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Rosewood Exit A 'Big Loss' To Baha Mar, Says Wilchcombe

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe described the decision by a major hotel brand to pull out of the stalled Baha Mar project a "big loss" as he called for all parties to stop their "legal wrangling" and work together to open the $3.5bn mega resort.

Mr Wilchcombe warned that each day the resort moved further away from a hopeful winter opening, adding that the delays and negative press will make it even harder to launch a successful marketing strategy.

However, he remained confident that the country's brand prominence will still draw a positive market response for the new development.

"Rosewood is a brand that has its own databank that would have caused occupancy levels to grow because of its branding leverage," Mr Wilchcombe told The Tribune on Friday.

"Just as Rosewood, it could be Hyatt tomorrow. We have to move with haste to stop the hemorrhage because we will be losing support and it will take even more to cause the market to respond positively. I think the reality here is it's a big loss. Rosewood is a big loss. I'm hoping there is still some negotiations that can salvage it.

"To lose such brands that we didn't have before, to have [Rosewood] that would have been a big win for the country. We have to look at SLS Lux and see where they are, and see look at Hyatt and see where they are but none of it is going to make any sense unless we resolve the issue."

Rosewood Hotels and Resorts International on Wednesday filed a motion in a Delaware bankruptcy court to terminate its licence with the development on West Bay Street.

The motion was filed the same day the government began arguments for its petition to wind up Baha Mar in the Supreme Court on the grounds that it owes the state upwards of $59m to various entities.

In response to this turn of events, Robert “Sandy” Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice president of government and external affairs, placed blame on the Christie administration saying Rosewood’s motion was in direct response to government’s decision to oppose the resort’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy action which was filed on June 29 in the US.

Mr Wilchcombe said: "The legal wrangling that is taking place in my view is not helping the situation, it's pushing us further away from resolution. I'm adamant that [Bahamar CEO Sarkis] Izmirlian, China Export Import Bank and China Construction America must agree to sit down and deal with the issues at hand."

He said: "They have to put that on their agenda, park the egos, get to the meeting place and resolve the issue right now. It's a whole bunch of legal manoeuvering that is not benefitting anyone and it's being more detrimental to the Bahamas."

The other brands at the mega resort include the 1,000-room Baha Mar branded Casino Resort & Hotel, a 707-room Grand Hyatt, a 300-room SLS Lux, and the 694-room Meliá, which was formerly the pre-existing Sheraton.

"Every day we get further away from a possible winter opening, that is why the urgency is there," Mr Wilchcombe said.

"You don't want this to be out there with no conclusion. We're further away to get to opening, and it's going to take marketing to regain the confidence of the travelling public again.

"The glass is always half-full," he said, "but we'll just have to extend ourselves. The Bahamas is just one of the most recognised brands in the world. Our brand has become prominent, so the Bahamas brand and the new development, the beauty of the development, they will want to come.

"But if you continue to pour negative stories over it, negative stories posted everywhere and it becomes a questionable resort, then nobody has certainty."

Comments

Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Wilchcombe is now saying what all thinking Bahamians have been saying for the past two months! The intervention of The Bahamas government into the disagreement between CCA and Baha Mar was a stupid, hastily conceived plot, that was at best, amateurish, and at worse downright evil!

Instead of supporting a highly respected, long-term resident of The Bahamas, who has shown an unprecedented vision in orchestrating Baha Mar, the largest investment project ever seen in The Bahamas, they chose instead to side with CCA, a Chinese construction company, well known to be corrupt, and who had been banned from doing any projects on behalf of The World Bank from 2009-2015!!

Of course all sides should get together and work out a solution, but how was this situation ever allowed to reach this point??

Gross incompetence and stupidity by The Bahamas government, who acted hastily, in what looked more like a " hissy fit" of a spoilt teenage girl, than the wise consideration of a mature and clear thinking administration.

Guess what Mr. Wilchcombe, the government of which you are a part of, BURST THE BAHA MAR BUBBLE !! It will cost your party the next election and the fall out from the accusations of conflict of interest, cronyism and corruption will continue to rock this nation for many years to come!

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

Yep. Bull in a china shop, Iraq war tactics are coming home to roost. Humpty Dumpty. How they didn't see this coming when they planned to "neatly" extricate Izmirilian is beyond me

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Cobalt 2 years, 3 months ago

@Wideawake........ Very well said! Spot on!

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crabman 2 years, 3 months ago

Well hello their Prime Minister Wilchcombe.....and just who are YOU going to pick as your Minister of Tourism.

