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GBPA told to pay $300m in 30 days

Grand Bahama Port Authority

Grand Bahama Port Authority

Govt escalating pressure on Port Authority over claim of money owed

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Chief Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Davis administration has sent a demand letter to the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), giving it 30 days to pay more than $300m allegedly owed to government over the last five fiscal years.

The Tribune understands the letter, which was sent last week, is in regard to clause 1(5)(c)of the Hawskbill Creek Agreement.

The letter represents an unprecedented escalation in the government’s pressure campaign against the GBPA, which Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis has accused of failing to follow its obligations under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.

Representatives from the GBPA and the Office of the Prime Minister declined to comment when contacted by The Tribune yesterday.

Tension has been brewing publicly between the GBPA and the government since Mr Davis said last year that the authority is failing to maintain Freeport’s infrastructure and facilitate the growth of the city.

The government has previously demanded that the GBPA reimburse it for costs incurred in providing public services in Freeport over and above what it has earned in tax revenues from the city.

The latest letter says the GBPA must pay the government within 30 days. It follows presentation of an account of costs to the government, plus 25 percent of those costs. The total demand is $357m, and covers the years 2018-2022.

However, Freeport’s quasi-governmental authority last June hit back by arguing that the sums sought by the government are “contested” and “it is yet to be satisfied”. The claims are said to be supported by credible evidence.

GBPA’s president, Ian Rolle, said earlier this year that the two parties are engaged in dialogue regarding the island’s future.

“There’s no other island in The Bahamas who suffered like Grand Bahama was a result of these natural disasters, and so I think persons on the island have become frustrated and had communications with government, etc, and that caused the government, very passionate about every single island wanting development to happen, was very concerned,” he told reporters on the Bahamas Business Outlook’s sidelines.

“But we are pleased to actually say to everybody that we have well over $1.5 billion, almost $2 billion worth of projects now for Grand Bahama and I think the government has also said that recently, in fact, the PM said today, he reiterated what we’ve been saying for a while about the number of projects in the pipeline that will help transform the economy of Grand Bahama.”

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said in November that the government informed the existing owners of Freeport’s quasi-governmental authority that it is prepared to acquire the GBPA and its affiliated assets if no suitable private investor or buyer emerges.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell later said the government had withdrawn an offer to buy out the GBPA’s two shareholders, the Hayward and St George families, in favour of arbitration action.

Comments

TimesUp 3 months, 3 weeks ago

What a mess. Just as Freeport has the slight glimmer of opportunity, they pull this. It screams punitive, retaliation, and anger from the Government. Its clear that they want to force the Port out using underhanded tactics. Investors will see this and step back.

There is no win win here for Freeport in any outcome. Licensees and then me and you will ultimately eat the cost of this battle. The court costs alone over the next decade will probably amount to enough to have repaired the airport or hotel.

sheeprunner12 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Freeport should have never been able to exist ............. How can a house be divided against itself and remain viable????? How can a quasi-country exist within another country?????

The GBPA/DevCo has been milking its assets and its value-added entities for some time now. Only a storefront remains there today from the Ingraham era.

The PLP allowed this foreign entity to continue beyond 1973 ........... Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

moncurcool 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Have you seen the difference between Freeport and West End run by the government?

Have you seen the difference between Freeport and East End run by the government?

That would tell you what Freeport would be if run by the government. And tit would tell you what Grand Bahama would be if the government gets out.

sheeprunner12 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I expect all Uncle Toms (like the above) to say that ........... Which Bahamians really made money out of the GBPA?????? ........... Albert Miller et. al???????

It was a national scam from Day One ......... I guess the con artists who colluded with the White Boys made money ........ the rest are picking peas out of the shit.

moncurcool 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Uncle Tom. Take your head out of the cloud.

This Bahamian who LIVES in Grand Bahama, has made money.

Since you believe the government is so good at Grand Bahama, why don't you leave your Nassau comfort zone and you move there and live in West End or East End. Or Eight Mile Rock. and then see how great the government is at providing services for you.

sheeprunner12 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Truthfully, no other island ppl look for handouts and Govt assistance and NGO giveaways like Grand Bahama. On one hand, they think like Americans, but on the other hand, they beg like street ppl. I suppose you will say that all of the beggars, street ppl and homeless ppl live in East & West GB. Stop using 20 years of hurricanes as a crutch & learn to live independently of the GBPA. The rest of us don't go around everyday waiting on a Great White Hope. We work hard.

Dawes 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm guessing that there is a document which states who should provide what and the cost etc so this can be easily verified. At the same time no company will pay $300 million every 5 years to get what Freeport has gotten from Government. So i am sure this will now be in courts for years. This is most likely a tactic to try and force the families to sell up at a reduced price. Will see if it works, but as TImesup says it sends a strange message to potential investors, especially when Government agreed to extend the Port until 2054 only a short while ago.

DiverBelow 3 months, 3 weeks ago

A sure sign of desperation to investors. It will be most interesting to see Govt negotiations as this drags out... like Trump they have little money of their own.

TalRussell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

If not "DEE-sent," now after 69 years ---- Then when to tame Freeport's private families inherited owned quasi (GBPA) government powers. --- Good Day!

The_Oracle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Firstly, the original H.C.A runs until 2054. Certain tax concessions that ran out were extended twice ultimately until 2016. by government. Secondly, the Government seems to be seeking to recover ALL government costs for G.B. of which east and west are the governments responsibility. Only certain HCA named costs were to be offset if costs for those rose beyond revenue. If they were seeking only government costs for Freeport they'd have to have separation of the costs to remove east and west end. 3rd, the government speaks out of both sides of their mouths, first attacking and second lauding and claiming responsibility for projects they have nothing to do with. Lastly, in that government has on average attacked Freeport every 5 years since "Bend or Break" it would seem Freeport is pretty resilient in the face of ever present and threatened government hostility. Bahamians need to realize that with 80% of licensees being Bahamian this government is attacking its own citizens, not the foreign devil (as it were) Irrespective of political bent both major political parties active leadership have both been very cosy with the port ownership and also attacked them at the same time. Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Government desperation for money makes everyone a target. Today Freeport, tomorrow......?

TalRussell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

@ComradeThe_Oracle, do you not concede, you has to look back before steppin' forward. --- That without being placed under "Bend or Break" ---- The GBPA, would'e remained pretty resilient at keeping 80% of licensees from being Bahamian. --- Good Day!.

DEDDIE 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I am a licensee of the Port Authority and I prefer the Port Authority running Freeport than the Government on any given day. The government shouldn't be allowed to run a petty shop. Everything the government touches it rans it into the ground. Examples include NIB, Bank of the Bahamas, BPL, Bahamas Air and numerous others.

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