The Cabinet of Ministers said it made an error in last week’s statement when it quoted eight million dollars as the price government would pay to buy the Deluxe Cinema, which is part-owned by Tourism and Investment Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez.
According to a statement this week, “The Cabinet examined the unfinished subject of the purchase of the Deluxe Cinema property which has been put into foreclosure sale by the Antigua Commercial Bank. The ACB is selling the property for $6 million dollars. There was an error in last week’s Cabinet Notes when it was reported that the price was $8 million dollars.”
It was further noted that the “Cabinet has made clear its intention to purchase the property through the bank’s foreclosure sale, and to retrofit parts of the building to meet the designation: The Performing Center for the Arts.”
No estimate was given as to the cost to retrofit the building and no timeline for the purchase was revealed. But the government has said it will be looking for means to raise/get the funds because it does not have the money.
The Cabinet reiterated that it examined the rental option and rejected it, “given that the period of amortisation of the loan amount outstanding can be met within a few years. The calculations clearly point to ownership as a superior alternative.”
When the recent announcement was made of the government’s final position to buy the property located on Cross and High Streets, residents voiced concern – again.
One individual, who addressed the matter under the report on our website www.antiguaobserver.com, wrote, “Wow, wow, wow! After all the flip-flops and bluffs, this? Short on funds/finance to do essential things but have enough to purchase an unnecessary building from a member of government family? Where are: the morals, ethics, principles, understanding of conflict of interest and downright regard for the citizens’ wishes? Oh! I forgot. Those seem not to be words in our leaders’ vocabulary or understanding. What a shame on our country!”
Another commenter wrote, “It seems to be an odd priority for a government who has only debts and some of the worst roads in the Caribbean. I can’t see that there is an urgent shortage of accommodation for the arts. You have to sense that there is another agenda here.”
A third person weighed in by saying, “No matter what you do with it, it’s still in a bad location, which is why the Deluxe failed. Einstein said doing the same thing over and over again is insanity. Maybe do something totally different like push it down and make it ABS broadcast studios – that state-of-the-art building that Minister Nicholas keeps talking about. At least you won’t have the added parking needs for the public, just for the staff.”