What’s the Pointe? No record on Chinese workers

What’s the Pointe? No record on Chinese workers
An artist's rendering for The Pointe Bahamas. (PHOTO: POINTEBAHAMAS.COM)

The government is currently unable to accurately track the ratio of Chinese to Bahamian workers employed at The Pointe development, Immigration Minister Brent Symonette revealed to Eyewitness News Tuesday morning.

While speculations continue to mount concerning whether The Pointe development is in breach of its contract, as it pertains to the ratio of Chinese to Bahamian workers, the government has confirmed that it is not fully-equipped to calculate an accurate ratio for workers on that site.

“The current computer system at the moment does not allow us to work figures to determine the actual worker ratio,” Symonette stated.

“The Department of Immigration is in the process of becoming fully computer automated by summer 2018.”

Symonette confirmed that the modernized computerization of the immigration department is progressing smoothly.

“The first phase has been successfully rolled out and we are hoping that citizenship and work permits will be rolled out in July of this year. We hope that a new computer system will be able to give answers to all of these questions,” he said.

Considering that Minister Symonette was unable to provide the media with accurate worker ratio statistics at The Pointe, he subsequently passed the buck to the labour department.

“It’s a Department of Labour matter and not an immigration matter and we will probably be discussing that this morning. But, I can tell you that I am not aware of any excessive amount of work permits being issued to China Construction America (CCA) nor The Pointe,” he said.

Meanwhile, Robert Farquharson, director at the Department of Labor said emphatically, that the development is not in breach of its contract.

His comments were substantiated by statistics compiled in 2017.

“We would have conducted a site inspection at the development sometime last year. At that time, we confirmed that the terms within the heads of agreement (HOA), which was a 70:30 split, was in place,” confirmed Farquharson.

According to Farquharson, labour officials have not conducted a site inspection since then.

The Pointe development, which began in 2015, is governed by a heads of agreement (HOA) signed with the 2012 Christie Administration. But the HOA is not one the current Minis administration favours, according to Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes.

“The prime minister is not happy with the ratio but it is an agreement that we met in place that the former government signed off on. We are uncomfortable with that ratio but we have to honor the agreement that the previous government made,” Foulkes said.

“We have no evidence to suggest that the 70:30 ratio is not being adhered to and there have been no complaints regarding that.”