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UPDATED PM: It is ‘intolerable’ that GBPA has not lived up to deal

PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis.

PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis.

BY LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Chief Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis threatened to begin arbitration proceedings against the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) if it fails to pay more than $300m owed to the government within the 30-day deadline.

Mr Davis, who was addressing a crowd of Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporters at a party branch meeting in Grand Bahama Saturday night, said it’s “intolerable” that the authority has failed to live up to its obligations under the Hawksbill Creek agreement to facilitate Freeport’s growth.

His comments came nearly two weeks after the government sent a demand letter to the GBPA, giving it 30 days to reimburse $357m owed to the government over the last five fiscal years.

The letter, which includes a detailed account – prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers - of reimbursements owed to the government, represents an unprecedented escalation in the government’s pressure campaign against the GBPA.

“I hear some folks asking why are we now asking for money after all these years?” Mr Davis added. “Now, PLPs, I can’t tell you why (former Prime Minister Hubert) Ingraham didn’t do it, and I can’t tell you why (former Prime Minister Perry) Christie didn’t either but you can ask them.”

“My name is Brave Davis and it’s a new day.”

Last week, Tribune Business reported that the GBPA does not believe it owes $1 to the government and “vehemently” disputes its claim.

However, Mr Davis said if the authority fails to reimburse the government within 30 days, his administration “has the right to immediately begin arbitration proceedings.”

“When profits are threatened, when bills are due – things tend to get noisy but this is the right thing to do because it is intolerable to ask the Bahamian people to continue subsidizing private profits,” the prime minister said.

Mr Davis said the government’s actions against the authority are nothing personal, adding there were many meetings between both parties, but still too many “delays” and “dead ends.”

“When only one side appears interested in advancement – and when the people of Freeport urgently need change and progress – then decisive action is only the choice,” he said

He conceded that the government has a very strong case but warned the road ahead will likely be bumpy.

He told Grand Bahamians they deserve thriving communities with an inclusive economy that “generates opportunity, dignity and security,” noting it’s been far too long since Freeport was moving in the right direction.

“In many cases, the government has had to step in where the port has failed,” he told PLP supporters. “It is intolerable that the port is not meeting critical infrastructure and development obligations. It is intolerable to let the status quo continue.”

Mr Davis said he recently called a meeting with the authority’s stakeholders and trustees about his concerns and told them: “I had no confidence in their ability to continue.”

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.

They are seeking reimbursement under section one, subclause five, of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, which stipulates that it can seek payment from the GBPA for providing “certain activities and services” if the costs involved exceed certain tax revenue streams generated in the city.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville, who was also present at Saturday's meeting, said the government’s latest action is just the beginning of what’s to come.

"What we're doing for Grand Bahama is going to revolutionise and change the economic blueprint and footprint for the island," he said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell added: "We have a responsibility as leaders of the country to determine the future of Freeport when there is no longer that agreement and the better time to start thinking about is now."

This article has been updated with additional comments

Comments

moncurcool 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Pure political grandstanding.

TimesUp 3 months, 2 weeks ago

As a GBPA licensee I can attest that my biggest hurdle in doing business in Freeport is the Government, and its departments and ministries.

Not all licensee's will want to keep the current owners, but I can guarantee that none would prefer government control.

It has long been the feeling that the government cannot allow Freeport to succeed, the optics wouldn't look good for them.

The issue the government now faces is that they have laid their cards on the table. Any forward thinking individual can see their end game. A succesfull legal case means government take over. No private company will buy the port knowing that they face 300 million dollars of expense every 5 years.

This move will force the licensee's to stand behind the port or risk their future to the very same government that has sought to destroy them.

hrysippus 3 months, 2 weeks ago

That “Bend or break” speech worked before. Let the PLP keep The Assembly floor. The Freeport economy got destroyed, The foreign investors got annoyed; But Ping an ‘ Dem won the election, Promising improved political perfection. And what worked once should work again, With an electorate less Abel than Cain. Stabbing your brother in the back, Election politics right on track.

ThisIsOurs 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"Davis, who was addressing a crowd of Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporters at a party branch meeting in Grand Bahama Saturday night"

That's all we need to know, this is clearly an election ploy. Freeport is one small part of Grand Bahama. Why didnt the PM tell these same supporters about why the rest of the island is back in the 1920's?

moncurcool 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Exactly.

The man responsible for East End and West End can't even do anything with them.

TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Sometin' new and excitin' it will trigger divine intervention for Independents' to mingle 'freely; Come General Election time ---- Will be seen as the largest democratic exercise since The Colony's introduction of voting by secret ballot. --- Good Day!

stillwaters 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Brave must think he's Trump. All over the place picking fights with people.

TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

'The Merchants of Freeport', don't have to wait for a Royal Proclamation of 2024 to be issued before tookin' control over their own affairs when Sir Stafford Sands, remarkable legalese, 'written under the table' into the 1955 :Hawksbill Creek Agreement ---- Precisely provides such. --- Good Day!

