Gov’t investment chief: ‘We must regain people’s trust’

• Bahamas needs ‘meaningful investment beyond jobs’

• $660m in Long Island projects ‘processed’ post-election

• BIA targets ‘joint venture’ promotions for each island 


Tribune Business Editor


The Government’s investments chief yesterday admitted it has “a lot of work to do in regaining the trust of the Bahamian people” while revealing that some $660m worth of projects are on the drawing board for Long Island.

Phylicia Hanna-Woods, the Bahamas Investment Authority’s (BIA) director, told the Long Island Business Outlook conference that the agency had to prove it is “not Nassau centric” and attract “meaningful investment” that translates into real projects with economic benefits that extend beyond the mere creation of jobs.

She added that the BIA is also focusing on what she termed a “joint venture” promotion strategy, and is seeking to partner with each individual Bahamian island to “showcase” their respective needs, qualities and culture to potential investors.

Mrs Hanna-Woods said that, apart from the $250m Calypso Cove cruise port project for which a Heads of Agreement with the Government was signed recently, the BIA is also negotiating with investors seeking to redevelop the former Diamond Crystal property via a $410m, three-phase spend.

Pointing to the Long Island-related investments processed after the Davis administration took office, she said: “To-date, since September 2021, and I took on the position of director in October 2021, we’ve processed $660m worth of investments, one of which you’ve heard a lot about, Calypso Cove.

“The other proposal we’re working on is a $410 three-phase project at the old Diamond Crystal property.” Mrs Hanna-Woods said “a lot of activity” at that location, the site of the Salinas project, will take place in the coming years.

“As it relates to the Diamond Crystal project, we’re in discussions with the investor for that project,” she added. “The investor has some wonderful plans for Long Island. We hope to announce what those plans are, what the timelines are and how that translates into economic benefits.”

The Salinas project’s Facebook page names the former Diamond Crystal salt property owner as Peter Young, while the “project lead” is Nina Pesavento. Postings now almost three years-old, dating from just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2019, described Diamond Crystal Properties as being part of an entity called The Hamilton Group, with plans to create an “eco-destination” at the site.

The Bahamas National Trust, in a June 23, 2022, statement responding to Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister, said it supported the Salinas project’s plans to develop a nature reserve. “For the past several years we have been engaged with the landowner and his representatives for the Salinas project, which covers the area formerly known as the Diamond Crystal salt works,” the BNT said.

“The 10,000-acre property includes wetlands, coppice and sandy shore habitats, and is home to a variety of wildlife, including flamingos, ospreys and numerous species of scalefish. The landowner recognised the value of the site both culturally and ecologically, and determined more than 8,000 acres would be set aside as a nature reserve.

“The BNT’s involvement with this project is primarily for the reserve. We are pleased that this project appears to be low-impact and will build on a relatively small percentage of the proposed property. While we will await the submission of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for this development before offering our official review, we feel that in principle the developer appears committed to staying within a scale that is compatible with the ecology and culture of Long Island.”

Mrs Hanna-Woods, meanwhile, acknowledged that the Government has to rebuild Bahamian confidence given the multiple failed and stalled foreign direct investment (FDI) projects scattered across this nation, as well as numerous investors not delivering on their obligations and promises to local communities.

“When we sat at the Heads of Agreement for Calypso Cove, I believe last month, I remember a number of residents from Long Island being present,” she disclosed. “At that signing, one thing that resonated with me was a gentleman who was excited about the development coming to Long Island, but he would like to see boots on the ground. Seeing is believing for him.

“That said to me, as director of investments, that I have a lot of work to do across our archipelago in regaining the trust of the Bahamian people. When I say regaining the trust of the Bahamian people, as a resident of Grand Bahama I see a lot of synergies between the islands, and there’s a perception that when it comes to promotional strategy everything is Nassau-centric.

“For me, on a personal level, I have to do more work to show the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) is not a Nassau-centric agency but encompassing all islands and making opportunities available to all islands,” Mrs Hanna-Woods continued. “Another thing that resonated with me, it made me think about what meaningful investment means to our country....

“Gone are the days when we could sell foreign direct investment projects to our people based on jobs. It has to be more than that. It’s a plea to you. Tell me, as Long Islanders, how do we make sure we attract meaningful investment beyond jobs, creating entrepreneurial opportunities and expanding beyond existing business opportunities.”

Hinting that Nassau has in the past been too eager to impose its own development vision on the Family Islands, rather than responding to the desires and needs of local communities, Mrs Hanna-Woods said: “This administration has made the decision it will take the approach of specific promotion strategies that are geared towards showcasing the needs and culture of each island.

“What we plan for 2023 is bringing a number of investors to our shores, and have Long Island and all the Family Islands participate in that project which we anticipate will take a number of months to plan.... In my role, the biggest thing is making sure I’m accountable to the people, and that I deliver meaningful investment to all islands of our country with individual promotional strategies geared to the culture of each island and shape inward flows of investment so they are shared equally across the islands.”

The Government’s investments chief said the promotional strategy will not be so tourism and resort-focused, and urged Long Island residents to think of which industries can be revived or developed on the island. “Really and truly, I think this will be the first time that the BIA has really gone island by island,” Mrs Hanna-Woods said. 


bahamianson 4 months, 1 week ago

Government never had the people's trust from the start. All you do is add and increase taxes so you can have money to give your family , friends and lovers $180,000 salaries and fly around the world on our dime. Notwithstanding that you dont pay any bills on your homes because of a list , and you think you have our trust. DON'T BE DECEIVED!


Baha10 4 months, 1 week ago

How do you gain “trust” by granting Developers with “no money” permission to destroy the Island’s only Grouper Spawning Sites?!?


Maximilianotto 4 months, 1 week ago

You gain trust when the Prime Minister is your godfather-that’s enough for becoming BIA director.


SP 4 months, 1 week ago

WTF? Thinking people lost "trust" in the government L-O-N-G A-G-O!!


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