Grand Bahama Ministry 'Will Give Strong Support To Outside Investors'
By DENISE MAYCOCK
#Tribune Freeport Reporter
Dr. Michael Darville
#FREEPORT - Minister for Grand Bahama Dr Michael Darville said his ministry will give strong support to foreign investors who contribute to the development of the island's economy.
#He said the ministry will work closely with the Grand Bahama Port Authority to create more investment opportunities.
#"My ministry's approach is to re-establish good working relations with the Port Authority and Hutchison through progressive negotiations," he said Thursday, while addressing members of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce.
#There has been little new investment in Grand Bahama over the past five years. The island's economy has been stagnant and unemployment remains high.
#Ian Fair, newly appointed chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, told chamber members in May there were already some "positive signs" for 2012 and that new business was expected to come to Freeport - possibly as soon as June.
#"I am pleased to report that we are close to making some positive announcements of new business coming to Freeport, probably in the next month," he said.
#However nothing further has been announced.
#In his address to the Chamber, Dr Darville said: "We intend to send a strong message to all investors that we will support foreign investors who aid in the growth and development, and the economic advancement of our people through functional partnerships."
#The minister also told businesspersons in Freeport he plans to address the expiration of tax incentives under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement that will arise in 2015.
#"We will negotiate in the best interest of Bahamians in general, Grand Bahamians specifically, after we communicate and speak with residents of Grand Bahama.
#"We are not going to go with the tax incentives behind closed doors; we will bring it to the people and find out what your concern is."
#Another major focus of his ministry, Dr Darville said, is the establishment of duty free concessions for East and West Grand Bahama.
#He said such a move would necessitate discussions at many levels and require much planning, negotiation and dialogue.
#"There is no question in my mind and the mind of our government that the extension of concessions will stimulate growth in these undeveloped areas and create economic prosperity to many people who live in East and West Grand Bahama," he said.