Before the Corona Virus Pandemic we had a 2-year window for construction and completion of the 4 major Projects in Grand Bahama which would have given us Jobs, Jobs and Jobs, and the revival and establishment of a dynamic Grand Bahama economy.
Since COVID-19 the landscape has changed: the Cruise Lines and their operations, though signed up, have been devastated economically by the Pandemic, as has, I submit, the Government. The Government, to keep the Country alive, is having to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to feed and nurture our people and this will go on expectantly for at least 6 to 12 months. The danger is that at the end of the period, we will look up and we may have salvaged what we had before but we will not have created any new jobs, or opportunities for our burgeoning population and the means to service our, by then, potentially unserviceable debt being an increased burden on the Country and, thus, reducing any true economic growth for The Bahamas.
Freeport is still the Answer
I hate to say this, especially to my Nassau brethren but, the Country has no viable future without Grand Bahama. We remain the one place in which significant growth can take place, certainly for the next 10 years.
Freeport, I submit, is still the only place in The Bahamas that can create the Jobs and increased income the Country will need to finance the Debt Burden to give Bahamians hope going forward:
1. Government is rumoured to sign a Contract for the
construction of a new Hospital: an important part of the 4-Project plan.
2. We still have the Hotel deal, the 2 Cruise Ports, and the new Airport deal but those are all “kinetic” deals, even though (except for the Airport) all are signed and
As before and since Dorian, no one is coming to Grand Bahama without a fully functional Grand Bahama International Airport, and Freeport and its (then 40,000) Bahamian population will have no future without the Airport. It is clear to understand that this substantive investment is necessary infrastructure and shall provide not only the needed jobs but also serve to create consumption which leads to the growth of financial resources to the Bahamian people throughout The Bahamas.
Grand Bahama Airport a Priority
Without the Airport started and then in place, Freeport is going to be crossed off the map of any present Investor and/or potential Investor. The Bahamas cannot afford to lose the income of Grand Bahama and the sustainable economic diversification which the City can provide in the shortest possible period.
The Cruise Lines are themselves borrowing billions of dollars to stay alive and will be economically challenged for years after this Pandemic is over.
I must exhort the Government therefore to allocate a minimum of 70 Million Dollars out of these hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent to feed, clothe and give healthcare to our people: (admittedly essential to the well-being and care of our people). This allocation will enable the building of the Grand Bahama Airport so that after the Pandemic, and even now, we will be creating Jobs and opportunities for growth.
Starting the Airport will save Freeport and will provide convincing impetus to the Cruise Lines, the G.B. Shipyard, Pharmachem and MSC that Grand Bahama is still the place to be now and in the future.
I therefore exhort Government to immediately earmark construction funds for the Grand Bahama International Airport (to include Georgetown and North Eleuthera, if possible) and to commence talks with All interested parties to confirm what I have said here AND LET’S GET THIS BALL ROLLING!!!