The General Secretary of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Senator Shawn Nicholas, has called on the Gaston Browne-led administration to make public the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that it has entered into with Global Ports LLC.
That agreement will reportedly see the holding company invest over US $80 million to further develop the cruise tourism port in St. John’s.
“A lot of these arrangements and negotiations are more questionable. It is a situation now where we are saying, ‘What is the true arrangement between the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and Global Ports?’” Senator Nicholas said on OBSERVER AM yesterday.
“What does it mean for [our] control of the port?” she queried. “Is it that we are giving up our control over the port? I am saying there is a lot more. We would hope that the content of the agreement becomes public and we will make it our business to make sure that we get a greater understanding of that agreement and to see whether or not it is in the best interest of Antigua and Barbuda.”
In June 2018, the government spoke about its intentions to enter into an agreement with the London-listed cruise port operator and, according to a press release dated January 31st 2019, the agreement was finally signed and took effect as of February 1st.
The agreement will allow Global Ports to bring its considerable financial strength and expertise to the expansion project at the cruise port, and to eliminate a debt of US $21 million that has been serviced sparingly for more than 20 years.
The government says Global Ports will ensure that the completion of the dredging already under way in the St. John’s Harbour will allow the Oasis class ships – capable of carrying more than 6,000 passengers and 4,000 crew – to dock at a fifth berth parallel to the Point Wharf.
It is estimated that the number of cruise ships entering the St. John’s Harbour will also increase, and that the passenger base will be diversified.