Yinna better bob and weave now, the gloves may soon come off...

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory

A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit

The phrase Pyrrhic victory is named after king Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War. After the latter battle, Plutarch relates in a report by Dionysius:

"The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one other such victory would utterly undo him. "

Will history record a Bahamaric victory?

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Zags 2 years, 3 months ago

ThisisOurs, you have taught me something new! One would be hard pressed to come up with a better analogy: Thank you!

We can only hope, though, that the present government is in NO WAY victorious in its attempts to wrest control of Baha Mar from Mr. Izmirlian.

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Cobalt 2 years, 3 months ago

@ThisIsOurs....... The above parallel that you have just articulated is absolutely correct! This is something every Bahamian needs to read.

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Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

Excellent thought, ThisisOurs!...... This Baha Mar battle is so sad and absolutely unnecessary!

However, if Baha Mar "wins" a Pyrrhic victory in the Supreme Court battle, although suffering great damage as a result of the bad publicity associated with the debacle, I do not think they will be mortally wounded, and I think that the Baha Mar project could still come to fruition.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

I hope so....I hope good comes out of this...

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrades you can't just decide to define Izmarlian as the one most likely to emerge with a Pyrrhic victory at Cable Beach, is about as ridiculously outrages as that damn extravagance of a 'dock' of his. You lack such evidence - even if you count his army of citizens - now being paid their salaries by taxpayers.
All y'all waiting for return Papa Hubert red bloggers, needs take a boat ride on the waters to go looks for yourselves at that dock, before you post another Cable Beach piece of blogger nonsense's. Truth's reality is, neither Izmarlin, nor his extravagance of a "dock," will survive at Cable Beach, not even for more than a week to weeks.
Izmarlin gone, "dock" demolished and be gone!

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

Actually, I'm looking at either side, the govt or Izmirilian....if either wins what damage would have been inflected already?

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Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

Apart from the bruising "cut-ass"The Bahamas government and Baha Mar will BOTH receive in this Supreme Court Slugfest, the other consideration worthy of debate is what will be the short and long-term implications of this battle, on The Bahamas, and on the Bahamian people.

If Baha Mar wins, the decision will show the world that government DOES NOT control the courts in The Bahamas, and this, on its own, will do a great deal to restore some measure of credibility to our country.

A Baha Mar victory would be a stunning loss for government. In a more sophisticated country, such a victory would cause the government to fall, because the court decision would clearly show that the governments' decision to pursue this issue in the Supreme Court was fatally flawed. Such a result could at least precipitate an early election, with the widely expected result that the PLP government would be soundly beaten.

In a way, the Baha Mar debacle could be seen to be, the "poultice" that cures the Bahamas of the "boil on its backside", drawing out this corrupt and incompetent PLP government and allowing The Bahamas to heal and move forward into a brighter future!!

A change of government would be exactly the tonic that is needed to allow Baha Mar to succeed. It could also usher in a NEW ERA of wise, just, and responsible growth and development in our country.

On the other hand, if The Bahamas government wins this battle, Baha Mar will, in all likelihood FAIL. it will be ASSUMED that government has influenced the Court, and then government, with renewed vigour, will fight tooth and nail to hold onto power, because they know they have much, too much, to lose...to lose!

Chinafication of The Bahamas will proceed full steam ahead and only time will tell, to what extent, and in exactly what ways, Mr.Christie and his Cabinet cohorts have sold out our country to the Chinese government.

In many ways the future of our country rests on the shoulders of Justice Winder; he deserves our positive thoughts and our prayers!

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

Exactly...both sides will be damaged

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

One can only wonder if there is / has been any discussion of this topic in Cabinet. It would appear that Christie and Maynard Gibson have taken this on, on their own bat. Indeed not only Cabinet, but with such momentous consequences for the Bahamas and its people, one might have thought that non-partisan consideration might have been given to this situation in the House some time ago. Yes, even now. It is not too late however and Government could withdraw and encourage the Bahamar appeal for Bahamas Judicial Oversight of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy to go forward.

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Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

I do not think this PLP government has the wisdom, the humility, or the deep abiding interest in the future of The Bahamas, that would allow them to fess up and admit that they made a HUGE STUPID mistake in starting the Supreme Court Action against Baha Mar!! They are compromised, they are being exposed, they have their backs against the wall.....APOLOGISE AND BACK DOWN they will not!!

