This project has been mired in controversy from the start. Every other day there seems to be some new revelation. Will we have to give up too much, are we endangering our future by allowing this project to continue?
Issues surrounding this project are being tossed about like political hot potatoes. I just want some clarity on the project and what it means for The Bahamas. Is it a good thing or bad? What are the risks involved?
So, tired of the political rhetoric, i decided to go in search of some facts for my self.
The Baha Mar project is to comprise six hotels with approximately 3,500 rooms and condominiums, an approximately 100,000 square foot casino, 200,000 square feet of convention facilities, a 20-acre beach and pool experience, an 18-hole golf course and a 60,000 square-foot retail village and additional residential products. The total value of the project is estimated at $2.6 billion.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham tabled a resolution in Parliament for the multi-billion dollar Baha Mar project, laying out some of the details of the proposed deal which would require the government to transfer more than 260 acres of land to the developers before any work even begins, and grant more than 8,000 work permits to foreigners.
The issue of allowing so many foreign workers on this project and giving away crown land has become political hot potatoes. Immigrants and selling out the country have long been Bahamian hot issues and given the numbers involved in this project its no surprise they are again front and center of the debate. Some facts
- At Peak there will be 4,950 expat workers. But that is only for 6 months.
- Construction will last four years, during that time the average number of expat workers will be 1700.
These statistics were given by Baha Mar Chairman and CEO Sarkis Izmirlian when he appeared as a guest on the Love 97/JCN weekly talk show “Jones and Co with host Wendall Jones.
They don’t seem so bad as long as we can ensure that all expat workers leave. That would be up to our immigration department to monitor though… hmmm
Next there is the issue of giving away so much land to a foreign entity. Firstly The Prime Minister has said in his speech that any transfer is contingent on the completion of the project and non completion of the project means lands will return to government.
Secondly Baha Mar has released a Land Use Fact Sheet. I read it and was more at ease with the whole idea. It was made to sound like we were just transferring property to the Chinese as a kind of payment. Thats not the case at all, the property is required for the project.
Thirdly there has been some disturbing news of China using prison workers in 3rd world construction projects. I asked Baha Mar about that, you can see their answer here.
Often lost in the debate on work permits and land transfers is the benefits of the projects. A report by the Oxford Economic Company set out some of the key economic benefits of Baha Mar including:
- 6,500 Bahamians directly employed by Baha Mar by 2014
- A further 2,000 jobs indirectly created by the project, totalling 8,500
- $5.5 billion in direct wages going straight into the pockets of Bahamian families
- A further$1.5 billion in salaries for those indirectly employed
- A$14.8 billion contribution to The Bahamas gross domestic product GDP-a massive boost to the national economy.
- $24.5 billion extra in visitor spending over a 20-year period, though spending and direct taxes, taking the total contribution for the resort to$33.6 billion over the next two decades
- An extra$6.2 billion in government revenues over a 25-year horizon.
- Visits to the property jumping from 250,000 this year to 644,000 by 2016, generating a predicted 2.3 million visitor nights
- Figures have also predicted that the development will inject $880 million into The Bahamas in its first year of operation through direct taxes and spending.
- Baha Mar is projected to generate almost $15 billion in GDP, with more than 8,100 direct and indirect jobs, totaling in excess of $7 billion in wages over a 20-year period.
Those are some significant benefits! Of course there are challenges and risks. But there is no reward without risks. It is up to authorities to ensure Baha Mar complies with all rules of The Bahamas during this project.
The Central Bank of the Bahamas warned that the continuing weakness of the U.S. economy could threaten the turnaround in The Bahamas next year, citing “large-scale hotel investments” as one of the hopes of avoiding a slow and economically challenging 2011.
Basically we need Baha Mar and everything I’ve read so far suggest that this will be a good thing for The Bahamas. Lets ease up on the misinformation and political rhetoric please.