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Editorial: Andros Projects Show Our Potential

LIKE buses, it seems you wait forever for a project in Andros, and then three come along at once.

Better still, as we look at a world where tourism has been destroyed by COVID-19, none of the new projects depend on that, offering a way to diversify the economy.

Each project has its own pros and cons, we are sure, but the most eye-catching one has been the proposal for a free trade zone by Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Dr Soon-Shiong seems the real deal – a net worth according to Forbes magazine of $6.9bn, a part owner of the Lakers said to be a mentor to Kobe Bryant, owner of the LA Times and more. If there was a gold standard of investor that The Bahamas would like to attract, this is it.

This is the kind of investor who could have helped to breathe life into the likes of Grand Bahama again – and his project in Andros has the potential to bring a transformation.

Sadly, that proposal is attended by the kind of sniping that is unhelpful. The North Andros MP, Carlton Bowleg, has complained of “high disrespect” because he wasn’t consulted first. Honestly, Mr Bowleg, a multi-billionaire brings a game-changing proposal to the table and your complaint is that you didn’t get an invite yet?

The PLP has also come out against the project. We hope this isn’t because it’s a proposal being brought under an FNM government and they fear a political cost at the ballot box.

The PLP cite environmental concerns, which given how slow they were to take action over environmental concerns at Peter Nygard’s home, is a little rich.

This isn’t to say of course that environmental concerns shouldn’t be considered. Of course they should – it should meet all the criteria but some of this seems like opposition for the sake of doing so. Sometimes, we need to lift our eyes to the horizon and see what could be.

That should hold true beyond this project. How can we bring this kind of investor to other islands – including Grand Bahama, including the Family Islands. In short, how can we transform The Bahamas to bring all the benefits of modern society to Bahamians while retaining the beauty of the country we love?

Political capital should not get in the way of advancing the nation – and if that means more work permits for industries to help the nation grow, then why not? Especially if we put in place ways for Bahamians to get into those industries too, with training and education.

Whether each of these projects in Andros come to completion, we will see. Each will be subjected to the application process and have to deal with any problems along the way.

But that the potential is there is tantalising. Where can we turn our eyes next to make the most of the potential of our country? And what do we need to do to get there?

Taxes are inevitable - but which ones?

As Benjamin Franklin once said, nothing is certain except death and taxes. As we look at the bills we are running up in the wake of Hurricane Dorian and the economic storm of COVID-19, we know a time will come to pay them.

It is good to hear then the voices of people such as Rupert Pinder, in today’s Business section, speaking on the missed opportunity to start talks on tax reform in The Bahamas.

The University of The Bahamas lecturer points up what we already know – that our taxes are regressive, hitting poorer Bahamians disproportionately. VAT and import tariffs are consumption-based, and tend to hit the smaller wallet more than the larger one.

Finance Minister Peter Turnquest has fought shy of reform now – saying it’s “too early” to talk about such reforms as we try to overcome our current woes. But what of the future? If not this structure, then what? If not now, when?

Having the conversation costs nothing – and while no one enjoys paying money, and even less paying more money, having a broad discussion about how to fund society’s needs would help people to understand the merits and problems of each different approach.

International organisations have their own requirements – as anyone following debate about WTO membership can attest – but what do we want as Bahamians, and what do we want in return for the money we pay?

Let’s get that debate rolling – not least because it will tell us what we want as a society too.

Comments

birdiestrachan 2 weeks ago

There is no comparison with Mr: Nygard and this project. Funny the Editor should even mention him.

Political cost? does the FNM Government and the Editorial page believe this project will help them win an election.?

