In the Bahamas, a Member Of Parliament (MP) has called on the ruling party of Prime Minister Perry Christie to launch an official inquiry into the status of the delayed The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel.
According to a report from The Tribune newspaper, Fort Charlotte representative Andre Rollins declared that the future of the $3.5 billion casino resort project, which was originally due to open in December of 2014, is more “worrisome” than is being acknowledged by Christie.
Rollins serves as the shadow minister of national security and implored Christie’s administration to “urgently convene” an inquiry into the matter while and also claiming that the estimated cost to fix “construction deficiencies” in the stalled project had skyrocketed to $1.8 billion.
“I am reliably informed that a recent site inspection of The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel by an insurer, as a precondition to insuring the property, revealed some alarming findings,” read a statement from Rollins. “These findings caused the insurer to conclude that the $3.2 billion asset is presently uninsurable. In effect, due to construction deficiencies, in its present state the property has been assessed to be a $3.2 billion liability.”
A project of BMD Holdings with funding from China Export-Import Bank, The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel ran into delays and difficulties that ultimately led to it filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in a Delaware court a year ago. The developer, which is headed by real estate billionaire Sarkis Izmirlian, subsequently blamed these problems on China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and its China Construction America (CCA) Bahamas subsidiary before submitting an unsuccessful offer designed to resurrect the development.
Last month saw Christie from the centre-right Free National Movement political party use his annual budget address to announce that his administration had agreed a framework deal with China Export-Import Bank and CSCEC designed to secure the financing required to complete construction on The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel by CCA.
However, Rollins declared that Christie had been “irresponsible in creating false perceptions” and encouraging Bahamians to have unrealistic expectations regarding the opening of The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel as it will “neither be cheap nor a quick fix”.
“I am further advised that the repair costs to remediate the construction deficiencies may be as high as $1.8 billion and not the previously estimated figure of $600 million provided by Prime Minister Christie,” read the statement from Rollins. “Given this information, the question must be asked: To what extent is this project even redeemable? These reports of severe construction deficiencies once again begs the question why the government chose to take sides in a private dispute between the developer and the contractor involving allegations by the developer of non-performance by the contractor? Why did the Christie administration strenuously object to the developer’s efforts to seek legitimate recourse via United States bankruptcy protection proceedings that it could not access via our local Bahamian courts due to the absence of any suitable Bahamian bankruptcy laws?”
Rollins declared that the role of Christie administration in the matter had been “both irresponsible and irrational” while calling for an inquiry “as a means of uncovering the absolute truth and rebuilding our nation’s reputational integrity”.