Baha Mar Resort Costing The Bahamas $315M In Lost Taxes
An economic impact report has claimed that the delays in opening of the Baha Mar resort in Bahamas as well as its placement into provincial liquidation has cost the government $315 million in tax revenue so far.
The $3.5 billion property has been mired in difficulties ever since its developer Sarkis Izmirlian declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2015 in the United States.
The Bahamian government opposed this move stating that the Bahamas was a sovereign country and asked the Supreme Court to place the property into liquidation.
The casino resort which was to open in December 2014 has been delayed several times due to a number of reasons. The government blames the general contractor which is the China Construction America (CCA) Bahamas for the delay. Several opposition leaders are saying that progress on the project has suffered because the government chose to support Chinese interests in the project. The Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China is the resort’s secured creditor.
According to the report, the $315 million lost in tax revenue comprises stamp conveyance fees of $25 million, over $30 million in casino winnings taxes, $16 million in license fees, $33 million in contributions to National Insurance Board, $13 million in departure tax and $114million in import duty as well as $81 million value added tax.
The report has highlighted a loss of $451 million in wages and salaries payment, $48 million lost in government utility payments and an overall loss in gross domestic product (GDP) to the extent of $1.9 million. The report has estimated these losses over an 18-month period.
As per the report, over 2,000 jobs were lost after the property was placed in liquidation by the government. It said that around 9,000 jobs were to be created by the Baha Mar casino resort with 3,000 of these jobs being direct employment.
A senator from an opposition party Free National Movement and former Attorney General Carl Bethel has criticized the government’s decision to place the resort into liquidation. He has alleged that the government interfered for its own reasons and ended up favouring one side over the other.
Bethel also said that Prime Minister Perry Christie had damaged his credibility by repeatedly asserting that the resort would have a new buyer and would open soon. He added that his party would launch a full Commission of Inquiry into the issue if voted into power in the next national election.
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