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BAHAMAR GOES BELLY UP AND WHO’S TO BLAME?

07/05/15 1:44 PM

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Sarkis Izmirlian comes off as neither a friend of The Bahamas, nor of the employees whose lives that he put in jeopardy at Bahamar last week when he foolishly and stupidly led his companies to declare bankruptcy under the laws of Delaware in the United States, bringing the Bahamar project to a screeching halt and sending the company belly up.  Mr. Izmirlian is in a word acting like an ass, a jerk of the first order.  The Prime Minister’s words were too polite for his matter.  The government was  blinded sided by this, but this was a dirty trick of the first order.  It was a stab in the back. It was an act of shameful cowardice.  The question must arise whether this man is a fit and proper person to continue living in The Bahamas as a permanent resident of The Bahamas.  That is how serious we view this matter.

The employees of Bahamar, some 2000, strong, are being used as pawns in a high stakes game of who knows what.  Foolishly they are being manipulated into marching in the streets for a man who they are praising but who is not in our opinion praiseworthy at all.

The facts appeared in the garbage tin and piece together an interesting narrative which does not comport with the developer’s narrative that it’s all the contractor’s fault.  You choose which version you believe:

Bahamar said to its lenders when the contractor said enough is enough,  that they needed 300 million dollars to finish the project.

They blamed China Construction for the delays in the opening.  That is patently false.

What happened is because of change orders there were cost overruns and the project ran over budget.  The developers did not have the money to finish the project.  In default of payments, they made an arrangement with China Construction to pay over time what was owed.  By March, they had defaulted on the 50 million dollar a month payment plan and the contractor thought that it had enough and simply sent its workers home.

The dispute about cost overruns and breaches is now in the London courts.

The developer then appealed to the government to step-in because the China Export Import Bank did not want to provide the developer with any additional capital because they did not believe that the developer was being full and frank with them.  With the intervention of the Prime Minister and after pleading by Sarkis Izmirlian himself, the China Export Import Bank agreed to advance the sums to finish the project. 

It required the following:

Certification from a Quantity Surveyor that 300 million dollars would indeed finish the project.

Once certified, the bank would extend a further loan of 150 million dollars but the developer would have to put 75 million and the contractor 75 million.  The bank also wanted the developer’s personal guarantee.  This was all agreed up to Monday morning when the final meetings were to be held and the personal guarantee was to be delivered.  Then in the afternoon of Monday 29th June without notice, Sarkis Izmirlian showed up at the office of the Prime Minister with a press release in hand saying that the company was declaring bankruptcy in the American courts.  Bear in mind that an action in bankruptcy for a project this size cannot be done overnight, so  it is not farfetched to think that he must have known and must have contemplated this action all the while he was speaking to the Prime Minister to find additional monies.

The developer tried to use the employees as blackmail with the government. Saying that if the government did not agree to the bankruptcy being adjudicated in Delaware, they would fire the employees and tell them that the government was stopping them from being paid.    The government said to the Courts in Nassau on Thursday 2nd July that it was the responsibility of the developer to pay the employees but if he did not pay because of the government’s objections the government would pay.

The money from the government was in any case already earmarked at 21 million dollars to pay for the road works and would be set off against what Bahamar owed the government entities.

The developer wants the bankruptcy in the States so it can simply walk away from its contractual obligations in The Bahamas.  One hundred million dollars is owed to small contractors in debt.  Those small contractors should know that they have a right to petition the courts to wind up the companies that owe them their debts.   

What this all brings to mind is the case of Allan Stanford in Antigua who set up this wonderful bank in Antigua, hired people, built cricket fields, started an airline.  He would lecture politicians in the Caribbean like school children.  In the end it turned out he was a crook and he ended up in an American jail.    There needs in our view to be a criminal investigation opened into the conduct of what happened in the construction of Bahamar.  This is deadly serious.

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 4th July 2015 up to midnight: 380,567;
Number of hits for the month of June up to Tuesday 30th June 2015 up to midnight: 2,038,064;
Number of hits for the month of July up to Saturday 4th July 2015 up midnight: 120,678;
Number of hits for the year 2015 up to Saturday 4th July 2015 up to midnight: 12,510,866.

