0

Govt Will Pay Baha Mar Salaries Till $21m Runs Out

Phillip Brave Davis

Phillip Brave Davis

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

DEPUTY Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis yesterday confirmed that the Christie administration will continue to pay Bahamian employees at Baha Mar until the $21m owed to the mega resort by the government for roadwork is exhausted.

Mr Davis said it was a “misconception” that the government had paid the resort’s more than 2,000 Bahamian workers from the Public Treasury, adding that the funds were deducted from the sum meant to cover the government’s portion of costs for roadwork associated with the development of the resort.

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mr Davis also challenged resort developer Sarkis Izmirlian’s assertion that the government was “fighting” with him over the project.

Mr Davis said Mr Izmirlian’s belief that he was in a fight with the government was questionable and insisted that no observer, international or local, would be concerned about the government’s handling of the matter.

“The premise that the government is paying them (Baha Mar workers) is a misconception,” Mr Davis said. “The government had agreed to advance the roadwork payments to him (Mr Izmirlian) and we did not do that.

“Hence we are making payments to his staff, and we will continue to pay.”

The government initially pledged to pay workers at the resort for a month after Baha Mar Ltd, and 14 affiliated companies involved with the $3.5b mega-resort, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware court on June 29.

The monthly payroll was estimated at $7.5m, and at that time it was unclear whether the government would pay expatriate workers.

The resort’s Bahamian workers are paid bi-weekly, and according to officials, Bahamian workers have been paid for three pay periods so far.

Baha Mar’s expat workers are paid monthly and had received their last salary payment shortly before the resort filed for bankruptcy on June 29.

The expatriate staff at Baha Mar’s Grand Hyatt hotel are reportedly set to be pulled out of this country after the government decided it was not going to pay non-Bahamian workers last week.

The decision was met with severe criticism from the resort and the official Opposition for its possible impact on the project’s ability to open quickly, and the trickle down effect on the real estate market, among other areas.

The salary bill for expatriate workers is estimated at $1.8m a month.

According to The Tribune’s calculations, if the bill for Bahamian employees is rounded to $6m, the government would be able to pay workers for another two months, or four pay periods, before the $21m roadwork fund is exhausted.

It was previously reported that the $7.5 million put up by the Christie administration in July was being treated as an unsecured loan to Baha Mar.

The loan was outlined in a letter from the Office of the Attorney General, addressed to Baha Mar President Tom Dunlap and signed by Director of Legal Affairs Antoinette Bonamy.

State Minister of Legal Affairs Damian Gomez later refuted the report, stating that the money was deducted from funds the government was holding for Baha Mar in connection with the roadwork.

In a staff memo on Tuesday, Mr Izmirlian stressed that Baha Mar’s main focus this week is to “explore ways” to pay its non-Bahamian workers. He said the government’s decision not to pay the resort’s foreign staff was “deplorable.”

The resort developer told employees that over the 13 years working on the project he “never imagined” he would be “fighting” with the government over the $3.5 billion property.

Mr Izmirlian also lamented that the project has “now been usurped for political reasons.”

Yesterday, Mr Davis maintained that the government’s primary objective was to ensure the completion and successful opening of the resort.

“(Mr Izmirlian) he has made a business decision,” Mr Davis said, “and we have to ensure that the business decision aligns with the overall objective of completing the project successfully, and having it operated successfully. So the fact that he perceives it as a fight causes some question.”

“There’s no doubt that people on the international stage are looking at what’s happening, and looking at how the government is responding to it, and how the developer is responding,” he added, “but I think any right thinking observer – international or nationally – informed of all the facts, would not be concerned about the manner in which the government is handling this matter.”

Comments

CommonSense 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm confused...why are we rounding $7.5M to $6M? Is the biweekly payroll $3.75M (7.5M per month)?

0

newcitizen 4 years, 11 months ago

The $7.5M to $6M is because they didn't pay the expat staff.

1

jackbnimble 4 years, 11 months ago

“The premise that the government is paying them (Baha Mar workers) is a misconception,” Mr Davis said. “The government had agreed to advance the roadwork payments to him (Mr Izmirlian) and we did not do that.

“Hence we are making payments to his staff, and we will continue to pay.”

But isn't HIS STAFF inclusive of the expats as well.

Jesus, can we be any dumber!!!

2

GrassRoot 4 years, 11 months ago

I like the Gov's approach, bcz, now they have just interjected themselves into the possibility of being sued themselves by Baha Mar, as it was made clear that the Gov has no intentions to pay the IOU's ever back to Baha Mar. How about if those new airplanes of Bahamas Air get sequestered in Florida next time they touch ground?

1

asiseeit 4 years, 11 months ago

Every Bahamian observer that I have spoken with is very concerned with how the government is handling the matter. Where do these idiots live? Are their heads that far up their own anus that they can not see, hear, and feel the concern we, the Bahamian people have for our future due to the actions and words of ALL party's? This country has never been is such a precarious situation, never mind Cuba is coming to eat our nasty lunch. Lean times are ahead and this fellow is front and center as a cause!

