NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said he is working on a plan to fulfil the potential of Grand Bahama.
He was responding to a question about whether the government would seek to acquire the Grand Bahama Port Authority. Free National Movement founding father Maurice Moore said Tuesday it is past time for the government to to make a move.
Eyewitness News understands acquiring the GBPA is not without support within cabinet. However, Davis did not definitively express a view on the matter.
“Control of the Freeport construct was ceded to private hands from 1955 so the government never really had control of it,” he told reporters after a Fox Hill Day church service.
“It was only after the Bend and Break speech some elements of control was implemented. We feel that the promise of Grand Bahama is yet to be fulfilled and we are in discussions to see how we can construct that path to fulfilling the promises of Grand Bahama and Freeport in particular and we are now engaged in conversations to see how that path could be constructed.
“What the outcome of those discussions will be I’m not sure at this time and I am committed to ensuring that that path is constructed to fulfilling the promises that Grand Bahama has.”
A riff between the Del Zotto family, a prominent business family in Grand Bahama, and the GBPA has once again highlighted that island’s struggles.
The Davis administration hopes the redevelopment of the Grand Lucayan Hotel will help spur economic activity on the island.
Julian Russell, chairman of the Lucyan Renewal Holdings Limited, said in a recent statement that the sale of the resort is steadily progressing but the parties have agreed to a 45-day extension to complete necessary legal documentation.
Russell’s predecessor, Michael Scott, told EWN he believes negotiations are dragging on because the buyer requires substantial commitments from the government on the development and reconstruction of the Grand Bahama International Airport.
Davis yesterday said his administration is aware of the importance of an airport.
“We could walk and chew gum,” he said.
“Whilst the negotiators for the sale of the Grand Lucayan Hotel is taking place, we’re also at the same time working assiduously to ensure that the airport, the gateway to Grand Bahama, is also in that mix.
“So we’re not just leaving the airport aside to get that done. We’re working in tandem to ensure it. In opposition, you would have heard me saying, speaking to the fact, that for Grand Bahama to move on it has to be a holistic approach. We can’t just sell the Lucayan hotel without understanding where airlift is going to come from. And to have airlift, what you need is a properly constructed airport with the proper amenities that will attract airlifts.”