Payment for Jolly Beach Resort staff ‘a priority’ – PM

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Jolly Beach Resort staff are being assured that paying them is a priority, amid plans for government to become the majority stakeholder.

Hotel workers expressed concern about their job status after news broke during last week’s budget presentation that the National Asset Management Corporation (NAMCO) was to assume a 65 percent share.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne says staff are NAMCO’s “priority payment” and “during the negotiations we’ll ask them to calculate the staff liability”.

Browne also suggested that NAMCO could offer a slice of ownership in the resort, in addition to pending severance payments.

“Now we have to have a discussion with the staff to determine whether or not they would want some collective ownership in the company going forward, or if we will have to pay them out or maybe a combination of both. I mean I don’t know what the liability is, I’m just speaking hypothetically,” Browne added.

He continued, “Because Social Security money is trust money it will be treated differently than Medical Benefits and Board of Education which in essence are arms of the government, notwithstanding that they are statutory organisations.”

He further disclosed that NAMCO will have the option to either carry the $8 million as an investment with dividend payments made payable to Social Security or pay the $8 million in cash outright.

“Let’s say for example that Social Security is owed $8 million … then the $8 million will be reflected on the books of NAMCO. NAMCO having purchased a debt – and they will purchase that particular debt at the full market value of $8 million because that is trust money in the case of Social Security – and they could have an arrangement that they either pay Social Security the cash or alternatively they carry it as an investment in which they will get a return of their money,” he detailed.

This is as a part of a strategy to have NAMCO be a viable low-risk investment management agency for the government, the Prime Minister explained.

“We do not want NAMCO to carry any significant amount of debt so it will be self-defeating to have NAMCO purchase the other debts, the non-Social Security related debts at the market value and to carry a large debt on its books, it makes no sense,” the Prime Minister added.

“NAMCO has to be a viable, low risk investment vehicle for the government to generate sustainable profits which ultimately will go into the Treasury – at least a portion of the dividend that is paid – to fund socio-economic development.”

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