The government has spent over $100 million on specific capital and infrastructural improvements throughout Grand Bahama, said Prime Minister Perry G. Christie.
Christie, who also serves as Minister of Finance was the featured speaker at Thursday morning’s session of the 19th Annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook (GBBO) held at the Grand Lucayan Resort
According to Christie, in East Grand Bahama $7.8 million was spent on the construction of seawalls in Smith’s Point and renovation of the public cemetery at High Rock; the reconstruction of the Government Dock, restoration of the roadway and installation of an 11,000 gallon water tank at Water Cay; the completion of two phases of a Potable Water project; the construction of the Police Station in McLean’s Town and a state-of-the art Technology Centre at the East End Primary School; renovations of the Administrator’s Complex and Residence in East End and the refurbishing of the teacher’s residence as a hurricane shelter.
Also, $56.4 million has been spent on renovations at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex and BAIC’s Craft Centre; refurbishment of the Farmer’s Market; construction of a new Fire station and 36 affordable single family homes in Bahamia; establishment of the C.A. Smith Complex Storage Facility; ground-breaking on a BAMSI tutorial farm; the Fishing Hole bridge and repairs to the Harold de Gregory Building.
“Thirty-six million dollars of the $56 million was spent on improvements to the Rand Memorial Hospital, importation of new ambulances and diagnostic equipment and on a new Freeport Community Clinic in Marco City. We have also been working diligently on the introduction this year of Universal Health Insurance for every resident, regardless of his or her means,” he said.
Christie added that staffing and facilities at the Northern Campus of the University of The Bahamas have been expanded, with significant plans for additional development to meet the diverse human resource needs of the mixed economy of Grand Bahama.
In West Grand Bahama $33 million was allocated to the construction of a new high school; two phases of a Potable Water project; renovations to government buildings, including clinics, the Post Office in Hunters, the Garnet Levarity Building and Urban Renewal offices.
“My government has been working round the clock to resolve these challenges, while advancing other initiatives to strengthen and reinvigorate this island’s economy. By God’s help and with the indomitable spirit of the people of Grand Bahama, and investors who continue to manifest confidence in the economy, we shall prevail in our noble endeavors,” he said.
The prime minister added that they are making historic changes designed to improve and modernize the governance structure of Freeport, which will provide transparency for licensees and greater efficiency in accord with international best business and regulatory practices.
“In the tourism sector we have approved the expansion and refurbishment of Blue Marlin Cove in West Grand Bahama and are focusing on an overall tourism development plan for the entire island of Grand Bahama.
“The Hutchison Lucayan properties were placed on the market for sale and negotiations were underway with a preferred bidder prior to the Memories’ and Breaker’s Cay’s closure from the occurrence of Hurricane Matthew,” said Christie.
He revealed that the government is in ongoing discussions with Hutchison and Sunwing, the previous operator of Memories, on the renovation and re-opening of Memories, while simultaneously dealing with a buyer for the purchase of the entire Lucayan Resort complex and potential operators for the hotels and casino.
“Hutchison’s hurricane-related insurance claims still remain unsettled, thus complicating the restoration process. It should be noted that while these properties are not government owned, the government remains intimately engaged in getting the properties reopened and putting former employees back to work as soon as possible,” noted Christie.
“Meanwhile, consideration is also being given to the extension of unemployment benefits as well as assistance to small businesses. The government is also prepared to work with businesses in Freeport to match them in funding of new and additional employees.
“A good example of this is the arrangement between the government and Grand Bahama Shipyard. We appeal to other businesses, large and small, to step up and embrace this opportunity in the overall best interests of the economy at this time.”
The prime minister took the opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of companies, including the Freeport Harbour Company and Container Port, Hutchison properties, BORCO, PharmaChem, the Shipyard and others, “for their major investments in the Freeport economy. Some of these businesses incurred severe damage to their establishments and are investing in extensive repairs while continuing to maintain significant employment levels. I wish to thank them for their continued confidence in Freeport.”The Counsellors Ltd. Group (TCL Group) organized the GBBO under the theme, ‘Breaking Barriers and Promoting Success.’ It featured participating vendors such as Aliv, Atlantic Medical, BTC, and Chocolatess Island Delights.
The one-day informative session also featured several speakers, including Charles Pratt, Senior Manager, Sales and Commercial Development, DevCo; Mick Holding, President, Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce; Agatha Marcelle, executive director, National Training Agency; Carlos Palacious, Director of Operations, Caribbean Coastal Services; Hubert Edwards, Deputy Managing Director, Bank of the Bahamas; Emmanuel Komolafe, Chairman, Bahamas Insurance Association and Chief Risk Officer, Colina Holdings Bahamas Ltd. and Donna Jones, Partner and Broker, Keys Bahamas Realty.
Published Friday, March 10, 2017