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banker 2 years, 3 months ago

Co-sign -- agree completely. You forgot one parameter that the PLP government does not have and that is Brains & Intellect.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrades, Bahamaland serves as the voluntary host of izmarlin, but the question not before Bahamaland's high court is, has Izmarlin become the leading bully of Cable Beach?
You red bloggers can't be suggesting one's bullishness against the people's democratically majority elected government, can't be quashed - it just depends on how many zero's you have behind your family's billions.
Let no taxpayer forget - those billions are not being used to pay Baha Mar workers salaries - in fact, they even want you the taxpayers to pay the damn salaries of work permit holders. Crazy is one word it.
Go see that damn extravagance of "dock," if you really care see the full picture of what is behind all this.
The only thing 97 percent complete on Cable Beach waterfronts is that damn "dock." Hang some lights and there, your dock is 100 percent complete.
Comrades, hotel guests have no parking garage to park their rental cars but you can walk right out onto the Atlantic Ocean on Izmarlin's 'dock?"

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

I think all three sides have behaved very very badly, but I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the govt for allowing the development to go through with shakey funding and for allowing CCA to get away with what "appears" to be a huge, can't say fraud...what's a better word choice..hmmm....if I think of one I'll add it.

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Economist 2 years, 3 months ago

Tal, the government should never have got involved. The damage has been done by the government. BTW, I am not a red shirt and as far as I am concerned, neither PLP or FNM have anything to offer the Bahamian people.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Economist that has been my position all along. Baha Mar and Izmarlin are free enterprise capitalism - if it cannot succeed via attracting private funding, then allow it to go the way all businesses must eventually go - out business. It’s an easy trap to fall into — and one I’ve warned about on this blog before. Don’t repeat a false premise how Baha Mar is too damn big to fail - when it has been a failure from the Papa Hubert get go - leaving PM Christie to fall into the Papa Trap of rushing to the Papa rescue - whilst the "Fisherman's from Cooper's Town" is allowed to relax under Abaco's tree shade. Why isn't Papa being asked some serious questions about Baha Mar and Izmarlin, by both the media and Tribune bloggers? Is it possible the chief architect of this mess will be allowed to avoid his fair share of blame - politically undamaged?

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

How did Hubert Ingraham get the chief architect? That's some serious revisionist history. Just waiting for PGC to step up now and ask why did Ingraham bring Izmirilian to ours shores.

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

Kamikaze Government !!! We will kill you, even if we die in the process.

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paul_vincent_zecchino 2 years, 3 months ago

There's an epidemic of Kamikaze Government going around, of late.

Well said, sir.

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Tal is the epitome of this Yellow Peril Government !!!

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

Maybe Wilchcombe could lead a parliamentary coup and take over the government and get this situation back on track.

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Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

Re-shuffling the deck of corrupt and conflict-of-interest-ridden PLP cabinet and HOA members just means choosing a different set of RATS to guard our Bahamian cheese! We need a government that does not eat cheese, that is allergic to cheese, and who knows that the "Bahamian Guardians of the Cheese" will lock them up in Foxhill if they ever even THINK of putting their grubby political fingers on our Bahamas' cheese stash!!!

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

Problem is that the Chief Rat ain't goin' to give us the opportunity to remove his cheese lovin' ass any time soon. By the time the Constitution forces his hand there may ( probably will be ) nothin' left. These are very serious times. It reminds me of the issues that gave rise to the Dissident Eight. Of course, even today, there may not even be eight with enough guts and conscience to break ranks. Two so far but....

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Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

Serious times indeed! Scorecard for the 38 seats in H.O.A. after the last election was FNM 9, PLP 29. Hubert "Maximus" jumped ship and abandoned his parliamentary colleagues and in the resulting by-election his seat went to the PLP, making it 30 PLP and only 8 FNM seats. No wonder the PLP have been able to run riot in this country and get away with all kinds of foolishness!

Recently two members left the PLP and are currently Independent MPs. So even an additional "Dissident Eight" PLPs would not flip the balance of power, as that would be 8+8+2 = 18 in opposition and 20 remaining in the PLP. For there to be a vote of no confidence in the government, we need a "Dissident Ten"..... Not likely to happen, but just thinking and writing about it makes me feel good!!!!!

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrades, neither of the two PLP MP's became dissidents on they own, nor can either be looked upon to become the next Cecil. If you remember your Cecil history well, the man was looked upon as Pindling's finest crown minister, ever.
Ironically, since Loretta seems more inclined to recruit an "all woman's" slate of candidates to run for the reds come the 2017 General - I thinks that unless the two decides to become cross-dressers for political convenience, that pretty much only leaves them to saddle up to ride a horse for Bran's DNA.

