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Roberts: FNM Baha Mar policy would disrupt economy

A day after Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said that an FNM government would execute a “real sale” of Baha Mar to a purchaser that “believes in Bahamians”, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts charged that the FNM’s policy position on Baha Mar “is to disrupt the lives of many and the Bahamian economy to satisfy one man who proved he was unable to finish the job in the first place”.

“Minnis’ apparent chief advisor on this failed policy is the same [Free Town candidate Dionisio] D’Aguilar who helped to lead Baha Mar into bankruptcy,” the chairman said.

“Two failures cannot equal success.”

Roberts’ latest rebuke of Minnis and the FNM came last night at PLP headquarters. 

The chairman spent much of his address on the Baha Mar issue.

He said, “Dionisio D’Aguilar is clearly Dr. Hubert Minnis’ leading advisor who inspired Minnis and in the process gave him foot in mouth disease.

“This disease must also affect the functioning of the brain, because it led Dr. Minnis to put both feet in his mouth with the unbelievably stupid and naïve statement on Baha Mar that made the headlines in both of the major dailies today.”

In that statement, which created a lot of chatter yesterday, Minnis declared: “Your Free National Movement government will engage and execute a real sale of Baha Mar to a qualified and respectable purchaser who believes in Bahamians; a purchaser who will utilize only Bahamian labor to complete the resort, and will put Bahamians back to work with real jobs as quickly as possible.”

Minnis’ statement — posted to his Facebook page on Sunday — seemed to suggest the FNM government would eye a purchaser other than the current purchaser — Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE), a Hong Kong based conglomerate.

Last night, Roberts pointed out that D’Aguilar was formerly a director of Baha Mar. In 2015, then developer Sarkis Izmirlian filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware. All related cases in that jurisdiction have since been dismissed.

The filing placed Izmirlian at odds with the Christie administration.

Roberts said, “In a nutshell the developer could not finish the property.

“Our Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie demonstrated strong leadership in rescuing the failed project; ensured that displaced workers and unsecured contractors were paid in excess of $100 million; facilitated the sale of the property to a globally respected and world-class mega resort developer, and just this morning the workers in the casino operations began their orientation and training in preparation for the April soft and phased opening of the resort.

“It was a journey that took almost two years but there is tangible success and light at the end of the tunnel, all done on behalf of and for the benefit of the Bahamian people.”

The chairman added: “One would have expected that Dr. Minis would be happy for the Bahamian people and congratulate — not the PLP government — but the Bahamians who are benefitting from this project.

“Instead, Dr. Minnis said that the official FNM policy is to nationalize Baha Mar and sell Baha Mar again to Sarkis Izmirlian, the failed developer.”

Roberts also charged: “So muddled, cryptic and dubious is his policy position on Baha Mar, that one is left to interpret and fill in the blanks about what he actually means.

“What is clear is that the infamous stop, review and cancel policy of the FNM was a disaster in 2007 and any talk of this still spells disaster for The Bahamas in the future; it is a non-starter.”

Roberts insisted that the Christie administration is closing the chapter on a difficult period in the life of Baha Mar.

“Dr. Minnis and the other opposition forces agreed to go to Delaware and that proved to be a disaster and a failure,” he said.

“The Christie administration scored success on Baha Mar, and so we move forward together, ensuring that Baha Mar realizes its full economic potential for The Bahamas.”

In his statement on Sunday, Minnis did not specify who the buyer would be under an FNM administration.

In December, the prime minister confirmed that Baha Mar was being sold to CTFE.

Last month, Graeme Davis, CTFE (Bahamas) president, confirmed that Baha Mar will open without its sale being completed.

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