By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie yesterday denied that Baha Mar is running out of the cash needed to finish its multi-billion dollar project.
However, Mr Christie yesterday said the disputing parties involved in the matter – the Izmirlian family and China Construction America (CCA) – are “very close to a settlement.”
In terms of the nature of the dispute between the parties, he said that the contractor wants “instalment payments” while the Izmirlian family is eager to know when the resort will be completed and available to open.
He said that what the disputing parties needed to arrive at a resolution was an intermediary. It was a role into which he stepped as the “representative of the Bahamian people.”
Mr Christie said he has emphasized to the parties involved that the completion and opening of the resort is important to the interests of the Bahamian people.
This comes days after a well-placed source in his administration told The Tribune that Baha Mar does “not have the cash to finish the project or pay the contractor”.
The source said relevant parties connected to the project were attempting to work out a deal to finish the resort before year’s end, a task the source called “unlikely.”
In a statement yesterday, Baha Mar officials also denied claims that the resort is strapped for cash and unlikely to open this year. Baha Mar’s Public Relations Director Paul Turnquest said: “Recent Bahamian news reports attributed to unnamed sources asserting that Baha Mar is ‘unlikely to open this year’ and stating Baha Mar ‘is likely to run out of cash’ are inaccurate.
“While Baha Mar will not speculate on the apparent self-serving agenda of such unnamed sources, such statements could not have been made by any person with direct day-to-day knowledge of Baha Mar.”
Mr Christie also commented on the harsh assessment Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian recently had for successive governments that he said have failed to fulfil its promises to reduce crime and improve the country’s energy provision and education systems.
Responding to this, Mr Christie said Mr Izmirlian’s criticism reflected his frustration, adding that he would not speak out against him for voicing his concerns.
Mr Christie suggested that an “enormous undertaking” like Baha Mar exacts a toll on those involved.
According to a previous report by Tribune Business, China Construction America has admitted “slowing down” the work pace in the key weeks leading up to the planned March 27 opening, due to a payment dispute with Baha Mar.
There have also been suggestions that Baha Mar may have exhausted its construction financing credit, and now has to find new funding lines to complete the development, Tribune Business reported.
Baha Mar was originally scheduled to open in December 2014. The resort subsequently set a soft opening for March 27.
After that date was delayed days before the planned opening, Baha Mar officials said they were aiming for an early May opening, however a new date has not been set.
Last week, Mr Christie said he fears more delays would cause job losses for Bahamians.