6

John 4 years, 11 months ago

Do you know National Insurance Board is discriminating against certain Bahamian families and denying them any benefits under the National Insurance Scheme (scheme or scam). Hundreds of Bahamains who have passed the age of retirement are being told they do not qualify for old age benefits because their families own businesses or property. Others are being denied participation in the medical assistance program even though they are in their 80's and 90's and yet others in this same age group are dying and their families are not receiving funeral assistance. While it is true that many of these persons may have never contributed to the National insurance because they were housewives all their lives or farmers or fishermen is it right to deny them assistance in their old age or even in death? Some of these persons have worked but stopped before the National Insurance contributions plan came into effect. Others have worked and had contributions deducted but since their employers never made the contributions to the board they are being denied assistance, despite some of these companies being in operation today. There is one family where 6 elderly persons died over the past 5 years. NONE were given funeral benefits and none of these were allowed to participate in the drug prescription program. There is a case of a young man who has a condition that prevents him from working for weeks on end. When he applied for assistance he was told that even though he has been making contributions over the past five years (since he left high school) he does not qualify for assistance because his contributions have not been continuous. A national disgrace or scam or both!

1

jackflash 4 years, 11 months ago

Did the Bahamian court system approve the government to use what 'it thinks' it owes Baha Mar for the road works to pay the staff?

Last I remember the two sides could not agree on the amount and it was the government which set a figure which Baha Mar did not agree to.

Having said that, and I may be wrong, This will turn into another law suit that may go all the way to the Privy Consul to sort out. And I would bet that they rule that in favor of the developer since no court order was granted to allow the government to use those funds which were due to the developer.

I hate to say it but I do not see this issue getting resolved anytime soon.

4

justthefactsplease 4 years, 11 months ago

So let me get this...you are using MY (BAHAMAR's) money to pay my employees but you only choose to pay the ones that have a vote and may vote for you? .....Hmmmmm. One would think that if you are paying Bahamar's employees with Bahamar's money then ALL employees should get paid...not just the Bahamians. I would understand your position if you were using taxpayer's money...this I don't get.

5

Zags 4 years, 11 months ago

An excellent point, justthefactsplease!

6

jackbnimble 4 years, 11 months ago

Man I been trying to get my heard around this for days. How do you take someone else's money that you owe them and decide that you will only pay some of their employees with it when if they had the money all employees would be paid? And further, it ain't your money to decide who get it.

The more they talk the more stupid this sounds.

1

Sickened 4 years, 11 months ago

Can our Government allocate the monies due to a creditor however our Government sees fit? I doubt that this will stand in a court of law.

5

DillyTree 4 years, 11 months ago

If Davis "insisted that no observer, international or local, would be concerned about the government’s handling of the matter", then he is a bigger fool than I've already taken him for. Denial seems to be a common thread for this government.

In fact, there's everything to be concerned about with the government's handling of the matter.

First, why is the Bahamas government paying Baha Mar salaries? Baha Mar already made provisions via an $80M financing deal that would have allowed things to keep going as well as pay salaries. The Bahamas government wants to appear to be the "savior of the people" by paying salaries, and securing votes for 2017, hmm? And if they are paying salaries, why aren't they paying non-Bahamian workers? Is it because the foreign workers don't get to vote?

Then you have Mitchell whining and crying that Izmirlian must be thrown out of the country because he isn't playing fair and lying down instead of fighting for his project. So he threatens him with vague threats worthy of the "old PLP" days. And this is our head diplomat -- yes, Mr. Davis, the world is watching and the world is concerned -- we are the laughing stock of a marginal unimportant banana republic -- which this illustrious PLP government have made us.

Allyson and Damien are so far out of their league that they aren't even smart enough to realise it. The sandbox they're playing in is for the big boys and they're just getting sand thrown in their eyes. This crap about "protecting our sovereignty" doesn't seem to apply when it comes to climbing into bed with the Chinese, just for Izmirlian when he files for relief in international courts.

What are they so afraid of? Their little back room deals coming out in an international forum? US Bankruptcy court was the only option for Baha Mar to have a chance to reorganize under Chapter 11, as Bahamian law has no such provision. It is also the fastest way to getting Baha Mar up and running and getting debts paid. So who is really looking out for the interests of the Bahamian people?

And while we hear so much about the winding up process (such BS, imho) what has become of Baha Mar's lawsuit against China State Construction Company in the UK? I do hope that goes ahead (unless Allyson and Damien can find a way to meddle there too), as many secrets will come out that I'm sure the Bahamas government doesn't want the Bahamian people to know.

When will the madness stop? The government needs to put aside their petty little egos and do what is best for the country -- an open Baha Mar that has jobs, puts money in our long-suffering economy, generates opportunity for other industries as relate to Baha Mar, and maybe, just maybe some standing in the international community if we can get this right.

8

Honestman 4 years, 11 months ago

When will the madness stop? May 2017!

3

Wideawake 4 years, 10 months ago

Great post Dilly Tree!! As far as our standing in the International community is concerned, all we have to do is get rid of this rotten, "Post Independence Government" and replace them with a team of dedicated Statesmen and Stateswomen, all of whom are above reproach regarding honesty and integrity. Our new government would fully explore all of the scandals that have rocked our nation during the past few years and expose and punish the evil-doers.

