With Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) pegged to purchase Baha Mar, Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday announced the “imminent hiring” of 1,500 employees in the New Year to coincide with the mega resort’s phased opening.
Christie, who addressed members of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHA) at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, said with the phased opening of the casino hotel, the convention centre and its hotel, and the golf course, the contingent workforce is expected to rise to 3,300 by August 2017 and 4,300 by December 2017.
“The China Export-Import Bank has provided additional funding to complete the Baha Mar project and construction work is well underway,” he said.
“You may have heard by now the announcement regarding the acquisition of the Baha Ma properties by a Hong Kong based company, a world class hotel, real estate developer, and business conglomerate.
“They are [arranging] for operation by the Grand Hyatt of the casino and convention hotels and the other properties by SLS [Lux] and Rosewood, all internationally renowned brands, beginning with a phased opening [in] the second quarter of 2017.
“These operations will almost immediately begin to have a positive economic impact.
“My government has been working to ensure there will be continuous employment opportunities in the tourism sector for our young people over the ensuing years, starting with the imminent hiring of 1,500 employees at Baha Mar early in the New Year.
“This is to facilitate the phased opening of 1,800 rooms at the conference and casino hotel, the casino convention center and golf course; and employment of up to 3,300 by August of 2017 and 4,300 by December 2017, when all components have been completed and opened.”
After the project remained stagnant and in receivership for more than a year, Christie announced in August that work would restart in September.
At the time, the prime minister said the project could finally see the end of its construction phase by the 2016/2017 winter season.
The prime minister said yesterday that the general contractor, China Construction America (CCA), has over 500 employees on the work site and given its oversight of standards and the construction timetable, the scheduled completion of the properties is ensured.
“The company by the name of CTFE is planning to invest hundreds of additional millions of dollars in pre opening festivities, the development of family amenities, entertainment and offshore island facilities; and under consideration [is] the demolition and redevelopment of the former Crystal Palace Hotel,” Christie said.
“With these additional investments completed, the project will have created 5,700 new direct jobs, [and] an additional 4,160 indirect and induced jobs.”
The prime minister also spoke of his administration’s successful negotiations for the CEXIM Bank to pay Baha Mar’s unsecured creditors and former employees, who were owed millions of dollars when Baha Mar came to a standstill in June 2015.
There remain lingering questions over the full contents of the agreement between the government and the bank, a document that has been sealed by the Supreme Court amid great controversy.
The Official Opposition has lamented the move, calling it a secret deal with the Chinese.
The government has said it intends to settle the claims of unsecured creditors by the end of the year.
Around 2,000 workers were owed severance and vacation pay by Baha Mar’s companies.
Approximately, 1,930 workers have since received payments.
As part of an ongoing payout process, around 200 unsecured creditors owed under $500,000 have also been paid.
The Nassau Guardian
Published December 3, 2016