Monday, September 20, 2010

Baha Mar Resolution Iced

Guardian News Editor

The government has shelved plans to debate a resolution on the controversial $2.6 billion Baha Mar project on Wednesday, The Nassau Guardian understands.

Instead, it will bring a resolution to approve the borrowing of $68 million to construct a four-lane highway between Lynden Pindling International Airport and the new six-legged roundabout on John. F. Kennedy Drive.

Leader of Government Business in the House Tommy Turnquest said yesterday that there was a change in plans given that the government had not yet received any confirmation that Baha Mar executives have settled a critical loan issue with the Bank of Nova Scotia(Scotiabank).

Baha Mar Chairman and CEO Sarkis Izmirlian was in Toronto last week meeting with top bank officials on the matter. Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham previously said the expectation was for this matter to be resolved by this week.

However, last night it appeared that a resolution had not yet been reached.

The Scotiabank loan issue is considered a final hurdle before the government decides on whether to give final approval for the project. Baha Mar is requesting 8,150 work permits for the mega development. The foreign labor component has shaped up to be the most controversial aspect of the deal.

The government had planned to debate the Baha Mar resolution on Wednesday and Thursday, but plans to do so after the banking issue is cleared up.

Instead, the focus will be on the airport highway resolution.

Last year, the government signed an agreement with China to finance that road project.

The 20-year concessionary loan will be made through the Chinese Export-Import Bank.

The agreement was signed during an official visit of Wu Bangguo, the chairman of the standing committee of China's National People's Congress, to The Bahamas.

During the visit, China and The Bahamas signed several other agreements, including a US $7.32m grant to help fund the construction of the national stadium.