Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that the government will introduce a new initiative to provide shareholder opportunities for Bahamians to own government buildings.
“The government is considering various public-private arrangements and opportunities for the development of government offices, which will also help to create a greater shareholder society for scores of Bahamians,” Minnis said during a ceremony for the opening of Poinciana House on East Bay Street.
“I would like to at this time personally thank Mr. Greg Cleare, who is leading the government in a new and innovative program where we have established an independent company where all government buildings will be permanently located and become part of this company, 100 percent Bahamian and government owned, and Bahamians will be offered an opportunity to invest in this company and own government complexes.
“Government will then be in a position to rent facilities of its own, rather than having three or four individuals monopolizing on the economy or as we would say the web shop monopolizing on the economy.
“The Bahamian people will be empowered to own their own complexes and have a return of five to six percent, as opposed to 0.5 percent as is given in the bank.
“And I would hope that when this initiative is launched that we would have full and complete cooperation of each and every Bahamian.
“You will own such an organization, such an institution, and you will be guaranteed five to six percent return and the complaints that we hear today of government buildings being full of mold, mildew and making our Bahamians ill and our quality of life decreasing, will be a thing of the past.”
The prime minister did not provide any further details on how or when the initiative would be implemented.
However when asked about the matter following the event, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said there are still no concrete plans for the program.
“We are looking at an innovative product that we are trying to create that will widen the participation of the average Bahamian in the ownership of government assets,” Turnquest explained.
“We have not come up with any concrete plans yet, but the idea basically is all of the government assets will go into a trust fund or a special sovereign fund where Bahamians will be able to invest in it with a guaranteed return.
“And the trust fund would be responsible for managing those assets to ensure their upkeep is up to par.
“They take care of the remediation issues that continue to pop up in all of these industries to ensure that the environment for civil service is comfortable, it is modern and they are afforded a good work place.”
Pressed on a timeline, Turnquest continued, “I would leave that for the prime minster. It’s still before the Cabinet at the moment but we expect that that will be moving forward relatively soon.”