Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday his government will not approve a free trade zone for Andros.
A proposal for the North Andros Green Free Trade Zone was leaked earlier this month.
The proposal, which was submitted to the government by multibillionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong in September 2019, promises an international airport and shipping port, research hospital and ecotourism amenities in Morgan’s Bluff, Andros, and to provide in excess of 10,000 jobs in exchange for 500,000 acres in land concessions and the approval to harvest 360 square miles of aragonite.
Although an updated proposal from the investor is expected, the initial proposal has created pushback from many Bahamians – and members of the official opposition who traveled to Andros last week where they decried details of the leaked document.
In a national address, the prime minister said, “The proposal has not been formally analyzed nor reviewed to determine its viability, nor has it been presented to the National Economic Council for consideration. I have been disappointed to see how this issue has been misused by the opposition to sow confusion in our country… .
“Again, I want to be very clear for all to hear: this government will not grant a free-trade zone in Andros nor will we alienate or sell-off vast tracts of Bahamas land as a previous PLP administration allowed in Mayaguana when 10,000 acres was alienated to a foreign group.
“My government has not approved the proposal.”
The project being proposed is estimated to cost more than $200 million.
Referring to two proposed projects — the North Andros Green Free Trade Zone and a proposed project by Bahamas Materials Company Ltd. for the mining of calcium carbonate — PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis said last week there is a feeling that there is an “open season” on Andros.
“…The people of Andros must be in the driver’s seat,” he said.
“Every investment must be cognizant of the need to protect the patrimony of our country for the future. As public concerns surrounding these two proposals intensify, the PLP thought it vitally important to reiterate our policy position on the future of Andros.”
The prime minister said yesterday his administration welcomes Bahamians and foreign investors who submit proposals that are “win-wins” for The Bahamas and the investors.
“At this time of great economic hardship, we need all the appropriate investment we can get,” he said.
“However, my government will not approve concepts from Bahamians or foreigners we think are not in the best interest of the Bahamian people.
“Do not allow yourself to be confused by those who went to Grand Bahama last week, behaving as if they were the government duly elected by the Bahamian people.
“As a people, we must remain focused on the twin crises in front of us. COVID-19 has caused a health crisis and an economic crisis; and we are still rebuilding Ragged Island and Abaco, the Abaco Cays, and Grand Bahama following Hurricane Dorian.”