Nevis Premier Seeks Fair Deal On Newfound Development

Charlestown Nevis (February 21, 2007)
Nevis has a very high reputation in the international marketplace, that’s according to Premier of Nevis, the Hon Joseph Parry who is responsible for Tourism and Economic Planning.  Mr. Parry made the statement on Friday February 16th 2007 at a press conference during which he reported on a number of issues. He said that as his Nevis Reformation Party (NRP)led-Administration continued its negotiations with Newfound Development Company, maintaining the country’s reputation in this regard would be at the forefront.

“Some people have been comparing between the peninsula and Nevis and saying that you can have synergies between the peninsula and Nevis, many people have done that. They are talking about high-end in Nevis complimenting high-end hotels on the peninsula and that is something else that we must also bear in mind.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that Nevis has a very high reputation in the international marketplace.  It is regarded as a high end destination for tourism so that anything that we do from now on should ensure that we maintain the reputation that we have in the marketplace. I can assure the people of Nevis that as we [NIA] continue our discussions we will bear that very much in mind”. He said. Newfound Developers were expected to meet with Premier Parry on later this afternoon Wednesday February 21st  to continue negotiation on the 600 acres of land earmarked for development by the Canadian company.

A few weeks ago when Premier Parry appeared on VON radio’s Let’s Talk he indicated that negotiations with the developers were at a delicate stage at that time and promised to report to the people of Nevis on the matter in a few weeks.

“We engaged the Newfound Developers in several discussions, and I promised on VON just a few weeks ago that I would report back to the people and so here am I reporting.  First I am must say that we have not concluded our discussions we are meeting again to continue discussions.

I must say to you that the Newfound people already have title to the 600 acres of land and so they are in possession and that is something that we must bear in mind.  We have discussed the following matters: the return of a portion of land to government on a substantial portion of land. Another issue that we are looking at is the reduction of the tax holiday from 30 years to a much shorter period.

The other matter that I must mention is that we are discussing as well the protection of historical sites on Pinneys”, he said.

Mr. Parry disclosed that also under discussion was the possibility of providing a vocational facility on Nevis, for the young people of Nevis and also for training Nevisians abroad in substantial numbers to qualify them to be managerial material in the hotel.    Also in discussion was for the Newfound Group to work with another hotel chain who had expressed an interest in putting a second hotel on Pinneys Beach.

The Premier indicated that he had been informed that the person, or the company that is supposed to be operating the hotel would be on the island by the 1st march for discussion, not construction.

The 600 acres land issue had been at the centre of much discussion on the island following an agreement signed by Newfound Development and the former CCM Administration. .  That discussion continued throughout the campaign leading up to the 2006 elections, at the end of which the NRP emerged as the government on Nevis.

The newly elected Nevis Reformation Party government discovered that Newfound had been granted 30 years tax holiday concession.  In addition to the 597 acres of land they were given an additional 4 and a half acres of land and that they were supposed to be able to determine  or given the first option on 15 acres of land that would be used as parks for the government.  The NRP expressed its dissatisfaction with the arrangements.

During a question and answer session by members of the media, one of the questions raised was how government intended to go about retrieving some of the land for the people of Nevis, in view of the fact that the company already has the titles and is not obligated to accede to such requests at the negotiation table. Mr. Parry responded by saying “if the deal is outrageous in the minds of the people common sense will indicate that title or no title you need to sit down and negotiate something that is reasonable.  We need to have partners for development.

” For some time now people have made us think that when investors come here they are doing us a favour, that they are the patrons and we are the takers of the favour.  And we need favour, that’s a myth, and that is wrong.  Development must have equal partners and every stakeholder must feel they are benefiting and benefiting substantially and that is the point we [NIA] have been making.

You have to give your people a chance to function at every level, so that they can feel good about themselves and they can feel that they are in a serious partnership with whoever is coming here.  They [investors] come here to make a profit, we know that nothing is wrong with that, We [government] therefore must make a profit too” Mr. Parry said.

The Premier whose responsible for Economic Planning and advised that the people of Nevis and the people of the Caribbean have to understand that when making these arrangements governments should not subsidize an entity that is going to be profitable and will have huge profits overtime.  The tourism minister further advised not to burden your poor people but to ensure that the arrangements would be equitable to all.

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