 

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Editorial

BAHAMAR WORKERS WHO MARCHED PRAISE THE WRONG PERSON

07/05/15 1:45 PM


On Friday 3rd July, there was the ridiculous spectacle of  workers from Bahamar who were fired by the developer but whose jobs were saved by the Government, marching in the road to praise Sarkis Izmirlian, who to quote Damien Gomez QC was the author of his own destruction.  Here is a fellow, he without notice to the government, or to the Bank who lent the development 2.6 billion dollars, goes and files for bankruptcy of his companies in US courts.  He then gives notice to his employees that he is sending them home but he will continue to pay them for three weeks.  Three weeks just happens to be the statutory period of notice for workers in The Bahamas who have been workers for one year or less.  In the filing in Delaware where he wants the matter to be settled, he asked for 2.9 million dollars for severance pay.  Translation, he intended to terminate the employees, not keep them on as the employees in the road were suggesting.  The developer was using the employees as a form of blackmail by saying if the Government did not agree to his course of action, the workers would not be paid.  At that point, the Government said take the workers out of the equation, we will pay them.  There were delays in getting the information from the developer about the worker’s bank accounts.  The developer misled the public and the workers when they told the employees that they turned over all the information on the workers to the government. It is hoped that the government will get the monies into people’s accounts by Monday tomorrow.  So workers of Bahamar don’t make fools of yourselves being out in the road for a person who gives not hoot about you or The Bahamas.  You are praising the wrong person.

 

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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS (29 JUNE – 3 JULY 2015) ELCOTT COLEBY

07/05/15 1:44 PM

elcottThe bankruptcy filing by the Baha Mar group of companies in a Delaware court on Monday, 29th June 2015 and the subsequent law suits, court applications and proceedings that followed dominated news this week in The Bahamas. Even as Prime Minister executed is final official duty in Bridgetown, Barbados as the outgoing

 

CARICOM Chairman, he spoke fairly extensively about the impact of Baha Mar on The Bahamas and the broader picture of the vulnerability of SIDS that rely on sizable Foreign Direct Investment for economic growth, development and stability.

 

WE HAD A DEAL

“Yet despite the good faith efforts of the government and its best endeavours, the developer chose instead to file for bankruptcy of the project in the American courts where the companies who own the project are registered. This was done without notice and with the developer sitting at the table on the face of it seeking a settlement.”

 

This sentiment expressed by Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Fred Mitchell at a CARICOM roundtable dialogue summed up the feeling of the Bahamas government in the wake of the bankruptcy filing by Baha Mar without notice. He delivered these remarks on behalf of the Bahamas Prime Minister who had pressing matters at home and could not participate in the dialogue on Vibrant Societies on 2nd July. Court documents revealed that the chapter 11 protection filing was in progress for a number of months leading up to the 29th June 2015 filing event.

 

Readers would recall that Prime Minister Christie notified the House on the final day of the 2015/2016 budget debate of some encouraging news he received from the China Export Import Bank (EXIM Bank) on a settlement between the three principals that would pave the way forward for the stalled Baha Mar project. The Prime Minister indicated repeatedly that the priority of his government was the completion and opening of the resort.

 

But what was the deal in principle The Bahamas government thought they had secured through their “good faith efforts” and “best endeavours?” to move the project to completion? Sources claim that the cost to complete the project was pegged at $300 million. The financier, EXIM Bank, agreed to contribute half, or $150 million; the developer Sarkis Izmirlian would contribute $75 million and the China Construction Company would contribute $75 million. The EXIM Bank also required the project completion figure of $300 million to be certified by a reputed Quantity Surveyor in addition to a personal guarantee from the developer.

 

On the morning of 29th June 2015, the developer assured the government that a settlement was imminent and on course.

 

 

BAHA MAR FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

On Monday, the 29th June 2015, the fifteen companies that make up Baha Mar filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware court to protect Baha Mar from its creditors including the financier, the EXIM Bank and the general contractor, China Construction of America (CCA); there were numerous Bahamian and foreign creditors. Fourteen of the fifteen companies that make up Baha Mar are listed in The Bahamas. In its press release on the court filing, Baha Mar said that it remained committed to the pursuit of an early and definitive settlement of outstanding differences with their creditors and thanked the Bahamas government for their work during this settlement process.

 

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THE GOVERNMENT’S SECOND STATEMENT ON BAHAMAR

07/05/15 1:44 PM

bahamar_state

30 June 2015 – Nassau, Bahamas

Yesterday, without notice, Baha Mar filed a bankruptcy Chapter 11 petition in Delaware USA. This action was taken at a point when my personal intervention over several months with all three parties involved, led to substantial agreement on a packaged solution for additional funding by China Export Import Bank, the resumption of construction work by the general contractor, and the project completion. This is supported by exchange of correspondence as recently as June 26.

