Government cannot reveal details of the deal with the Jamaican-owned Sandals hotel chain because that is not how international business deals are done, according to Stuart Young, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.
He had a message for former Joint Consultative Council (JCC) President Afra Raymond and others who believe Government is being secretive about the deal: “If we are a serious country and we are going to attract sophisticated investors to Trinidad and Tobago in tourism and other competitive areas, there is something called confidentiality. Other competitors in oil and gas . . . you do not disclose what are the gas agreements that you have entered into and Sandals is in a no different position.”
In an interview with Judy Kanhai on CNC3’s Business Watch on Wednesday night, Young said there is a big difference between the Tobago deal and arrangements for other Sandals’ hotels in the Caribbean.
“As we have said before, the Sandals Beach Resort transaction that we are hoping will take place in Tobago is very and markedly different from what has happened throughout the rest of the Caribbean,” he said.
“What we are looking at entering into—and we are still in discussions—is a management contract utilizing the brand. All those other deals what have happened in Barbados and Grenada are deals where Sandals owns and operates the plant and the profitability goes to Sandals. In Tobago, we are going to build and own the plant and they are going to manage it for us.”
Raymond has gone to the court to try to get Government to release details of the Sandals memorandum of understanding (MOU). Hearing of that matter is set for November 29.
In an interview, Raymond asked: “There is no guarantee I will get it as I have sued to get it. Why doesn’t Sandals or the Office of the Prime Minister release it?”
In response, Young said: “Sandals is an international brand which competes in the tourism market and they have told us in writing that if we were to release the MOU it would put them at a serious disadvantage.”
Young said “at the right time” the details of the deal will be made public.