Prime Minister Perry Christie traveled to Grand Bahama Friday (April 21), evening, hours after the soft opening of Baha Mar Hotel, in the capital, for a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) mass rally and motorcade, telling droves of Grand Bahamians that opening of the hotels on the island is very near fruition.
“The hotels in Grand Bahama (the Lucaya Hotel properties) are very near fruition. Brother Wilchcombe (Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe), they are that close. Just as we delivered on Bar Mar we will deliver a new touristic economy on Grand Bahama.”
Prime Minister Christie took to the stage after each of the five PLP candidates for Grand Bahama who were officially nominated the day before (Thursday, April 20), shared plans for their respective constituencies.
Addressing the large gold clad crowd that had converged at the old Portion Control site in Downtown, Freeport with his message of change and vision, Christie said, “You must be ready Grand Bahama, this election is about big things. It is about you, it’s about your children and it is about your future. In this election we are going to decide if our country is going forward or if it is turning back.” Amidst loud chants of ‘Perry, Perry’ the prime minister spoke of the importance of continuing to build on the progress already attained by his government, over the previous five years.
“We have come so far on Grand Bahama and our colleagues (FNM) have told you our work is not finished yet – we know, we acknowledge that there is still so much more to do. We have to know who we are and what makes our little country so special, and we have to be able to stand up for ourselves and chart a course true to our values,” Christie noted.
Speaking to the strong PLP team that has been chosen to represent the party on Grand Bahama and the rest of the country, the prime minister said, “you can see the kind of depth, the kind of diversity we have, and when we all stand together with our fellow candidates across the country you know you are looking at something special.”
He added that although five years ago the PLP inherited a devastated economy in an unstable fiscal situation, there has been a huge turnaround and the country is finally facing forward.
Christie told the exuberant crowd all the progress that has been made on Grand Bahama since he took office in 2012, including a better understanding with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which now allows Bahamians to have a say at the table; the duty free concessions extended to East and West Grand Bahama; the successful Apprenticeship Program at the Grand Bahama Shipyard, which will soon replace some 600 foreign workers with Bahamians and the proposed $200 million Carnival Cruise Ship Port, which the PM stated has a date set for agreement signing.
“Don’t let them tell you we have done nothing; this is a party that is creating the modern Bahamas. All of these new investments and opportunities after so many years of suffering,” Christie added.
He noted that the PLP has a vision, which was shown when Minister of Transportation and Aviation, Glenys Hanna- Martin signed the agreement so the country can now control its own airspace, as BAMSI is expanded across the islands, the new era of Health Care with the commencement of NHI, and the building of three sports stadiums to expand Sports Tourism.
“There is so much cause for optimism, and that is what vision is all about, understanding what it takes to build a country. It is the courage and achievements of our forefathers that gives us the determination – the belief in a better tomorrow,” the PM said.
Christie shared the PLP’s commitment to ensuring education is a priority by acknowledging the importance of providing an early education for every child, continuing to increase the number of scholarships for public school children, the expansion of the National Training Agency, the Fresh Start Program and the introduction of a new program for adults to obtain new skills (Second Start).
The PM explained that these educational programs will allow all Bahamians to build a better life.
Speaking to the hotel industry, the PM said, “they thought I was delusional – tell them Bah Mar is not a hologram, tell them it is not a mirage, 1,500 young Bahamians have smiles on their faces today and in the season September/October 5,000 will be working there.
In concluding, the PM warned those present that “change never comes easy – it takes blood, sweat and tears, but changing a country you love, well there is no greater privilege.”
Published Monday, April 24, 2017