Perry Christie, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, announced in August that work on the stalled $3.5 billion Baha Mar Casino resort would commence from September 2016 after his government managed to work out a deal with the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM).
The government did not disclose any details concerning the secretive deal but Christie assured the people of the Bahamas that the deal would ensure that local contractors and employees of the Baha Mar casino would be paid all of their outstanding dues based on the signed agreement. Christie also promised to reveal specific details about the agreement but has so far not disclosed any information.
Prime Minister Christie stated within the House of Assembly that the documents were sealed at the request of the Export-Import Bank of China. Christie stated: “The application to have the documents sealed was made by the China Export-Import Bank. This kind of seal is standard, especially in transactions of this complexity, scale and international market-sensitivity.”
In a statement, Fred Smith Local Queen’s Counsel said “These heads of agreements that are entered into by the government secretly, and are binding agreements, I say are unconstitutional, are in breach of the separation of powers doctrine and are completely outside the lawful power of the executive branch of government.” Smith went on to say that there is no law in the Bahamas that allows the Office of the Prime Minister or the National Economic Council (NEC) to enter into a secretive agreement and offer special concessions.
James Smith, the ex-state minister for finance who is currently overseeing payouts for the Baha Mar casino resort recently announced that creditors who were owed up to $500,000 would most likely be reimbursed in full but did not confirm what percentage would be paid back to creditors who were owed more than $500,000. Smith also confirmed that first priority would be given to the ex-employees of the Baha Mar casino resort and their unpaid salaries and other outstanding amounts would be cleared on a priority basis.
Fred Smith wants a judicial review because he believes the government violated the process in finalizing the agreement. Smith stated that if there was nothing secretive about the agreement, the deal should have been introduced into Parliament for a review, then members of each constituency should have shared their feedback and a final vote should have been conducted to see if the government should have accepted or rejected the agreement.
This article has been corrected to show the documents were sealed at the request of the Export-Import Bank of China.