Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff
By Natario McKenzie
Tribune Business Repoter
A Cabinet minister yesterday brushed aside fears that Nassau Flight Services (NFS) privatisation could spark lay-offs, saying the state-owned entity needs “investment and modernisation”.
Speaking with reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Dionisio D’Aguilar, pictured, minister of tourism and aviation, said the government’s efforts to privatise NFS should be “no surprise”.
“I have been talking about this in Parliament since we took office,” he added. “The government has always made it a policy that we feel that there are a number of government entities that are better run by the private sector.
“Nassau Flight Services is small enough and can be easily absorbed or managed by a mid-level, mid-sized Bahamian company. It is our intention to empower and bring about entrepreneurship in some of our government entities, and we feel that Nassau Flight Services is right for this. The FNM had attempted this in the previous administration, and now we are revisiting it. We put it out to an RFP.”
Mr D’Aguilar continued: “We will see which companies are interested, and what proposals they will make. Government is always cash-strapped and so the company is in need of investment and modernisation.
“We feel this is certainly an avenue worth exploring. When all the proposals have been received they will be carefully evaluated by an evaluation committee and a suggestion will be made to Cabinet. The final decisions will rest with Cabinet.”
When asked whether staff lay-offs may result, Mr D’Aguilar said: “Everyone gets fearful that there is going to be downsizing and people will get laid off. That might be a result, but let’s think positively. This is an opportunity for a Bahamian company to come in. Let’s look at the positive side of it.”
The Ministry of Tourism, in a recent statement, revealed that the government will consider a franchise (operating) agreement for Nassau Flight Services as well as its outright sale. Mr D’Aguilar previously told this newspaper that foreigners need not bid to take-over the state-owned ground handler.