Published On: Wed, Oct 29th, 2014

Bahamas hotel sale to Chinese is cause for concern, says former minister

hp-Hilton-Nassau-Bahamas-Lobby-2NASSAU, Bahamas -- The sale of the iconic British Colonial hotel in Nassau, Bahamas, to the Chinese should be a cause for concern, said former minister of foreign affairs Brent Symonette.

Symonette said it is worrying that both the Hilton hotel and Baha Mar are in the hands of a single entity.

On Friday, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) signed a contract to purchase the hotel and the vacant property to its west.

Also, as a part of the Baha Mar deal, the Export-Import Bank of China lent Baha Mar’s principals $2.45 billion.

China State Construction Engineering Corporation is an equity partner with Baha Mar, and it is also the lead contractor for the resort.

“It is potentially dangerous that you have a large sector of our major industry being controlled by one group,” Symonette said.

He also asked what happened to the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) campaign slogan, “Bahamians first”.

Symonette said this does not fall in line with the rhetoric that got the PLP elected.

The Chinese have also agreed to join in partnership with the government and other stakeholders along Bay Street to implement a plan for its redevelopment, extending from Arawak Cay to Potter’s Cay.

The new luxury hotel to be built by the Chinese will create 250 construction jobs, 500 permanent jobs for Bahamians and an additional 500 jobs in the amenities and commercial components, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie.

Shadow minister of finance Peter Turnquest and Free National Movement (FNM) chairman Darron Cash also raised concerns about the sale of the British Colonial. Speaking with The Tribune, Turnquest and Cash expressed concern over the Chinese’s proposed redevelopment of Downtown Nassau.

PLP chairman Bradley Roberts accused the two of promoting ignorance and hysteria.

“I remind all and sundry that it was none other than the FNM government who established diplomatic ties with China after strenuously opposing the establishment of diplomatic ties between The Bahamas and Taiwan by the Pindling government,” he said.

“They knew full well that Hong Kong would be returned to China on July 1, 1997, therefore, the approval of Hutchinson Whampoa as an investor in Grand Bahama container transshipment port meant a choice between China and Taiwan. So the FNM government introduced China to The Bahamas and kicked Taiwan out of the country in exchange for investment dollars.”

He said it was the FNM who later approved the Baha Mar investment using Chinese capital and labour.

Roberts asked whether the FNM members had just awoken from a “red Kool-Aid-induced Rip Van Winkle-esque cryogenic slumber”.

By Travis Cartwright-Carroll - Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter

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