John 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It is Hubert Ingraham with his stupid grin that took the bite and the teeth out of Sir Lynden Pindling’s ‘Bend or break’ speech that got Freeport in the quagmire between the government and the GBPA today. Instead of advancing the fundamentals of the bend or break speech? Ingraham jumped in bed wholesale with the Port and joined them is calling the BaHAMAS Government and the Bahamian people the laughing stock. If the Port owes the government, then it should pay. If it doesn’t owe, then it should disqualify the claim legitimately and not brush it aside like it is a joke. And if the GBPA is not living up to its duties and responsibilities it should be given a ‘show cause’ letter and either pull up its socks or ‘push out’ Grand Bahama and , more specifically, Freeport must take advantage of this boom in the global economy to right itself. If it misseds this opportunity then it will have to endure another downturn with out having a recovery. That will make things twice as hard on Freeport Residents

JohnDoes 3 months, 2 weeks ago

When an agreement is agreed upon by organized crime, how can you expect not to become a victim? Do you all know how much 50,000 acres is with a land option of adding another 50,000 acres? No wonder the U.S. labeled us as a 'Country for Sale'. The Hawksbill Creek Agreement was a facade from its inception; a big organized crime initiative with the gist of 'development' to make it sound good, so good that when it expired in 1985 they renewed it to 2054. Only a sell-out would place a signature on that. And now you expect your chickens to roost in 2024? For too long Bahamians have been waiting on promise of running water, instead they listened to Pindling telling them its okay to use buckets, we coming with toilets for yinna soon:

This is the person/entity that the Hawksbill Creek Agreement was curated for (also remember, Sir Stafford Sands was also this man's lawyer): Wallace Groves (c. 1901–30 January 1988) was a prominent financier and fraudster, who, after his release from federal prison in 1944, moved to the Bahamas and there founded and operated the free trade zone, resort, and casino development Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. Investigators of U.S. organized crime associate him with the Meyer Lansky syndicate operating offshore casinos from Miami Beach.

concernedcitizen 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The PLP squeezed and robbed Izzy for the Chinese , now they trying to do it to GBPA ,,I wonder what crooked investor they pimping for

TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

We'll just have to check back in another 464 years! --- A man was angered sufficiently to have chopped off a leg of Christopher Columbus statue with a sledgehammer of a man who lived 500 years ago.--- When Freeport Licensees' says they still have fond memories of a Freeport resident-man Wallace Groves.--- Memories best left untouched of a man who lived just 36 years ago. --- They mean it. --- Good Day!

DEDDIE 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The Government strong selling point is the beautiful township of East, West End and the suburbs of Eight Mile Rock.

ThisIsOurs 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell added: "We have a responsibility as leaders of the country to determine the future of Freeport when there is no longer that agreement and the better time to start thinking about is now.""

lol. Apr 6th 2024, 5 years after Dorian, 3 years after COVID, 3 years after general election, 6 months after Obie's passing, 6 months after by election we ready to do miracles....

they ready to start thinking about what to do for Freeport. The Selling Dreams Master, the new kung fu movie coming to theatres near you.

Socrates 3 months, 2 weeks ago

now we know why all the trips to Africa.. getting pointers on how to run your country the Africa way... it will get you votes, but nothimg more.

John 3 months, 2 weeks ago

If GBPA never paid any recoverable to government in SEVENTY years and owe the government $357 million in FIVE years then the GBPA can be owing the government around FOUR BILLION DOLLARS!!! And if you were to add accumulated interest over a SEVENTY-YEAR period, that amount can easily exceed TWELVE BILLION DOLLARS! That can pay off the country’s national debt with comfort.

. And if you take into consideration the thousands of acres of property given to to the Port ( Bahamian people’s Crown Land), what consideration was given to the Bahamian people in return? When the GBPA dredged Grand Bahamia to make canals, it carted off thousands of tons of ‘limestone’ that was sold for hundreds of millions of dollars. Not unlike was done in Sea Breeze and Coral Harbour. Where millions were made. What have the Bahamian people gotten in return?

Voltaire 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Sure. Except for the fact that its a BS claim.

John 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I’m sure BS stands for Bahamian Dollar$

themessenger 3 months, 2 weeks ago

What did the Bahamian people get??? Why, they got Majority Rule and the Bahamas Government pimping for Davis, Mitchell and Co. principal shareholders in the New Day Square Deal.

bahamianson 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounds fishy. Does Brave hsve another investor ready to take over? He seems confident, so someinvestor may be learky in the background, say , maybe the chinese? They will complete 36 million renovation on their stadium. They maybe learking to take over the Grand Bahama investment.

AnObserver 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Straight from the political playbook of Robert Mugabe. A proven, surefire method to make your country succeed!

ExposedU2C 3 months, 2 weeks ago

....... Davis accused the authority of failing to follow its Hawksbill Creek Agreement obligations to maintain Freeport’s infrastructure and facilitate its growth.

Well ain't dat da pot callin' da kettle black! Davis obviously refuses to acknowedge and accept that the government he leads has not fulfilled its own obligations to maintain Nassau's infrastructure and facilitate its growth.

He [Davis] said the government had “begun to invoice the Port Authority” to reimburse Bahamian taxpayers’ expenses in providing public infrastructure and services in Freeport.

In other words, corrupt Davis is handing out padded government contracts to his party backers and cronies, and then extorting the Port Authority to pay for the contracted goods and services. Talk about unconstitutional!!

And we all know representatives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are waiting on the sidelines for Davis to drive down the sale price of the Port Authority to the point where they can pounce on the gifted opportunity to buy it all for pennies on the dollar with minimal commitments to do anything to help improve Freeport's infracture and the quality of life for the vast majority of suffering Grand Bahamians. Watch out Grand Bahamians - corrupt Davis wants to turnover control of Freeport to the CCP, lock, stock and barrel!!

BMW 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The Ginn project was to be in Freeport bit Christie convinced them to go into West End, The development crashed! Atlantis wanted to be in Freeport but they were convinced by Hubert to go to nassau, seems any and all administrations want Freeport and the island of GB to fail.

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