Statement from GBPA in Response to Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis’ Comments in the 2023 Budget Communication Dated May 31, 2023

The following responds to Prime Minister Davis’s comments regarding Freeport and Grand Bahama during his 2023 Budget Communication, and is issued on behalf of The Grand Bahama Port Authority Ltd (GBPA), to address the concerns raised by the people of Grand Bahama and the international investment community over the last 24 hours.

GBPA, would like to assure its licensees and the public that it remains steadfast in its commitment to the ongoing development and resurgence of Freeport, as we work to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of all Grand Bahamian residents – today and for future generations.

Grand Bahama is the only island to have suffered unprecedented destruction from multiple storms since 2004, including Jean, Francis, Wilma, Matthew, and Dorian.  The decline of Freeport’s economy must be viewed in the context of these storms and recent Covid 19 pandemic.

The green shoots of recovery are emerging and our plans for the city including more than $1.5 billion of new investment for the island are well underway. These initiatives include the new Carnival Cruise Port, the Royal Caribbean, ITM and MSC cruise port, a $250 million world class hotel, residential and luxury resort under the Weller and Six Senses brand, the Lucayas Solar Power 9.5 MW facility currently under construction, Xquisite Yachts Catamaran Center, and planned expansions at both the Western Atlantic University School of Medicine, EY (Ernst & Young), plus other projects such as the major $500 million GB Shipyard expansion. Our ongoing promotion of Freeport as a premier destination for business investment demonstrates GBPA’s commitment.  This includes ensuring that Freeport has the necessary infrastructure it needs to support a growing economy to attract and retain new businesses.  Multi-million dollar investments by GBPA in roadworks and beautification of our city, including demolishing derelict and unsafe building structures, have been completed while we recognize there is still much work to do.

Our standards of service for business licenses, and building permit issuance, can be compared to the practices of best-in-class countries worldwide.  Our licensing processing time for foreign direct investment is within ten (10) business days subject to Government’s notation which does extend the timeline.  Our responsibility for environmental upkeep and addressing unsightly and hazardous city management and environmental concerns is of utmost importance to our team.

GBPA agrees that “decisive action” is required to continue to achieve the promise of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.   That decisive action should include extending the real property tax exemption to all licensees eliminating the growing uncertainty surrounding Freeport’s investment and business climate.   Additionally, there is an urgent need to promulgate the new Freeport byelaws that have been awaiting adoption for years, also the repeal of Section 68 of the EPPA, which subjects licensees and prospective investors to duplication of costly exercises and Government delays.  Imperative action should be taken to implement recommendations tabled by GBPA’s REEF Committee and the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce regarding the Ease of Doing business in Freeport.

In our view, such decisive action requires collaboration and partnership with the Government, so we can work together toward the common goal of improving and strengthening Freeport for the benefit of all Grand Bahamians.


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