the “tremendous amount of demand” by Sandals.

Is this forecast really based on the facts of history?

Lok Jack is the CEO of the Associated Brands Group of Companies (ABIL) which is the leading manufacturer and distributor in the Caribbean of snack foods, chocolate confectionery, biscuits and breakfast cereals. Its brands include Charles Chocolates, Devon Biscuits, Sunshine Snacks, and Universal Foods Limited.

Has ABIL ever supported farmers in Trinidad and Tobago to cultivate and supply sugar for its snacks, corn for its flakes, coconut for its cream filling and shortcake, and rice for its rice crisps?

Has ABDIL ever supported farmers in the UNC “Indian constituencies”, or any farmer in Trinidad to raise cows to supply milk for its milk chocolates and nacho cheese?

If Lok Jack is so concerned about Indian farmers, why did he not step in to save the sugar- growing Caroni Ltd in 2003? His ABIL has been in existence since 1974.

Lok Jack is clearly playing politics.

If he is serious, he should set his own footprints for Sandals to follow.

Tobago Sandals Roles

Afra Raymond continues the advocacy struggle on behalf of the people – Blogmaster

This article will delve into the roles of the various officials and public Institutions who are responsible for this Tobago Sandals MoU.

Information Approach

This process followed the familiar pattern of information management, in which the ‘Underlying Commercial Arrangements’ are intentionally obscured, while other details are selectively provided.

That MoU also contains a confidentiality clause which only permits any disclosure with the agreement of the other party. The parties promised each other to keep those important secrets safe.

Read full article – Property Matters – Tobago Sandals Roles

The Sandals Re-MoU

Afra Raymond continues his relentless prosecution of the Sandals MoU matter in Trinidad – Blogmaster

Screenshot 2019-01-01 at 16.37.01.pngMany years ago, in an earlier life, I was taught about the perils of the short-lived ‘remou’ and that word snapped back into my mind when considering the current position with this Sandals MoU, in which all points are supposedly open for discussion. That stated position of no signed contracts will be the subject of this article. So many eminent people and responsible institutions were involved in this matter, that it is unfathomable how our Government could have signed that Sandals MoU on 10th October 2017.

My campaign to have that MoU made public got this far due its clear focus on the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) and the ‘Underlying Commercial Arrangements’, which are never discussed in public. The decisive element in the complicated process of creating these large-scale projects is intentionally kept from public view, by agreement. Our national assets are traded and degraded for decades, after the sheer outrage of colonialism, with the new leaders relying on the cultivated economic and financial illiteracy of our citizens.

Read full articleProperty Matters – The Sandals Re-MoU

Property Matters – The Sandals MoU (3)

Two weeks after the publication of the Tobago Sandals MoU yet there has been no cogent defence of these detrimental provisions. The stark analysis is that the provisions of that MoU all favour Sandals’ interests, so much so that I am frankly wondering if they were the authors. Serious and inescapable questions of professional responsibility arise, given the eminent named persons and State Agencies said to have been involved thus far.

The reputable economist Dr Vanus James, writing in the TapiaHouse blog on 10th December 2018 described the Tobago Sandals MoU as ‘A road-map to economic ruin’.

The starting-point for me was to tackle the question put to me the morning before by a media colleague from Tobago as to my being ‘a Trinidadian‘ and my role in questioning these proposals for what is certainly the largest-ever single development in Tobago. The simple fact is that ours is a tiny Republic such that those positions hardly seem to be credible. After all, if one were to adopt such a position we could end up excluding the Charlotteville opinion for a Buccoo proposal. More seriously, that position is entirely incompatible with our Regional aspirations – after all, why should we in T&T bother with Grenada which is 90 miles away or even Barbados, which is a whole 270 miles away. You see?

The main provisions are in this table.

Read full text

Afra Raymond Analyzes Sandals MOU

Disclaimer, do not read this blog if you are a navel gazer. Congratulations to Afra and his team for forcing this matter – David, blogmaster

29th November 2018 was the first hearing of my Judicial Review of the refusal of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to provide a copy of the Tobago Sandals Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which I had requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) since 27th February 2018. At that hearing, the OPM agreed to provide the MoU and pay my costs, so my lawsuit was withdrawn.

This Tobago Sandals MoU was signed on 10th October 2017 and should have been disclosed long ago, without any necessity for legal action on my part. The PM and Minister Stuart Young repeatedly told the public that these details could not be published as that would undermine these important negotiations and so on and so forth.

Nine months of delays and obfuscation verging on an abuse of process, but that is just my opinion, as the OPM was advised by eminent Senior Counsel, Deborah Peake.

When the MoU was released at a press conference the evening before, Minister Stuart Young was emphatic that the decision to publish had nothing to do with me or my litigation. One has to wonder at the quality of advice being taken by the Cabinet.

We had to endure expensive time-wasting and elaborate waffle, dripping with disdain, about ‘sophisticated investors‘ and ‘how government business really runs‘. Well this is a good time to examine the actual Tobago Sandals MoU and see how sophisticated investors really work and learn how government business really runs. This is a serious teaching moment.

There were many positive features in the MoU (embedded below) in favour of Sandals. In fact, the MoU is so protective of Sandals’ interests that one can scarcely imagine how on earth we the public will ever profit from this immense investment. This article details my concerns on the decisive provisions of the MoU.