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happyfly 2 years, 3 months ago

If anyone is listening out there for Bahamar's public relations. You need to make the average Bahamian aware that the standard of construction performed by the Chinese is terrible and they should be fired. The easy fact of the matter is that Ismirlian has now recognized what a mistake it was to hire the Chinese to do the work. He now wants to fire the Chinese and hire Bahamians to finish the job. The PLP is doing everything they can to stop that from happening. Any Bahamian that wants the work should go down to Bahamar on Monday morning and let it be known that they would rather the Bahamian Government did not take the side of the Chinese construction workers. Think about it !!!!

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Happyfly, if you yourself does goes down Baha Ma, will you promise go walk that damn 'dock' - that is if you trust the Chinese to have built it for safe walkin.
I think if I were da King's Counsel (KC) leading the PM's charge before the supreme court justice, I'd forcefully demand that the justice be driven out to Cable Beach to take-in the extravagance of that 'dock,' before he own two eyes to render proper da September 4th ruling. I think it puts the whole picture of Baha Mar into the correct prospective Comrade Tal, has been seeing it all along.

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paul_vincent_zecchino 2 years, 3 months ago

You make a good point. Take mine for that which it's worth, merely a fleeting instinctual impression gleaned whilst driving thru and past the complex last week. The place had the look of many a hi-rise in China, built of sand & glue, something just looks a bit 'off', something thrown up quickly in defiance of established practices and standards. Again, this is a mere fleeting instinctual impression, nothing more.

I hope that I'm wrong and look forward to being proven so. Because I hate it when I'm right.

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ThomasLewis 2 years, 3 months ago

The government has prolonged this ***saga, impasse, debacle*** and made it so much more complex.

Now they seem to now want Izmirilian to instantaneously reconstruct. For a minute they had no confidence in this young man who has done so much for this country as a foreign investor. Pleas are now going out to him from the government to not to abandon the project. That I know he would not after being the chief component of it for thirteen (13) years and having devoted so much into it.

I am on my bending knees and hoping that Baha Mar is successful in short order and that the stalled project would resume and the Rosewood brand would reevaluate.

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Tal: You really got a thing about that dock now. What is it that is itching you with this ? Its a dock - so what ? Baha Mar built the roads and the Government committed to pay and they have NOT paid yet. Let Justice Winder go out and ride along the road the Baha Mar built and paid for and these crooked Gubment ain't paid for yet.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade, until you have taken in before your own eyes that 'dock' you are unqualified to dismiss its extravagance - while you're looking around make sure take peek at Baha Mar's unfinished car parking garage. Some could reasonably be expected to say Izmarlin - got his spending priories confused? Comrade I challenge you to report back Tribune readers, if you honestly can see a 97 percent constructed completed car parking garage?
That 97 percent complete claim of Izmarilin's, Obediah's and PM Christie's - is nothing but wheel barrels loaded down with the rest of their Baha Mar - bullshi@.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 3 months ago

The PLP who have shops/contracts are trying to make sure they get paid first by the courts and trying to discredit Sarkis before he spills the beans on who got what to give up all that crown land btw 2002 and 2007 when he started .Ms M Roach ,the ex director of Town planning got the contract to be the liason btw the CCA and the Bahamas to make sure all was up to code ,you mean she didn,t ,,Lmao,,if it was not so serious

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John 2 years, 3 months ago

Have the parties involved already reach the point of irreconcilable differences or are they still playing a very expensive game of 'who is the last man left standing?" There must be someone somewhere that can bring these parties together and end the madness. But that is how it is in an estranged marriage as well. The more you try to pull the parties together, the more reasons they give for not wanting to get back together. Whose baby is Bah Mar anyway? When Solomon had to make the tough decision of who was the real mother of a living baby when the one belonging to the other mother had died, he said ok since both of you are owning this baby, lets cut it in half and give each of you a portion. The true mother of the child did not want to see this happen because she knew it meant that the child will be dead. And so it is with Bah Mar. It is dying a slow and untimely death, and with each and every passing day it remains incomplete and unopened, the cost to revive it and bring it to healthy birth increases. Who wants to see Bah Mar a still birth? Cut down from conception.

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John 2 years, 3 months ago

So according to the petition filed by Rosewood, they want out because Bah Mar did not tell them the government owned the property on which Bah Mar sits. Does this mean, then, that Rosewood does not want to do business with the Bahamian government?

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

John: Obviously ! Nor yet any E & Y Liquidators !!

