Fundamental issues with Bahamian economy highlighted
Parliamentarians must stop sowing seeds of discord
Administration lacks creativity, innovation, business and negotiating skills
Government fails to chart course for future prosperity of country's second capital
Grand Bahama pivotal to the overall success of nation’s economy
While many Bahamians have reservations about the Government's decision to purchase the Grand Lucayan resort, all right-thinking Bahamians are hopeful that this investment will bring relief to Grand Bahamians. There is no victory to be derived from a failure of the Government insofar as the economy of Grand Bahama is concerned. Therefore, many looked forward to the Prime Minister’s communication in Parliament with much anticipation.
Regrettably, the Prime Minister’s communication on the Grand Lucayan purchase was disappointing and raised more doubts about the Government's actions. The presentation provided no additional or visionary details to the Bahamian people. The communication fell short on substance on the strategic plan, business plan, operational plan, interim measures and a detailed exit plan for the resort.
Just like the decision to increase the VAT rate by 60%, this decision was not only lazy but also a display of a lack of creativity, innovation, business and negotiating skills of the current administration. After sixteen months of futile negotiations, the Government has taken the easy way out and expended taxpayer funds on a resort that has been described as not making economic sense.
The Prime Minister spent a significant and inordinate amount of time recounting the actions of the ousted PLP administration - an administration that was fired by the Bahamian people. Valuable time was wasted on political rhetoric, pandering, sensationalism and demagoguery. It is also shameful that the Government has chosen to foster a spirit of division by pronouncements aimed at pitting residents of Grand Bahama against their brothers and sisters in other Islands of The Bahamas; particularly inhabitants of New Providence. The Government must promote unity and camaraderie among the citizenry, after all we are one people united in love and service.
Comparisons between the total cost of the concessions requested by the Wynn Group (“Wynn”) and the purchase price to be paid by the Government for the Grand Lucayan seem disingenuous and misleading. The $159.65 million in concessions sought by Wynn appears to have at its core a fully functional Grand Lucayan with all three hotels operating as going concerns as opposed to the purchase of an asset with only one hotel in operation and without considering cost related to repairs and operations on an ongoing basis. A fair analogy can only occur when these additional costs and accompanying concessions are determined and communicated.
By all accounts, massive subsidies, concessions and incentives will be required to address the issues with airlift, room inventory and the high cost of doing business in Grand Bahama (which is reflected in the concessions demanded by Wynn). A frank discussion on these and the corresponding plans remain outstanding.
It is disturbing that we still do not know how much this venture will ultimately cost the Bahamian people with the Minister of Finance stating that current estimates put the total capital financing needs around $124M including the purchase price. The pontificating and grandstanding by Members of Parliament cannot substitute for a comprehensive plan for the Grand Lucayan and the economy of Grand Bahama. The Prime Minister’s communication reveals that the fundamental issues confronting the Grand Bahamian economy serve as a disincentive to investment and investors – that is, the cost and ease of doing business. Wynn’s requests reveal that investors are concerned about the cost of energy, anxiety over increasing taxes, inefficiencies within the public sector and The Bahamas’ overall competitiveness when compared with our regional counterparts.
The Government acting as a buyer of last resort cannot become our modus operandi as a nation. Not only is this approach unsustainable, it deprives essential services such as education, healthcare, national security and disaster recovery of much needed funding and investment. We implore the Minnis administration to abandon its lazy approach to governance and chart an economic course that can inspire Bahamians and incentivize investors.
Arinthia S. Komolafe, Deputy Leader
Democratic National Alliance