Thompson: Ongoing initiatives continue in East and West GB

SEN. KWASI THOMPSON Minister of State for GB

Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Sen. Kwasi Thompson said that the East and West Grand Bahama Concessions and Potable Water Project Programs, remain in effect under the new government.

Thompson said that the concessions granted for businesses outside of the Port area, to import business related items duty free, providing that their business licenses are in good standing and all relevant paperwork is completed through the Office of the Prime Minister, business license holders may continue to take advantage of the program.

“In East and West Grand Bahama, outside of the Port area, there is a program where if you have a business license and you are value added tax (VAT) and insurance compliant, and are able to register with the Office of the Prime Minister, Grand Bahama you are able to get building materials, vehicles, and other items which are related to your business, in duty free.

“We want to make the process simple, there is an application that must be filled and once you prepare all of your criteria, and once it is for your business, and that you have established that you can get those items in duty free, under this program,” shared Thompson.

“We have also continued the Potable Water Projects, which are in East and West Grand Bahama. There are some communities that did not have potable water; we have continued that program, with one addition. What we found was that the government was actually spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to put in place pipes, to get make the water available for persons.

“There were about, just under 200 people who could have been able to attach to the system and access the water. What we found out was that there were very few people who actually had attached and were accessing, what the government had put in place.”

Thompson said that for those persons that have applied, all persons who are senior citizens and those under a certain income, those who cannot afford to pay the deposit for the attachment, “we, the government, have decided to pay the deposit, to ensure that those persons get access to the water. The only thing those persons need to do is come and register with us and we will then ensure that the deposit is paid.

“Once they are attached to the potable water those persons will then be responsible for paying their water bills,” Thompson stated.

With respect to the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort he stated, “I want to remind you and repeat the indication of the Prime Minister (Dr. Hubert Minnis), and I cannot and dare not say it better than he said it, which is that government is in talks, and the government does have an intention to partner with investors.

“The government does not have the intention to be in the hotel business for any extended period of time and the government does intend on renovations beginning,” said Thompson.

He said that the prime minister indicated that within a month the government does intend for that to happen. “We hope to be able to come back to you, in a short period of time, with some more specific information on that, but we are not big on making announcements. It is more important for us to get it right, than to make it public. We know that there is a pressure for information and that information will come, but at this stage it is more important for us to get it right. That is what the government is intending on doing,” said Thompson.

Additionally, he shared that discussions remain fluid between the government and the developers of the Royal Oasis property, Harcourt Development Group.

“I will say, also, that we have had some very serous discussions with and will continue to have discussions with the owners of the Harcourt Group and the Royal Oasis. We have indicated to them, very strongly, that the status quo of that hotel cannot remain the same, and it must change.

“In one way or the other, the government will ensure that the status quo, does not remain the same. We continue those discussions and we will continue to press on until we change the situation that is happening there. We also intend to do the same with respect to the Xanadu hotel as well.”

He concluded by reiterating statements shared by the Deputy Prime Minister, Peter Turnquest, since coming into office, which investor interest is quite high and they are hopeful for what is to come.

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