I hold no brief for MR: Bowleg. but This investment should have been announced by the Government and not the Investor.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks ago

From politico.com

"But Soon-Shiong’s team also directed millions of dollars to a Chicago-based health IT vendor, Allscripts, in which he has a financial stake. By the time a costly new Allscripts health IT system is fully implemented, Verity Health’s payments to Allscripts could total anywhere from $20 million to more than $100 million, according to estimates from different sources. That money could have been used to upgrade crumbling facilities and rickety elevators, or to satisfy a legal requirement to protect its buildings against earthquakes, according to a hospital administrator as well as a former consultant to the system

Should probably do more research. Who is the company that were paying for our electronic health records system. Could be unrelated just asking

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bogart 1 week, 5 days ago

Developing Harbour and Airport towards western coast of Andros lessens transportation route of lifeline of Goods from Miami to Nassau by some 50 miles going anf 50 miles coming back.

The shorter transportation route between Miani and western Andros coast gains synergies in less transportation costs fuel, manhours, shipping costs, refrigeration costs, perishable goods lifespan. Given the shorter transportation route likely have more cargo and transport vessels in competition lowering prices. Businesses can also develop with suitable tax incentives offered and supporting those will axcilliary businesses supporting those. Somewhere along the future could even be the moving of the Capitol of the nation and roadway from Nicholls to Mars point and ferry stations to other ferry stations to eastern islands across Tongue of the ocean. Lots of possibilities.

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Porcupine 1 week, 4 days ago

Sorry, don't agree. Having sailed this route between Miami and Andros many times, it is still a shallow bank for many, many miles. The cost of dredging and maintaining this route would take decades to financially justify. May as well use the Northwest Channel coming towards Nassau or turn south for Morgan's Bluff. If your vessel was a landing craft Plus, the Gulf Stream runs 3 -3 1/2 knots northerly from Miami across to Bimini. Don't see it. By the time a massive venture of this sort pays off financially, all bets are off on sea levels and Andros inundation. May be just as well to wait for the seas to rise and then start using that route.

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bogart 1 week, 4 days ago

Thank you Porcupine for your better views on the location of Harbour.

The Nation has been within one of the top 10 most expensive countries in the world to live in the last years and there must be some means to find ways to cut these costs charged and being such a short distance away from the main importer of goods.

There must be ways forward for a better future for the nation to survive.

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Porcupine 1 week, 4 days ago

Absolutely agreed Bogart, both in terms of costs and for a better future. One of the best ways to equalize the costs of living and to decrease the cost of doing business would be to immediately abandon Customs Duty as a way to raise revenue for this country. This whole system, though we have gotten used to it, contributes greatly to an extremely high cost of living and an extremely high cost of doing business. I am completely for finding ways to reduce this burden to both. Yet, the regressive and intrusive way we handle every item coming into this country is ludicrous. Now, having had first hand information as to how Customs is failing our people, I can say for sure that this system of raising revenue is holding our country back. Without doubt. Too many very talented people are forced into a terrible regime of make-work whereby the "opportunity costs" of these talented individuals are lost in efforts that do nothing to "produce" things of real value that benefit the economy of The Bahamas.or move this country forward utilizing our intellectual talent as the world forges ahead around us. We must do better. Morgan's Bluff has outstanding possibility. However, having spent a considerable amount of time there, I would hate to see the immense breath taking natural beauty destroyed to make way for industrial usage. Ecotourism should not be under estimated as a great way to preserve the natural resources while capitalizing on them at the same time. Coupled with a serious farming and cultural undertaking, it does not take a dreamer to see the very real potential here. But, it must be undertaken with the true history of the many ventures that have been proposed, and those which have actually succeeded in north Andros over the last couple of hundred years. Does Neville Chamberlain ring a bell?

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bogart 1 week, 4 days ago

Remember years ago Porcupine, on photo of old Chamberlain house, little house by the Ferry, Green Turtle Cay later owned by Dr. Kendrick. The Andros connection is the Chamberlain failed Sisal Plantation seems Mastic Point lost a lot of money. There are other stories probably questionable of some investment in Mayaguana.

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 5 days ago

This "project" is nothing but a Crown Land grab. Nothing to see here, move along. Remove the 500K acres from the equation and the VAT holiday and we'll talk.

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 5 days ago

If this deal goes through it will evidence FNM corruption, not progress.

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