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Govt To Pay Salary Of Baha Mar Staff

Attorney General fears implications for sovereignty

Allyson Maynard-Gibson and Damian Gomez at yesterday’s press briefing. Photo: BIS

Allyson Maynard-Gibson and Damian Gomez at yesterday’s press briefing. Photo: BIS

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE government will foot the estimated $7.5 million bill to pay the salaries of Baha Mar workers this month in a bid to block them from being used as “pawns” in the resort’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy claim, according to Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson yesterday.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson said the decision to circumvent the Bahamian court system and file for Chapter 11 in a US court without notice to major stakeholders opened the door for “serious and far-reaching implications” to the country’s sovereignty.

However, the attorney general would not detail those implications or say whether the government was prepared to continue paying salaries if a resolution could not be met before the next pay period.

She also could not speak to the fate of Baha Mar’s Bahamian creditors, who are collectively owed an estimated $123m.

She said the Hotel Corporation of the Bahamas stands ready to pay the full salaries of Baha Mar’s employees, however it is unclear if the government will also pay the salaries for the resort’s foreign workers.

“The nearly 2,400 Bahamian employees who have been prejudiced by this bankruptcy proceeding must be paid,” she said at a press conference at her office. “Paying the employees without conditions attached would allow negotiation, hearing and resolution of other critically important issues determinative of the future of this project.”

She added: “This is the people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas deciding as a matter of high constitutional principle that matters, we are advancing, that these kinds of matters ought to be heard in our courts and that the employees ought not to be pawns. They ought to be paid and these matters will be adjudicated upon in Bahamian courts.”

Baha Mar Ltd, and 14 affiliated companies involved with the mega-resort, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware court on Monday.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson said her office received the US court documents on Wednesday, adding that the China Export Import Bank, the project’s largest creditor, had not yet been served with the documents.

She said her office advised Baha Mar developer Sarkis Izmirlian of the government’s position on Wednesday, stating that Bahamian employees should be paid and that it was willing to step in to make this month’s payment if Baha Mar or the China Export Import Bank was “unable or unwilling to pay” as negotiations continue.

“It is important that the public be made aware that the orders obtained unilaterally by the Baha Mar entities from the United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware were obtained on the basis that matters profoundly affecting the government and people of the Bahamas will be subject to adjudication in the United States,” Mrs Maynard-Gibson said.

“This would have serious and far-reaching implications for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as a sovereign nation. Completion and opening of the Baha Mar resort are matters of paramount importance to the Bahamas. The government feels very strongly that resolution of the disputes that have delayed the project should occur in the Bahamas, subject to adjudication — to the extent that they cannot be resolved consensually — by Bahamian courts, consistent with the sovereignty of the Bahamas.”

Although the government was still seeking for the impasse between the developer and contractor China Construction America to be resolved at the negotiating table, Mrs Maynard-Gibson explained that the government’s legal team was investigating alternative legal options to ensure that Bahamian courts were “front and centre” in the matter.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson stressed that the matter was now under consideration before the Supreme Court, and that any further details could prejudice the presentations made on behalf of the government and the China Export Import Bank next week Tuesday.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court directed Baha Mar, at the request of the Office of the Attorney General, to provide the government with information necessary for it to pay the salaries of the more than 2,200 Baha Mar employees for the period ending July 3, 2015.

When asked whether the move could set a precedent for the government’s handling of existing and future labour disputes, Mrs Maynard-Gibson said: “Certainly we know whatever action we take the public looks at, and we want to be sure that the public understands at all times that we are acting in the national interest and for the benefit of the Bahamian people.

“We are very confident about the ability of the Bahamian courts to resolve these matters and we would hope that they would be resolved out of the courts. We welcome them being resolved as soon as possible,” she said.

Public court documents and briefings on Baha Mar’s court proceedings will be made available to the public via the Office of the Attorney General’s website.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 4 years, 4 months ago

Where were these people when they were smiling for the cameras signing our country and our sovereignty away?

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GrassRoot 4 years, 4 months ago

Again our Government is trying to fix a cancer with a band aid. The short term survival of the employees should matter, but that's taken care of already by Baha Mar or private funds from S.I. Wouldn't it make sense now for our Government to do all it can to fix Baha Mar get it open asap instead, so no one has to pay the employees other the out of the income Baha Mar gets? I guess if you asked the employees, they really care more, whether they will have a job in three months from now. @AG: I simply don't see that it is feasible for the Government to have 2,400 staff on its payroll for an extended period of time.

And I bet the workers did not get paid today by the government. Had Baha Mar paid them, they would have the money by now. Happy weekends.

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GrassRoot 4 years, 4 months ago

This Government acts like a little child. Of course the filing in Delaware poses challenges legally and politically. But now is not the time for another master thesis. No need for someone that tries to become the next Einstein. Practical solutions are in high demand. This Government does not have a reputation to care too much about the law, so why now? Every day the process to finalize and open Baha Mar is delayed, is another nail into the coffin of the Bahamian economy. We don't have tough leaders that demand Izzie and the CCA to sit down and get this resolved. Kick CCA out of the Hilton, threaten to pull all the permits if they don't finish Baha Mar. Who needs the Hilton or Downtown anyway, if there is a White Elephant outside of town?

