|Baha Mar: $190M tendered to local firms|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Aug 10, 2012
While the administration might have changed, the Bahamas Contractors Association (BCA) is holding Baha Mar executives to a heads of agreement that pledged $400 million worth of contracts to Bahamians.
During a press conference announcing the first ever Regional Conference of Caribbean Contractors, set to run from October 18 to October 20, members of the BCA expressed concern on whether the promise of the Free National Movement (FNM) would be honored under the current government.
Robert ‘Sandy’ Sands, senior vice president of external and government affairs, told Guardian Business that $190 million has so far been tendered to Bahamian contractors, and $157 million awarded to date.
Phase one, including the demolishing and reconstruction of banks, a fire station and a police station, plus the formation of the Bahamian Riviera, accounted for tens of millions for local firms. Sands explained that the awarding of contracts is "ongoing", particularly as it relates to road works for the upcoming "Corridor Seven". Guardian Business understands that at least one local company has been hired as part of the 300,000-square-foot convention center, although Baha Mar has yet to make an official announcement. Local firms have also been awarded contracts landscaping and excavation of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, Guardian Business has learned.
Baha Mar is being primarily funded by the Export-Import Bank of China and built by China State Construction Engineering Corporation.
Local contractor and former president of the BCA, Stephen Wrinkle, said more work needs to be done in terms of the transparency. Heads of agreement signed in relation to projects headed by foreigner entities should receive "more scrutiny" so stakeholders can verify and monitor that members are getting exactly what is promised.
Speaking for the industry as a whole, Wrinkle said a lack of transparency is "typical" of foreign direct investment projects.
"How do we monitor these projects coming into our countries and literally taking all of our labor force but leaving our contractors sitting on the side of the road with no labor and no contracts?" he asked. "We are not getting our fair share of the pie. A lot more could and should be done."
Generally speaking, the former BCA chief praised many of the major developments now ongoing in the country, such as Baha Mar, the airport redevelopment project and the construction of the Nassau Container Port at Arawak Cay.
With more than 200 attendees from around the region coming to Nassau, the first ever conference for Caribbean contractors will place these impressive feats on display.
"It should be a good influx of people, and it's an opportunity to showcase our construction projects, starting what we hope will be an annual event," according to Wrinkle.
Larry Treco, the president of CGT Contractors and Developers Ltd., told Guardian Business that bringing together industry leaders from across the region should help members reconcile how best to deal with foreign contractors.
He felt The Bahamas has "no control with foreign contractors coming in".
The situation speaks to the BCA's persistent call for greater registration and licensing within The Bahamas, specifying and placing restrictions on which firms can receive contracts within the country.