Remarks By Bradley B Roberts at National General Council

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Remarks

By

Bradley B Roberts

National Chairman Progressive Liberal Party

National General Council

December 15th 2016

Dear Fellow Councilors, tonight marks our last scheduled monthly meeting for 2016. The year was filled with many challenges and went by very quickly. We look forward to 2017 with much enthusiasm and optimism as it will prove to be exciting with the pending General Elections.

Since we last met the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister announced that the property of the largest tourism development for the Bahamas and the region, the stalled $3.5 billion Baha Mar Resort project was finally sold.

Hong Kong-based conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, or CTFE, has signed an agreement to own and operate the resort, which had initially been scheduled to open in late 2014 before declaring bankruptcy on 29th June 2015.

CTFE, which owns the global Rosewood Hotel Group, said it was committed to a “phased opening” of the Baha Mar property in April 2017.

The first phase will include the casino hotel, casino, convention center and golf course, according to the company.

CTFE plans to invest an additional $200 million in the project to support the reopening, inclusive of the redevelopment of the adjacent Crystal Palace Casino Hotel site into a family friendly theme park.

“CTFE will dedicate significant, ongoing investment and resources towards the pre-opening and opening of Baha Mar Resort,” said Graeme Davis, the president of CTFE’s Bahamas subsidiary. “We will also ensure that the Bahamian people and the region benefit fully from the project, which will create tremendous job and economic stimulus opportunities. Further, by combining our global hospitality expertise with the vibrant and authentic Bahamian culture, we will create a memorable, unmatched experience for guests of which all Bahamians can be proud.”

Prime Minister Christie said his Government was delighted to have CTFE join Baha Mar Resort as the owner and developer, leveraging its expansive network and resources to open new markets and opportunities for The Bahamas that will deliver great benefits to the island and our people.

The Prime Minister also said his Government is confident that CTFE has the precise capabilities and track record to successfully complete and operate the Baha Mar Resort from both a lodging and casino perspective. “We look forward to having such a renowned and experienced company turn the vision for Baha Mar Resort into reality” said Mr. Christie.

CTFE said it was currently in talks with “several globally recognized hospitality brands” to be hotel operators at the resort, including Grand Hyatt, SLS Hotels and Rosewood.

The company said it was already brought on board a leadership team of executives from international brands, and will begin recruiting casino employees in the New Year.

Rosewood Hotel Group owns and/or operates 55 hotels in 18 countries, including three in the Caribbean: Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort in Antigua, Rosewood Tucker’s Point in Bermuda and the soon-to-reopen Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands.

Councilors, simply put this means the creation of thousands of much needed employment opportunities for our people.

We know well the saga of Baha Mar and The FNM:

Dr. Minnis and Loretta Butler Turner boldly predicted that PM Christie would never get the Baha Mar Project open. They were dead wrong.

Dr. Minnis suggested that the sale of Baha Mar was tied to the granting of hundreds of Bahamian citizenships. He was not only wrong but he was knowingly fueling a culture of disinformation. The Nationality Act is clear and any granting of citizenships contrary to the provisions of the Act requires an amendment to the law, a debate that wil take place live on national television. Councilors and Bahamians everywhere are warned against the deceitfulness of the likes of Hubert Minnis in this highly emotive silly season.

Dr. Minnis accused the Prime Minister of siding with Chinese allies but what is lost on Minnis is that the China Exim Bank owned the property and the court documents in both Delaware and The Bahamas clearly document the developer’s inability to complete the project and make good on his mortgage obligations to the lender. These incontrovertible facts are all a matter of public record councilors.

The sour grapes do not end there: Dionisio D’Aguilar boldly claimed that CTFE was unsuited to invest in the Bahamas, another baseless claim. CFTE has successful multibillion dollar investment holdings in over 18 countries and has been vetted over and repeatedly by governments around the world before being granted licenses and permits so councilors, we recognize selfishness and sour grapes when we hear them.