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duppyVAT 4 years, 4 months ago

Soooooooooooo, why did the American Judge make the same ruling on Bahamar money??? Why guarantee paying these workers when they already get covered by the US court????

What is the PLPs endgame??????????? No brownie points here for 2017 ...... many people who are owed money by this government are pissy MADDDDDDDD right now

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GrassRoot 4 years, 4 months ago

If the Government tries to resolve the Sovereignty issue legally, this case will take 10 years and no Baha Mar will get finished. What surprises me even more is that Gomez is appearing on behalf of the Government in a court case. He is a member of the executive, he has no business in a court room. This makes it personal for him and keeps him from dealing with his list of chores as a member of the Cabinet.

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SP 4 years, 4 months ago

..........Blah Blah, Blah, Ray, Ray, Ray, Sovereign Dis And Sovereign Dat ................

Reality is Bahamas economy was left in total shambles by the FNM and PLP inherited an economy without the critical mass to sustain the country.

PM Perry Christie absolutely refused to "pull the stops" and prevented local entrepreneurs with BILLIONS of dollars in foreign direct investors backing from meaningfully participating in the development of the economy.

Instead Christie maintained his governance of exclusion practices which has stifled Bahamas growth for 40 consecutive years, leading to the near failed state Bahamas is today.

Christie made a fundamental mistake any junior businessman knows not to make....He put all of his eggs in one basket, depending solely on just one product. Imagine if Home Depot, Kelly's, Wendy's, Walmart, Atlantis or ANY business depended on just one product?

Bottom line is, despite Head Witch Maynard's meaningless dribble statements. Government paying one months salaries will amount to less than a hill of beans in month two, three, etc, to those affected, and nothing whatsoever to the well being of the countries economy.

Bahamas expected maximum of 1% growth WITH Baha Mar in full operation and will have 0% growth should Baha Mar not come on stream.

3 months of 0% growth translates TO A PROTRACTED RECESSION!

Now that PM Christie spent his full 3 years in office chasing off Bahamian investors with FDI partners worth $BILLIONS, he now finds himself between a rock and hard place ALL ALONE.

Jackass Does As Jackass Is....& BOY What A Jackass!

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Comrades there is one for sure way fix what is been going on post Baha Mar "Nation" days, if we could be allowed to petition a Delaware court to takes da PM, Obediah, AG and Damian, into Chapter 11, cuz they are equally as bankrupt of fresh ideas as is that man's Izmirlian.
Damn confident our taxpayers wouldn't mind springing for the airfares and hotel to fly these four rascals up to Delaware, if we can guarantee them - da tickets be's one-way out Nassau's airport.

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GrassRoot 4 years, 4 months ago

I like the idea, however the U.S. Judge may not have taken the case with so many liabilities involved.

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Comrade are you suggesting they're best described by Carl Saga as in da billions and billions. For sure da ways in which PM be recently acting himself in public, he is out there orbiting way above ordinary thinking all we common people, or orbiting somewhere way out there above da clouds.

........//https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZmaf...">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZmaf...

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John 4 years, 4 months ago

Bahamians needs to take out a Chapter 11 bankruptcy order against the government before they sink this country trying to play the search and rescue game. Look at the number of Bahamian businesses that continue to crash and burn and government does absolutely nothing to help them. If fact. While your caring government was running around with blinders trying to rescue Bah Mar and agreeing to pay their staff with tax payer dollars, that very same government has police, headed by a very intoxicated officer, in the most impoverished parts of New Providence shutting down local businesses and threatening to lock up the owners and employees. Two thousand workers at Bah Mar. Vs many struggling Bahamians in Bain and Grants Town...are we there yet?

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Oh My Dear Comrades, I only wish I was only making this up.

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by TalRussell

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realfreethinker 4 years, 4 months ago

Is that a sweat stain on Allyson mayonaisse dress?

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 4 months ago

Shadow from the mic, but could be symbolic

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John 4 years, 4 months ago

We all is one. No one is blaming the PM for trying to rescue Bah Mar. Yes the opening and success for that resort can do wonders for this country. But much more Bahamians than the 2000 at Bah Mar are hurting and going to bed hungry and losing their businesses and losing their homes and look what this government done. Put levies and late fees and surcharges on every tax. So they think bah Mar was more important that the small struggling man over the hill? They give them all the concessions, but for the small man "tax on every thing!" From business license to VAT . Nothing wrong with killing a few thousand small men to feed the big giant golden calf!

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DillyTree 4 years, 4 months ago

John, if the Bahamas government had not ran an end zone around Baha Mar in the Supreme Court yesterday, the Baha Mar workers would have been paid already! Because the Bahamas government insisted on postponing the case until Tuesday, no one will get paid.

