By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHA MAR’s developer Sarkis Izmirlian is calling for Prime Minister Perry Christie to sit and meet with him if his Government is serious about getting the $3.5 billion resort completed and opened.
In a statement issued exclusively to The Tribune yesterday, Mr Izmirlian said he has not heard from the Government since last October, or from the Prime Minister since the summer of last year, even though he has made proposals that would enable Baha Mar to be opened “and put Bahamians back to work”.
Mr Izmirlian’s remarks come as rumours circulated over the weekend that the Export Import Bank of China (EXIM) had agreed in principal to fund the completion of the resort’s convention centre.
According to a source involved with the intricate details of the matter, China State Construction America (CCA) is expected to soon remobilise its construction crews. The workers are to first focus on Baha Mar’s convention centre and other components of the hotel needed to host an upcoming Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) conference slated for early April.
Once this is completed, the source – who was not authorised to speak on the matter – explained that the crews are to then move to finish the remaining portions of Baha Mar. The resort is said to be already 97 per cent complete.
When contacted for comment yesterday, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson would not confirm or deny the report, but said such matters were best put to Prime Minister Perry Christie. She said the public would know more today when the matter is set to return to the Supreme Court.
“The understanding is that they (CCA) will be remobilising for the IDB conference to ensure the parts that are needed to run the conference successfully will be ready,” The Tribune’s source said.
“So when the crews arrive here and get that done it is likely they will stay, move on to the other parts of the hotel that need work and complete the three per cent that needs to be finished. They are aiming to have the resort finished this year.
“It should be noted, however, that there are formalities in terms of documentation on the Chinese side. I think that has contributed to some of the hold up.
“But, yes, the prime minister could comment the way he did last week because yes, the EXIM Bank has agreed to fund the completion of Baha Mar. That is the understanding.”
The revelation comes four days after the nation’s leader told the House of Assembly that critics who scoff at his optimism over Baha Mar will join with him in celebrating its success when the doors were opened.
Mr Christie added that while he has not commented significantly on his relationship with the resort’s developer, because it was not relevant, the government was in daily discussions with stakeholders.
In response, Mr Izmirlian released a short statement yesterday saying he and the prime minister had not been in communication for months.
Mr Izmirlian said: “I have not heard from the government since last October, and from the prime minister since last summer, even though I have made proposals that would enable Baha Mar to be opened and put Bahamians back to work. If the government is serious about getting Baha Mar opened, then the prime minister should meet with me.”
When told about the reported plans by the EXIM Bank to fund the remaining construction of the property, a source close to Baha Mar reacted in disbelief.
The Baha Mar source said this was likely more “public relations” spin put out by the Christie administration, adding that the resort’s convention centre was virtually complete. The source also doubted that the property would open soon.
Mr Izmirlian filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for Baha Mar and 14 of its affiliated companies in a Delaware court on June 29, 2015 blaming the resort’s contractor, China Construction America, for delays that caused it to miss previous opening deadlines.
However, the bankruptcy protection for Baha Mar’s Bahamian-based companies was later thrown out.
In reaction to the bankruptcy filing, the government filed a winding-up petition against Baha Mar in the Supreme Court. The court later approved the appointment of the joint provisional liquidators, KRyS Global and UK-based Alix Partners.
In October, the Supreme Court authorised the termination of 2,026 employees at the stalled development. The joint provisional liquidators said the lay-offs were due to the project’s financial insolvency.
Later that month, the Supreme Court appointed officials from Deloitte and Touche to act as receivers for the property, at the request of the EXIM Bank.
Despite this, Mr Christie has remained publicly optimistic about the situation. Last week he expressed high hopes that the completion of the convention centre would be the gateway for work to resume on the rest of the resort.
He said the court appointed provisional liquidators and the receivers were in support of this.
Baha Mar was scheduled to open in December 2014.