Bahamas, June 19, 2017 – Grand Bahama – Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis during a press briefing on Saturday stated that his government is committed to the restoration of the island’s economy and increase in sustainable jobs.
Dr. Minnis, accompanied by his wife Patricia, arrived in Freeport on Saturday morning for his first official visit since becoming Prime Minister of The Bahamas on May 11, 2017.
After meeting staff members at the Office of the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Minnis held a press briefing in the conference room.
The Prime Minister thanked the people of Grand Bahama for their support and confidence shown in their team.
He explained that the Ministry for Grand Bahama has been incorporated into the Office of the Prime Minister so as to ensure a smoother and more effective way of processing investments for the island.
Turning his attention to the fiscal budget currently being debated in the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Minnis said, “Once passed, we have included in this first year, funding to create an Investment Promotions Board to assist with bringing more targeted investment and more employment to Grand Bahama.
“In addition, this year, we have also included $1 million for Small and Medium Size Business support to assist local businesses in Grand Bahama. It is hoped that the stronger these businesses become, the more jobs they can provide.”
The Prime Minister continued, “Let me also state that my government has begun the process of replacing portions of the Grand Bahama Investments Incentives Act to ensure fairness. We intend to bring to an end the additional red tape and uncertainty which is a road block to further investment in Grand Bahama. We will extend the need to submit applications for a period of six months during which time this office will conduct consultations prior to implementing the final replacement.”
The island, Grand Bahama, can be assured, he said, that the government is working tirelessly to reduce unemployment and talks are continuing with the interested parties in the redevelopment of the Lucayan Strip. “My government is hopeful that these talks will lead to the redevelopment and reopening of this strip in the shortest period of time possible.”
During his contribution to the Budget Debate last week, the nation’s chief said he revealed their tourism plan for Grand Bahama. “My administration will also roll out a workable plan for tourism and will, in collaboration with its key stakeholders, rebuild brand identity and incentivize investment in Grand Bahama.
“One goal is to make Grand Bahama a renowned duty free shopping centre for residents and for the millions of visitors from South Florida. Work has already begun to develop new products and market the strengths of each of these three destinations of Grand Bahama:
1) Freeport/Lucaya – which will be positioned as a maritime, sports and wellness destination in the first instance;
2) East Grand Bahama – to be presented as an eco-tourism mecca; and
3) West Grand Bahama – as the site of a dynamic cultural village.”
The Prime Minister made it clear that it will not end here. In the long term, he added, the government will work towards making it attractive for film makers to create productions in Grand Bahama.
“There are new hospitality products Grand Bahama can take advantage of such as vacation rental homes, which are today operating outside of the regulatory environment in our country. Such products will have to be registered with the Ministry of Tourism and appropriate taxation will be applied to level the playing field and ensure their contributions to the public purse.
“A critical success factor in tourism is the more affordable delivery of goods and services, especially in the areas of food production, distribution and service. We are intent on boosting the farming and use of native fruit here in Grand Bahama.
“My administration must implement a plan on this island that will actually achieve the long sought-after goal of creating linkages between agriculture and tourism to effect a significant reduction in the food import bill of hotels and restaurants and provide additional employment.”
Press Release: BIS