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Pm ‘Must Do More’ On Baha Mar

By SANCHESKA BROWN

Tribune Staff Reporter

sbrown@tribunemedia.net

LONG Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner said yesterday she does not believe Prime Minister Perry Christie and his Cabinet have done all they can to ensure that mega-resort Baha Mar opens as soon as possible.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mrs Butler-Turner said she is saddened and disappointed that Mr Christie has not been “open” with the Bahamian people on what is happening with the negotiations between the developer and the property’s financier.

The opening of the resort has been delayed three times. Mr Christie recently said that despite meeting with Baha Mar executives “every single day” over continuing challenges with the completion of the $3.5 billion project, only resort officials can now say when the property will open.

Mrs Butler-Turner said if the government was serious about Baha Mar opening, it would pay the nearly $50m owed to the resort for Cable Beach road works.

“It is disappointing that the prime minister has not said anything more about what is happening. It is not just about employing people, but our economy is depending on Baha Mar being successful and opening. The number of persons that left their jobs and others who went there hoping to get a new start are depending on the government to get it right,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.

“Why hasn’t the government paid Baha Mar the $50 million for the work on the roads? They have been nitpicking and stalling. That money can help push the resort to open. The prime minister has a duty to make sure the developers and the financiers are on the same page. This project has to succeed or we will see a major collapse of our economy.”

The government is obligated to pay Baha Mar $47.8 million if the cost to reconfigure West Bay Street is no more than $70 million, Minister of Works Philip “Brave” Davis has said. However the government and Baha Mar have been at odds over this payment for more than a year.

Earlier this month, Mr Christie told The Tribune that he was “consumed” by the resort’s opening delay as he confirmed that work on West Bay Street’s mega-resort had come to a standstill.

When asked if he could update the public on whether an opening date for the resort was imminent, Mr Christie replied: “This is a major matter going on… only the Baha Mar people could tell you that and speak to the opening date.”

During his budget communication in Parliament last month, Mr Christie told parliamentarians that Baha Mar’s developer was nearing an end to talks with its general contractor on the completion of the project and the announcement of the resort’s opening date. However, he only gave the project a brief mention in his nearly three-hour long speech.

Baha Mar is nearly six months behind its December 2014 opening date and has missed a March 27 soft opening. The property was finally expected to open in early May, but issues with the resort’s main contractor have contributed to continued delays.

In a statement earlier this year, Baha Mar criticised the performance of lead contractor China Construction America, revealing that work at the property had not met the expected “standards of excellence” and was, therefore, not acceptable.

Baha Mar added that it had relied on statements from its construction manager and lead contractor when it had earlier announced a March 27 opening date.

Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian has repeatedly travelled to China for discussions about the project.

Baha Mar is expected to employ some 5,000 people when it is completely open. In the meantime, around 1,000 employees already working at the resort have been reassigned to areas outside the positions they were hired for – such as clean up and security watch.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 4 months ago

LBT is dead wrong here and should be castigated for very deliberately misleading both the press and the public. The Bahamas Govt undertook to pay Baha Mar 50% of the road work costs in question up to a contractually agreed maximum amount. The maximum amount was greatly exceeded by Baha Mar's contractors and their sub-contractors and now Baha Mar is wrongfully seeking to recover from the Bahamian people up to 50% or more of the cost overrun. Her effort to seek political mileage in this dispute between the government and Baha Mar is really below the belt. In fact, many of us are surprised to see LBT has the ability to stoop so low that she is able to touch her toes!

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Reality_Check 4 years, 4 months ago

Not sure you are correct on the contract terms as described by you, but the main thrust of your position is certainly correct, i.e. Baha Mar are seeking to recover costs from the Bahamian people that they are not entitled to recover. LBT of course knows this to be the case and should not be playing cheap politics when so much is at stake.

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duppyVAT 4 years, 4 months ago

What do we really think that Perry Christie can do to to advance Bahamar????????

