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Bahamas government reports ‘considerable progress’ in Baha Mar negotiations

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Nassau, 28 Jul 2015 – The Government of The Bahamas announced today that 4 party talks, held from 26 to 28 July, between Baha Mar Ltd (“the Developer”) (led by Mr. Greg Djerejian – BML Vice President Asia-Pacific); the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (“the Contractor”) (led by Mr. Chen Guocai – Vice President); the China Export Import Bank (“EXIM”) (led by Mr. Liu Liange – President) and the Bahamas Government (led by Hon. Allyson Maynard Gibson QC – Attorney- General) resulted in considerable progress on the commercial terms of an agreement between Baha Mar and China Construction. The remaining major point of difference between the parties is Baha Mar’s refusal to provide their part of a guarantee required by EXIM to secure a commitment of additional lending to enable completion of the Project. Representatives of the parties included numerous professional and expert advisers. The negotiations were frank and cordial, conducted on an impartial manner presided over by the Honourable Allyson Maynard Gibson QC, representing the Prime Minister of The Bahamas.

EXIM and the Government of The Bahamas were Observers at bilateral talks held from 20 – 24 July between the Developer and the Contractor. EXIM also chaired a meeting between the Developer and Contractor on 24 July 2015, at which the Government of The Bahamas was an Observer.

The 4 party talks were convened in an attempt to resolve issues arising from the Developer’s inability to complete Baha Mar due to construction cost overruns and other serious financial matters

Baha Mar did not attend day one of the talks. Mr. Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar’s principal, did not attend the 4 party talks at all.

On several occasions during the talks the Attorney General restated that the Governments sole objective is that as soon as possible the Project should be remobilized with a view to completion of the Project and the opening of the resort in the shortest possible time. The Government prefers agreement between the parties which is why the Prime Minister asked the delegation to return to Beijing for a second attempt at a negotiated settlement in the context of 4 party talks. Useful bilateral discussions were held between the parties on the way forward for completion of project as soon as possible.

During the 4 party talks the parties arrived at several proposed compromises. While urging the parties to arrive at an agreement during the talks, EXIM pointed out that the contract documents between the parties stipulates that cost overruns should be borne by the Developer and that the Contractor should finish the Project. The contract documents were drafted in this manner so that the Project would be completed and the parties would then be free to pursue remedies against each other in the courts. As EXIM indicated, Baha Mar has decided not to complete the Project in accordance with the contract documents.

The new financing proposed for Baha Mar would include $200 million in new lending by EXIM, over and above the amount still available under its existing credit facility. EXIM has insisted that its new $200 million credit extension be guaranteed by the Contractor and/or the Developer. The Developer has proposed to provide a standby letter of credit to back $25 million of the new $200 million credit extension. The Contractor has offered to guarantee the remaining $175 million on the condition that it receives a corresponding guarantee by the Developer. In the most recent discussions the Contractor has agreed that the amount of the guarantee could be limited to $100 million. The Developer has declined to provide any guarantee (apart from the $25 million letter of credit) and has proposed as an alternative that the Government provide EXIM with a “sovereign guarantee” of up to $175 million in place of any guarantee by the Contractor.

The talks ended with the parties agreeing to continue discussions among themselves. It was understood, however, that in the meantime the parties might continue to pursue other legal options.

The Bahamas delegation is on its way to The Bahamas where it will brief the Prime Minister and Cabinet at the earliest opportunity.

The Attorney General thanked representatives of the Chinese Government, EXIM, the Contractor, the Developer and The Bahamas delegation for their valuable assistance in facilitating the talks. The Attorney General also thanked the Prime Minister for the time and attention he gave to this exercise by being continuously available day and night for consultations and guidance.

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Minister Moxey says partnerships for development will help get Grand Bahama going again

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#TheBahamas, November 27, 2021 – One means by which Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey plans to utilize every resource at her disposal to get things moving for Grand Bahama again, is to utilize partnerships for development.

“Success with these partnerships on our island are embedded in collaborative efforts between the ministry of Grand Bahama, other government ministries, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Hutchinson Whampoa Holdings Ltd., industry stakeholders and the business community at large,” explained Minister Moxey.

“We must unite and work together to build alliances for success with the ultimate goal of ensuring that Grand Bahama Island excels.  We are all in this together.”

The Minister’s remarks came during her keynote address at the ninth annual Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Luncheon, which was held on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at Pelican Bay resort. The event is held to honor Grand Bahamian business owners for their commitment, achievements and dedication to the development of the second city.

Minister Moxey pointed out that this year’s event, under the theme, celebration of excellence, acknowledges and highlights businesses on Grand Bahama that have stayed the course. She added that this kind of recognition is a beacon of hope for local business owners who have faced and overcame some of the most challenging circumstances ever encountered within the island’s history.

