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Port Seeking 14 Acres To Aid ‘Fiscal Outturn’

`By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Nassau Container Port’s operator yesterday said it plans to re-submit to the new government a request for 14 acres of extra land at Arawak Cay, in a bid to crackdown on fraud and boost the Public Treasury.

Michael Maura, Arawak Port Development Company’s (APD) chief executive, told Tribune Business that the BISX-listed port operator had first submitted the proposal to the former Christie administration four years ago, but received no reply.

Disclosing that APD now planned to approach the newly-elected Minnis government with the idea, Mr Maura said the 14 acres of land would be used to expand the Nassau Container Port and assist the Government.

He revealed that APD’s plans for the site included a Road Traffic Department (RTD) licensing and inspection facility specifically to deal with imported vehicles entering the Bahamas.

Its thinking also involved a dedicated container examination facility for Bahamas Customs, enabling it inspect twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) units and larger containers at the port rather than off-site, enabling it to better crackdown on fraud, smuggling and contraband.

“We had submitted a request for additional land, and this goes back four years ago,” Mr Maura revealed to Tribune Business. “We submitted the same request a few times, the last one going in three-and-a-half months ago.

“We had hoped to expand the port, improve services to customers, and assist the Ministry of Finance in improving collections and controls.”

He added: “We will be sending this request to this government, and hope to get a favourable response.

“If the Government replies to us and gives us additional land, we will be making additional investments in properties and facilities, which will assist in improving the fiscal performance.”

The Government holds a 40 per cent equity stake in BISX-listed APD, which is almost a public-private partnership (PPP), and it is likely to welcome any efforts to enhance tax collection with the Public Treasury desperate for every possible cent of revenue.

Mr Maura said the targeted land was adjacent to the Nassau Container Port’s southern boundary, running from just west of its existing entrance all the way along the perimeter to its western boundary in the shape of “a skinny rectangle”.

“What we have contemplated [for that land] is that we’re having conversations with the Road Traffic Department about actually putting an inspection and licensing facility at the Container Port,” Mr Maura told Tribune Business.

“As you import your vehicle from abroad, and pay VAT and Customs duties, you would be able to get your vehicle licensed.”

Mr Maura said APD’s plan was to construct offices for RTD and Customs personnel on the sought land to facilitate vehicle inspection, registration and associated revenue collection, along with other amenities to aid the latter’s revenue collection efforts.

“We were looking at a container examination facility to support Bahamas Customs’ efforts to stop fraud,” he told Tribune Business.

“They have their risk analysis, and if they determine someone is importing from a questionable shipper, or an importer was previously guilty of making a false declaration, they will have a facility to go to when they pull a container off the ship.

“It will allow Customs to conduct examinations on property, rather than let it [the container] leave the site. That begins to create a culture of compliance that helps the Public Treasury, which is so desperate to collect the taxes.”

Mr Maura said APD also planned to construct further commercial offices and facilities on the 14 acres, which it will rent out to generate further income streams for itself and its shareholders.

Mr Maura’s comments came as APD revealed it has blown past its 2017 full-year profit projections in just nine months, with total comprehensive income at end-March standing at $8.074 million - 60 per cent ahead of the $5.044 million forecast for the 12 months.

Year-to-date, APD’s bottom line is 141 per cent up on 2016’s comparative of $3.349 million, which Mr Maura attributed to the boost in TEU and import volume produced by Baha Mar and Hurricane Matthew rebuilding.

He acknowledged that APD had budgeted “conservatively” for the 12 months to end-June 2017, but said the resumption of Baha Mar construction, together with the increase in building material imports as a result of Matthew-related insurance payouts, had driven TEU volumes “about 8.5 per cent” higher.

APD set TEU volume records for five of the six months that immediately followed Matthew’s passage in early October 2016, and Mr Maura said the port operator also benefited from the collection of rental payments from Baha Mar that had been outstanding for more than a year following the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Storage income from containers was also up, as a result of Tropical Shipping and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) leaving shipping containers on APD’s premises for an extended period of time.

Mr Maura said Baha Mar’s phased opening, which will take place over the next six to nine months, would ensure an anticipated “improvement in [TEU] volumes” lasts into APD’s next financial year.

“We would expect, through the fiscal year-end of June 30, to get the benefits of the impact of Baha Mar, and expect some of that to continue through till the next fiscal year,” he told Tribune Business.

But, with Matthew-related imports set to soon taper off, Mr Maura warned that APD was unlikely to enjoy the growth seen this year during its 2018 financial year.

“We would not anticipate that kind of growth next year,” he explained.

Comments

Economist 1 week, 4 days ago

What a good idea to be able to collect a car and get it inspected and licensed all at one time.

Got to wonder why there was no response to the proposal.

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sealice 1 week, 3 days ago

Because although Perry agreed with Hubigiddee that Mike was the best Bahamian to run the port he and several other key PLP's hated the whole damn thing because it was a Hubert and the FNM plan that worked quite well.... although we still have giant frucking trucks racing down baystreet but that's another issue....

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 4 days ago

One of Minnis's 'quid pro quo' promises for campaign support he received from the Symonettes, Moskos, Mauras and other investors in APD was to grant approval for the extra 14 acres to be given to APD. Yes, indeed, it's big time pay back time for the super rich Bahamian families who financed the FNM's election campaign.

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sealice 1 week, 3 days ago

Hey racist Fuq - explain to us how that benefits those people APD is publicly owned?

