Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister Senator J. Kwasi Thompson stated that the Bahamian government has made significant progress in Grand Bahama, as well as the rest of the nation over the past two years.
He reflected on the government’s work as the Free National Movement (FNM) celebrated their two-year anniversary on May 10, as the current governing party, during a recent press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister. According to Sen. Thompson the government’s first step in Grand Bahama was to create the Office of the Prime Minister for Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.
“He has made consistent office visits here in Grand Bahama,” Sen. Thompson added, noting that this displays the prime minister’s commitment to making Grand Bahama a priority.
Sen. Thompson also highlighted several government projects that have either started or have been completed in these last two years, including the completion of the Smith’s Point Sea Wall and overall improvement to the Smith’s Point area.
The new $4.8 million sea wall and road repaving project in Smith’s Point was officially opened on Friday, April 5.
Other works include the complete renovation of the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre, which began in February of this year. Noula Investments Limited, contractor Maxwell Quant officially signed the nearly $2 million contract to carry out extensive refurbishment of the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre on Monday, November 26, 2018 during a ceremony that took place on the Grand Lawn of the National Insurance Complex
Repairs to the courthouse include work to both the interior and exterior. A provisional sum has been included in the contract, so that during the renovations project there will be extensive mold removal and remediation to the building.
The refurbishment period officially began in February of this year and was initially determined to be completed in nine months, but according to Quant, they expect to be finished renovations at the end of this year.
Sen. Thompson furthered that another major problem the government has addressed was the clean-up of the West End Dumpsite. The contract for the clean-up was signed at the Office of the Prime Minister on Thursday (March 14).
“It is just about completed,” he added.
The FNM has also focused on making Grand Bahama a Technology Hub and have launched several initiatives to accomplish that goal, including hosting a Technology Expo/Summit.
“The government has also worked to improve technology usage on a national level. About $17 million has been allocated to transforming the educational system and $30 million allocated to digitizing the public service system,” Sen. Thompson said.
The government has also focused on training with the High School ICT Programme and more. “There’s been a huge focus in making education and training a focus,” said Sen. Thompson.
He added that there has also been an increase of businesses opening, a lot of which are Bahamian owned.
“We’ve seen an increase of Bahamian investors who want to invest in Grand Bahama,” he said.
With regards to foreign investment, Sen. Thompson noted that the two major examples of this was the letter of intent (LOI) signed for the sale of the Grand Lucayan.
Senator Thompson acknowledged that the government is not done with its work, particularly in Grand Bahama. “We are nowhere near completed with the work that we have to do in Grand Bahama.”
Focused on small business development in Grand Bahama, he disclosed that some 87 businesses have received grants from the government.
“Over $370,000 in grants were distributed to small businesses. That was an important development for us nationally, and it’s an important development for us in Grand Bahama,” he said.
Sen. Thompson noted that the government will continue to work and press forward, “because we know that while things are improving generally, things are not improving for everyone.”
He commended the prime minister as well as Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest, Minister of Finance and MP for East Grand Bahama; Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard, MP for Marco City; MP for Pineridge Rev. Frederick McAlpine; Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works Iram Lewis, MP for Central Grand Bahama and Parliamentary Secretary of Information and Communication Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini.
Sen. Thompson concluded that they have all made significant contributions to their constituencies in these past two years.