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

Whos is Raptor22 harping about ? Anyone know ?

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrades, the PLP cabinet's focus on Baha Mar is a distraction away from dealing with crime and other more urgent than Baha Mar matters. The sooner the PM understands that the crux of the Baha Mar problems will never be solved with direct government and taxpayers involvement. It is a free enterprise requiring a capitalist solution. Those two things go together and can only work best - without government's meddling.

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Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

Tal, there is NOTHING more important than Baha Mar at this particular time in our country's history. The Bahamas is at a pivotal point; government needs to get out of the way, let Baha Mar and CCA sort out their differences.. or not, co-operate re the provisions of the Chapter 11 filing in Delaware and then hope, against hope, that Baha Mar can somehow, with the goodwill and support of the participating hotels, Baha Mar staff, AND the Bahamas government get their project back on stream.

If not, Baha Ma will be forced to lay off their staff and the project will be "mothballed" for the next several years while the various lawsuits are fought, appealed, fought again, appealed again, ad nauseum.

The ill-advised legal action currently underway in the Bahamas Supreme Court, has, unfortunately, created a situation where EVERYONE loses!!!!

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Wideawake, do you really want Izmarlin, the Chinese, or whatever corporations end up with Baha Mar, to run your government? Do you really want huge amounts of taxpayers money to be used to reward the pockets of corporations?
Comrade, do you want your government to no longer represent the people but rather the corporations?
Why even bother to hold the 2017 General, if it is the pockets of the corporations and not the people - whose needs will be the one's represented?
This is why Baha Mar's fate must be decided, not by taxpayers but by the free markets.
Don't you want your government to return back to the early Pindling days, when they represented -we the people - and not the corporations?
Regardless of what the money people would want the man's and woman's on the street to believe, corporations are people.
Why would you think the final decision as to whether the billionaire Izmarlin's Bah Mar, is allowed to swim or sink along with such an extravagance of an 'dock, is to be left to taxpayers footing the financial responsibilities for many years to come?
What evidence have any taxpayer seen that remotely dismisses that Baha Maris is a broken concept and must be halted?

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Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

The only way the Bahamian economy can grow at a rate sufficient to meet the needs of the Bahamian people is to ENCOURAGE AND NURTURE overseas investors who are interested in investing THEIR capital in OUR economy.

We do not "reward the pockets of these investors with huge amounts of taxpayer money", in fact the reverse is true. Projects like Baha Mar provide an income stream for the Bahamas government via hotel and casino taxes, taxes on airline tickets, income from work permit fees, import duty on goods and materials imported by the hotels, etc. The wages and salaries paid by the hotels also, to a large extent flow into the local economy. Once Baha Mar is open and fully operational it projected to represent 12% of the Bahamian economy.

Although the early days of the Pindling administration were their best days, they went downhill from the early 70's, and by the 80's, had tarnished our National image with the "A Nation for Sale" scandals!! So, in answer to your question, I, and most other thinking Bahamians would most definitely NOT want to go back to the days of the Pindling administration.

In fact most Bahamians would like to see this, corruption riddled, out of date, last remaining scrap of the Post Independence PLP government, voted out of office, for the third time, NEVER TO RETURN!!!

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banker 2 years, 3 months ago

Co-sign -- the government should not have been involved in the first place.

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

Lord Tal, that came from your Communist keyboard ?

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John 2 years, 3 months ago

So now Sol Kerzner wants to buy Bah Mar....hmm

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banker 2 years, 3 months ago

The collapse of the Chinese stock market last week, and the economic events coming this week out of China will further complicate this mess. As pointed out previously, in all probability Exim and CCA do not have access to the money to complete Baha Mar, and one suspects that they have lost their will in the project, but will not admit it to save face.

In the meantime the PLP government is deep in its skunkworks, trying to furiously manufacture some political hay against the opposition to distract the public from its failures in the Baha Mar saga.

There is only one outcome now, and it will not be very pretty unless the government gets awfully smart, awfully fast. But that is an impossibility. They are working very very hard to remain stupid. The real war is not between Baha Mar vs the Government and their Chinese plotters, it is a war between the intelligent and stupid people.

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 3 months ago

China Stock Market dove again today taking Asian economies and Europe with it. We are backing a horse with two broken legs.

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TruePeople 2 years, 3 months ago

China is a manipulator of foreign markets, as well as their domestic economy. China artificially assigns value to it's currency, keeping it worth less than it should be in a floating economy like the US. the Gov't is fighting a fight they don't understand against people they don't understand

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