Global Ports Holding’s (GPH) investment in Nassau’s cruise port could add $16 billion to the Bahamian economy over the next 25 years, GPH Chairman Mehmet Kutman said yesterday after signing the agreement to develop the port with the government.
Kutman, who spoke following the signing ceremony at Festival Place at the Port of Nassau, said the cost of the cruise port could rise above $250 million as he changes the scope of the development to develop it into GPH’s top cruise port.
“As picky and choosy and difficult as I am, that number ($250 million) could go up in the next two years,” Kutman said.
His $16 billion pronouncement could mean $640 million per year for the Bahamian economy via business transactions, employment opportunities, philanthropic endeavors and payments to the government.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who also spoke following the signing ceremony, explained that per the agreement, four months after the “operation’s commencement date” Nassau Cruise Port Ltd. – which includes GPH, the Bahamas Investment Fund (BIF) and the YES (youth, education and sports) Foundation – will provide $3 million to the YES Foundation to be used in furtherance of its objects and purposes; and allocate to the YES Foundation shares corresponding to two percent of the share capital of the company.
He said the agreement also states that four months after the operations commencement date “but no later than twelve months after construction completion, Nassau Cruise Port Ltd. will provide to the Small Business Development Centre a one-time $1 million grant to fund its operations and a $2 million grant to fund micro loans issued by the Small Business Development Centre”.
Additionally, “four months following the operation’s commencement date, but no later than twelve months after construction completion, Nassau Cruise Port Ltd. will provide to the Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corporation (BAIC), US$2 million for its support of qualified local artisans and farmers. Before the construction completion period it will provide to BIF a grant of US$10 million for its funding of loans to qualifying Bahamians for their investment in the project; and four months following the operation’s commencement date but no later than twelve months after construction completion, it [will] allocate US$8 million for purposes of the company’s contribution to a green management plan, and a redevelopment initiative for Downtown Nassau in conjunction with the Downtown Nassau Partnership”.
Minnis explained that the port will remain wholly owned by the government of The Bahamas and operated by Nassau Cruise Port Ltd., with the majority of shares in the project owned by Bahamians through BIF and the YES Foundation.
BIF will allow Bahamians and Bahamian residents to invest in the port project at a minimum investment of $1,000 for Class A equity shares, while Class B debt shares will begin at $50,000, Minnis said.
“Our vision is to enable scores of Bahamians to become greater shareholders in the tourism sector in general and in the Nassau cruise port in this instance,” he said.
“This holds the potential for a long-term sustainable investment that will help individuals, small business people, labor unions, cooperatives, pension funds and other groups to create wealth and to save.”
He added that the new cruise port is expected to spur the growth of a new group of small business owners and entrepreneurs.
“The new cruise port will feature an extraordinary variety of recreational, entertainment, shopping and food and beverage spaces for Bahamians, tourists and other visitors,” he said.
“These small and medium-sized enterprises will be owned solely by Bahamians, who will be able to rent or lease spaces designed around various aspects of Bahamian culture.”
Minnis pointed to a group called Private Partnership Limited – that has partnered with the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation to refurbish and manage historic forts and landmarks including the Water Tower – as one of those hoping to begin the transformation of the city alongside the port redevelopment.
Minnis proclaimed that with the redevelopment of the port, “The transformation of the City of Nassau is at hand.”