The Government wants to reiterate that the number one priority of all stakeholders involved with the Baha Mar project should be its swift completion and opening. It is of great importance to the nation and to all Bahamians that Baha Mar opens successfully. We must all work towards this goal as a matter of national priority. This is not the time to play politics, but rather, we must unite to ensure the best interest of The Bahamas and all Bahamians is met. In the interest of promoting transparency and national unity on an issue that clearly transcends partisan politics, I invite the Leader of the Opposition to attend a briefing on the matter.

The Government remains committed to being open and transparent with the Bahamian people, as it has since the beginning of this project. Any claim that the Government or I have been misleading the public as it relates to the status of Baha Mar is completely false. The Government has been working with all parties and negotiating in good faith, and with an end goal of a successful opening of Baha Mar. The decision by Baha Mar to file for Chapter 11 under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code does not change our end goal.

Negotiations must continue to progress immediately to ensure the successful opening as soon as possible. As previously stated, the Government will not take sides, but rather continue to support all stakeholders in coming to a resolution. As the Government of The Bahamas, we take the side of the Bahamian people, and we are acting to ensure the needs and interests of the people are first and foremost.

This project will provide great economic opportunities for our country. Collectively, our sole focus should be on Baha Mar opening so that the jobs of current and potential employees are protected. This goal should not be and will not be, distorted by politics.

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THE WORK OF THE MISSIONS ABROAD

07/05/15 1:44 PM

CHICAGO, Illinois – Bahamas Honorary Consul to Chicago Michael C. Fountain was invited to attend a performance of April Yvette Thompson’s Liberty City at the eta Creative Arts Foundation, Chicago’s oldest African-American Theatre Production Company, on Sunday, June 28, 2015. Liberty City is the study of a child growing up in the inner-city ghetto of Miami during the 1970s. Specifically, it is about the special relationship between a daughter and the father, who taught her to understand and appreciate her African history through her Bahamian roots in Eleuthera. Pictured from left to right are Professor Jonathan Wilson, Director, Liberty City; Anna Dauzvardis, Actress; Dorothy Odell Foster, eta Board Member; Honorary Consul Fountain.

 

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NEW YORK – H.E. Dr. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Ambassador to the United Nations and Bahamas Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Hon. Forrester J. Carroll, Bahamas Consul General to New York, attended The Society of Marine Port Engineers (SMPE) Sixty-Seventh Annual Dinner and Dance honoring the Grand Bahama Shipyard on Saturday, June 27, 2015, a the New York Marriott Downtown Hotel. GB Shipyard, being one of the largest commercial shipyards in the world, was celebrated for its success and innovation in the industry. Grand Bahama Shipyard executives traveled to New York City for the event. Picture from left to right are Mr. Reuben Byrd, Chief Operating Officer, Grand Bahama Shipyard; Ambassador Rahming; Consul General Carroll; and Mr.  Richard Norris, President of SMPE.

 

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image011NEW YORK – H.E. Dr. Elliston Rahming, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the United Nations and the Organisation of American States (OAS) and Chairman of the Save Our Sharks Coalition, participated in the High-Level Symposium entitled “One Ocean – Regenerating Fish Stocks, Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14″ at the United Nations Headquarters on Wednesday, July 1, 2015.

The event was held under the auspices of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance and co-organised by The Bahamas in conjunction with a cross-regional group of several other UN Member States.

In his remarks, Dr. Rahming underscored the need for urgent action in the area of ocean responsibility, which involves safeguarding the ocean through the creation, preservation and expansion of marine sanctuaries in order to regenerate fish stocks and achieve sustainable development.

The Ambassador reminded participants of the compelling fact that the ocean covers 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and comprises 90 per cent of the planet’s living space.

Unfortunately, however, the ocean is “threatened now, more than ever before,” he said, adding that there is a need for a paradigm shift in how Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been traditionally viewed and understood. He proposed that they should instead be seen as “Large Ocean Developing States” (LODS) in view of their vast marine territories which, for countries such as The Bahamas, account for a larger surface area than the total land mass.

“We are more than the piece of rock we live on,” Ambassador Rahming asserted. “We are, more importantly, that vast body of water that we rely on.”

He concluded that The Bahamas, which established a shark sanctuary in 2011, was most pleased to co-sponsor the event.

