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Opposition Leader's National Address On Baha Mar - The Speech In Full

Dr Hubert Minnis, Leader of the Opposition, addressed the nation on Sunday night over Baha Mar. This is the full text of his message.

My Fellow Bahamians,

It is appropriate for me, to address the nation this evening, to express the deep concern of Bahamians over the failure of the parties to the Baha Mar resort project to reach a satisfactory agreement that would ensure the timely completion and successful opening and operation of the

$3.5 billion dollar Baha Mar mega resort project on Cable Beach.

The opening of the Baha Mar resort is a matter of utmost national importance. We, the opposition Free National Movement, cannot overemphasise the enormous impact that its failure will have on the economy of The Bahamas, resulting in social dislocation, pain and suffering, which would be experienced by the thousands of Bahamians left unemployed, and in despair, as the unemployment rate in The Bahamas, already at 15.7 per cent would continue to climb.

On behalf of the official opposition Free National Movement, I wish to assure the employees of Baha Mar that we understand and empathise with their plight, though no fault of their own.

It is critical that the Prime Minister acts prudently and decisively in this matter, in an effort to ensure that the more than 11,000 unemployed young people in New Providence will not have their ranks swelled by both the employees of Baha Mar, and those being let go by the government controlled BTC.

My Fellow Bahamians,

We, the official opposition Free National Movement care deeply about our Bahamian people and their well being. We will be watching carefully to see what measures Mr Christie and his government will take to protect the employment of Bahamian workers, and to provide interim relief, so that school preparation will not be adversely impacted.

The completion of the Baha Mar development is critical to the enhancement of our tourism product, particularly at this time when stopover visitors are static, and Cuba’s entry into the American tourist market will create greater competition for The Bahamas.

My Fellow Bahamians,

We call on all interested parties to redouble their efforts, and to continue working diligently to ensure the completion and successful opening and operation of the Baha Mar resort as soon as possible. Failure to reach a negotiated settlement will have adverse national consequences for our Bahamian economy, the lender, China Export-Import Bank, the general contractor, China Construction America, and the developer Baha Mar:

• The construction company, the bank, the developer and the Bahamian people will all suffer great loss if they are unable to find a quick and workable solution to this dilemma.

• The Construction Company, many Bahamian sub-contractors, and business investors will not be paid in full, monies owed and earned by them.

• The bank will not receive repayment of its $2.6 billion dollar loan on a timely basis, if at all.

• The developer will not recover his substantial investment; and

• The Bahamas government will face rising unemployment, and a possible downgrade by the international credit rating agencies of its sovereign rating.

Thousands of Bahamians, who are depending on the opening of Baha Mar to earn a decent living, and to be able to send their children to school, and to improve their quality of life will lose the opportunity to do so. It is for these reasons that we implore the parties to continue working together, to resolve their disputes by mediation rather than litigation through the courts.

My Fellow Bahamians,

The dispute which arose between the developer, and the general contractor has resulted in construction works being stopped. Baha Mar has shut down the project and filed for bankruptcy and initiated legal proceedings against the lender, China Eximbank, and the contractor, China State Construction.

To protect its interest, Baha Mar has filed a Petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. The petition would allow Baha Mar to restructure its debts while continuing to operate and carry on as usual its daily operations. The developer has proceeded to seek recognition of the US Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection by application to The Bahamas Supreme Court. The proceedings, at the request of Baha Mar are scheduled to continue to be heard tomorrow morning.

My Fellow Bahamians,

The Government, to protect the interest of the Bahamian people has filed a winding up petition in The Bahamas Supreme Court against Baha Mar.

While we respect the decision taken by the government, we urge the Prime Minister to explain the full ramifications of the liquidation process to the Bahamian people. How long is the process expected to take? When is it likely that the resort will finally be opened? How will Bahamian jobs be protected in the interim? Will any jobs be negatively impacted during, or after, the liquidation process?

We, the opposition Free National Movement urge the Prime Minister, to mobilise the resources of our government, to ensure that the children of employees of Baha Mar are not negatively impacted in their ability to enroll in, and attend school. The Ministry of Education, the Department of Social Services and all available government resources ought to be involved in protecting the future of our children.

My Fellow Bahamians,

While we respect and recognise the rights and legitimate interests of the key parties to seek legal redress, we caution that court proceedings ought to be the last resort, as such measures are bound to be acrimonious, time consuming, and result in lengthy delays to the completion of the resort, and to the detriment of workers, contractors, sub-contractors and our economy.

We, the opposition Free National Movement urge all parties to do their utmost to negotiate an out-of-court settlement of their disputes. A negotiated agreement would recognise and respect the rights and legitimate interests of the key parties, including The Bahamas government, and the Bahamian people. It would also allow the developer to speedily take control of the process, and, to work with the other key stakeholders to prepare a strategic and workable roadmap for the completion and opening of the resort in the shortest possible time.

