Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey told Guardian Business yesterday that her ministry is ready and willing to engage stakeholders interested in advancing Grand Bahama, as the Concerned Freeport Licensees Association (CFLA) said they await a meeting with government officials over the future of Freeport and the Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA).
The CFLA said in a statement released on Tuesday that they recently held an education seminar on the HCA, and they discussed the future of the Freeport economy and the preservation of Grand Bahamians’ livelihoods.
The association’s existence was born out of the government’s recent criticism of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) for its lack of development of the city of Freeport in accordance with the HCA.
“The CFLA, a burgeoning association formed just eight weeks ago, came into existence in response to the recent public and acrimonious government statements, critical of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, promising ‘decisive’, yet non-specific, action and the responding GBPA press releases,” the CFLA statement said.
“These statements have been perceived by many licensees as a potential threat to the livelihoods of the hardworking citizens of Grand Bahama, who are still recovering from the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian.”
The CFLA said it has already met with the GBPA regarding its concerns and is awaiting a response from government.
Moxey said the government is interested in such a conversation.
“The Ministry for Grand Bahama is always interested in speaking with stakeholders in the interest of advancing Grand Bahama Island,” she said.
“We are already in constant engagement with the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, executives of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, and others in relation to working through any issues faced by the business community and residents.
“This ongoing dialogue and collaboration will continue.”
CFLA member Kirk Antoni said in the CFLA statement that he wants his children and their children to prosper on Grand Bahama like he has.
“But we can only achieve this if we stand together, educate ourselves, and speak out for what we want,” said Antoni.
“As licensees, we are very much stakeholders in this and we are calling on the government and GBPA to work together and, indeed, take decisive action that reaps the material and progressive change we are looking for.”
Another CFLA member Darren Cooper added: “Like many Grand Bahamians, we have concerns about the current state of the city. However, we firmly believe in the potential of a functioning HCA, using the mandates and concessions granted to Mr. Groves and subsequently to the Hayward and St. Georges families for the benefit of our community.”
The CFLA said its mission is to unite some 3,000 Grand Bahama Port Authority licensees to educate each other and collaborate in order to improve Grand Bahama.