The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Perry Christie, has announced that his government has entered into a “framework agreement” to complete construction on The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel “as expeditiously as possible.”
The $3.5 billion project was due to open in December of 2014 outside Nassau featuring four hotels alongside restaurants, pools, a casino and other attractions but soon ran into delays and difficulties that ultimately led to it filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in a Delaware court a year ago.
Christie, who has been Prime Minister since 2012, used his annual budget address last week to reveal that Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson and Sir Baltron Bethel, a senior policy advisor, had led a delegation to Beijing at the invitation of China Export-Import Bank and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) to discuss the stalled project.
The Prime Minister declared that two days of “successful meetings” had resulted in the parties agreeing on a framework to put into place the financing required to complete construction on The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel, which is allegedly nearly finished.
“I am satisfied based on the statement and the assurances given in Beijing that every effort is being made to enable an earliest possible re-mobilisation and that adequate funding is in place to provide for the completion of the project and the satisfaction of the legitimate claims of Bahamian contractors and suppliers,” said Christie.
Christie was also his nation’s Prime Minister from 2002 to 2007 and explained that the plan calls for CSCEC’s indirect subsidiary, China Construction America (CCA) Bahamas, to continue as the project’s main contractor despite being blamed by developer BMD Holdings for the previous delays.
“Negotiations between CCA Bahamas and the receivers appointed by China Export-Import Bank are underway to agree appropriate terms for construction to recommence and to prepare a construction agreement that will provide the schedule timeline for completion of the project,” said Christie. “It is expected that many contractors who have participated in the construction of the project will be reengaged in this process.”
However, BMD Holdings declared in a statement that there could be nothing in the past performance of CCA Bahamas that lent confidence to any expectation that the project would be completed to any schedule provided.
“It is very discouraging that China Export-Import Bank, knowing full well the serious irregularities already demonstrated by its sister company, CSCEC, would now turn to this very same entity to complete the work that its subsidiary CCA Bahamas has failed to do time and again on previous schedules that it has provided,” read the statement from BMD Holdings, which is led by real estate billionaire Sarkis Izmirlian. “What we now have is the Bahamas being forced to witness to its potential detriment, as the former great baseball star Yogi Berra said, “déjà vu all over again” at the hands of CCA Bahamas.”
In its statement, BMD Holdings called on China Export-Import Bank to take it up on an offer it made in April that would reportedly see The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel opened successfully with unsecured creditors paid and no discount incurred by the bank on its funding of the project.
“We also look forward to a full hearing in the Bahamian court on the claims against CCA Bahamas and CSCEC for their lack of performance,” read the statement from BMD Holdings.