PM defends his actions on Baha Mar
JAYME C. PINDER
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jan 11, 2017
Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday, despite the opinions of naysayers about the completion of Baha Mar, through the government’s efforts to resolve the crisis created when the former developer filed for bankruptcy protection, more money was pumped into the economy and more jobs will be made available for Bahamians.
“Notwithstanding the view that the government of The Bahamas has put all its eggs in the basket of Baha Mar, I want to be able to stand up here today and tell you how complex and difficult it was for me working night after night, because we had to speak to China 10, 11 and 12 o’clock at night, when it was their day,” said Christie at the Southern Recreation Grounds during a speech on Majority Rule Day.
“But thank God. Thank God, because all the naysayers, all those who said Christie was lying, Christie was not telling the truth, the fact of the matter is, over $100 million has been put into the economy because we have been able to pay the subcontractors, their employees and, much more importantly, those same Bahamian contractors will be getting work and the employees will be going back to work if they so desire and the work will start this month.”
An email leaked to the press last week revealed that the government exempted China Construction America (CCA) Bahamas Limited, the lead construction firm on the Baha Mar project, from paying value-added tax (VAT).
Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald, who was one of the government negotiators for the deal to get Baha Mar completed, said the VAT exemption was a trade-off for the $100 million the Chinese paid the subcontractors and the former Baha Mar employees.
Last month, Christie announced that the resort had been sold to CTF BM Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited (CTFE).
He said the executed sale and purchase agreement represents a “significant achievement for The Bahamas, and a milestone in the troubled history of the Baha Mar resort”.
Christie said beginning this month, Baha Mar will bring more jobs and money into the economy, and so will other projects on other islands.
“In Bimini, (Tourism Minister) Obediah Wilchcombe [knows] that the island is as near to full employment as it could be,” he said.
“In Abaco, the foundation is there. In Grand Bahama, where we have our challenges with the container port, the Lucayan Beach Hotel and Memories Grand Bahama Resort, we see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are going to say the devil is a liar when it comes to Hurricane Matthew.
“We are going to have work resumed there on Monday.
“We’re going to a place called Ocean Cay, where a couple of hundred jobs will be made... We are not sleeping at the wheel and we are not talking politics. We’re talking governance and we want the people to know that we are not going to compromise on giving them the service they need.
“We know the jobs are coming. We are confident that the difference between the rating agency, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and the government of The Bahamas is S&P said it (a steady economy) will happen in 2018 and we say it’s going to begin strongly in 2017.
“I want to stand up next week or the week after when those employees are getting hired not just in Baha Mar but in other places.
“So leave here today with a collective expression of gratitude to all of our heroes and heroines who gave so much in the service of their country.
“They helped to create this Bahamas so people like myself and others have the opportunity to stand on their shoulders.
“We thank you very much.”