Business Community Says 'Embrace Baha Mar'

The Government was yesterday urged to "embrace" the $2.6 billion Baha Mar project and do everything they can to ensure it happens, a former Chamber of Commerce president telling Tribune Business the development was something "the economy so desperately needs".

Dionisio D'Aguilar, the president of Superwash, speaking to this newspaper from Greece, said news of the signing of the $2.5 billion loan agreement between Baha Mar and its partners was "excellent", and should provide the spark of investment capital and confidence that might be enough, by itself, to turn the Bahamian economy around and drag it out of recession.

Praising Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar's chief executive and chairman, for his "persistence and patience", Mr D'Aguilar said: "He certainly didn't have much help from the Bahamian government, at least none that was visible. I didn't see them facilitating and pulling for it. I think they secretly believed that he'd never pull it off."

He added: "It's [the Baha Mar project] what's needed, and comes at the right time when the Bahamian economy needs an injection of confidence. The economy so desperately needs something like this.

"I hope the Government pulls out every single stop to make it a success. Whatever approvals they have to give, I hope they move expeditiously and proactively. It's time for them to embrace this one, because look what happened when they did not embrace it, like last time."

Mr D'Aguilar also called upon the Ingraham administration to 'make the case' and "convince the Bahamian people" that while allowing several thousand Chinese construction workers in on work permits might cause some short-term pain in terms of lost building sector jobs, this was outweighed by the long-term benefits from some 8,000 permanent jobs in Baha Mar's resorts.

Stephen Wrinkle, the Bahamian Contractors Association's (BCA) president, agreed that the Baha Mar project might be enough on its own to "turn the corner and see some positive economic growth".

Apart from work on the actual project itself, Mr Wrinkle said it would likely create spin-off construction work for contractors through the development of new small strip-malls, apartments, duplexes and other real estate.

Source: The Tribune