“On November first during my contribution on the bill to thank the Governor General for his Speech from the Throne, I pledged to the nation that I would do the people’s business and utilize every resource at my disposal, to get the job done for Grand Bahama,” said Minister Moxey.

“As a Grand Bahamian and business owner, I can attest to the challenges we have faced over the past decade. The devastation of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which was closely followed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. It further strained our already fragile economy. Today’s administration is also well aware of the challenges that Grand Bahama has faced over the past decade. Nevertheless, we will deliver on our commitment to recover, rebuild and revolutionize our island, our economy and usher our people into the new day.

“I would like to thank all of the businesses represented today, that have kept their doors opened and our people employed. To all of the Business Excellence Award nominees, I congratulate you. Remain encouraged and know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“To the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, thank you for being a staple in the business community and for celebrating excellence for the past nine years. Welcome back business excellence awards.”

 

By Andrew Coakley

Photo Caption: Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey (right), along with President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Greg Laroda presents Mrs. Leslie Baptista, of Paint Fair, with the President’s Award, during the ninth annual GB Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Luncheon, which was held on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at Pelican Bay resort.

(BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

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Caribbean Development Bank to offer solutions for TCI with Sea Defences

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 27, 2021 – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has committed $600,000 to investigate upgrades to sea defences in the Turks and Caicos Islands, disclosed by the Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Akierra Missick as she sought to reassure residents about the state of the defenses.

Concerns were raised by residents recently when the newly paved Front Street, Grand Turk was severely flooded because the sea wall was unable to hold back massive waves.

Minister Missick acknowledged the concerns but said that the government had been working on upgrades since August of this year. This, she said, had begun with a “holistic review of all of the island’s sea defenses.” It was revealed that this review is being done through an environmental consultancy agency.

The consultancy is set to run for 11 months.

At the end of the consultation period, the government should have what Missick described as shoreline characterization for Grand Turk and Salt Cay as well as designs for measures to break wave strength before it reaches shore and infrastructure upgrade designs for the entire coast of Grand Turk and Salt Cay.

Feasibility studies will be carried out alongside these infrastructure designs to determine their effectiveness.

Meetings between CDB and stakeholders including residents, tourism operators, engineers, coasts resource advisors, and others are set to occur over the 11 month time frame.

A coastal resource and vulnerability analysis is also set to be completed. This, Missick said, is a pre-emptive effort to prevent future problems.

Opposition leader Edwin Astwood spoke out regarding the flooding incident. He said the flooding was caused by faulty engineering of the sea wall rather than drainage along the road. In the House of Assembly on November 22, Astwood claimed the wall, which should have been built with a curve, was built flat.

Missick has not yet responded to the claims but has promised that CDB’s preliminary report should be tabled with Government by Summer 2022.

 

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Leading revenue earners need to include a boosted Financial Services Sector says Finance Minister Saunders

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 27, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos economy has surpassed expectations for revenue by almost $90 million dollars. Finance Minister E.Jay Saunders revealed the top four categories that spearheaded the increase, accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the revenue brought into the TCI.

The information was presented at a November 8 press conference where the Finance, Investment and Trade Minister also provided a simplified version of country finances in a Citizens’ Guide to the Budget.

Saunders said, in his presentation, that every single revenue item overachieved, pushing the original $271 million dollar budget to a projected $361 million.

The first category was Work Permits which is projected to have, a near $2 million dollar increase. Next was Accommodation Tax, which is projected to have an almost $15 million dollar increase in revenue, followed by Customs Import Duties with a projected $22 million dollar increase.  Finally, Stamp Duties rounded out the main four with a whopping $34 million projected increase.

He did warn that despite its brilliant performance, the TCI economy must diversify and do so soon. He cited supply chain issues that are currently affecting the global market saying that if even one of the major categories of revenue were to be affected it could be detrimental for the economy.

He said “Over 80% of our revenue comes from four categories…When we talk about diversifying this is one of the reasons why, because of anything happens to say, Customs Import duties it would be a disaster.”

In tandem with this call to diversify that the minister made significant mention of Financial Services as a fifth category for fiscal development. He said that despite the industry still being fairly small that “if the government can manage to grow it just a little bit it would make a huge difference.”

Cayman and the BVI were cited as examples of territories which had managed to build strong financial services sectors. He assured the press that, “The only thing we have to do is modernize our legislation and become more of a competitor…and we don’t need to increase our market share significantly to grab another 50 million dollars.”

In contrast, the biggest expenses were Salaries, Pensions, and Hospital charges with the Ministry of Health getting the bulk of the budget.

While the Finance Minister was pleased with the progress, he also expressed his determination that the TCIG be able to increase their now $360 million budget to $400 or even $500 million.

This, said Saunders, would allow the government to hit their 2040 goals to improve quality of life for TCI citizens.

 

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