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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS BY ELCOTT COLEBY

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The Baha Mar debate continues

The public debate over the future and handling of Baha Mar continued this week with the charge of conflict of interest on the part of the Attorney General by the leader of the Opposition.

In her response, the Attorney General Senator Allyson Maynard-Gibson categorically rejected the suggestion of a conflict of interest, accused Dr. Minnis of “manufacturing an issue where none exists” and clarified what she characterized as the “undisputed facts” on the relationship between Baha Mar and Gibson family:

“I have no interest in or control of any company with ownership in Baha Mar.

“My husband, Maxwell Gibson, is the owner and CEO of one of the country’s leading 100% Bahamian family owned retail jewelry businesses. About 2 years ago Baha Mar announced to much media coverage that he, Fred Hazelwood and Wayne Chew A Tow – owners of two other leading Bahamian family owned retail businesses – had been granted leases for retail space in Baha Mar.

“The Government of the Bahamas played absolutely no role in this commercial transaction.

“Pending the opening of the resort, my husband’s company alone – as are so many other Bahamian businesses waiting on Baha Mar’s completion – is shouldering liability for the risks related to the delay” said the Legal Affairs Minister.

“These facts are easily available to Dr. Minnis” she continued.

“Nonetheless, as a warrant of my transparency, I reminded the Prime Minister of them prior to leading our Government’s delegation to Baha Mar negotiations in China.

“There is no conflict of interest” insisted Mrs. Gibson. “Baha Mar’s opening will serve all Bahamian businesses hoping to work within, or for, the resort – including my husband’s – and I make no apologies for this.”

The Attorney General again reiterated the sole objective of the government which is to facilitate the opening of the resort. 

“One objective alone has informed my actions: facilitating the opening of Baha Mar so that it may fulfill its promise and serve the interest of all Bahamians” said the Attorney General.

Turning to the legal arguments surrounding Baha Mar, the hearing in a Delaware court to determine whether Baha Mar’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will be dismissed has been postponed until August 28. 

Here in Nassau, in an attempt to allow negotiations to proceed in private and not in the public domain where unsolicited opinions are fast and furious, Prime Minister Perry Christie was mum this week on questions regarding the status of negotiations on an out of court settlement on the Baha Mar mega resort. 

Also, and in the interest of transparency, the Prime Minister has removed Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez as the government’s lead Counsel on the Baha Mar court matter to prevent and appearance of “collusion” or “Cabinet involvement” in the case; the State Minister confirmed this change on Thursday. When the Supreme Court meets on the 19th August before Justice Ian Winder to argue for the appointment of a provisional liquidator, Simon Peter Knox QC will represent the crown as lead Counsel. 

In other Baha news, the developer of Baha Mar is still unable to pay its expatriate workers despite securing nearly $15 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) loans, according to resort Senior Vice President Robert Sands. 

2015 BGCSE exam results revealed

At a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the 2015 BJC and BGCSE examination results, the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, indicated that he was “encouraged” by this year’s Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exam results. 

Student performances improved this year in under half of the 27  Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exam categories compared to 2014, but students continued to average D+’s and E’s, respectively in English language and Mathematics, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Education. READ MORE.