By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday forecast that the stalled $3.5bn Baha Mar resort will still open before the end of the year despite the possibility of provisional liquidators being appointed at the property.
For this reason, Mr Roberts said he was confident that the controversy about the resort would not be a factor in the 2017 general election.
He underscored that Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian had just hours left to accept the financing deal brokered in talks between the Export Import Bank of China and China Construction America (CCA), or face the consequences. The bank is the project’s main financier and CCA is the resort’s general contractor.
“I think the hotel is going to open by the end of this year,” Mr Roberts said. “Izmirlian has between now (Tuesday) and (today) to accept the deal that was put on the table. Failing that, then the liquidators will come in.”
When asked whether liquidation would further stall the resort’s twice-delayed opening, Mr Roberts said: “Who says so? That ain’t got nothing to with that, that is what the liquidators are for.”
The government’s winding up petition against the resort to have provisional liquidators appointed is expected to be heard in the Supreme Court today. The petition was filed by Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson after talks to negotiate a way forward between stakeholders in China failed.
Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a US court on June 29, blaming CCA Bahamas for its multiple opening delays.
Edison Sumner, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) chief executive, has warned that the project will not open in time to catch the peak winter 2015 tourism season if it is placed under the control of provisional liquidators.
Mr Sumner told Tribune Business that three to four months was simply not enough time for the provisional liquidators – if appointed – to “go through the rubble” and organise the property’s construction completion.
However, the government has insisted that the decision to enter a winding-up petition was in the best interests of the country.
Officials have said Baha Mar is 97 per cent complete.