Read Afra’s full analysishttps://afraraymond.net/2018/12/05/property-matters-tobago-sandals-mou/

SANDALS T&T MOU Made Public

GOVERNMENT has finally provided chartered surveyor Afra Raymond with a copy of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sandals Resort which provides crucial information on the deal for construction of a 500-700-room hotel in Tobago.

Senior Counsel Deborah Peake confirmed this to Justice Frank Seepersad this morning in the San Fernando High Court.

In October, the judge ruled for Raymond in a judicial review lawsuit he filed because of the State’s failure to provide him with details about the deal.

Raymond contended that the proposed hotel resort, to be constructed on prime state lands in Tobago, the cost of which the State will bear after which Sandals will operate, will impact on the use of water, electricity, solid waste and further infrastructural development of the airport in Tobago.

Gov’t hands over MoU with Sandals to Afra Raymond/Newsday

Read a copy of the MOU posted in the BU Library:

Click to access sandals-mou-scan.pdf

 

Property Matters – Sandals Splinters

 

afra_raymond

Afra Raymond, Citizen Advocate

#finefinefine

In writing on the extent to which Public Money is stolen or wasted and the need for proper standards, I offered this equation for the reality check –

               EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC MONEY
Minus    Transparency
Minus    Accountability
EQUALS CORRUPTION

My previous articles have been focused on the gaps in the available information on the current proposals for the large-scale Tobago Sandals/Beaches resort,. This article will examine those proposals from the other perspective, by listing the facts which we do know.

Read full articleProperty Matters – Sandals Splinters

Sandals MoU? Part III

Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond continues his piercing examination of the Sandals transaction – David, blogmaster

The previous article delved into the published information on the three existing State-owned hotels and juxtaposed that with the proposals for a Tobago Sandals. Apart from the unsatisfactory position with the State’s existing hotel investments and the reluctance to give details, I also updated readers on the missing MoU for the Tobago Sandals project.

My dismal readings were based on the very limited publicly-available information, nothing else. I did not refer to any rumours or ‘inside information‘, my work is all based on the published record. The PM and his colleagues surely have ready access to a better quality and quantity of information than the public. That being the case, it begs the question as to what is really happening here.

If indeed, the Sandals project has significant upsides and benefits, those ought to have been estimated and shared by now. If the existing State-owned hotels are doing well, why aren’t the management agreements or accounts published? If those hotels are doing poorly, why are we persisting with that same model?

We need a proper examination of those existing hotels so that the Sandals negotiations can take place on the basis of sound information. That is all I am saying.

“In fact, she told a gathering of industry stakeholders…that what it had essentially done was to create three classes of hoteliers in the country.

“Those like Sandals that get everything without consultation, . . . those who have to come to the Ministry of Tourism…which is nonsense, and then those who don’t even get anywhere near the Ministry of Tourism…and as a result therefore they are precluded from being a beneficiary of any of those concessions,”…

Read full article – HERE

Sandals MoU? Part II

sandals_tab3

Sandals/Beaches Tobago Hotel Pads Bubble Diagram – Source: Afraraymond.com

The following entry by Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond should be of interest to civic minded Barbadians and in particular the BU family. He continues to prosecute the pillar issues which underpin the arrangement supporting the introduction of Butch Stewart’s Sandals to Trinidad and Tobago. In Barbados the models being used to promote the Hyatt and Hilton projects are not dissimilar.

What are the pillar issues?

  • Governance
    • Integrity
    • Transparency

The price citizens must pay to ensure our democracy is eternal vigilance.

  • David, blogmaster

The previous article updated readers on my attempts to obtain the Sandals Memorandum of Understanding for the proposed high-end, large-scale resort development in Tobago. That proposed development is said to be a significant part of our country’s diversification efforts so it requires our sober attention if we are to understand what is at stake.

The model for this project is one in which the State either pays for or guarantees the financing of the new resort. The State would pay for the cost of design, financing, construction, fitting and furnishing of the new resort, all to the standards set by Sandals. The completed resort will then be operated by Sandals under a management agreement. T&T is unique in the Caribbean in that our largest hotels were funded by Public Money with the operators working via Management Agreements.

Read full text of Afra’s prosecution of the Sandals matter in TrinidadSandals MoU II

Sandals MoU?

Social advocate Afra Raymond continues his work by calling for transparency with the agreement between Sandals and the Trinidad and Tobago government. The Butch Stewart company also featured in the Barbados newsfeed this week when newly elected Prime Minister Mia Mottley signaled that she will be meeting with Stewart soon to discuss  the expectation of her government.

-David – Barbados Underground

This is a continuation of my 8 March 2018 article on the Sandals MoU. That MoU was declared as no secret by our PM to the Parliament on 12 October 2017 and that was confirmed by the then CEO of the Sandals group, Adam Stewart, as reported on 27 February 2018 in the T&T press.

My 27 February 2018 request for that MoU under the Freedom of Information Act (embedded below) was therefore made against that background of both parties’ declaration that there was no secret. The Office of the Prime Minister responded on 22 March 2018 to refuse my request, citing that the MoU contained a confidentiality clause which prevented its disclosure at this time. I have since written to the OPM to request a reply in conformity with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act – I am still awaiting a reply to that letter.

I have now written to Mr Adam Stewart of Sandals Resorts International to request from him a copy of the MoU. (See below)

Read full Afra Rayon article – Sandals MOU