Opposition wants details on proposed port deal

Opposition wants details on  proposed port deal
Opposition leader Phillip Davis.

Davis says they are opposed to ‘monopolies’


NASSAU, BAHAMAS – On the heels of the government announcing that Global Ports Holding was selected as the preferred bidder for the redevelopment of the Nassau Cruise Port, the Opposition expressed on Tuesday that they have a number of concerns, and are anxiously awaiting substantive details on the agreement.

“The principals of the Arawak Port Development (APD) Company indicated sometime in November 2017 at their Annual General Meeting that they were in talks about their management and ownership of this new port venture, so we have good reasons to believe they are involved,” opposition leader Philip Brave Davis alleged yesterday.

“We wish to go on record, unequivocally, as opposing this monopolistic scheme. We repeat here today that a strategic partner with investment grade security is necessary.”

The Opposition leader was addressing media yesterday at the Opposition’s monthly press conference at Gambier House.

GPH is the world’s largest cruise port operator, with 15 cruise ports and two cargo ports in nine countries.

At the Feb. 24 press conference to announce that GPH was selected as the preferred bidder, Colina Financial Advisors Ltd. (CFAL) President Anthony Ferguson told the media that Bahamians will have majority interest of the investment with a 49 per cent equity stake and the dividends of a two per cent stake being provided to a foundation for youth development and sports.

Ferguson said there will a maximum buy-in, explaining there will be a bottoms-up approach with a minimum investment of $1,000.  He said up to $10 million will be loaned to Bahamians to borrow the minimum investment needed.

“We anticipate that this will be the largest investment available to Bahamians to date,” Ferguson said. “As you know, the Arawak Port Development was the largest with 12,000 shareholders, which we work very closely with them. We are planning to see if we can get between 20,000 and 30,000-plus investors in this project.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Davis said the opposition is proposing significant Bahamian ownership and management participation in this new venture but APD (the Arawark Port Development) and its principal shareholders must not have ownership and management participation in this venture as the opposition is opposed to monopolies.

Davis also noted that over the years the Nassau Cruise Port has been a significant source of livelihood for taxi and tour operators, straw vendors, hair braiders, wood carvers, food vendors and small souvenirs sellers extending down the Market Wharf and on to Bay Street. These individuals, he said, must not be adversely impacted by this arrangement and should be consulted.

“Needless to say, this unfettered access and accrued economic benefit must be strengthened and embellished with the new agreement, inclusive of credit facility for the purchase of shares,” Davis said.

Davis said the opposition also has an issue with the 25-year concession period that the government is considering, though not finalized.

“Twenty-five years as the length of the agreement seems to us too long a time. That should be revisited and carefully considered,” Davis said.

“We need to know the specific details of the nature of the relationship.

“What is critical is that it is important for the Bahamian people not lose regulatory control, especially over fees and taxes,” the PLP leader concluded.

At last month’s announcement that GPH had been selected, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar stressed that the future arrangement does not represent a sale of the port.