Mr. Eric Carey, Executive Director of The Bahamas National Trust, was also in attendance and participated in one of the event’s panel discussions, entitled “Regenerating Fish Stocks – the Science of Zoning”.

Mr. Carey gave a comprehensive presentation on The Bahamas’ Ocean Legacy and underscored both the challenges and the opportunities faced by The Bahamas in sustainably managing the country’s vast marine resources while also highlighting the need for both science and effective public information in effectively meeting these.

 

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OBAMA’S TRIUMPS AT THE U S SUPREME COURT

07/05/15 1:44 PM

 

While the preachers and right wing and some misdirected MPs were busy pooh poohing and revolting against the ruling in the US Supreme court that people of the same sex had the right to marry, Bahamians were voting with their feet.  Many have been married before the ruling but this time a Bahamian, an immigration officer reportedly, decided to make his wedding public and spoke about it to both the international foreign press.  So our advice to these people who have a problem, get a life and move on.   Here is what the man Kenneth Kerr who has a Facebook page and who was a Mr. Bahamas Model for 2014, following his marriage to Dale Hudson In Georgia:  ““As for our laws back home, I don’t see it changing any time soon,” he said. “We still have so many other hurdles to deal with and get over before same sex unions are legalized. One of them of course is gender equality.” 
“Am I advocating for same sex unions home?” he repeats a question asked to him. “Absolutely not! But what I am advocating for is awareness and tolerance. Bahamians must realize that times are changing, and while I don’t expect most to agree, I would encourage them to be tolerant.”  Amen.

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SAME SEX MARRIAGES RECOGNISED IN THE BAHAMAS?

07/05/15 1:44 PM

A letter writer to this column pointed out the following adjustments have to be made in The Bahamas to accommodate the lawfulness of same sex unions when tourists come from Europe, Canada and the United States which are the main tourist markets for The Bahamas.   The right wing in The Bahamas and various clergymen have been stirring the pot to suggest that the earth and sky will fall in because two adults of full age and capacity and of the same sex decide that they want to live their lives together.  Nonsense of course but many people let their personal moral beliefs mixed up in the civic rights of others.  The fact is also many Bahamian men and women and simply going to another jurisdiction and getting married and various matters will ensue from that.  The letter writer suggests that if only for the sake of tourism though there are various protocols that have to be established to deal with same sex unions.  They are listed below:

Is The Cabinet considering the implications of the legalization of Same Sex Marriages in the USA/Canada/Europe with particular reference to Immigration and Tourism? Some protocols needs to be implemented so that the conflicts do not adversely affect our tourism product:

 

       Accidents or death  – The hospitals recognizing the rights of the spouse.

       Arrival – Immigration and Customs being sensitive to people who say that they are married.

       Work Permits  – Residence for the spouse

       Death of a Bahamian property owner – Inheritance and the right to apply for Probate or re-sealing by the foreign spouse.

 

Some thoughts!

 

 

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U. S. INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS 239 YEARS

07/05/15 1:44 PM

Dame Marguerite and Acting Prime Minister Hon. Philip Brave Davis at the 239th Anniversary of the American Independence Celebrations on 2nd July at Liberty Overlook, Official residence of the U Ambassador in The Bahamas

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Henry Bostwick QC, Dame Marguerite Governor General, Janet Bostwick, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and A Lisa Johnson, US Charge for the United States in The Bahamas.

Our congratulations to the United States of America on the occasion of its 239th anniversary of independence.  The occasion was marked by the attendance of the Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling attending a part at the official residence of the Ambassador to the United States, although there isn’t one on Thursday 2nd July.  The Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis as acting Minister of Foreign Affairs attended the ceremony.

 

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FRED MITCHELL ON BAHAMAR IN BARBADOS

07/05/15 1:44 PM

image015The following statement was delivered at the symposium just before the Caricom Heads of Government meeting on Thursday 2nd July by Fred Mitchell MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

I am to apologise for the absence of the Right Honourable Prime Minister from this dialogue.  He had every intention of being here but as he will say himself this afternoon once he arrives, the best laid plans of mice and men are often delayed by matters of state. 

He expects to be here for the formal opening this afternoon.  

In a sense the reason for his delay in arriving is a case in point to the vulnerabilities of our region and the lessons in resilience.  

