The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) is facing another great challenge. The entity that has been considered the investment engine driving the City of Freeport and the wider Grand Bahama now has the task of remaining relevant in an economically distressed island.
With the August 2015 expiration of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement fast approaching, the Government of The Bahamas wants the GBPA, going forward, to function in a manner that results in vibrancy of the islandâ s economy.
The countryâ s Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry Christie alluded to those expectations on Thursday, while on island for the Grand Bahama Business Outlook Forum.
â Certain provisions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement with respect to exemptions on business license fees and real property tax are due to expire in August of this year. In the absence of aggressive policy interventions to jumpstart a new round of development and enhance returns on existing investments, Grand Bahamaâ s economic performance could remain sub-par relative to other islands in The Bahamas,â said the PM.
This is somewhat of an indictment on the GBPA.
The question posed often is how has Grand Bahama benefitted in recent years and what will be the case moving ahead, in return for the exemptions afforded the GBPA and the large amount of license fees collected.
This is certainly an issue that squarely confronts the GBPA.
Quite frankly there are many residents of Grand Bahama and other parts of The Bahamas who do not see the relevance of the GBPA. They bear witness to a big investment shortage, compared to yesteryear. In truth, the GBPA is not the furiously pumping engine that once orchestrated a gloriously economic island environment with the Magic City of Freeport as the prime beacon.
More and more, brutal opinions of the GBPA are being presented. Just recently in a published commentary, Marco City Member of Parliament Gregory Moss accused the GBPA of breaching â numerous provisionsâ of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and failing to live up to the â duty to develop the City of Freeport for the benefit of its residents.â
MP Moss is of the outspoken kind, but there are others, and the number is mounting, who have a low opinion of the worth to Grand Bahama of the GBPA.
Is the GBPA relevant today?
That question emphasizes the huge challenge facing the GBPA.