Global Ports, the company given a 30 year deal to manage local cruise ports has paid off a 19 year debt at the Antigua Commercial Bank, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has announced.
The US$ 21.5 million paid off by the company recently was part of the US$ 22 million loan by the then government to upgrade cruise facilities.
“And by the way, I want to also say here that Global Ports has actually paid off the US$ 21.5 million that was owed to Antigua Commercial Bank and other bond holders,” Browne announced on his radio programme.
The prime minister said it serves as a slap in the face to members of the opposition who have argued that global ports does not have any money.
He said for 19 years, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda struggled to pay based off cruise revenues were assigned to that debt.
“Remember the principal was 22 million and 19 years later having assigned all of the revenues, it was 2.15 million,” he said.
The repayment of the debt is one of the conditions that Global Ports agreed to when it signed a deal with the Antigua and Barbuda government for the management of the cruise facilities.
GP on Thursday said it has commenced cruise port operations in Antigua following a completion of all final conditions to do so, including reaching financial close.
The cruise port operator said it will now use its global expertise and operating model to manage the operations in St John’s port. Global Ports said it expect to bring “meaningful” change to the cruise port experience and cruise tourism in Antigua and Barbuda, to the benefit of all stakeholders.
The company said it also intends to work in partnership with local operators to enhance shore excursion opportunities and will support local efforts to regenerate tourist attractions in the destination.
The expected total initial investment in the first 12 months of operation will be between USD45 million and USD50 million, Global Ports said, including repayment of the existing bond, completion of new pier construction and investment into the retail facilities. GPH’s cash equity contribution is set at 27.5%, with annual revenue in year one is currently expected to be USD8 million.