Bahamas government disturbed with events around Baha Mar project
The Bahamian government says it is "disappointed in both the intemperate tone and incorrect content" of a statement issued by the company involved in the construction of the US$3.5-billion Baha Mar resort project.
"It is particularly regrettable that at a time when rationality and cool heads are required to deal with the current crisis at Baha Mar, the company's leadership appears to be going to pieces under the mounting pressure," Prime Minister Perry Christie said on Monday night.
He said the statement from Baha Mar has given him grave concern for the state of mind of Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar's chairman and chief executive officer.
"As recently as yesterday, Mr Izmirlian was calling me, completely unsolicited, to give me his private assurances and to express confidence in me; but now, just one day later, he issues a public statement saying the exact opposite and in tones resonating with gross disrespect for the elected authority of this land," Christie said.
"Indeed, I am at loss to recall any previous instance of a foreign investor who took it upon himself to publicly excoriate the government of the day in such a shrill and belligerent manner," he added.
He said Izmirlian should cease and desist from trying to fool his own workers and the general public.
"He must stop playing fast and loose with the facts to serve his own ends. He ought to know full well that the delay in effecting payment to the workers had absolutely nothing to do with any stalling or obstructive action on the government's part. Instead, I am advised that it was the result of normal informational requirements of the government's bankers and necessary account information exchanges between Baha Mar and the Treasury," the prime minister said.
Last week, the Baha Mar group announced that in order to complete construction and open the project as soon as practicable, Baha Mar Limited, and entities associated with it, were voluntarily undertaking the process of Chapter 11 under the US Bankruptcy Code.
"I am committed to doing all I realistically can to move Baha Mar forward to be completed and opened successfully. I am confident that, once opened, Baha Mar will be a world-class destination resort that will attract guests from around the world and serve as a key economic spark plug to The Bahamas," Izmirlian said.
"The Chapter 11 process provides the appropriate venue to create a viable financial structure that places Baha Mar's interests foremost," he added.
Media reports on Monday noted that a US$300-million agreement to resolve Baha Mar's problems failed because the warring parties were unable to agree to the details.
The Tribune Business reported the existence of a framework agreement that would have involved all parties contributing multi-million-dollar sums to ensure the project's completion and opening.
The paper said the main financier, China Export-Import Bank, had agreed to contribute US$150 million with the remainder coming from China Construction America, the project's contractor, and the Baha Mar's developers, the Lyford Cay-based Izmirlian family.
"Both would have kicked in $75 million, or 25 per cent each, with Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar's chairman and chief executive also providing further security via a personal guarantee," the paper reported.