FORMER State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez.
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
Despite a three-day delay, Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez confirmed yesterday that all Baha Mar staff members have been paid their salaries by the government.
Speaking with reporters outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Mr Gomez said the majority of Baha Mar’s Bahamian employees had their salaries directly deposited to their bank accounts, but due to some challenges some of the workers were paid with cheques.
The Tribune understands the workers were paid for a two-week period.
However, The Tribune received reports that a handful of persons were not paid their full salaries. One woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she was only paid $83, less than half of what she was owed. Another employee, allegedly only received a cheque for $109, with no explanation as to why he was not paid his full salary.
However, a source in the Ministry of Finance said: “Baha Mar employees were paid, based on the information the government received from the resort.”
Meanwhile, Mr Gomez also denied that the government was at fault for the delay in salary payments to Baha Mar workers.
“What had happened was we had requested the information from Baha Mar. Some of it was provided last week. The rest of it was provided on Monday,” Mr Gomez said.
“We immediately contacted our bankers and because of the nature of the information, it wasn’t possible to immediately effect payment to the individual employees. So pretty much all of the employees will have been paid today (Tuesday) by wire transfer to their particular bank accounts and in relation to about 80 people, they will receive cheques.”
When asked if the pay out included salaries to the resort’s foreign workers, Mr Gomez said he did not want to comment.
Asked if he thought Baha Mar intentionally withheld the information, Mr Gomez said: “I don’t want to make any comment about that, all I can say is that we got some information and then later we got the rest of the information.”
On Monday night, Baha Mar slammed the government for “concocting a sideshow for its own purposes” hours after the Christie administration accused the resort of being slow to provide necessary information, thus delaying salary payments to the resort’s employees.
Baha Mar also denied the government’s assertion, stressing that the resort turned over the relevant documents last week only to be subjected to repeated requests for more information.
Baha Mar said on Monday: “The delay in Baha Mar citizens being paid is a government of the Bahamas – not a Baha Mar – issue. Baha Mar essentially provided the government over five days ago the information the government requested. Subsequently, the government has kept coming back to Baha Mar continually for more information, even as the government announced in the newspapers this morning that it had made arrangements for prompt payment.
“Each time Baha Mar has provided as quickly as possible the requested information. Baha Mar finds it disgraceful that the salaries due Baha Mar employees have not yet been paid. Baha Mar was fully prepared to pay these salaries in a timely manner having received approval from the US court under Chapter 11 (bankruptcy) to do so. The government however saw fit, apparently for its own reasons, to participate in the obstruction of this process and has to date been unable to deliver on its promise regarding Baha Mar citizens.”
The government previously said it had paid the employees last Friday, a day after the employees’ payday.