Baha Mar Project a heavy weight for the economy

March 16, 2016

The Baha Mar development, which sits on the edge of the island’s Goodman’s Bay close to the capital Nassau, has become the world’s biggest white elephant – an incomplete playground of pools and palm trees. 

 

Boasting in excess of 2,300-plus rooms, a Jack Nicklaus signature 18-hole golf course, scores of dining chains, plus shops selling high-end brands such as Cartier, Rolex and Tiffany, it currently sits empty after the company behind the project filed for bankrupt protection.

 

Despite being 97 per cent finished, the delay in opening has put the Bahamian state economy under threat and placed China’s reputation as a credible partner on international construction deals firmly in the spotlight.

 

Baha Mar was expected to create 5,000 new jobs and a $130m payroll – adding around 12 per cent to the Bahamas’ GDP. But its failure to open on time (it was scheduled to launch in December 2014) has hit the Bahamas’ soverign credit rating; Standard & Poor’s downgraded it to just one notch above junk status last year.

 

It has been hoped that the project's developer, lender and contractor would negotiate an agreement on how to complete the $3.5 billion project. However, developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, continues to cite the actions of contractor China Construction America, as well as the Bahamas government and its unwillingness to allow the developer to file for bankruptcy protection, as primary reasons for the impasse.

Foreign Minister says he stands by Cuban statement

March 11, 2016

Foreign and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell has accused the main opposition Free National Movement (FNM) of “standing up for foreigners rather than Bahamians” after the party called on him to make a public statement about the whereabouts of two Cuban nationals freed by a court last month.

 

Last month, Judge Stephen Isaacs ordered the release of the Cuban nationals – Carlos Pupo and Lazaro Seara -who were arrested in Abaco in 2013, and held in detention since then.Human rights groups said that both men claimed abusive treatment at the Carmichael Detention Centre and had staged a 20-day hunger strike in May 2014. The Department of Immigration had earlier denied media reports that the two men were being held without any charges and that they did not qualify for asylum.

 

Mitchell said then that he noted the decision of the courts with regard to the two Cubans and that the “Department of Immigration takes the position that these individuals are a national security risk.
“We continue to support that position. Those were the clear instructions from our principals at the highest levels to pursue that position. Those instructions did not change and were not changed.”

 

However, FNM chairman, Michael Pintard said media reports had indicated that the two men were now residing and working in the United States. “If this is in fact true then the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration is duty bound to explain several important details relative to his public statements about them,” Pintard said, calling on Mitchell to state how the men were now deemed to be a threat to national security.

CCE calls for gender equality in the Bahamas

March 16, 2016

The civil society group, Citizens for Constitutional Equality (CCE) is calling on other civil society organisations to publicly declare their support for the advancement of gender equality in The Bahamas.

 

Parliament earlier this week passed four amendments to the constitution, removing the remaining vestiges of discrimination from the law books. Thirty-seven of the 38 legislators voted in favour of the bill. The other Parliamentarian was absent due to illness.

 

The CCE said that now that the government is proceeding with plans for a constitutional referendum on gender equality this year, “we are calling on all members of civil society to participate in this nation building process.

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THE BAHAMAS