And who knows when the Bahamas government will pay the employees of Baha Mar? They aren't very good at paying their bills anyhow.

And if the Bahamas government does pay the Baha Mar employees, it sets a dangerous precedence. Will the government now be responsible for paying all the employees of companies that fail? Where does this slippery slope end?

For god's sake, Baha Mar has said they will pay the salaries of the workers. Why can't the Bahamas government just let them do it instead of meddling and making things worse?

John, how long do you suppose the Bahamas government will continue to pay the salaries of Baha Mar workers -- especially if the bankruptcy courts and lawsuits take years to settle? You cry for the employees, but how long are you willing to support them with your taxpayer money?

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 4 months ago

The weird thing about this is, it's been reported that only about 2million of the 7.5 is for Bahamians some 5 million for foreign workers. This is not about their concern for Bahamian workers. This is a mad scramble to save the pie they see slipping out of their hands. They don't care about the workers, they just want to stall enough time to let the US order "lapse". Then they can seize his assets. Watch, once that happens they won't breathe another word about "the workers"

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Comrade an act treason upsetting to all natives being carried out by this PLP Cabinet, to use taxpayers monies to pay foreign Baha Mar workers here in Bahamaland here on "Brent Symonette and Freddy Mitchell issued work permits.'
Time for all people's to march to da Supreme Court to demand the courts of Her Majesty, put an immediate halt to stop da treasonable actions being committed in name da natives, by this PLP cabinet.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 4 months ago

Something is very very wrong about what is happening here. The govt is acting strangely, who's hide are they really scrambling to protect?

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GrassRoot 4 years, 4 months ago

well, have they been paid today?

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 4 months ago

Who? The 20 million for the other hotel deal or the workers?

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The_Oracle 4 years, 4 months ago

A fitting Legacy/epitaph for Christie, but at a horrendous cost to the Bahamian People. What worth is your sovereignty if Downgraded by S&P? This lofty Nationalistic stance is A) hot air, B) a total illusion C) so undermined by the very characters who espouse such crap. This is going to spiral completely out of control and crash what little is left that works.

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Does adding Baha Mar workers' to "taxpayers" payroll mean we will get see what we are paying Sandy Sands?

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concernedcitizen 4 years, 4 months ago

Its not about paying the workers ,its about not recognizing the US court so The Chinese can force Izzies hand PGC are backing the horse w/ the most money

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

Paying workers to do nothing does not make sense. Let Baha Mar pay the salaries and pay the money to local contractors to start to complete the hotel so that we can get it open for the 2100 staff.

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Comrade Economist is it lost on this PLP Cabinet that more than1000 of these workers were not working at Baha Mar doing normal duties but either performing onsite or sent out weed and clean yards, They were NOT onsite performing their duties to open the resort. So, are they going be assigned clean and weeds we taxpayers yards? Pure PLP poppycock, or whatever they got's between they legs.
Are Bamsi workers still out jobs or waiting on their paycheques? What of all the government workers on islands who haven't seen their paycheques in months? What of the many thousands businesses in Freeport and West End, who were never offered a red cent from this PLP Cabinet?
I'm sorry, da nation cannot wait until 2017, to fire their asses.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 4 months ago

The vigor with which they are addressing this, after stating that they would not take sides is very alarming. These people don't give a rats behind about the Bahamian people, There's too much evidence in the last three years alone to prove that they don't care. Something valuable to them is on the line, their life or their money.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 4 months ago

Ikes! Da's one ugglely lookin' woman!

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Renegade 4 years, 4 months ago

I could live with the ugliness if I thought she had the best interests of the Bahamian people at Heart ! But God knows she doesn't , nor do any of the functional illiterate clowns who call themselves ministers of the Government including our off balanced Prime Minister who continues to seduce our gullible people with empty magniloquent phrases that mean nothing . This is how for years the PLP in the incarnation of Christie , Maynard-Gibson , Brave and others have been able to enrich themselves on the backs of our people. Now , Sarkis is doing the same thing . While his employees are demonstrating on his behalf , I am informed and have no reason to disbelieve that he is on the beach in the south of France playing with his children. Sarkis has been poorly advised starting his bankruptcy proceedings in the USA as the Chinese lenders will now take steps to take control of the Resort. They will rely on a Bahamian registered security which is not affected by any US proceeding and mark my words Exim Bank will not submit to the jurisdiction of the Delaware Courts.The Bahamas Government will get in bed with the Chinese because they are beholden to them needing them for the projects at the BC Hilton , Downtown redevelopment scheme , Abaco , Eleuthera and South Ocean NP , to name a few. Don't forget they will want their elite to make money off of these projects as well. Let us hope the Opposition can get its act together in the persons of people like Butler-Turner and Chipman to make the right public pronouncements as the country has up to 5000 jobs to protect and a very significant part of the economy . I have absolutely no faith in the Government and none in Minnis who is a complete idiot .

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