This is not a good time for the Free National Movement (FNM) Government. It is failing badly to bring relief to Grand Bahamians.
So many who depended upon this different political administration to reverse the downward trend; shorten to a great degree the unemployment line; increase business opportunities for small, mid-range and large entrepreneurial projects; and to turn around the economy on this island; have had their hopes dashed thus far.
Quite frankly, despite the great deal of talking about revitalizing Grand Bahama, sealing deals with prospective investors, making headway around the tables of Heads of Agreement (HOA) discussions, nothing much has materialized that elevates Grand Bahamians in general. Now, a former prime minister has gone public with his criticisms and suggestions of and to the embattled Dr. Hubert Minnis FNM Government.
Normally, we view the criticisms and ideas of former political leaders with a grain of salt. For instance, there is some skepticism when one hears from former three-time Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham about what ought to happen with Grand Bahama. He talks about the government buying the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
Well, he was the chief executive in the land on three occasions with tremendous clout and nothing is on record of any of his governments making any inroads on purchasing the GBPA and putting in new leadership, as he now suggests his successor in the FNM leadership post, Dr. Minnis, should do.
Nevertheless, we do wholeheartedly agree with him that PM Dr. Minnis and a few colleagues who can bring substance to a discussion of the required nature, should have a few meaningful sit-downs with Hutchison Whampoa. That Chinese entity controls the Freeport Harbour; owns the Freeport Container Port; the Grand Lucayan Hotel complex inclusive of the Lighthouse and Memories properties; partners with the GBPA in ownership of the Grand Bahama International Airport; and the Grand Bahama Development Company.
That is a vast body of influence.
Then, there is the Government of The Bahamas, with its built-in leverage and controls.
We consider the Dr. Minnis Government to have botched the deal when the Wynn Group of Canada left the negotiation table regarding the purchase of the Grand Lucayan Hotel. This is the held view because there was absolutely no indication that the government used all of its aces in dealing with Grand Lucayan owner Hutchison Whampoa, to sweeten the deal, make it more enticing for the Wynn Group.
Earlier on in this administration, Dr. Minnis and company presented a financial package to Hutchison and nothing much was heard of that. Later, the Wynn Group seemed very interested, once representatives went back to the bargaining table. All along, the prime minister or one of his surrogates told Grand Bahamians a deal would be made.
Now, the deal is off the table and it is indeed desperate time for a government under siege.
So, yes, we agree with Ingraham. Now, is the time for Dr. Minnis to put together a team, beyond politicians, and go and meet with the hierarchy of Hutchison Whampoa, and come away with a good deal for the people of Grand Bahama. We suggest this high-powered team should include representatives of the political directorate, the judicial branch, the Christian Community, the civic sector and the Fourth Estate.
Such a delegation would open the eyes of those who speak for Hutchison Whampoa on the importance of a good deal being brokered for the people of Grand Bahama.
There is no doubt about it. This is dilemma time for Grand Bahama. The fingers are pointing at the Dr. Minnis Government.
Grand Bahama is in crisis!
Speak now Bahamas Government!
Do something to make life better for Grand Bahamians.