By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
IN 2015, Prime Minister Perry Christie’s public stance on the two biggest issues of the year - the stalled Baha Mar project and the rise of violent crime - was characterised by false signals and vague allusions to impending actions that never materialised.
From May to December, Mr Christie predicted an imminent resolution to Baha Mar’s problems that would result in the remobilisation of the resort, even as some stakeholders increasingly cautioned him in the press to choose his words more carefully on a matter hardly under his control.
With respect to crime, he told the press throughout autumn that his government would roll out new policies to counteract the rise in violence.
But in both instances, the actions he alluded to never materialised.
Mr Christie frequently spoke indirectly about when the impending action would take place, The Tribune’s analysis shows, often using ambiguous terms and phrases that granted considerable and convenient flexibility to the timeline of his promises – pledging action “soon,” “in the not too distant future” and “in a few weeks”.
Regarding false signals, among his greater errors, Mr Christie on May 13 said Baha Mar was not running out of the cash needed to finish the multi-billion dollar project, a view reiterated by Baha Mar’s public relations director at the time.
However, Baha Mar filed for bankruptcy in a US Delaware Court a month later, fearing that its financial situation had become too precarious.
During his budget communication on May 27, Mr Christie said Baha Mar’s developer Sarkis Izmirlian was nearing the end of talks with the resort’s general contractor China Construction America (CCA) regarding the completion of the project and the announcement of the resort’s new opening date.
It was the third time in that month that Mr Christie had said the relevant parties were nearing an imminent resolution to the controversy, a prediction that proved false.
On June 17, 12 days before Baha Mar filed for bankruptcy, Mr Christie once again said in the House of Assembly that he had received “encouraging” news about a possible resolution to the Baha Mar deadlock, although he failed to provide specifics.
On July 8, weeks after the resort filed for bankruptcy, Mr Christie told reporters that he was optimistic that Baha Mar’s developer, CCA and the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM), would reach a resolution on their issues so the property could open for the winter season in November.
However, not only did the property fail to open, but in late October Baha Mar was placed into receivership, bringing an end to any hope of a resolution between the developer, contractor and lender in 2015.
On September 23, Mr Christie once again expressed optimism without providing specifics, telling the press that he had been reassured through discussions with the chairman of China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) – CCA’s parent company – that the company was committed to the “early completion and opening” of Baha Mar.
He did not say what he meant by “early completion” for a resort that had long missed its original deadline for opening.
And as 2015 ended, Baha Mar’s subcontractors remained unpaid.
More recently, Mr Christie told the press on December 26 that he expects Baha Mar to be completed early this year, although he failed to give a specific date for the restart of construction at the resort or a date for when the property might open.
With respect to crime, Mr Christie increased his utterances on the matter as homicides soared to record breaking heights in 2015.
On November 12, he said his government would release new crime fighting strategies that could have an “impact on our own freedom to move about”.
Although he never elaborated on this, days later, on November 16, he suggested that in a matter of weeks Bahamians would see his government’s new and aggressive crime fighting strategies.
But as 2015 came to a close without the new crime fighting strategies coming into force, Mr Christie offered yet another promise in his Christmas address to the nation, saying his government would introduce “tougher measures” to combat crime in 2016.