Why Panama before The Bahamas, Mr Deputy Prime Minister?

WE WERE surprised – rather we were shocked — on reading that our deputy prime minister was in Panama a few days ago celebrating the regional opening of China Construction America’s Latin American Regional headquarters while that same company has left so much unfinished business here in the Bahamas. Not only unfinished business, but has done almost irreparable damage to the reputation of our hotel industry.

Today, Baha Mar, the $3.5 billion luxury resort, heralded to be among the world’s best, cannot even give a date on which it might open. Bookings for guests who had planned holidays from the day it was due to open have had to be cancelled. Angry guests have taken to Facebook and Twitter to trash the hotel’s reputation before it has even had a chance to display its magnificence. The opening, expected at the beginning of the year, is now tentatively set for September.

But while Baha Mar executives were in Nassau trying to satisfy disappointed pre-booked guests, our Deputy Prime Minister “Brave” Davis was in Panama among those cutting the ribbon to mark “a new milestone” in China Construction (CCA’s) “30-year history of offering superior construction and real estate services in the Americas”.

“This expansion,” Mr Davis told his Panamanian audience, “evidences the fact that success comes only to those whose goals are so strong that obstacles act only as the investor.”

He acknowledged, reported PRWeb, “CCA’s contribution to the Bahamian economy and commended CCA for its resourcefulness, expertise and professionalism.

“For The Bahamas, we are grateful for the contribution of CCA in our efforts to improve our economy through foreign direct investment, the creation of jobs, and the provision of training opportunities. As the financier, investor and builder of the Baha Mar project, CCA has helped create thousands of jobs for the Bahamian people and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for local businesses,” Mr Davis said.

The statement that the construction of the resort brought millions of dollars in revenue for local businesses will be disputed by many – especially those in the construction business who expected to supply much of the material needed for the project. Instead, the material was imported directly from China.

In fact, the complaint throughout the Caribbean where China has staked an interest, is that China is not making a positive contribution either to employment or “technology spillovers”.

In an article last year questioning whether Chinese investment was good for the Caribbean, writer Sara Ghebremusse noted that “while construction capacity may be lacking in the states receiving Chinese investment, contracts for infrastructure projects are not requiring some element of technology or knowledge transfer so that local capacity can develop. Neither are contracts stipulating a minimum requirement for hiring local skilled labourers, similar to what Chinese firms are demanding. And with Chinese firms completing the construction projects with little reliance on Caribbean firms, there is little opportunity for technology transfer to local businesses”.

After much negotiating, China agreed to the Bahamas government’s demand that a certain number of their employees had to be Bahamian. As for Mr Davis’ claim of the technology transfer, someone close to the project scoffed: “Teach them what! Whatever was taught to Bahamian workers was taught by Baha Mar, the others couldn’t even speak English!”

In a report last month by Tribune Business Editor Neil Hartnell, China Construction America admitted that it had deliberately slowed down the project because of a payment dispute. Local business persons claimed that although the Construction company eventually paid them what was owed, everything was slowed down because all decisions had to come from mainland China — in other words Beijing.

The most unsettling fact of this enterprise is that the whole project is Chinese-financed and the construction company is state owned. In other words instead of dealing with a private company, final decisions are made in Beijing. Those who have had to deal with the company maintain that that is where the holdup is.

But what is confusing in this whole affair is that one partner would admit to deliberately slowing down the project rather than making every effort to move it to completion so that it could quickly become a trail-blazer and revenue earner.

But obviously this contradictory thinking illustrates the lines of the English poet, Rudyard Kipling, who wrote: “Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

It is hoped that there will quickly be a meeting of the minds between East and West and that this resort will open its doors and make all of us proud — even Beijing. Then, and only then, will China Construction have something to brag about – a job completed and well done.

One would have thought that China Construction America would have completed its job in the Bahamas so that it would really have had something to brag about in Panama and that Deputy Prime Minister Davis would have insisted on cutting the ribbon in the Bahamas before he did so in Panama.

As a result of what is going on at Baha Mar, we hope that Prime Minister Christie will see the wisdom of not getting any further into the deep pockets of China. We wouldn’t want our grandchildren some day in the not too distant future to wake up one morning to see the red flag of the People’s Republic of China flying from the flagstaff at Government House rather than the yellow, blue and black flag of The Bahamas.

But more of this later.


Well_mudda_take_sic 8 years, 4 months ago

And to think that pudgy little fella with the short stubby grubby dirty sticky fingers was partying down in Panama with an entourage at the Bahamian taxpayers' expense. And you thought your net VAT payments to Government were gonna be used to pay down our national debt! Bahamians and owners of businesses in the Bahamas 'get swing' real bad ........ but not my wise old uncle ..... he shut down the business he owned and ran for 40 some years (it was mortgaged to the hilt at the time he closed the main door for the final time so he simply mailed the key to his banker), and he suggested to all 29 of his former Bahamian employees that they ask the Griffin lady to seek ongoing Government support for them and their families. As my uncle said: "There's only so much blood to be had from any stone!"


asiseeit 8 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


birdiestrachan 8 years, 4 months ago

Who chose the China Construction Company? MR: Davis nor Mr: Christie choose them to build the Baha mar. All those concerned should sit down and decided what should be done going forward.


jackflash 8 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


Sign in to comment