Bahamian PM: I Will Protect Atlantis Jobs

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - January 21, 2012

Above: Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham (BIS Photo)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

With Nassau’s Atlantis resort in limbo after investment firm Brookfield Asset Management canceled its decision to take control of the resort in November, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham pledged to monitor the situation and protect the huge number of Bahamians employed at the resort.

“We continue to monitor events and assist where appropriate and helpful,” Ingraham said. “Our overriding responsibility is for the protection of Bahamian jobs and the long-term viability of Atlantis.”

Ingraham, who was speaking at the political headquarters of Environment Minister Earl Deveaux, said it was a time for restraint, reminding that when the Atlantis was first proposed, it faced vehement opposition in some quarters of the country.

He also said that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, before the hotel was built, the Bahamian government, which then owned 20 percent of the hotels on the island, was struggling to make money.

“The government of the Bahamas owned 20 percent of all the hotels in the Bahamas and was losing money every day,” he said. “We worked very hard to transform Paradise Island with Sol Kerzner. He’s been good for us and good for the Bahamas.”

Choosing to put up Atlantis and its Paradise Island properties as security for loans used for investments outside the country was a “bad decision,” however, Ingraham said.

“While Atlantis/Paradise Island could support and pay for all of the monies borrowed for it, it cannot pay for what’s happening in Dubai, Mexico and elsewhere,” he said.

According to the Prime Minister, the Atlantis loan was a short-term loan with “outrageous terms” of paying off $2.5 billion in five years, which he said was not possible for Atlantis to meet.

“So, it makes good sense for [the lenders] not to fire people at Atlantis, but instead to keep up with them and try to make as much money as they can at Atlantis,” he said. “That is exactly what they are seeking to do.”

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