More than 5,000 delegates representing Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) member countries are expected to attend the upcoming IDB and Inter-American Development Investment Corporation (IIC) Annual General Meeting (AGM), scheduled to take place at the Baha Mar Convention Center on April 7-10. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell
By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM) on Thursday dismissed “unfounded criticisms” by people with “ulterior motives” and said it has the best interests of the Bahamian people at heart.
There has been some criticism in recent weeks over the lack of progress on the stalled multibillion dollar Baha Mar resort since the bank moved to have receiver-managers appointed last year.
“China EXIM Bank is a responsible bank,” the bank said.
“When it takes actions and makes decisions, the bank bears in mind not only its own interests but also the interests of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people.
“It is because of this that the bank along with the receivers has been working hard to look for a competent investor who can take over the project with an integrated overall plan for the management of all parts of the project, so that the project will generate sustainable and maximum value for all stakeholders.
“Any action taken or measure adopted that is based on short-term, temporary or individual interests is irrational and irresponsible.
“As the Baha Mar project is a huge hotel complex, it takes time to market and for any investor interested to carefully study the project and gain a thorough understanding before making the final decision.”
Construction on Baha Mar stalled last year after disputes arose between the developer and its contractor, China Construction America.
Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US District of Delaware on June 29, 2015. However, a Bahamian Supreme Court justice rejected the company’s application to have the US proceedings recognized locally.
“China EXIM Bank is fully aware of the importance of the Baha Mar project to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the people of The Bahamas,” the bank said.
“In the past few weeks, some persons, out of what the bank believes are ulterior motives, instead of discussing the well-known reasons for the failure of the project, have been through various channels seeking to lay blame with the bank.
“The bank, having made tremendous efforts in addressing the issues related to the project, feels that the recent criticism is entirely unfounded.
“Since the original developer is no longer capable of operating the project, the bank, in order to ensure the security of project assets and safeguard the rights and interests of all stakeholders, was obliged to appoint Deloitte as receiver managers over the project assets.”
The Chapter 11 cases filed by Baha Mar were dismissed in Delaware.
Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder appointed joint provisional liquidators (JPL) to oversee Baha Mar and later approved the EXIM Bank’s move to have receiver managers appointed.
On Monday the government, through its attorney, asked a Supreme Court judge to hold off on the winding up of the project as “positive” signs exist for a resolution to the crisis.
Attorney Loren Klein said more time is needed to get to that point.
As a result, the winding up was adjourned to May 2.
Former Baha Mar board member Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business last month that there is “not a Christ thing Perry Christie and his Cabinet can do about ” the development until the EXIM Bank decides to sell it.
“It is over,” he said.
“It is over until the Chinese government -- through China Export-Import Bank -- decides to whom they are going to sell that project, because clearly they don’t want to run it... So until they decide to give it away at a fire sale price, it will just sit there.
“And I make the point that the Chinese are in absolutely no rush to make this decision.”
The receivers are working with the JPLs to get the resort open.
Baha Mar laid off more than 2,000 workers in October 2015, but still employs a skeleton staff.
In a statement to The Tribune on Monday, Baha Mar developer Sarkis Izmirlian said he had not heard from the government since October 2015 and from Prime Minister Perry Christie since last summer “even though I have made proposals that would enable Baha Mar to be opened and put Bahamians back to work”.
“If the government is serious about getting Baha Mar opened, then the prime minister should meet with me,” he wrote.
Christie has said that his government is very close to reaching a resolution on the project.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian