By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Baha Mar debacle proves the Bahamian government must establish performance bonds with the foreign developers and contractors it does business with in order to protect the interests of Bahamians, Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller said yesterday.
Performance bonds are issued by banks or other financial institutions to guarantee the fulfillment of a particular contract.
Mr Miller said: “It is imperative that government insists on a performance bond with any foreign developer and any contractor so the Bahamian people will be cushioned from the situation that is happening with Baha Mar.
“The bond must mean that you will perform and complete the job on time and that the government could call in that bond when necessary to help pay salaries of those adversely affected by the kind of thing that is happening at Baha Mar right now.
“We must put it in a clause in every single heads of agreement to safeguard the Bahamian people and our reputation as a tourism destination.”
After months of uncertainty, Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US on Monday, setting off a firestorm of concern among Bahamians.
As for what should happen to those who might be laid off at Baha Mar as the resort goes through its bankruptcy proceedings, Mr Miller said the National Insurance Board (NIB) must offer help.
“I believe it is now time for NIB to step in and provide assistance or come up with some new plan to assist those affected persons,” he said. “It will affect taxpayers but something has to be done.”
As the future of Baha Mar employees remains uncertain, some observers have insisted that local employers won’t rehire those who left their businesses to go to Baha Mar.
In reference to this speculation, Mr Miller said now is not the time for people to be “vindictive” and “short-sighted.”
“A lot of people left their well-paying jobs from Atlantis, banks, insurance companies, the airport and others with hope for a future,” he said.
“A lot of employers will probably now be vindictive in their views and actions, but let’s face it, the value of Baha Mar is what is going to sell this country. To be petty and be vindictive would be a terrible decision.
“If Baha Mar fails, we will collectively fail. It will affect you whether you like it or not so let’s stop being petty and childish. It’s deplorable that some Bahamians would have that on their mind. “How the hell you build a country with petty minded people? The threats have to stop or we all going down together. We all are in the same boat.”
On Monday, more than 2,000 employees at the resort were told to go home and not physically report to work as the property goes through bankruptcy.
In a letter to employees, Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian revealed that while the resort and its affiliates have requested court authorisation to continue payroll obligations – which average $7.5m a month – it is unclear whether it will be able to reach an acceptable agreement with its lender.
Mr Izmirlian explained that if such an agreement cannot be met, the cash-strapped resort would be pushed to make “extremely difficult decisions” that include reductions to its workforce.