Dr. Minnis, Loretta Butler-Turner and the FNM candidate for Montague D’Aguilar strongly advocated for the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process filed by the Baha Mar developer Sarkis Izmirlian in a Delaware Court last June. The trio did so knowing full well that a successful Chapter 11 bankruptcy would make null and void all of the contracts, agreements and financial commitments Baha Mar had with its Bahamian employees, unsecured Bahamian contractors, the government of The Bahamas and its agencies such as BPL. If the FNM had their way, Bahamians associated with that project would have ended up with little or nothing, but huge expenses in seeking justice for large sums of monies rightly owed to them at the end of the chapter 11 process.

Dr. Minnis and his FNM crew clearly did not care about the welfare of Bahamians – they appeared more interested in pleasing Sarkis and doing his bidding.

Councilors, our PLP government negotiated and secured payments to severed employees, the majority of unsecured contractors, public utilities and there has not been a single word of commendation from the Free National Movement. Like I said, the FNM failed to demonstrate that they were concerned about the welfare of Bahamians. As a matter of fact, the FNM complained and vehemently the government’s decision to meet the payroll of the Baha Mar employees when Mr. Izmirlians would not. The FNM also appeared downright angry and disappointed when Bahamians received their $101.5 million payout. Let’s give a standing ovation to Prime Minister Perry G. Christie and his team for a super outstanding job in the getting the stalled Baha Mar development back on track. Again it will deliver thousands of badly needed jobs and hundreds of entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians. The Prime Minister and his government succeeded in achieving all three of objectives they stated at the time of the bankruptcy in June 2015.

Voters Resignation

During the month of January the Party will engage in a vigorous and aggressive voter registration drive for all eligible Bahamians. I have seen the latest registration statistics and strongly believe that considerable progress can and will be made during the month of January. 

NHI registration

It was reported in the news recently about 200,000 Bahamians have registered for National Health Insurance scheduled to be rolled out in early 2017. About 100,000 persons remain unregistered. I wish to take this opportunity to encourage those of you who have not already done so to please register and collect your blue smart card. It is necessary for you to participate in the benefits phases of the program. 

50Th Anniversary Majority Rule January 10th 2017

On 10th January 1967, in the House of Assembly elections the Progressive Liberal Party led by Lynden Oscar Pindling and the ruling United Bahamian Party led by Sir Roland Symonette both won 18 seats. There was one Labour MP, Randol Fawkes, who decided to side with the PLP and Alvin Braynen Independent House member became House Speaker, enabling majority rule for the first time in Bahamian history.

Lynden Oscar Pindling was sworn in on January 14th 1967 and became the first black Premier of the Bahamas, becoming Prime Minister in 1969.

Majority Rule Day in our Bahamas recently became a new national holiday to mark this historic occasion of January 10th 1967 when the colony achieved self-governance through democracy. This was the first time in the country’s history that the free will of the people was expressed at the ballot box. It was indeed a revolution.

This event was truly a social revolution that changed the course of this country for ever. This event is equaled in historic significance only by the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1834 and the attainment of statehood with independence in 1973. We must not allow a minority of persons with a selfish political agenda to exploit the emotions of our people and tell lies about our country as they seek to blot out, minimize, trivialize and rewrite our glorious history. We owe it to history to be vigilant on this score.

Bahamians will be invited to join the Party that led The Bahamas to Majority Rule and many significant achievements as we built this free modern democratic state called the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The Committee will announced details shortly.   

National General Convention January 2017

Fellow Councilors, I wish to remind all that we shall be gathering in strong numbers to attend our Party’s National Convention at the Melia Hotel Cable January 23-26. The customary Prayer Breakfast will take place on Sunday 22 January 2017.

At convention each Cabinet Minister will deliver a comprehensive presentation on his or her ministerial stewardship for the past four and one half years. Nomination of Party Officers will take place on the first day of the convention. Elections will take place the following day.

The Convention will allow the Party to present its programs, its vision for the country and to demonstrate to the nation how a united political Party should present its agenda to Bahamians.   

Finalization of nomination of Candidates.  

Due to the imminent Yuletide Season that is upon us, your leadership has decided to suspend the nomination of candidates until early January 2017. We propose to present our full slate of candidates at our Convention in January.

With that I thank you kindly for your indulgence and take this opportunity to wish each of you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year. God bless you.