Kingston, Jamaica | February 9, 2023: The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) writes regarding an article carried in the Daily Observer dated February 8, 2023 entitled ‘UDC Mortgages Rooms on the Beach’; an erroneous and misleading headline which sets the stage for much of the misinformation captured in the publication. The points of the facts outlined below would have been useful for you to have researched prior to disseminating a publication with information which we find to be Injurious to the organization.
· Your publication’s assertion that the UDC mortgaged the Rooms on the Beach property subsequent to its retransfer from Puerto Caribe Properties is false;
· The mortgage of $1B noted per the financial statements of Montego Beach (1975) Limited relating to the year 2013/14, predated the sale of the property to Puerto Caribe Properties which took effect in November 2016. The noted mortgage was settled prior to the completion of the sale to Puerto Caribe;
· No mortgage has been issued on the Rooms on the Beach property since its retransfer to Montego Beach (1975) Limited from Puerto Caribe;
· The purchaser of the property exercised the option in accordance with the terms of the sale agreement, to retransfer the property to the UDC. Repayment made for the retransfer of the lands was equivalent to the original sale price, net of transfer fees;
· There was no mortgage taken by the UDC neither on the UDC’s books nor through its subsidiary company National Hotels and Properties Limited or Montego Beach (1975) Limited;
· The referenced $1B approved supplementary estimate by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) was Budgetary Support for the financial year 2020/21 to the UDC to partial pay down on the Government’s indebtedness to the UDC as well as to assist to in funding UDC’s operations, given the significant revenue fall-out consequent on the COVID-19 pandemic.
· The UDC has not, in the relevant period, utilised its assets as collateral and/or leveraged them to pay down debt. However, it should be noted that utilising assets as collateral as well as to pay down debt is not uncommon in the business sector;
· The section on the Montego Beach (1975) Limited inaccurately states the investment property value as $515.3M and not $513.3M as stated in the Annual Report and Audited Financials for the 2013/2014 financial year. Generally, the article and accompanying caption permeates with inaccuracies, incomplete, and misleading statements. The reports by the Contractor General and the Auditor General regarding the sale and the UDC’s performance respectively, are a matter of public record. The reporting in this instance is not in keeping with the standards expected of the Jamaica Observer. The UDC expects that the paper will retract the article and afford the corrected information equal prominence.