Another conflict of interest looms for finance minister

TCI News

Hard on the heels of a controversy involving finance minister Washington Misick’s interest in the only casino in the TCI, employees of the Sandals/Beaches group are again reporting that the resort group is believed to be negotiating behind closed doors with the Progressive National Party (PNP) government and possibly Misick himself for the purchase of his Alexandria resort.

Finance minister Washington Misick
Finance minister Washington Misick

As previously reported, the Alexandria was placed in receivership under Misick’s leadership as chairman of the board. Beaches last year bought the Veranda Resort, which lies between three other Beaches resorts and the Alexandria.

In recent months, the PNP government seemingly accommodated Beaches by allowing them to close an access corridor from the beach to the straw vendors’ facilities between the Veranda and the original resorts.

Veranda is now known as Beaches Key West Village and is said to offer rooms that are more luxurious than those in the older Beaches resorts.

Beaches has previously denied that the resort is interested in the purchase of the adjacent Alexandria.

The reports of continuing interest in the Alexandria on the part of Beaches come on the heels of an agreement reached with the current PNP government and the resort group, the terms of which have not been disclosed to the public.

Furthermore, while TCIslanders welcome the presence of Beaches for the business and tourism it brings to the islands, local workers say they have yet to receive fair treatment as employees. Those who have been employed by the Beaches group have said their appeals to the Labour Board were ignored under previous PNP governments and, years ago, when the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) government sent Oswald Skippings to represent the local workers, they were not pleased with the results. Currently TCIslanders employed by Beaches say the resort has them working 6 days a week with no weekend day off and no overtime pay for over 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week.

Also reported is confusion over the length of the resort’s closedown for renovations. Initially scheduled to reopen on October 19, Beaches later leaked it was due to stay closed possibly through Christmas.

This caused approximately 500 Beaches employees, both foreign and local workers, to make off-island plans. Reports now have the resort returning to its earlier plan of reopening on October 19 and allowing local workers time to return later on their confirmed airline reservations.

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