By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
AS the Export Import Bank of China moves to identify new owners for the unopened Baha Mar resort, the Christie administration plans to have bilateral meetings with Chinese “personalities” and “high ranking” officials to advance the government’s position regarding opening the resort, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday.
Mr Christie told reporters that during discussions with the Inter-American Development Bank’s President Luis Alberto Moreno, he agreed that Baha Mar, which is 98 per cent finished, is incomplete concerning its impact on the country. He repeated that the government should spare no effort to ensure that the resort is fully operational.
The nation’s leader further maintained optimism over the fate of the $3.5bn property and reflected on its early phases when he and developer Sarkis Izmirlian stood on the then undeveloped property to discuss his vision for the project.
He spoke to the media on the sidelines of the IDB’s annual meeting of the Boards of Governors at Baha Mar’s convention centre. An estimated 3,000 delegates are expected to attend the four-day meeting.
A government official revealed earlier this week that the Christie administration funded all costs to finish the centre. While officials have said the overall budget for the conference is $6m, it remains unclear what portion of this money went to finishing the convention centre. Mr Christie did not speak on this matter.
“We are deeply encouraged by the fact that this is now happening at Baha Mar,” Mr Christie said. “We’re actually standing in the convention facilities of Baha Mar that you can see the extraordinary beauty of it.
“We are reminded on this occasion of the vision of Sarkis Izmirlian as he shared with me when we stood in the wild environment before this was ever existing. We see the merit of it. We are even more encouraged to know as we heard from the president of the bank how could something so beautiful, that is 98 per cent finished, be so incomplete in its impact on the country and that we should spare no effort to make sure that this place is opened in full.”
He added: “So when you walk around this convention centre and you see the delegates who have come in and have the benefit of it and see its beauty and see its meaning and see its size, then you know the potential of the Baha Mar and why it is so critical to the country to be able to get past the stage we are at now to make it happen.
“We have been advised of some very, very significant personalities coming from China with whom we are arranging to have bilateral meetings with respect to bringing this to very high ranking persons coming in to this conference and who will be the subject of interest on our part so as to again advance the feeling and thoughts of the government of The Bahamas and the people of The Bahamas that this facility should be opened and meaning construction should resume to finish the rest of it as they move to identify the new leadership and the new ownership of the premises.”
Yesterday, the receiver managers of Baha Mar said they welcomed expressions of interest in the project from suitably qualified parties.
In a statement, Raymond Winder, Lai Kar Yan (Derek) and Darach Eoghan Haughey further responded to recent media statements concerning the sale of Baha Mar, which they branded as “inaccurate”.
“The receiver-managers of the secured assets of the Baha Mar project refer to recent statements reported in the media concerning the sale process for the project assets and, in particular, inaccurate and misleading statements regarding the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) governing the treatment of confidential information in relation to the project, which the receiver- managers require to be signed by potential investors.”
The statement continued: “Media reports that the NDA prevents potential investors from contacting or communicating in any way with current or former directors, employees, customers, creditors or suppliers of the Baha Mar group or with directors or employees of CCA Bahamas, Ltd are factually incorrect. The NDA expressly allows all such contact by potential investors subject only to the receiver-managers’ prior written consent, which is simply to ensure that the receiver-managers are able to manage the flow of information.”
Baha Mar was originally supposed to open in December 2014; however, the resort subsequently set a soft opening for March 27, 2015. After that date was delayed days before the planned opening, Baha Mar officials said they were aiming for an early May opening.
On June 29, however, Baha Mar and 14 of its affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court, blaming the resort’s contractor, China Construction America (CCA) for the construction delays that caused it to miss its previous opening deadlines.
The resort has since been placed in receivership.
Yesterday, the government and IDB officials also formally signed agreements for several grants and projects, which includes $20m for the Ministry of National Security and several initiatives to combat crime and another agreement to enhance the date gathering practices of the Department of Statistics.