Tourism minister responds to uproar over rent increases

Tourism minister responds to uproar over rent increases

Glen Bart, MyVueNews.com

Lindsay Grant

Basseterre, St. Kitts, 11th April, 2018 (MyVueNews.com) – Minister of Tourism Lindsay Grant, under whose portfolio the Frigate Bay Development Corporation (FBDC) operates, has publicly responded to critics of the proposed rent hikes for bar operators on the Frigate Bay Strip.

Speaking on the radio talkshow, Voices, he made it clear that the FBDC increases in rent were based on the size and location of the business premises, and was still subject to negotiation for those Strip operators who have complained that the increases are too high.

According to Minister Grant, the FBDC is introducing the new rent levels based on current market values, as there were no rent increases for many years. While some accepted the increases, he said, others opposed the increase, which he said was their right to do.

The minister pointed out that those who objected have an opportunity to negotiate with FBDC, and this was the stage at which the situation is now at. He said, also, that the option to negotiate would enable operators to continue their businesses, because the rent increases were not about squeezing out some operators, as some talk show callers have been implying.

Grant pointed out that the Frigate Bay Development Corporation had been in existence for several decades, with its funding coming from the sale of land. However, there are few plots remaining to be sold.

“It means that Frigate Development Corporation either has to find other sources of revenue, or we will have to come to an end,” Grant said, indicating that about 40 persons are employed by the corporation who must be paid.

In addition, the minister pointed out that millions of dollars are being spent to upgrade the Strip, including the already constructed road, plus a boardwalk, a pier and beach replenishment that are still to come, through sourced funding from the Caribbean Development Bank. These upgrades, he said, would attract even more people to the facilities on the Strip.

The issue of the rent increases became a major topic on radio talkshows after some bar operators complained over social media.

Public responses have been mixed with some in favour, while others were not, and some callers even suggested that there were hidden motives behind the increases in rent.

Grant said, however, that the increases are not a surprise to the operators, as they had knowledge for over a year that the increases would come.

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