0

Grand Bahama Port Authority: Decisive action required to continue to achieve promise of Hawksbill Creek Agreement

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

IN response to Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis’ criticisms that the Hawksbill Creek Agreement model does not work, the Grand Bahama Port Authority said Freeport’s economy is showing signs of recovery with more than $1.5 billion in foreign direct investments well underway.

 In a statement issued on Thursday, the GBPA said that “decisive action” by the government is needed to further facilitate the continued "promise" of the agreement.

 “The GBPA agrees that decisive action is required to continue to achieve the promise of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. That decisive action should include extending the Real Property Tax exemption to all licensees, eliminating the growing uncertainty surrounding Freeport’s investment and business climate,” the company said.

 In his contribution during the Budget Communication on Wednesday, Prime Minster Davis said, unfortunately, statistics show a prolonged decline in the Grand Bahama economy.

 He said: “The evidence confirms the view of my Government that the Hawksbill Creek economic model, which was meant to attract foreign direct investment, does not work. Furthermore, in our view, the governance model of the Grand Bahama Port Authority must change, in order to realise the promise, growth, and prosperity which we all desire.”

 The GBPA gave an assurance that it remains committed to the ongoing development of Freeport, strengthening the economy and improving the lives of Grand Bahamians.

 It explained that the unprecedented destruction from multiple storms and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the decline in Freeport’s economy.

 Major investments and projects now underway in Freeport include the new Carnival Crusie Port, Royal Caribbean, ITM, and MSC cruise port, a $250m world-class hotel, residential and luxury resort by Weller and Six Senses brand, the Lucaya Solar Power, 9.5MW facility under construction, Xquisite Yachts Catamaran Centre, planned expansions at both the Western Atlantic University School of Medicine, EY (Ernst & Young), plus other projects such as the $500m GB Shipyard expansion.

 The GBPA said its ongoing promotion of Freeport as a premier destination for business investment demonstrates its commitment.

 “This,” the statement said, “includes ensuring that Freeport has the necessary infrastructure to support a growing economy to attract and retain new businesses.” 

 The GBPA also indicated that multi-million dollar roadworks are being undertaken and the beautification of the city, including the demolition of derelict and unsafe structures.

 The Prime Minister also expressed serious concerns regarding the compliance of the GBPA and its related companies with the terms and conditions of the Hawksbill Creek Act, and its subsequent amendments.

 In the statement, GBPA said its standards of service for business licenses, and building permit issuance, can be compared to practices of best-in-class countries worldwide.

 It noted that their licensing processing time for foreign direct investment takes 10 business days, subject to the government’s notation which extends the timeline.

“Our responsibility for environmental upkeep and addressing unsightly and hazardous city management and environmental concerns is of utmost importance to our team,” it stated.

 The GBPA stated that there is an urgent need to enact new Freeport bylaws that have been awaiting adoption for years, as well as the repeal of Section 68 of the EPPA, which subjects licensees and prospective investors to duplication of costly exercises and government delays.

 “Imperative action should be taken to implement recommendations tabled by the GBPA’s REEF Committee and the GB Chamber of Commerce regarding the ease of doing business in Freeport,” the statement said.

“In our view, such decisive action requires collaboration and partnership with the government, so we can work together toward the common goal of improving and strengthening Freeport for the benefit of all Grand Bahamians,” said the GBPA.

Comments

trueBahamian 1 year, 1 month ago

Interesting! The GBPA always says there's a billion projects in the pipeline. So, what's new here? They listed a lot of projects. First thing, what are the dates of completion for each? Second, let's see what actually gets done.

The PM said that the GBPA isn't adhering to the terms of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. Ok. So, say what penalty you're going to levy to get them to comply. Don't stand in Parliament giving an empty speech while Grand Bahamians starve.

Maximilianotto 1 year, 1 month ago

Interesting basis for damages lawsuits laid by the PM. So let the courts decide. Tortious interference? Next BahaMar coming.

DEDDIE 1 year, 1 month ago

Whatever the Grand Bahama Port Authority is, the Government is worst. Case and Point, East End, West End and Eight Mile Rock. They can't blame the Port Authority for the state of those settlements.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.