Government and GBPA urged to convene and chart best path forward for Grand Bahama

Government and GBPA urged to convene and chart best path forward for Grand Bahama

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce has urged the government and the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) to convene and chart the best path forward for Grand Bahama, emphasizing, “You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”

James Carey told Eyewitness News that there was too much “vagueness” surrounding discussions between the GBPA and the government concerning the latter’s demand for monies it claims are owed to the Public Treasury for reimbursable expenses.

During his budget contribution in June 2023, Prime Minister Davis stressed the need for decisive action regarding the compliance of the GBPA with the terms and conditions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.

In response, the GBPA issued a statement assuring its licensees and the public of its steadfast commitment to the ongoing development of Freeport. Subsequently, the government began invoicing the Port Authority for reimbursable expenses.

Most recently, media reports have suggested that the government has sent the GBPA a letter demanding payment of approximately $300 million within 30 days. GBPA principal Rupert Hayward neither confirmed nor denied this when contacted yesterday but hinted that the GBPA may be imminently making a statement on the issue.

Carey told Eyewitness News, “The government announced some weeks back that they were sending this matter to arbitration, and I’m wondering if this is another phase of that process in making a demand. There has been no announcement that the arbitration has been completed. The headlines indicate that the government is demanding $300 million, but nothing has been released on the breakdown of that sum. There is still so much vagueness to all of this. If the matter is still at arbitration, I don’t understand why there would be a demand at this stage.”

He added, “The GBPA and the government need to be sitting together and talking about what’s best for Grand Bahama, starting with Freeport. I can’t understand why these parties are not speaking to each other directly. There is no room for personal feelings and that sort of thing; this is business. I’m hoping that the parties will sit down and determine the best way to proceed and really get Freeport going. The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented. If it needs tweaking, let’s tweak it and move forward.”