Minister Lake Comments on Vorst Cay Hill Property Verdict

Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake says the court ruled in its proceedings on August 21 that the agreement that exist to purchase the Vorst property in Cay Hill remains in place and government has to pay the sales price.

“As said from the start, I have been negotiating with the Vorst family from/on the basis of the (binding) Letter of Intent signed by the previous Minister of Justice, which would have cost the government considerably more money (almost US$9 million) for which we would have ‘only’ received a right of long lease.

I have always considered the outright purchase of the property for less money (US$5.5 million) the best way to go, and that is why I came to this purchase agreement with the Vorst family. It saves the tax payer money. Why pay more when you don’t own the property when you can pay less and own the property. This is good business sense.

“With a full ownership of the property government would not have the risk that the ‘owner’ would want the land back for his own use, like one would have with a right of long lease. I would like to build homes for our (returning) young professionals without them having to live with the risk of having to leave their home. Besides the homes, a commercial center to create jobs for our people such as a call center, a metal signage shop and a sewing center.

“I would also like to reiterate, that before I entered into the payment schedule of the purchase price, I discussed this payment schedule with the Minister of Finance regarding the budget, not about the agreement, and was advised by the Secretary General of Finance how to reflect the payments in the advice that was put before the Council of Ministers.

“It was indicated that the US$3 million could be paid from the 2014 budget and the remainder of the purchase price to be paid in 2015. Both payment dates, May 27, 2014 and May 1, 2015 were put in place after consultation with finance. In May and thereafter June, Finance indicated that the payment of US$ 3 million was good to go. I have my email correspondence to back-up the process and procedures that were followed.

“After the first payment was not paid on May 27, 2014 however, the Vorst family invoked the penalty and interest payments of the agreement, which amounts to a payment of US$2.082 per day.

“In order to try to avoid the interest and penalties payments to run higher and higher and to have to ‘battle’ in court, I discussed and agreed with the Vorst family to pay them what is on the budget, and change the summary proceedings into a regular proceeding pertaining to the mortgage part of the second payment, which would not be put within the notarial deed in order to sign the notarial deed of delivery of the property.

“The Vorst family had agreed at that point in time, and that they would only ask for the interest and penalty payments for the period of May 27, 2014 till June 26th, 2014, if the notarial deed would be signed by the 4th of July. Nonetheless the foregoing, the Council of Ministers unfortunately decided differently, with resulted in today’s verdict.

“This entire affair is a result of politics being played. This started from the beginning of the year. When you try to work in the interests of the people, your colleagues are playing politics and doing all kinds of things to slow down the people’s business, which is very unfortunate.

“With the experience that some of the members of the Council of Ministers have, you would think that political maturity would be the order of the day, but its petty politics that overshadows what you want to accomplish for the people of this country. But, moving forward I shall despite the obstacles that are placed before me,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake concluded.