Many of you when you visited Nassau in February for the opening of the Heads of Government conference in that month may have seen the giant hotel project going up next door to that venue.  We had plans to open that facility within months of the conference.  Instead the developer was unable to deliver on the promise of the opening and a bitter set of recriminations began in the public domain about who was at fault.  

The government felt compelled in the national interest to step into the middle of the dispute, given the fact that some 2000 young people had been taken on in anticipation of its opening and the fact that some 3 billion dollars had been invested: 2.6 billion in Chinese Ex Port Import bank capital and 700 million of the developers money and another 100 million from the China Construction Company.  In the language of the Americans that is too big to fail. 

Yet despite the good faith efforts of the government and its best endeavours, the developer chose instead to file for bankruptcy of the project in the American courts where the companies who own the project are registered.  This was done without notice and with the developer sitting at the table on the face of it seeking a settlement.  

As often happens, everyone has now become an expert on what should have been done and what should not have been done but suffice it to say that the the Prime Minister believes that this project has to succeed and is working to ensure that it does.  What it raises however is the more general in the vulnerability of our societies not only to the shocks of weather and climate but to the size and singularity of economic projects driven by foreign direct investment and sometimes our own internal investments.  

When there is a crisis, we have no reserve currencies to be able to have quantitative easing, another expressing for printing money to ensure liquidity of the system.  These kinds of shocks have resulted in many cases in the high indebtedness that we face today.  

Think of the various crises, the banker who had plenty to say to our region and who lectured our leaders like they were in school, who was thought by many to be a model investor, a good guy, only to end up in an American jail and leaving the Caricom country and its citizen holding the bag.  Or the housing and mortgage bubble in one our countries where because of speculation by private investors the market collapsed and the Caricom country had to absorb all its reserve currency to protect the savings of the citizens of that country.  Or the giant insurance company that stretched its tentacles from The Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago, paying super excellent returns on investments only to collapse in a heap, leaving governments again to hold the bag, while the investor walked away into the sunset. 

This in our view shows that notwithstanding all that is said and whatever the fashion, at the end of the day governments still have major role to play in the resilience of our societies and their abilities to adapt to the shocks of and vagaries of the world economy and our natural conditions.  It is imperative then for our public administrations and our political directorates to be trained and up to the mark, adequately prepared for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  

I was a much younger man when I heard a speech in Miami by the late Errol Barrow and he reacting to the election fashions of his time, following the defeat of the democratic socialists in the region, excoriated the trend by describing those who looked north for solace and rescue rather than to self-reliance as “groveling mendicants with their caps in their hands”. We are too polite in this time to make those kinds of statements but I think that we get the point that when failure takes place it is to the governments of the region that our people look to for help, assistance and rescue.  No other entity. It is to the leaders and to the politicians.

Our task today is to reassure the region that come what may, our governments, their elected officials have the intellectual acuity, the intestinal fortitude to help rescue our nations.  

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PM DEMITS AS HEAD OF CARICOM

07/05/15 1:44 PM

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Prime Minister Perry Christie gave a sobering address to his colleagues as he demitted office in Bridgetown, Barbados from the office of Chair of the Conference of the Heads of Government of Caricom.  Mr. Christie said that his six months in office had been breathless and he listed a number of ideas that he thought ought to be pursued. 

He came to Bridgetown against the backdrop of the collapse of the multibillion dollar investment in Nassau known as Bahamar and the perfidy of the developer in its relations with the Government.  Nevertheless he stuck to the themes of education for the young, solving the problem of their sense of hopelessness and joblessness, he spoke up for tourism and its ability to solve the unemployment problem. 

More controversially he argued that the passenger tax which countries imposed on airplane travel amounting to some 65 per cent of the cost of travel was now a disincentive to people travelling to the region and over time was causing unemployment.  You can click here for the full statement of the Prime Minister.  The photo by Peter Ramsay shows the Prime Minister marching into the hall for his final address with the Prime Minister of Antigua Gaston Brown before him, Foreign Minister of Belize Wilfred Elrington and Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skeriitt.

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Keith Archer’s Banquet

07/05/15 1:44 PM

archer On Saturday 27th June, the trade union movement led by former trade union leader and now Minister of Labour paid tribute to former head of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union Keith Archer at a banquet at the BCPOU hall Left Paul Maynard, BEC Union President, Keith Archer honouree,   Bernard Evans, President BTC Union and Samuel Bookie Glover, former Vice President of the BEC Union. Banquet on Saturday 27th June in honour of Keith Archer former President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officer Union (BCPOU), the BTC Union.  Fred Mitchell MP was not present at the banquet but sent his own tribute which was published in the booklet for the event. You can click here for the full statement image022

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Letters to the editor

GAME COME:  IT’S OVER

07/05/15 1:44 PM

bseymourIt is said that self-preservation is nature’s first law.  On Monday, June 29th, 2015, without warning came the news that Baha Mar, the 3.4 billion dollar resort development had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the state of Delaware, U.S.A., and the English high court.  In tourism and gaming business trust is everything.