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concernedcitizen 1 week, 3 days ago

Before the ports were totally privately owned , HAI got the shipping companies to put up 21 million to help build the port and the Government , that's us the Bahamian people own 40% , we can also buy shares ..Geeez Bro give it a rest ,,would you have preferred F Wilson and the Deans ,,come on there is FNM or PLP and although the FNM is not perfect they are a billion times better than the PLP ..Like Birdie you make up stuff

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TalRussell 1 week, 4 days ago

Comrades! Go ahead feel to refer to the Container Port at Kelly Island as a quasi-Hawksbill Creek-Like Agreement.
Wallace Groves was originally granted a coupe of acres - which was later increased by Sir Stafford to in excess of 200,,000 acres.

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Economist 1 week, 3 days ago

Now Tal, you know better than that. There are absolutely no parallels between this and the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.

In addition, you are showing prejudice when you refer to Arawak Cay as Kelly Island.

It is just on 50 years since the idea of selling off the man made island to pay for the Nassau Harbour Dredging, so as to repay the money borrowed by the Public Treasury for the dredging, was abandoned.

Instead you might like to note that it was the beginning of the borrow and spend, 6 or 7 Billion Dollar National debt.

It is just on 50 years since the then new Government decided to put up a Bahamas Customs building on the site.

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TalRussell 1 week, 3 days ago

Comrade Economist, when was the last time, you've spotted a Arawak Indian - running around Kelly Island to check on their guaranteed by government percentage streams of revenue?

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Truism 1 week, 3 days ago

'A bid to expand our container landing capacity and thereby earn even greater profits.' This has nothing to do with combating fraud and/or assisting the government. Assist those shareholders who purchase port shares through treasury deductions. LOL

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jackflash 1 week, 3 days ago

I as A Bahamian own shares in this business and welcome it.

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Kiley 1 week, 3 days ago

Truism did you miss the part that 40% is owned by the government? So if it benefits the share holder's won't that assist the government?

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B_I_D___ 1 week, 3 days ago

People will happily turn a blind eye to that fact...

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TalRussell 1 week, 3 days ago

Comrade Kiley, how seriously are we to take prime minister Minnis at his word that 'It's The People's Time'....Noting that every single policy announcement made thus far by the new red government - leaves the financially challenged citizens to wait in line for 'last minute action' by this already sworn into office '5-days' old red cabinet?
Okay, granted one cabinet minister is missing in action and Long Island's second coming of "Reheasa" - Adrian - was left out Minnis's red cabinet....But still????

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The_Oracle 1 week, 3 days ago

Aside the conspiracy paranoia, On site container inspection, hopefully for containers shipped to "at risk" importers carries all sorts of logistical problems, many created by the very process envisioned itself. Hmmm. Damages from unloading/reloading, missing stuff. Fraud potential walks in with every employee including Customs officers, But keep trying, might get it right!

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TalRussell 1 week, 3 days ago

ComradeThe_Oracle, from the pre election news stories it was alleged that shipments were cleared, stamped and removed - either as undervalued goods, or the goods owner simply ignored ever paying customs duties????? One them even ended up being found in possession of a stolen vehicle?
Whatever happen to those named in the stories?????

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sealice 1 week, 3 days ago

Don't you wish the PLP could hire trolls that can actually read and write with Sense.....

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birdiestrachan 1 week, 3 days ago

The rich will get richer and the poor who cares? It is a done deal, The new delivery boy will deliver, It is all right for those of certain hues to become rich. but others of a different hue are called snakes. I do not make up anything if you do not know truth when you see it then you can not be helped,

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aberylm 1 week, 3 days ago

The not so rich hardworking Bahamian shareholders in APD will be happy to know there will finally be an opportunity for meaningful returns on their investment.

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TalRussell 1 week, 1 day ago

Comrade Aberylm, I guess to avoid a smokescreen of convenience for the elite - you'd have define exactly who falls into the 'not so rich' hardworking Bahamalander ordinary souls shareholders in APD - and their quantity? Have you personally ever seen a list of shareholders? Are their annual 'not so rich' public shareholders meeting held? Where on public file can you go to see that APD Freeport quasi-like agreement signed by Papa Hubert's red regime?

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professionalbahamian 1 week, 1 day ago

This is the wrong direction - FNM needs to eliminate customs duties and collect taxes elsewhere - don't invest more to support a failed tax system that should be replaced anyway.

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TalRussell 1 week, 1 day ago

Comrade ProfessionalBahamian, you'd have be in a damn state of a coma, not to release that the very first two actions of the newest red regime's minister of finance KP - were to roll-back polices to directly benefit Freeport, and to borrow money in the name the people - to fulfill the very PLP salary campaign promises that they so criticized in opposition. All the dangerous signs done points to this newest red regime - done got big plans to borrow their first BILLION dollars, and in less than 11 months of their governing mandate - starting from May 10, 2017.
Oh sweet Jesus, please instruct Her Excellence Dame Marguerite to begs Her Majesty The Queen to reclaim us as her full status English colony.

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birdiestrachan 1 week, 1 day ago

Mr: Symonette will benefit from this land deal. Remember when the Delivery boy built this port. He gave them the monopoly for twenty years I believe. 14 acers. The people's time not those poor people from over the hill. Not them for sure.

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Economist 1 week, 1 day ago

You should be familiar with monopolies Birdie.

Remember the 20 year monopoly the PLP Government gave to Heineken for Commonwealth Brewery.

Maybe you you feel that foreigners should get monopolies only.

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