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The Ugly Portrait

Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis was excoriated by his Free National Movement opposition opponents for reporting the self-evident truth about the City of Freeport,”that investment interest in the Bahamas was overall good; however, investment interest for Freeport has weaned”.

Let us consider the following points: Freeport is owned and operated by the Grand Bahama Port Authority under a 99- year lease agreement called the Hawksbill Creek Agreement which expires in 2054.
This agreement gives the Port Authority the right to run the Port Area (bonded area) as they see fit. This makes them a government within a government.. it was hoped that Port was to be the principal promoter of the City for foreign direct investment, and the benefit of the investment would accrue to the Bahamian people.

Today, the owners of the city have a development partner known as the Hutchison Group. Hutchinson owned and operated the premier Hotel on the Island, the Grand Lucaya properties until it was hurricane damaged. This development company collected the insurance money, never reinvested back into the hotel, but instead, offloaded it to our gullible, naive, leaders that lacked courage and wisdom headed by former P.M. Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis’ government. Today, every 30 days the people of the Bahamas are saddled with a One Million, Two Hundred Thousand Dollars ownership hotel bill to keep the doors open, lights on, and the water flowing; and, pay approximately 125 people. These are the facts.

Point 2. Under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement the Port Authority is charged with operating the airport. Again after the passage of hurricane Dorian in 20l9, the airport was severely damaged: the development companies again took the insurance money, did not reinvest into the airport, and persuaded our government leaders again to purchase damaged goods, the GB International Airport. Every 30 days, the airport cost the taxpayers of this country $300,000. This was not the responsibility of the government.

The final point is did anybody consider the optics of Freeport development partners abandoning the premier Hotel property on the Island, and abandoning the airport, the gateway to the city? Then to add insult to injury placing johnny-on-the-spots around the front door of the city, the welcoming Center, the “airpirt” for residents, tourists, and would-be investors to see.. What positive message does this send to any would-be investor?

Why would opposition opponents castigate Prime Minister Davis who has (only took office four months) for reporting this self-evident truth that the landlords of the city seem to have lost faith in the investment call Freeport; and seems to be squeezing its lifeblood out until 2054 when the (HBCA) agreement comes to its end.

The divestment of the Our Lucaya and the Grand Bahama airport is a portrait that was painted a bleak picture by the Port Authority not the Davis Administration. This, then, is a Port Authority inspired portrait that does not speak well for the growth and future development of the city of Freeport. To blame Prime Minister Davis is misconceived. The OPTICS of this story belongs to the Grand Bahama Port Authority, and to the lesser extent, Minnis’ Administration .

Brian Seymour