Beaches Resorts is lamenting that more than a year after it filed a lawsuit against the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) over what the company said were breaches of a development agreement, the matter is still hanging, despite numerous attempts by the resort chain to reach a resolution.
The luxury all-inclusive family resort, which opened in Providenciales in 1995, drew attention to the matter in a news release issued this weekend in which it said that while, as an investor, it does not want to be involved in court proceedings with a host country it had no choice but to protect its legal and constitutional rights.
The company explained that since it commenced operations in the TCI it has consistently and faithfully paid taxes in accordance with its development agreement(s) and the laws of the country.
“In 2017 the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) unilaterally breached our development agreement(s) and other written governmental commitments which, over the years, formed the basis of our substantial investment in the TCI,” Beaches said.
“We have over-performed on all our obligations to TCIG, and the Government has virtually ‘torn up’ legally binding commitments given in writing as a basis for our investment. As a foreign investor, international law assures us of fair and equitable treatment by our host country, and one should expect no less from TCIG,” argued the company whose chairman, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, is the owner of this newspaper.
“No investor, and in particular Beaches, wants to be involved in court proceedings with a host country. However, given the gravity of certain fundamental breaches of our development agreement(s), such as provisions relating to the payment of the customs processing fee, Beaches had no choice but to protect our legal and constitutional rights by filing a lawsuit against the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, which is available to the public. This occurred in May 2019,” the company pointed out.
It said the TCI Government, as well as the other defendants, were legally due to file their defence in June 2019 — well over a year ago — but they have not.
“Our numerous meetings, conference calls and letters have led to no positive action on the part of TCIG. We remain anxious to resolve the matter in a lawful and principled manner, but we cannot do so in an environment where our correspondence go unanswered, our lawsuit undefended and our good faith overtures to engage in steps toward resolution are not reciprocated and have led nowhere despite assurances,” Beaches said.
The company said that because the matter is before the courts, it is unable to comment any further, “but we hope that by this press release TCIG will awake from its slumber”.
The Beaches release comes on the heels of a column published by Magnetic Media on September 6 in which the TCI Government is accused of not responding to urgent issues affecting the country.
According to the writer Deandrea Hamilton, Magnetic Media has received e-mails, text notes, WhatsApp messages, phone calls and Facebook messages daily accusing the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) Government — from premier to ministers to chief medical officer — of not responding to urgent questions and serious dilemmas communicated in the midst of the string of crises brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
She said Magnetic Media has received reports that the Government has been “seemingly hushed and inexplicably quiet” on questions related to finance, administration and business, tourism, education, and health.
“Four years ago this was not the case. As with all Opposition parties when they want ‘power’, the PDM could not stop talking. Now, with there being a dire need for a calm, steady, consistent, responsive voice… there is silence,” Hamilton wrote.
She also said that tourists are cancelling vacations; terminated work permit holders cannot leave the country; residents are questioning the safety of going home after possible novel coronavirus exposure at work, for fear of possibly contaminating high-risk loved ones; and employers cannot execute any screening of staff, even if they wanted to.
“The reason,” she wrote, is that “despite at least two facilities attempting to offer the service, Government has yet to approve a community-based COVID-19 testing facility.”
Hamilton also alleged that the Government is denying travel-oriented tests to residents, terminated workers who need to return to their countries of origin, and tourists who also need to have a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in order to re-enter their home countries.
“Those writing to Magnetic Media explain that the governor is responsive, but has expressed that he would prefer to allow the local government to lead. But where is the leadership? Or at least the ‘caring leadership’ the people had been promised?” Hamilton asked.