By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
LONG Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner yesterday accused Prime Minister Perry Christie of attempting to remove himself from the “enormous disaster” his administration created over Baha Mar and castigated the government for making decisions based on certain specific interests.
The former Free National Movement (FNM) deputy leader said the prime minister was locked in a desperate effort to be re-elected and therefore resorted to telling a “selective” history of his government’s colossal mistake in pushing Baha Mar into liquidation.
She maintained that despite the Progressive Liberal Party’s claims that the governing party was the defender of this country’s sovereignty, government’s legal manoeuvring did greater harm to this very element.
The MP chided Mr Christie, saying despite countless promises that he was taking the negotiations seriously, he never went to China himself to negotiate a deal. This, she said, was an admission that as prime minister he had to be invited to China to attend any such discussions.
Mrs Butler-Turner criticised the Christie administration the day after Mr Christie, in closing the 2016/2017 budget debate, revealed that two entities have been short-listed as the court-appointed receivers of the project move closer to deciding which entity will acquire the $3.5bn West Bay Street development.
However, he said, the final decision is solely at the discretion of receiver managers who are currently in Beijing, China, negotiating a contract to remobilise and complete the project as soon as possible.
Mr Christie said China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) along with the resort’s general contractor China Construction America (CCA), its subsidiary, are also participating in the talks.
During a lengthy communication, Mr Christie read into the record of the lower chamber advice he and the government received from its United States and United Kingdom attorneys, dated June 20, 2016. He said this was a part of his “urgent and serious” response to dispel myths about his administration’s handling of the Baha Mar debacle.
Mrs Butler-Turner questioned this, pointing out that the legal opinions were prepared for and paid for by the government of the Bahamas. She further told The Tribune there were questions over the relevance of the legal advice as it was prepared just this week and not at the height of Baha Mar’s legal wrangling.
“It is ironic and telling that even as the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was claiming that they were the great defenders of our national sovereignty, that their legal manoeuvring did even greater harm to our national sovereignty,” the Long Island MP said in a statement yesterday.
“Reading from legal opinions prepared and paid for by the government, the prime minister is once again seeking to remove himself from this enormous disaster that he and the PLP created.
“For the 2,500 plus families who are waiting to go back to work at that resort, the prime minister’s remarks today rang hollow as he offered one excuse after the next.
“Mr Christie continues to offer less than a full understanding to the Bahamian people with respect to developments at the mega resort. What we suspected last year is now clear today, that this government’s legal decisions had more to do with certain specific interests rather than with the broader interests of the Bahamian people.”
She continued: “We should recall the now infamous email from the Prime Minister’s senior policy advisor, Sir Baltron Bethel advancing the promotion of a new equity partner to be brought in to invest in Baha Mar as a way to secure the necessary financing to complete the project and to get it open.
“Sir Baltron revealed that this idea came from another party and not the government of the Bahamas, in order to ‘prevent Baha Mar from taking the position that the government was trying to push out the project’s developer’.”
She questioned whether the trips to and from China by Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson and Sir Baltron was mostly posturing and geared at giving the appearance of forward movement.
“The prime minister has yet to confirm or to deny the extent to which demands have been made on him to complete and open Baha Mar.
“The Bahamian people eagerly await a full understanding of what demands or requests have been made to restart construction at this property.
“Baha Mar is too important to the future of this country for us to allow this prime minister to continue in his exercise of smoke and mirrors and fast talk and deflection. The country deserves to know what is being negotiated on their behalf, and whether it is in the best interest of the country now and for generations to come,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.