To some it was a surprise, to other Bahamians, it was the continuation of arrogance and insulting behavior displayed earlier this year by Baha Mar’s CEO and Principal, Sarkis Izmirilian.  You would recall earlier in April that Izmirilian at a Chamber of Commerce conference attacked his general contractor and the Government of the Bahamas.  At the time, it was not clear what the outburst was all about.  It now becomes clear that this was part of an exit strategy of the developer. 

The bible describes in the book of Luke, chapter 14 vs. 28, poses the question, “what man sets out to build a tower without sitting down and counting the cost, and see if he has sufficient to finish it so he is not mocked.”  In trying to do a project of that size clearly was not practical or workable. 

Brent Symonette, the former Deputy Prime Minister in the Ingraham administration summed it up this way.  You just don’t wake up one morning and make filings in the United States and England, and it would be an incredible thing and a mark of great disrespect and not give the Prime Minister a heads up on what was about to take place.  In Bahamian terms, Izmirilian was saying to the Bahamian people game come; in other words, every man for himself.

The government of the Bahamas had at its disposal only one option that of an adversary to protect to the fullest extent of the law the interest of the Bahamas; and by extension, the reputation of our country.

The goodwill, trust, dignity and respect, and spirit of cooperation were all cast aside by Baha Mar.  These are the foundation and cornerstone principles that are the requirements for an investor if he is to be successful.  These are the same principles that other properties used who are successful.  When problems arise they are handled at the highest level without fanfare outside the public view.  From the beginning of tourism in the modern Bahamas commencing with Sir Stafford Sands down through the years to now the Christie government this has been the foundation that we stand on.  We work out our difficulties quietly.  This approach has made us leaders in the tourism industry.

In his filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Izmirillian pulled a trap door on the viability of the project under his leadership and has done serious damage to his company’s brand that had been built and developed.  Put in Bahamian’s perspective, he was saying game come, and every man for himself.

Game come means for the twenty-five hundred plus employees that if you have not been given your pink slip yet, you are on a thirty-day, sixty-day, or ninety-day treadmill; thereafter, you are out of work: these are the unvarnished facts.  The tragedy of this whole experience among these twenty-five hundred plus employees are the best and the brightest, the cream of the crop in the tourism industry. 

Game come for the staff of the Melia hotel means that you should immediately demand your 15% gratuity that was wickedly being held in a supposed escrow account.  If not, on Tuesday morning show up in the Supreme Court with the best Lawyers money can buy. 

Game come for the tenants who would have rented space at the resort your investment is on hold indefinitely.  Make no mistake all the shops in the West Bay Street area will feel the effects of this Chapter 11 filing.

Game come should mean for Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner to consider who you are and for the time being, you are no longer and FNM ambitious politician trying to upstage your leader at every opportunity; but instead, the granddaughter of that great patriot of the quiet revolution, Sir Milo Butler and a patriotic Bahamian first standing side by side with your political arch rival, Perry Christie and the government of the Bahamas against this assault of our national interest.

The government of the Bahamas has thus far been polite in its dealings with Izmirilian who clearly has seen this as a sign of weakness.  He must now be made to understand being polite is not weakness.

Finally, we have an example in Freeport of what happens when investors say game come.  We have an example of the Driftwood properties in the heart of the city abandoned by a rogue investor.  This should never be allowed to happen in our country again.  As for the Chinese Import Export Bank, we need not look out for their interest; we only need to sit, watch, learn, and listen for their experience is great and vast in these matters.

Brian Seymour  

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In passing

Service for Independence at St Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Delray, Florida

07/05/15 7:45 PM

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Minister Mitchell speaking at service for independence for the Bahamas at St Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Delray, Florida Home to thousands of Bahamian descendants. 

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Photo with the priest and attendees after church. Rev Marcia Beam presided. She is a Bahamian descendant.