My Fellow Bahamians,

Ensuring the completion and successful opening, and operation of Baha Mar are matters of utmost national importance. The fate of this Bahamian project, its Bahamian employees, and the international reputation of The Bahamas are in jeopardy. We, the opposition Free National Movement, wish for the best possible outcome for our country and our workers. We encourage the government - to ensure the protection of the Bahamas’ international reputation as they continue to work towards a solution to this dilemma.

We, the opposition Free National Movement, deeply regret that this mega development project has come to such an impasse; however, we remain hopeful. We join with every well meaning Bahamian in praying that the completion of construction and the opening of Baha Mar are just around the corner. Any further delay will inflict untold hardship on our people, and produce disastrous results for our fragile economy.

My Fellow Bahamians,

This is indeed a teachable moment. The compelling and urgent lesson is that, the time has come for us to decrease our dependence on mega anchor projects to sustain and grow our economy. It is time for us to look within ourselves for solutions to “jump start” our economy, and empower our citizens.

Developing our economy, requires that the government invests in our local small and medium sized businesses. When granting economic concessions to investors, we must level the playing field. The small and medium sized Bahamian investors must be able to walk on the same welcoming red carpet laid out for foreign investors, foreign businesses, and not be shoved through the side door, to be left frustrated and feeling disenfranchised. The combination of direct domestic investment, coupled with direct foreign investment, will help to build and sustain a stronger and more vibrant Bahamian economy.

My Fellow Bahamians,

To build a new and better Bahamas, we must employ strategies that will make us less reliant on direct foreign investment. We must create more opportunities for ordinary Bahamians to own more of our economy, and we must empower more Bahamians to own, and drive economic development in our own country.

The real challenge to a new and better Bahamas is for its leaders to provide more of our citizens with the opportunity to discover the leader that they possess within themselves. We are a talented people, yearning to utilise our God-given talents, to contribute to our society, and a new and better Bahamas built on hard work, talent and fairness. An equal opportunity society, a society built not on seniority, not on who you know, not on which family or political party you belong to, but a meritocracy built on qualifications, hard work, determination and performance. With God’s help and your support we dedicate our lives to building a just society in our new and better Bahamas.

Thank you.

May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Good night.

Comments

a2z 5 years, 3 months ago

It took THIS long for Minnis/ the Opposition to weigh in? What a joke. These people are trifling.

And was it really necessary to say "My Fellow Bahamians" 9 times?!?!? So many words, yet saying nothing at all.

Everything is 'should' and 'must' and 'if'....what is your real, feasible PLAN Mr Minnis??? No one is interested in voting for you with no viable plan and no ability to convey it.

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Chucky 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't understand the nerve of these people. Baha Mar is a private venture; sure its large, or huge, and could provide thousands of jobs, but its just a bigger version of a small enterprise. We already have a whole lot of new roads and infrastructure thanks to them! Baha Mar is a private business, that owes us nothing, if anything we have let them down. They will fix their situation as they see fit, the owner (Izmirlian) will make the best choices for his business, which will ultimately be the best choices for the Bahamas. Our government, they've got a lot of never talking like it's a national asset, or an asset that owes the country jobs; it does not owe the bahamas anything.
And all this talk about our reputation, well believe me, every time these foolish leaders open their mouthes they do more damage to our reputation than anything else.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 3 months ago

Too many words to not say that much.

Bradley Roberts response closed with "There is none so blind as those who stubbornly refuse to see.", funny! and who recently admitted to being blindsided?

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Stapedius 5 years, 3 months ago

Hubert #2 finally responds. A day late and a dollar short. Minnis is no leader. He always two steps behind and jut doesn't have the kind of impact to press or drive home the real concerns. FNM please offer a better alternative. Seriously, we the people of this nation are at a loss. Morons in office now and more to come seems to be our motto in this country.

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Zakary 5 years, 3 months ago

@ http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/j..." title="Chucky">Chucky

You’re right, when you really think about it, Baha Mar is just another over glorified private business.

But you have to wonder http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publi..." title="speculation as to who actually owns Baha Mar" target="_blank">who actually owns Baha Mar from a business perspective, especially with the actions of some involved parties and all of the scrambling going on.

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Hogfish 5 years, 3 months ago

I didn't even read past the second paragraph. . .

That about sums up my view and attention span for minnis the muppet.

Please step aside and let Peter T take over. I've liked him from day one. A business man and accountant. That's what we need. He's informed and says what he thinks and not what he thinks others want to here and I like what he says and how he says it.

There doesn't seem to be any bullshit with him and I have yet to hear of any nasty sipsip of corrupt underhand deals with him.

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CommonSense 5 years, 3 months ago

You know...I've actually never thought about Peter T being PM but I can't say that I'm not intrigued by the idea although I would prefer Loretta.

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MonkeeDoo 5 years, 3 months ago

"Scrambling" is right and PGC and AMG about to scramble all the Bahamas eggs at once.