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JohnBuchanan 4 years, 4 months ago

The fate of Baha Mar is in the hands of China. Period. And they are playing hard ball, since they now hold all of the cards. If Baha Mar does fail (shut down), it will have less to do with money and more to do with the fact that Izmirlian broke the #1 rule of doing business with China. By blaming them on March 24 for the suddenly announced cancellation of the March 27 opening, he violated the cardinal rule of "Never let a public controversy cause China to lose face." Add to that the fact that China has contributed $2.5 billion of the $3.5 billion budget and that Baha Mar has stopped paying its bills and it isn't hard to figure out that Izmirlian is between a rock and a hard place. Whether the issues can be resolved while he is there now remains to be seen.

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banker 4 years, 4 months ago

You are so right about the Chinese culture losing face. It is the first rule in dealing with the Chinese.

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BahamaPundit 4 years, 4 months ago

I upvoted you, but I don't agree completely. This Chinese construction firm is just very difficult to deal with and highly incompetent by the looks of things. I would never want to do business with them. Try calling a number on their website -- no response. Try emailing an address on their website -- out of order all of them. They are just not a company you want to be dealing with period. Even if Izzie hadn't shamed them publicly, they would have still, likely, mucked up the project. They should have never done business with them in the first place.

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OMG 4 years, 4 months ago

Having seen recent photographs of the state of this hotel just prior to the soft opening I am amazed that any reasonably competent individual could have EVER have slated this place to open in time. Typical PLP inefficiency with the public being lied to again and again.

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

The fate of economic growth and jobs of The Bahamas are in hands of China. Emmm.....how did we get here? Who agreed to what and why, what was the rational?

We should have a Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of this. Both the PLP and the FNM had a part to play so this has to be a straight investigation so as to see where we went wrong and how we can prevent this from happening again.

The Bahamas, Bahamians can't afford this to happen again. Whether one likes Baha Mar or not, we have so much riding on this. We need it to succeed.

This omission of Inquiry should not be a finger pointing contest but an examination of what went wrong and what went right.

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duppyVAT 4 years, 4 months ago

Whose bright idea it was to 1. recognize Communist China....... 2. invite China to Freeport ........ 3. invite Izzie to team up with China?????????

ANS. Hubert Alexander Ingraham!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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banker 4 years, 4 months ago

It is disingenuous to say that HAI had anything to do with the Izmirlians hooking up with the Chinese. The original Heads of Agreement was with Harrahs, and Harrahs were unable to come up with the financing. They backed out. As a result, it looked like Baha Mar was dead.

There was no love between the Izmirlians and HAI. As a matter of fact, Baha Mar wanted relief from the outstanding casino tax -- some ten+ millions of dollars unpaid by the Izmirlians, and HAI stood his ground.

The Chinese had been sniffing around the Caribbean for a long time, looking to offset America's influence and that is why they stepped in. At the time the Heads of Agreement included Scotiabank as equity partners as they held a mortgage on the Baha Mar.

But it is simplistic, stupid and not correct to cast aspersions on the Chinese and blame the Baha Mar mess on the Chinese.

Incidentally, many pundits including myself and some economics were predicting a Baha Mar failure when the idea was first floated. It is just plain not economically feasible when they do not have the experience differentiators like Atlantis does with the dolphins, the water park, the aquarium, Marina Village etc. Baha Mar is still peddling a tired tourism product on a dated part of town without the cachet of Paradise Island.

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GetInvolve 4 years, 4 months ago

Same practices, different political party. Doesn't matter which party it is, both same to be stuck in a pattern of poor decision-making, poor negotiation skills, poor execution and resolutions.

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Alltoomuch 4 years, 4 months ago

Was Atlantis poor decision-making??? I don't think so!

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Comrades why is this PLP Cabinet's "losing face" with the Chinese so bad when they started losing they faces with Bahamalanders almost from the get-go of being elected back in 2012. There is consequence to pay for everything you do, be it with the Chinese government or ya own peoples.

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realfreethinker 4 years, 4 months ago

Once the Chinese saw the government screwing over Bahamar for the road money they figure they can screw them over also,

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