This country’s government is prepared to pull the necessary levers that will ensure the acceleration of the Black Sands Resort project, which should have already met its completion date.
One such lever could see the land for the project, which is being carried out by Canadian company, Pace Development, being forfeited to the government.
“They (Pace Development) have said, and we accept, that COVID was a challenge and that the volcano was a challenge but even before COVID and the volcano, they were behind schedule so we have indicated our dissatisfaction with the progress of that project,” finance minister, Camillo Gonsalves said on Sunday, March 27 as he gave an update on the progress of several major hotel projects to take place locally.
The resort, which has seen a stall in its development, is intended to be a 200-room facility on the Leeward side of the island, to be carried out in three phases.
The first phase of the project involved the construction of 10 villas, each with five rooms and this was earmarked to have been completed by the first half of 2020.
The second and third phases should have seen the construction of a 150-room hotel block and then the construction of an additional 200 rooms.
These rooms, coupled with those anticipated through other hotel projects including the Marriott, Holiday Inn, Royal Mills, The View and the Sandals Beaches Resorts, is expected to increase mainland St Vincent’s room stock to over 1200.
Gonsalves, who was speaking on WEFM’s ‘Issue at Hand’ programme said that based on the original commitments, the hotel should have been completed by now.
And Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has demanded that the developers travel to SVG to make a presentation to Cabinet on the plans to have the project back on track.
Plans are already in place for this presentation to take place within the first two weeks of this month.
“But the government has levers that we can pull to ensure that that project accelerates or is completed or that other alternatives take place,” the finance minister said, adding that foreign direct investors sign alien land holding licenses, which outline a number of conditions to be met within certain timelines.
“And there are consequences if you don’t do those things and the ultimate consequence is that the land can be forfeited to the government,” Gonsalves said. “That is the ultimate sanction; that essentially we take back the land and go in another direction but there are intermediate things we can do, there are concessions that we can withdraw, there are penalties we can put in place.”
He added however, that the prime minister is working in a “collaborative…co-operative way with Pace and obviously Pace had their challenges because of the pandemic and the volcano and so we will have a better sense as to what their timeline is after they come in and they make their presentation”.