By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday shot down suggestions that the Christie administration was to blame for the more than 2,000 redundancies at Baha Mar last week.
According to Mr Roberts, the government was clearly justified in its involvement with Baha Mar negotiations despite claims to the contrary. He added that the project’s developer, Sarkis Izmirlian should be blamed for the layoffs.
Mr Roberts also rejected claims that the government should have taken a “hands off” or “wait and see” approach to the Baha Mar debacle, saying this would have been “illogical and irresponsible” given the resort’s importance to the economic well-being of the country.
“The Progressive Liberal Party regrets and is sensitive to the plight of those Bahamians who lost their jobs at Baha Mar due to its insolvency but is confident that the government is doing all within its lawful power to complete this project and get the resort open as soon as is practicable and return those employees to productive work,” said Mr Roberts in a statement.
“Prime Minister Christie was invited by the developer to intervene and facilitate a negotiated settlement. Further, the president of the China Exim Bank also invited the prime minister to participate in the three party talks.”
“The suggestion that the Bahamas government should not have gotten involved in the Baha Mar negotiations is clearly off base and a non-starter given the level of investment in this project by the Bahamas government on behalf of its people.
“The PLP supports the position of forbearance taken by the prime minister and his government as it demonstrated to the world at large and to the court that the government, an unsecured creditor, was giving the developer every available opportunity to retain his investment,” he said.
“Forbearance has its limits and there has to be an exit strategy and an end game when the lives and work of Bahamians are at stake.”
Baha Mar’s court appointed joint provisional liquidators got approval on Thursday from the Supreme Court for the layoffs, which took effect on Friday.
Since then, a number of politicians have blamed the matter on the “missteps” and “incompetence” of Prime Minister Perry Christie and his government.
Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner, former FNM deputy leader, said last Thursday that the government’s move to appointment joint provisional liquidators led to the lay-offs.
Meanwhile, DNA Leader Branville McCartney said after months of meddling in the affairs of the developer, Mr Christie’s intimate involvement with this matter has not served the best interest of the property or its employees and by extension the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
However, Mr Roberts said despite those arguments advanced by opposition factions, the PLP remains steadfast in its attempts to jumpstart the stalled development, urging the government to continue to work towards the completion of the project and not be hindered by “baseless and unfair criticism.”
“The FNM and its surrogates continue to advance this patently erroneous narrative of government interference and blame; this is wilfully misleading. Further, the developer without notice to the government and China Exim Bank took Baha Mar into bankruptcy,” noted Mr Roberts.
“In the end, both the Delaware and Bahamas Supreme Courts agreed that the matter should be settled under Bahamian law.
“With that said, the PLP strongly rejects out of hand any suggestion that the government interfered with the Baha Mar negotiations, a private contractual matter, and is therefore to blame for the recent layoffs.
“This suggestion is foolish, reckless and irresponsible because it is simply untrue and at odds with the facts that are matters of public record. The blame for the troubles lies at the feet of the developer.”
The liquidators blamed the redundancies on the financial insolvency of the stalled resort.
On Friday, Mr Christie expressed his disappointment with the decision made by the liquidators, insisting that his administration would press forward with its efforts to resolve the issues surrounding the resort.