Former Jolly Beach workers, who have been agitating for their severance pay may finally get their money. Finance Minister Gaston Browne said on Saturday that the government is steps away from buying the hotel and making good on its promise to pay all monies owed.
Browne said that these workers are likely to be paid at least by mid-October.
“We believe that we are close to completing the purchase of Jolly Beach, unless something goes wrong by next weekend, certainly no later than 14 days the purchase of Jolly Beach should be completed. And the severance payment I’m told is about US$4.9 million, something like that, so the government will be making that available to pay off all the severance for Jolly beach workers, so there is now a silver lining,” Browne said.
Browne said he has had conversations with former employees who have been inquiring about their payments.
“I had a message from one of the former employees trying to figure out when they gonna get their severance and I’m saying it can be as soon as next weekend or certainly no later than the following week and that is certainly an area of success,”he said.
He explained that the government had to raise about US$21 million “and I’m pretty sure we have the money now in the bank to deal with that and to take care of the severance of the Jolly beach workers.”
Upon completion of the deal, the government will then become the sole owner of Jolly Beach.
“So what will happen the government will then become the owner of the Jolly Beach property and we intend to sell a small portion of it, no less than a third to another developer who will be building a Nikki Beach with residences. That investor will be spending about US$200 million to build those residences,” he said.
The government has been searching for a new investor to take over the operations of the hotel and to pay off the more than 500 workers who had been impacted by the closure.
On more than one occasion the government had come close to sealing a deal with investors to purchase the now run-down resort.
Further efforts to sell the property also hit a snag in May, after it was revealed that there was a US$15 million charge on the property by a creditor resulting in it being placed under the supervision of a court-appointed receiver.
Following that setback, there were announced plans for Elite Resorts owed by hotelier Rob Barrett to take over the operations and pump US$10 million into Jolly Beach, but that did not materialize either after Barrette pulled out of the deal.
The government has since been in discussions with international hotel operators Apple Vacations to manage the operations of Jolly Beach Hotel.
In late August, the government released over half a million EC dollars to the Public Works department to commence immediate work on the Jolly Beach resort, with hopes of getting at least 200 rooms ready for the start of the winter tourist season in November.