Thu | Sep 21, 2017

No secret deal with Baha Mar, says Bahamas Prime Minister

Published:Sunday | August 28, 2016 | 8:00 AM

Prime Minister Perry Christie has dismissed claims that lawyers have instructed him not to divulge details about the latest deal with the Baha Mar tourism project due to the sensitivity of the matter and the amount of money involved in the agreement.

During a ground-breaking ceremony at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute on Thursday, Christie said there is "nothing secret" about the deal that has been struck with the Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM) for the remobilisation of Baha Mar.

Additionally, in a statement, released late Thursday, Christie said his administration would not be distracted from its efforts and "will continue to work for and on behalf of the Bahamian people".

The prime minister sought to dismiss several reports, including one that the government has sold islands as part of the agreement.

"This is false. There have been allegations that we have given away or sold islands. This is false. Nothing has been given by way of concessions that has not been offered before to previous investors," he said.

He also dismissed speculation that his administration has offered citizenship grants in relation to the Baha Mar deal.

OUTSTANDING REPAYMENTS

Christie added that thousands of former Bahamian employees of Baha Mar will receive outstanding amounts due to them, including "unpaid salaries, severance pay, accrued vacation pay, and notice payments due to termination (and) sums deducted from employees and former employees' salaries and pension contributions ... ".

He also said funds would be made available to enable Bahamian creditors and contractors to receive a significant part, and possibly all of the value of their claims.

Christie said Baha Mar, the largest project ever of its kind in the region, is a complex commercial transaction that requires significant attention to detail.

"The government, together with other stakeholders, will continue to work to implement the obligations under the agreement," he said.

Last Monday, Christie announced that once completed the hotel will be sold to a "world-class hotel and casino operator."

In an address to the nation, the prime minister said construction is scheduled to resume in September, and under the terms of the agreement, the EXIM Bank has committed to funding the costs to finish the project, and the resort's general contractor, China Construction America Bahamas, will complete the outstanding work.

- CMC