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Halkitis: Hundreds of jobs about to come on stream

Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis has announced the creation of nearly 400 jobs in Bimini beginning within the next five weeks and hundreds of other potential jobs in Cat Island in the next several months.

Halkitis, who spoke to reporters on Wednesday, said the jobs in Bimini will come as a result of public/private partnership, which involves several projects, including the introduction of a cruise ship that will travel between that island and Florida and the opening of a local casino.

“We believe that, and according to the projections of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), going forward into this year and next year we will see a slight uptick in growth of 2.5 percent to three percent,” Halkitis said. “We have projected based on that.

“And we can see the evidence of it already as the prime minister mentioned. Things are happening already in Bimini.

“On July 1 this year, about five weeks away, we will see about 300 to almost 400 new jobs created. There is activity in Exuma, there is activity in Eleuthera and we will soon see activity in Grand Bahama.”

In his budget communication delivered in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Prime Minister Perry Christie provided some details regarding the Bimini developments.

“As an example of successful public and private sector partnering, I would signal the new development in Bimini which is now in full swing,” he said.

“A private sector cruise ship will be dedicated exclusively to that island to provide a steady flow of visitors.  I believe that cruise ship has now crossed the Atlantic Ocean and is now in the ship yard at Grand Bahama being refurbished for launching in July.

“That cruise will run between Bimini and Florida twice a day and give Biminites the privilege of being able to travel at a cheaper rate to be told to them at a later date.

“There are also significant airport and port expansions that we will be speaking to.  In all, we are looking at the transformation of both North and South Bimini with the people of Bimini being fully involved in that process.

“This is a very concrete example of the progress that we are making and not only a wishful hope; this is happening now.

“We expect hundreds of jobs to be created there in July and August when the casino opens and other businesses open to support that…I would also emphasize that, throughout the process, we have taken all necessary steps to protect the environment.”

Last year, Christie announced that a partnership between Resorts World Genting and RAV Bahamas Ltd. would lead to the creation of the luxury boutique casino and hotel. The casino was supposed to open last year but was hit by several delays.

The development will cost $24 million and the new casino will be 10,000 square feet, officials said.

In addition to working to bring about increased opportunities on Bimini, Christie said the government is also considering a proposal for Cat Island, which could result in the creation of hundreds of new jobs.

“We are in the stage in that where we only have to settle the provision of water and the airport. And then it is off to the races,” Christie said.

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