The Free National Movement (FNM) Government, headed by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has not had the kind of first year one would write home about. The man who is now prime minister, Dr. Minnis, rightly so, led a campaign that tormented and eventually annihilated the previous Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Government, for its many shortcomings.
He galvanized many Bahamians from various political persuasions. They believed in him and his associates and bonded on general elections day of May 10, 2017 to sweep the PLP out unceremoniously. The FNM won 35 seats and the PLP a meagre four. The 35-4 margin was the largest in the history of Bahamian politics.
However, disappointment abounded as the months went by. A year of governance was registered and the FNM Government had come up short on delivery of the grand promises made to the People of The Bahamas. There have been severe cutbacks across the board but the lives of Bahamians have not gotten better.
Here in Grand Bahama, Dr. Minnis and his colleagues would have to acknowledge that, under their watch, the situation has not gotten better for Grand Bahamians. Now, it is crunch time for Dr. Minnis and the government. Dr. Minnis has gone way out on a limb in declaring that the government will buy the Grand Lucayan complex.
Inside sources have informed that the Grand Lucayan deal is proving to be a huge hurdle for the FNM. Dr. Minnis and those who make up the Cabinet of The Bahamas, have not been able to come up with a payment plan to buy the Grand Lucayan properties that is, as yet, palatable to owner Hutchison Whampoa. Beyond that, they have not even scratched the surface regarding a management program for the hotel, once bought.
With Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance leading the way, our source informed that they have not been able to crunch the numbers to satisfaction in terms of finding around $250 million to consummate the sale and begin operation of the hotel. Our source earmarked $250 million but other indicators have caused us to form the view that the total package, leading up to opening day with a management company in place (and with an already paid initial fee), would take the figure more to around $300 million.
As a result, the government is stalling before presenting the people with a breakdown of the plan to buy the Grand Lucayan. The stall is obvious. It was expected that Dr. Minnis would be prepared to provide some details of the proposed buyout last week. However, he was not forthcoming with any additional information. He reiterated only that the government had decided that the best choice it had, was to buy. From the way the situation seems to be slowly unfolding, a few more weeks might pass before Dr. Minnis addresses the people with substantive information.
Put simply, at this stage, he has nothing to tell the people that would be satisfying. We at The Freeport News are keeping this matter alive, because those of us who make up the Fourth Estate in the nation, and particularly in Grand Bahama, would be falling down on the job if we do not press the government to follow-up on details.
What happens with the Grand Lucayan, would determine whether the economy in Grand Bahama will float or whether the plunge will continue.