Pointing to the continued economic hardship on Grand Bahama, Progressive Liberal Party Deputy Leader Chester Cooper promised that a Davis/Cooper-led administration would reinstate and enforce the Grand Bahama (Port Area) Investment Incentives Act to make the Grand Bahama Port Authority more accountable.
Cooper said the Minnis administration has failed Grand Bahama on many fronts and placed Freeport “in a very vulnerable position”.
“The FNM repealed The Grand Bahama Port Area Investment Incentives Act in 2017. But they never replaced the legislation that ensured continued tax breaks from business license fees and real property taxes by the central government. There is currently no legal requirement for these tax incentives,” he said during a virtual rally on Friday.
“If you re-elect the FNM, another Minnis administration will be able to assess business license fees and property taxes on port licensees. This means that port licensees could find themselves paying business license fees, service charges and real property taxes to the port and to the central government. This uncertainty is crippling Grand Bahama’s ability to be marketed as a full-fledged Special Economic Zone.”
Cooper continued, “We’re going to reinstate and enforce the Grand Bahama Incentive Act to make the Grand Bahama Port Authority more accountable. We plan to partner with all of the stakeholders to promote Grand Bahama and find the right development partners.”
Cooper also pointed to the Minnis administration’s failed attempt to secure a sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort nearly three years after it purchased the beleaguered hotel from Cheung Kong Property Holdings Limited for $65 million.
Last week, Chairman of Lucayan Renewal Holdings Michael Scott said the sale was now up in the air as the September 16 general election nears.
“They have let construction at the Carnival Cruise Port stall over permit issues, costing us jobs, stifling small business and suppressing economic growth. They bought the Grand Lucayan without an exit plan and assumed liabilities they did not need to. They were poor negotiators, out-gunned, outwitted and treated like school boys,” Cooper said.
“They’ve spent more than $200 million, yet most of the workers are jobless, the place smells like mold and the AC don’t work. They have not been transparent and their inaction has cost taxpayers dollars that should have been funneled back into the Grand Bahama economy, to help the poor and the suffering.”
Cooper added that the most egregious failure of the Minnis administration has been what he called the neglect of Grand Bahama and Abaco after Hurricane Dorian.
“They have even allowed the Dorian concessions to expire. How incompetent,” he said.