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SP 5 years, 3 months ago

.............. To Busy Taking A Dump To Read Minnis So Called " National Address" .............

How could Minnis "address" the Baha Mar issue when he was never clued in on the head of agreements?

I can't believe people actually wasted time reading this.

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banker 5 years, 3 months ago

Words, nothing but words that don't mean anything. No business insights. No actionable plans. No ideas as to his personal opinion one way or another. Wimpy. Too many "My Fellow Bahamians".

He waffles, doesn't call a spade a spade. The Bahamas is in deep trouble.

I compulsively think about this Baha Mar situation, because I think that it is a seminal moment in the acceleration of the decay of the Bahamas. I'm convinced that this is the work of the ineffectual, non-legal-mind work of the Attorney General. She thought about this on the plane ride home from China, and I am convinced that she blindsided Christie with this idea. Since Christie is not mentally agile and quite facile, it took no argument at all, and he saw it as a way to build up his self-esteem and payback for the Delaware Chapter 11. This is all about the Attorney General's ego.

The trouble is that the lawyers that Izmirlian can muster will eventually rub her face in this to the detriment of the Bahamas. I'd don't see a quick and easy solution unless China recognises that Christie and the PLP are the weakest link, and decide that their ploy didn't work, and change their game theory to cooperate.

This whole deal was entirely a business ploy on the part of the Chinese, that may or may not have backfired on them. But the government sees it as some sort of castration of their economic saviour and fiscal growth policy.

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Zags 5 years, 3 months ago

You took the words right out of my mouth. I am in TOTAL agreement with you!!!

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PKMShack 5 years, 3 months ago

Chucky you are correct, wake up Bahamians. The business owner will make the best deal for him and so he should. If it was your business you would do the same no matter who thinks what. Who is Chrisite? Who are Bahamians? In the big scheme of this persons business.

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TalRussell 5 years, 3 months ago

The same old story: Official Opposition Party’s late to react and confused.
The official Opposition Party’s 2015 New Year’s address to the nation is quite the eye opener into their lacking in leadership "sincerity" as the nation’s official opposition party. Not only did the party not have a single word to say about the Baha Mar project, or its workers - although the project had been delayed beyond the original December 2014 opening date. The party’s address lasted for 20 minutes and 24 seconds and not a damn word about Bah Mar, no - not a single word about workers.
In fact the red party used up their 20 minutes and 24 seconds to go into great detail to walk listeners though a specified list of the much-needed programs Minnis and his MP’s "would be" implementing during 2015. Programs they claimed were necessary to make the party an more effective opposition - and believe me the list are long in promises.
Comrades, we are heading into August 2015 and you can listen to leader’s New Year’s Address for yourselves and shake your own heads at the opposition party’s failure to carry out, even one of their party’s many promises. And, like I said, there were many promises made.
Minnis's 2015 New Year's address, never once mentioned Baha Mar, or its workers “20 minutes and 24 seconds and never once a single mention of concern about Baha Mar, or its workers” So, why should voters come the 2017 General, wants believe the red party's sudden concern for workers, are sincere, when for 20 minutes and 24 seconds they never expressed a word of concern over the paycheques of the thousands working man's and woman's at Baha Mar?

……..//https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHt_6...">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHt_6...

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licks2 5 years, 3 months ago

WHAT HE GOING TO SAY? LET ME TRY TO HELP HIM HERE.

My fellow Bahamian. . .BAHA MAR all "fool-up". . .a total SNAFU. . .as usual with the PLP. And what make it badder. . .ya cant tell dem silly PLP them nothing. . .all over the place doing fool and letting dat overseas fella kick them all about in they tail!!!

Please excuse my French. . .but that's how our next PM does talk. . .don't blame me there!! Lol!!

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PKMShack 5 years, 3 months ago

Baha Mar is a private business why should the plp or fnm have any word to say. The gov. is not the owner of the hotel, if the gov. want to have say so say, BUY THE DAMN THING OR SHUT THE HELL UP

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licks2 5 years, 3 months ago

Them PLP don't give one penny if that project go into the ground. . .THEY MAD BECAUSE ISMIRILIAN TOLD THEM CARRY THEY DUMB SELF. . .SEE HOW THE BIG PEOPLE THEM DOES DO BUSINESS. . .CHILD I DONT PLAY WITH CHILDREN THEM. . .GO SIT YALL SELF DOWN BOUY!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. . .I can't laugh. . .these PLP them are one big dumb joke nah!!!

Just look at them. . .hiding in they own yard while shouting at that big bad Sakish bouy over in the next yard. . ."you too rude. . .I ger tell ya mar on you"!! Loi!

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 3 months ago

Just wait on the Judges to rule in Nassau, Delaware and London ........... no need for any more politicizing of this toxic business deal .............. we need those FIVE hotels up and running

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