Statement by FNM…Minister Wilchombe Wisely Echoes the Advice of The Opposition
The Free National Movement is pleased that the Minister of Tourism, the Honorable Obie Wilchombe is now echoing the Opposition’s call for further discussions, mediation and an out of court settlement to the Baha Mar dispute that continues to worsen with every additional court action or war of words between the Government, China Construction Company and the Developer.
On more than one occasion we have advised and encouraged the Government, the Developer, China Construction Company and the Lender to vigorously and relentlessly engage in negotiations to resolve the existing impasse in order to protect their respective investments and to protect their and the jurisdiction’s reputation. Our advice was not heeded.
What started as a dispute between the Developer and the construction company has degenerated into a exceptionally complex legal problem that now features the Government as a contributor to the escalation of the conflict rather than a mediator. It is the FNM’s view that court action whether in Deleware, London or the Bahamas is likely to prolong the opening of Baha Mar rather than speed up the process. We have also contended that the inflammatory remarks made by the Government and ill-advised statements made by the Developer have only served to create anger and ill will.
Furthermore, the immature rhetoric and legal maneuvers also sends the wrong message to both the local and international community about how business is done in this jurisdiction and how disagreements are resolve when they arise. The world is watching and listening and potential investors are making determinations about the suitability of this country as a blue-chip investment destination.
We applaud Minister Wilchombe on finally addressing this issue in a mature manner given what is at stake for our country, which is still struggling to emerge out of the devastating recession that has gripped the world over the last seven years. We are aware that he has a broken with traditional conventions of Cabinet Governance and may be penalized by colleagues for sharing a point of view that differs from that of other Cabinet colleagues. However, the remarks shared by the Minister reflect the most reasonable course of action that should be taken by a responsible government that is committed to the speedy opening of the resort. We are hopeful and prayerful that irreparable damage has not been done already.
We remind the Parties to this conflict that even after the eventual opening of this mega resort it will be an uphill battle to profitability given the softness of the market and the negative press generated around the development. All concerned must be mindful that the Baha Mar brand in new to the market and has no track record. Therefore, the international travel and leisure industry are in no position to simply dismiss the present troubles of the resort as an unusual event in an otherwise stellar history. As such every effort must be made to reduce further reputational, legal and financial damage. It is in our collective interest to do so.