“AIRPORT SOLD FOR US $1.00”
(Is the following release, which has come to the attention of The Anguillian newspaper, true?)
On November 26th the Government of Anguilla attempted to sign a Letter of Intent for the privatization into perpetuity of Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport and its associated aerodrome assets. This agreement was to be signed between the Government of Anguilla and the Lake Family (inclusive of Conch Bay Development) and Arambys Corp.
The Government claimed that it considers the stimulation of Anguilla economy via redevelopment of its aerodrome assets a national priority. Since the government don’t have the ability to borrow, secure, pledge or bond sufficient funds for the redevelopment and modernization of the airport and after considering several proposals it considered it in the best interest of Anguilla to negotiate exclusively with the Lake Estate and Arambys Corp.
On the surface there are several interesting things about the proposed agreement. The airport will be operated to international standards; adjoining lands would be annex to facilitate the extension of the runway. The flight path of would be changed in order not to negatively impact the beaches etc. The desire to rehire existing civil servants and transform Anguilla into a business gateway and economic showpiece.
It is understood that the Special Assistant negotiated this agreement on behalf of the government and people of Anguilla in the Chief Minister’s office. Its is also understood that there was no intention to take this matter to the people via town meeting, take it to the House of Assembly or even to vote on the matter in Executive Council. All of these institutions were to be intentionally bypassed in the desperate attempt to score political points.
Under this agreement the Airport and all its aerodrome assets was to be purchased for the price of one dollar United States currency (US$1). There would be no unions into perpetuity and all tenant leases, concessions, contracts and or fixed based operator agreements will be cancelled and terminated by the Government of Anguilla or the Anguilla Air & Sea Ports Authority. All fees, stamp duty or transfer taxes associated with the Airport Aerodrome assets & Lake Family from Conch Bay Development to any other corporate entity will be waived. Customs duties will be waived for a period of seven years in the first instance and fifty years in the second instance with the right to renegotiate if more favourable concessions are ever granted to any other party on the island. Interestingly the agreement mentions that fact that it’s the responsibility of the Government to cancel all contracts but its mute on what happens after cancellation if no future agreement is reached. This leaves the government legally responsible to reimburse those private individuals that made significant investments into the present Airport.
One of the covenants probably best spells out that this project is not the national project that will benefit the people and business community on Anguilla but rather a project that intends to corner the Anguilla tourist market by owing the Airport. The covenant says the intention is to develop and international airport that operates and feels like a full service hotel resort including the sale of luxury real estate products.
It is understood that after consultation with various top civil servants the Attorney General has refused to approve this agreement. It is also understood that the Chief Minister is using this refusal as proof of the British intention to stifle economic growth on the island. It is sad that a Chief Minister who claims to always fight for the people of Anguilla would allow political desperation to force him to be ready to sign an agreement that gives away for US$1 his country most valuable asset.
(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)