Government is set to fast track a piece of legislation through Parliament to facilitate the now stalled Paradise Found project.
The Paradise Found Act will have all three required readings during next week’s sitting of Parliament.
Despite the haste, however, the Bill was not included in the list of matters to be tabled on the notice of parliament circulated to OBSERVER media.
The much-celebrated Paradise Found project is set to revitalise the defunct K-Club resort on Barbuda. However, the US $250 million resort project, funded by actor Robert De Niro and billionaire James Packer, stalled after meeting fierce resistance from the opposition Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) on Barbuda.
Barbudans gave the project the official go-ahead at a village vote, in March, but the BPM raised strong objection to the vote, citing that the sitting government had failed to follow proper voting procedures. After losing their initial appeal, the BPM took its case to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
The controversy apparently left investors Packer and DeNiro shaken, and according to Barbuda Affairs Minister Arthur Nibbs, they almost quashed the project altogether.
Speaking with OBSERVER media on Thursday, Government Chief of Staff Max Hurst said the Paradise Found Act would ensure that the project comes to fruition.
“We want to ensure that this project goes forward and it will,” he declared.
“The separate arguments that are taking place elsewhere won’t be disregarded, but this will definitely move the project forward,” he added.
While Hurst did not give full details about the pending Act, he said it would provide scaled down concessions, a 99-year lease and some “other incentives”.
Asked to comment, former Speaker of the House D Gisele Isaac said while such fast tracking of legislation through parliament is permitted by law, “It is done when the government feels that it’s an urgent situation or it has a deadline to be met.
“Those are the legitimate reasons that it’s done,” Isaac explained. “Other than that, it’s just done to ram a particular Bill through Parliament in the shortest possible time.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)