By Shermain Bique-Charles
It could take the government at least two years before it can effectively address the current issue blocking the sale of the Jolly Beach Resort.
Last week, the government announced that it had encountered a hurdle in its quest to sell the property, as it was discovered there is a $15 million charge on it by a creditor.
Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel Hurst, said the government has retained the services of senior counsel Anthony Astaphan, who will work with other attorneys to resolve the issue.
“They told us the case will take at least two years. This is primarily because our court system is [overwhelmed] because there is a shortage of judges.
“In the meantime, lawyers are currently gathering evidence which includes a lot of documents and investigations,” Hurst told Observer.
He said no court documents have been filed to date.
“The receiver has been given control by the courts over the property so any settlement must be authorised by the courts in final analysis. The government interest is paramount at this time,” Hurst explained.
He also said that, in the meantime, the government is looking to rehabilitate some of the rooms at the hotel.
“We will rehabilitate a number of rooms and that will enable the hotel to reemploy some of the former workers as well as to be active. We have a greater demand for rooms than we have in Antigua and Barbuda,” Hurst said.
The government took over the Jolly Beach property in 2020 due to the business owing millions of dollars to the state.
The 464-room resort has been closed since March 2020 when travel to the twin island nation came to a halt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of former workers, at least two of whom have since died, are owed more than EC$7 million in outstanding pay and severance. Government and statutory bodies alone are owed around EC$80 million.