The new government would then immediately pass the F.I.A. and other new legislation that would require all Government contracts to be monitored and approved by a bi-partisan Public Finance Committee. Perhaps we also need a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau with high fines and jail terms for those caught in acts of bribery and corruption. Once word got out that outside investors would be treated fairly, without bribery and corruption, and that our House of Assembly was filled with an altogether new type of politician free of racism and xenophobia, then The Bahamas would soon become the "Singapore" of this region.

However, just like Singapore needed a Lee Kuan You, The Bahamas needs it's own transformative hero!! Anyone know such a Saviour!!

0

Zags 4 years, 11 months ago

Well said DillyTree!!!

REALLY WELL SAID!!!

5

proudloudandfnm 4 years, 11 months ago

Hey Brave!! I am an observer and I see my government in bed with the Chinese doing all they can to steal Izmerlian's resort.....

You need to rephrase that to "no PLP would look at how your dealing with this and disagree with you."

7

Chucky 4 years, 11 months ago

I would suggest that if the expat managers are not being paid, and are leaving, they should shut down all operations other than the bare minimum of maintenance and security and let all our fellow Bahamians stay home without the remaining pay. We all know that the vast majority of our people need constant supervision to be effective, so without the expat managers there is absolutely no point to have the Bahamain staff onsite.

2

Honestman 4 years, 11 months ago

The way the PLP is treating hard working Bahamians is now way beyond disgusting.

3

MonkeeDoo 4 years, 11 months ago

Davis' assumption that the Government will ( IN LAW ) be able to offset, what they already owe to Baha Mar for roadwork, against what they pay to the Bahamian employees, is typical of the entire PLP thinking. I would like to say black people thinking, because there is this thread that runs through the Bahamian society that allows a lot of black people to think that they can just take something, belonging to someone else, by whatever means is needed or necessary. The prison buses that I see every day are full of black people but that may not be a proper indicator of racial bent to crime. Sorry if I sound racial but we are truly living in very racial times today.

1

TalRussell 4 years, 11 months ago

Comrade DPM "Brave" i don't think you can take monies owing to a corporation in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, to bypass creditors which number in the many thousands, of which one being the Bahamas government 's claim as a "secured creditor, outstanding from the Cable Beach lands, which by Baha Mar's inability to fulfill its completion obligations, must surrender said lands back to the government? What's to prevent "any creditor" from coming after that $21 million, claiming that it was illegally disbursed? Unfortunately, workers have little to no protection during a bankruptcy, even it it's an attempt at reorganization. Such strict conditions governing the assets are there, because there can no guarantees that Baha Mar, can avoid falling victim to total bankruptcy. You could end up not only paying the $21 million out twice, but also face stiff and costly financial and legal penalties.

0

banker 4 years, 11 months ago

Bless you. A miracle. Common sense.

1

MonkeeDoo 4 years, 11 months ago

Bahamians should watch a little bit of BBC television news, to get a Chinese ( peasants ) view of how they feel about their government. Chinese peasants weeping and wailing, over their governments managing of the news on Malaysian Air MH370. BBC viewers are constantly reminded that there is no free press in China and all news is managed by the State. And this is the country that we have gotten naked, and into bed with, for a few measly yuan. We have truly "sold our soul" and in an Islamic State our Government members would be stoned to death.

1

Rontom 4 years, 11 months ago

Sarkis STILL holds the deeds to the billion dollar land. They can't force him to give it back. And imminent domain requires government to buy it at market value... Stupid is as stupid does

1

Alltoomuch 4 years, 11 months ago

I heard the AG say tonight, on both the evening news sections, that Bahamar employees were being paid out of the Taxpayers money - therefore it would be highly inappropriate to pay the expat salaries from the same source!!! (She was told that by some voter!!) Do our Govt ministers even talk to each other to actually know what is going on?? and I wish we didn't see the so-called independent news reporters laughing & joking with the ministers they are supposed to be interviewing. It is just so very unprofessional!!

0

banker 4 years, 11 months ago

He still has the booger showing. And that is the story of this entire government -- a bunch of disgusting snots shaming the country by showing up..

1

shortpants 4 years, 11 months ago

These bunch of crooks should all be heading to FoxHell .Every time they open their mouth they dig their own GRAVES and ours.Which the Bahamian had the chance to do so in 2012 but when you like handouts and lazy like them this is what you get .Lairs,Thieves & Murderers.

1

Chucky 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest we as a nation must be on the verge of financial ruin, bankruptcy or something; what else could drive such nonsensical attacks against and investor?

We must need this online now, and without it we can't make our debt payments? Why else would they attack an investor, as if we drive one investor of this caliber away, we will never get another one.

One thing our political fools are not considering is how well the worlds elite stick together. Izmerilain can lead a charge to crush our nation if we're not careful!

I'm not even gonna mention or suggest what it's possible for him to do or have done to the leader themselves..............I'm sure many people are worrying about this!

0

Sign in to comment