Govt anxious to get back $50m LPIA investment
While he is”blown away”by the new U.S. departures terminal, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the government”anxiously awaits”the return on the$50 million it put into the project.
“I’m overwhelmed by it,”he said on Saturday in the press room of the new facility.”I’m unable to find any aspect that I find more outstanding than the other. It is a wonderful job, we are very pleased the[Vancouver Airport Services]YVRAS was able to produce this terminal for us and the way it was done it appears to be very efficient, very user friendly. It places us where we want to be, at the head of the line in the Caribbean, as we are the leading tourism destination and a major financial center, a place to attract business. We think that we are headed in the right direction.”
The media was taken on a tour of the terminal with members of the Ingraham administration by the Nassau Airport Development(NAD)Company CEO Stewart Steeves on Saturday, and shown everything from the special diplomatic lounge to the terminal’s special holding cells, fitted with steel beds and toilets that are tucked away in the U.S. Customs and Border Control section of the terminal.
Over the weekend workers were putting on the final touches to the terminal building. As previously reported the terminal will go live on March 16.
Now that the first phase of the project is just about complete, Ingraham said the government is interested in recouping the money it had to put into the project.
He noted that the contract with YVRAS required the project be funded exclusively by user fees, to prevent the government from having to invest any money in the project. However, Ingraham said because of the economic downturn it was not possible to fund the project without some government funding and concessions.
“The government therefore had to put in$50 million toward the development and the National Insurance Board was also mandated to put in some money. The development could also not be undertaken in respect to the user fee if it was treated as a normal enterprise-by that I mean all businesses had to pay customs duties for the import of all goods because that is the principal source of revenue. We therfore had to forego all customs duties in connection wit the development of the airport and in connection with all of the fit outs and other things that tenants in shops and restaurants brought in.”
Asked how much the government lost in tax concessions, Ingraham said he doesn’t see it as a loss.
“It’s a$400 million development, customs duty is average at 35 percent. So you can imagine the amount of money that is,”he said.
“But the government is anxious to get back its$50 million that it put into the airport. We are unable to afford to allow our monies to continue to ride along with the airport, the National Insurance Board has indicated a desire to take at least$20 million off us that is to reduce our stake to$30 million, and we are hoping over time to find either NIB or others with U.S. dollars capacity to take the balance off of us. We are not in the business of funding this airport.”
The new terminal is phase one of the project. It was complete at an estimated cost of$190.8 million, while phase two is expected to cost$138.3 million. Phase three is projected to cost$71.98 million.
Steeves said over 2,600 people worked on the U.S. departures terminal.
“We now have a world class facility and it will be maintained to world class standards,”he said.
Upgrades in the terminal include a$10 million state-of-the-art baggage system, eco-friendly building design features and stunning Bahamian artwork by artists John Beadle, Nicole Sweeting, Susan Katz-Lightbourne and John Cox, according to NAD.
There are 19 retail and food and beverage options in the terminal, including a native sit down restaurant Kafe(NAD)that can seat up to 170 persons.
Other shops and amenities include John Bull, Bahama Sol, Dunkin Donuts, Wendys, Graycliff, Cay News Gift Shop and Pirana Joe, among others. There is also a bar and a duty free liquor store.
Ingraham said 150 to 200 jobs were created by the terminal.
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