Remarks by Fred Mitchell MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs

St Matthew’s Church 

Delray, Florida 

5th July 2015 

It is a pleasure to be back here.  I say that because this was a place I visited very often as a child.  I am a cousin of our rector and as a child I spent many a summer holiday here.

I remember with fondness my Aunts Roslyn Ivy and Marge McKay.

My younger brother and sister Matthew and Marva were born here in 1960 and are citizens of the United States as well as The Bahamas.

Delray is steeped in Bahamianism and I have heard from the Consul General that for a long time it has been the plan to have a service here in Delray.  I am glad that we are able to get this one organized.

I am happy that you still remember with fondness the old country.  We are equally as proud of the success of many of you here in the new country.  

In so many respects we are joined at the hip and the two countries have a symbiotic relationship. 

In the great span of history forty two years is not a long time but in the life of our nation that is a long time. 

What it means is that almost all of the founders of the modern country are gone.  The few who remain have fading memories. Increasingly it is left to the next generation to tell the story. 

As usual when you are so far from the source and when there are not many around who remember the original times, the story gets a little twisted.  You remember that after Moses was gone and Joshua was about to take the children into the promised land, some wanted to go back to Egypt.   It seemed like that was the place to go and looking back it seemed that all had been well in Egypt.

Perhaps that is the way it looks to many young Bahamians today who did not have to grow up under the scourge of racial discrimination and lack of opportunity.  Perhaps they see no difference between the trouble which they face today with an economy that does not provide the jobs they need or want. 

There is a difference, however, and that difference is that we are the masters of our own fate.

The Bahamas was built from scratch by the men and women who delivered the country from racial oppression and deprivation in 1967.  That does not mean that they invented everything anew but what is clear was that up until 1967 universal education was not considered a right of every child.  That changed dramatically.

The 1967 administration, the men and women of that generation knew that without education we could go nowhere and determined that the resources of the state would be used to help to create an educated generation.  We accomplished that. 

They also built a social safety net with the coming of national insurance.  Today, people complain that national insurance does not provide enough.  There is a need to do more to be sure but just think where we would be without it today.  So many people would be unable to take care of even their most basic needs.

When the British handed over the instruments of independence in 1973, the impression was created that there was a neat little package that they handed us and said “go for yourself”.

I remind people that what the British gave us as they left was the Police College which they built at the princely sum of 800,000 dollars and then they jumped on their ships and left. 

All that you see in The Bahamas today was constructed, designed and maintained by the generation which succeeded to the country in 1973.

We were able to keep ourselves alive and to maintain one of the highest standards in the world. 

Today what do we face.  I think we face a future which has challenges but which will great greater successes, if only we believe.

There is 30 per cent unemployment amongst the youth.  We have to solve that and there is an aggressive programme to do so.

We had hoped that he Bahamar resort would be open by now.  This is a project which was to employ some 5000 people.  It would have been and still will be the largest investment in the Caribbean of a hotel nature.  It can still be done. People must not lose faith.  Neither must they be hornswoggled by the blandishments and disguises of those who say they are doing something for your own good while in reality, it is for their own good. 

The Bahamas government is the place where people look to solve the larger issues. With this Bahamar issue, which involves Bahamian land, Bahamian employees there could be no turning back in the face of an attempt to effect an act of unfairness on the Bahamian people while trying to fool us that they were looking out for our best interests.

There is a great deal of patience that will be required on the part of us all as the scenario unfolds but please be assured that the project as to succeed and at all times the government will look out for the best interests of the Bahamian people.

When the dust has settled, the truth will out and the project will succeed.

We remember our history and what drove thousands of people to leave our small country and come to this country.  We are pledged to ensure that our economy remains successful so that our children can have future at home. 

So I want to thank you all for what you do to defend our country abroad.  You help our Consul General and his staff.  I hope that the Consul General is ready and available to help. 

This is a wonderful opportunity today and so on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, our Governor General Dame Marguerite and the Prime Minister Perry Christie, I wish you happy independence day. 

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The Opposition Leader Missteps On Bahamar

07/05/15 1:44 PM

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis has a real problem, a terrible flaw in his political leadership.  He cannot make a decision unless he checks with a Committee of 20 people.  This is the laughable comment one has to make in response to the report in the press that after having accused the Prime Minister of lying and misleading the country on the question of what he knew about Bahamar; and being invited to see the files; the Leader of the Opposition could not agree to a meeting until he had checked with his Parliamentarians.  This is quite sad.  So you know that the answer here is don’t go to war with him , because he will have to check with the fellows first to find out if he can strike back while the Barbarians are at the gate.  Hopeless!

