By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Baha Mar Claims Committee, established to oversee the payments of funds provided ex-gratia by the Export Import Bank of China (CEXIM), has paid in full the money owed to Bahamas Power & Light, Committee Chairman James Smith said yesterday.
The Water & Sewerage Corporation (WSC) and the National Insurance Board (NIB) have also been paid in full.
Although government agencies were expected to receive payments from the process, Prime Minister Perry Christie had previously suggested that the government would only be paid back some of the money owed it.
Earlier this month, for instance, Mr Christie said in Parliament: “…The government of the Bahamas and the Bahamian utility companies, such as Bahamas Power & Light, have received payment from EXIM Bank for some of their unsecured outstanding claims against the Baha Mar companies.”
Based on the most recent documents filed in the Supreme Court last year, Baha Mar owed BPL more than $20 million.
Mr Smith could not say yesterday how much money was paid out to BPL, although he said it was a substantial amount.
A spokesperson for BPL also declined to disclose the amount paid to the company, citing policy requiring that financial information of clients not be disclosed.
“BPL, WSC, NIB, the utility companies and other government agencies were paid 100 cents on the dollar,” Mr Smith said yesterday. “The utility companies have to continue to provide services so they had the ability to say, if you don’t want to pay me, I’ll cut you off.”
He said those companies were paid the money owed them within the last “two to three weeks.”
His comments came as the Claims Committee begins to wind down its work.
According to officials, more than 90 per cent of employees and contractors owed money by Baha Mar have had their claims dealt with through the ex-gratia process.
Mr Smith said: “Right now we’re negotiating, making an offer or trying to get more information. Regarding Bahamian employees and companies, there has been a very high settlement rate.”
Although companies were initially slow to come forward with claims, Mr Smith said this changed in recent weeks, with most companies owed money coming forward to collect payments.
The committee is now dealing with former foreign employees and companies of Baha Mar owed money.
“Some of the former foreign employees stayed, some left, some left and came back. Some didn’t submit a claim but we are attempting to make a broad settlement for all who applied,” he said.