Govt. in talks with GB revitalization committee

Govt. in talks with GB revitalization committee
Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government has entered into discussions with the Revitalization and Expansion of the Economy of Freeport (REEF) committee to address ease of doing business concerns, environmental issues and a joint marketing strategy.

Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson confirmed yesterday that the Economic Recovery Committee’s (ERC) recommendations regarding the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) were also part of those discussions.

During an address yesterday, Thompson noted that the REEF committee was established by the GBPA and other stakeholders in an effort to engage with its licensees, business owners and all who have a vested interest in the development of Freeport.

He said the committee was formed “with a view to help facilitate its action plan inclusive of short-term goals to help businesses recover and grow immediately as well as long-term goals for the wider development of the City of Freeport”.

Thompson said: “We fully expect that these discussions will address the ease of doing business concerns for investors, environmental issues, including derelict buildings, and a joint investment marketing strategy. Grand Bahama continues to make steady strides post-Dorian and now as we face COVID-19.”

When asked about the ERC’s recommendations regarding the GBPA, Thompson said those recommendations will be a part of the discussions, but did not elaborate.

“As a result of what was in the report, those are a part of REEF discussions in terms of the structure of the GBPA,” said Thompson.

The government’s Economic Recovery Committee has recommended the government gradually strip the GBPA of its power in lieu of a local authority “comprised of current GBPA licensees, Port Group Ltd. representatives and central/local government representatives”.

In an executive summary of the ERC’s report released yesterday, the committee recommended an assessment of “the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s suitability to carry out its developmental and promotional mandates, including a review of the entity’s financials”.

The report read: “If it is determined that the agency is unable to fulfill its mandate, then the appropriate action on the government’s behalf should be taken to address this issue.”

Back in September, it was announced that the GBPA has launched a working committee to create an action plan for the stability and long-term growth of the Grand Bahama economy.

It was stated that the REEF committee’s objective is to create an action plan for short-term stability, and medium to long-term growth, sustainability, financial health and, above all, the imperative need for Freeport to return to a thriving economy.