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Once Again The Captains Of The Caribbean Gather

07/05/15 1:44 PM

CARICOM HEADS OF GOVERNMENT IN BARBADOS: The official photograph of Heads of Government at the 36th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM now underway (July 2 – 4) in Bridgetown, Barbados. The outgoing Chairman of CARICOM, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, is pictured second from left in the front row. The incoming Chairman is Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados.

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A TRIBUTE TO KEITH ARCHER FROM FRED MITCHELL MP MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND IMMIGRATION

07/05/15 1:44 PM

image023When I was a little boy, Keith Archer was big boy to me ( we are talking early  to mid-1960s).  He was a server around the altar at Holy Spirit Church in Chippingham where my mother was the organist, so I got to see him in action every Sunday.  He was a good thurifer, he swung a mean smoke pot.  He was good.

The next scene though and this is the one that is the enduring one for me, that of the man of action.  I can’t use the word I really want to use in this piece, after all we are writing to polite society.  Keith Archer simply didn’t “mess” around.  Let me put it that way, but you know what I want to say.  He was a union leader and they were leading an action in the yard of the Batelco premises in Poinciana Drive.  The powers that be called in the Strike Force and they had to lift him and his compatriots bodily out of the yard at Batelco.  I was a reporter on the other side but man that was my kind of action.  I wished something like could have happened to me in my political career.

When he meets me, I say “ Muggins”.  He says “ Dread”.  So you know that dates us.  

I got to work with him when I was the Public Service Minister from 2002 to 2007 and I saw him work his magic at crafting comprises and settling disputes.  He did a great job for the government and saved the country a lot of money, heartache and grief.

‘I  got to stand with him when he was struggling with the issue with his son.  I got to see a softer side.

But bottom line is: this is my friend.  He is a great man.  We are joined together by church and family and work and friendship and love of country.  He is a great patriot, a good family man and a wonderful contributor the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  I am happy that Brother Shane Gibson is able to do this for him together with so many of his former trade unionists, fellow workers and friends.

I’m only sorry I can’t be there for the event itself but he knows that I am there in spirit.  Congratulations brother from Fred the Dread.

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Arthur Porter Dies

07/05/15 1:44 PM

image024Life can throw some real curve balls at you.  That’s all you can say to the strange and sad fate of Dr. Arthur Porter.  He climbed the heights in his adopted home Canada to where he emigrated from his native Sierra Leone.  Then after becoming a huge success, later a Permanent Resident of The Bahamas and an advisor on stem cell research and other medical issues for successive Bahamian governments, he fell afoul of the Canadian government that said he bilked them of millions.  He ended up being arrested near the end of his life with his wife in panama.  The Canadians pressured the Panamanians to extradite, he resisted but his wife gave into the pressure and copped a plea in the Canadian courts.  She was sentenced to jail.  Alas no trial for Dr. Porter.  To the end he protested his innocence, some said he faked his illness of lung cancer but the proved them right and died of the disease in a Panamanian hospital without a trial and with a cloud hanging over his head.  A sad end to a brilliant man and career.  He died on 30th June in a Panama jail.

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Belinda Suspended Again

07/05/15 1:44 PM

The head of the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) Belinda Wilson is in trouble again.  This time it appears that she has been suspended indefinitely.  The Tribune said it has something to do with an audit which showed that on the face of it she expended monies of the Union without proper authority. Uh oh! We suppose the jury is still out.  In the meantime, there is an interim head Zane Lightbourne.

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Brent Symonette Has Something To Say On Bahamar

07/05/15 1:44 PM

image026The former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette speaking on Thursday 2nd July had this to say on the Bahamar matter:

“ . . .This shows a degree of disrespect and contempt for the government of the Bahamas,” Mr Symonette said.

 “I would have hoped that the developers would have at least let the government and, especially Mr Christie, know since they claim to want a good working relationship.”

 “What hasn’t come out yet is what China (Construction America) owes Bahamian businesses. We haven’t heard of those numbers yet and those people would have had to gone to the bank and stretched their lines of credit.

  “I can tell you there are a lot of local companies that have not been paid. There is one businessman that I know who is owed $180,000. This is a one-man operation that we are talking about so imagine his plight. I doubt Bahamians in this situation will be able to recoup 100 pennies on the dollar.

  “So this is a real domino effect and it will ricochet down the line.”

 

 

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