Bazaar purchase positive but must be piece of wider plans


50-year GBPA licensee

The Government’s recent decision to acquire the International Bazaar, a significant asset, is a testament to the Prime Minister’s commitment to reviving Grand Bahama. This acquisition and the Prime Minister’s proactive initiatives regarding the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) present a unique opportunity to reimagine Grand Bahama’s future development completely.

However, a comprehensive development plan for the island is imperative to ensure dynamic growth. Once this plan is in place, it can be best decided how the International Bazaar fits into a much broader vision. It is important to note that the past few decades have seen too many fragmented investment attempts on Grand Bahama that have not yielded the desired results.

The Prime Minister’s recent speech laid the foundation for that comprehensive development plan. He called for a world-class partnership to work with the Government, emphasising that extraordinary concessions require extraordinary growth. Achieving that extraordinary growth necessitates modernising the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.

The Hawksbill Creek Agreement was instrumental in attracting investment and developing Freeport. However, it is crucial to recognise that the agreement is nearly 70 years-old. Updating the agreement to align with the current economic landscape is not just necessary but a strategic move that can empower the Government and local stakeholders to deliver the desired growth. After all, the world has significantly changed since 1955, with the advent of computers, cell phones and, now, artificial intelligence (AI).

With Grand Bahama’s many advantages, particularly its prime location, a comprehensive development plan would lead to major new investment, job creation and economic growth. Dynamic development could drive the Bahamian economy and make it a regional or even global leader in a new form of public-private partnership.

Fostering improved co-operation among the major stakeholders is the initial crucial step toward realising a comprehensive development plan. A significant stride in this direction could be establishing a trust to hold the island’s key assets collectively; perhaps another trust to administer the GBPA’s Hawksbill Creek Agreement responsibilities. The Government, along with other stakeholders, should be represented on the trust’s boards of trustees.

This move would instill confidence in the stakeholders about the modernised Hawksbill Creek Agreement, paving the way for a more collaborative and effective approach.

A world-class Bahamian and international talent team should implement the trusts’ business plans and objectives. The current asset owners would benefit from their assets increasing in value through development and investment. The Government would benefit from economic growth, job creation and increased tax revenue. The country and Grand Bahama would benefit from becoming a dynamic, thriving business hub.

Today, Grand Bahama’s stakeholders need constructive change more than ever before. The stage is set: A comprehensive plan needs to be developed, agreed upon and implemented.


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