Thank you very much for the opportunity to bring brief remarks on behalf of The Grand Bahama Port Authority on this significant occasion.
It was the Prime Minister who back in May of this year said: “It has become abundantly clear that in order to help the economy of Freeport to grow and to develop, in line with the original purpose of the HCA, large sums of new capital …. are required to drive expansion of existing businesses and the introduction of new ones.”
It was the Prime Minster’s determination to bring about a paradigm shift through the sourcing of new capital that fostered the strategic action of Government on this MOU. I must, therefore, express our sincere thanks first to the Prime Minister, and to Minister Halkitis and Minster Darville who are both here today, and without whose input and effort this MOU would not have been possible.
Secondly, our new partners at the Inter-‐American Investment Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the Inter American Development Bank. When we first met with James Scriven and Florencia Attademo-‐Hirt in Nassau, it was their willingness to explore a new partnership that lead to the sending of a delegation to Freeport earlier this year. That visit resulted in this MOU, and so for their vision and hard work I thank them both and their team including Michelle and Paulo for making this initiative a reality.
Today is a very exciting moment for The Grand Bahama Port Authority. Today we can see the tangible product of real public and private sector collaboration. Today demonstrates that when The Government and the GBPA work together, great things are possible; and great new partnerships can be realized.
The MOU that is being signed here today is a tripartite document that formalizes a strategic partnership between the GBPA, the IIC and the Government of The Bahamas. The overarching principle of this MOU is that where opportunities for major economic development exist in Freeport – a new innovative foundation for financing has now been put in place. The IIC’s resources are now potentially available to the private sector here in the form of financing either as a loan, an equity investment, or guarantees.
When the IIC team came to Freeport, we showed them as much of the industrial landscape as is humanly possible in 24 hours. What made us at the GBPA proud was that with each new licensee we introduced to the team, and with each new premises we toured the IIC’s enthusiasm for Freeport grew greater and greater. So today’s MOU is also a reflection of the credibility of our outstanding licensees.
What differentiates the IIC from a typical financial institution, and why the GBPA wanted to partner with them, is that while their core business is to provide financing, all of their projects must also help spur economic growth and promote sustainability.
Moreover their relationship with the recipients of their capital does not end at the borrower and lender level. Entities financed by the IIC are also beneficiaries of the IIC’s expertise, they can leverage the IIC’s know-‐how, and can rely on the IIC to help refine business plans and to increase productivity, where necessary.
I would like to thank all of the team at the GBPA who were involved in this project – who have worked tirelessly over the Summer to ensure this day was achievable, special mentions going to Charles Pratt, Graham Torode, Vice Chairman Sarah St George and outside counsel Willie Moss.
It is our hope that this MOU can become a foundation for future sustainable economic growth in Freeport, and we look forward to assisting our partners The Government of the Bahamas and the IIC in fulfilling the potential of this new agreement.