Categorized | National News

GBPA “Highly Unprofitable”

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), which oversees residential and business development in Freeport, is “highly unprofitable” according to its chairman, Ian Fair.

Mr. Fair, who was appointed in April, admitted yesterday that the GBPA is funded on an annual basis by the Port Group Limited (PGL), which is made up of two shareholders.

“Money goes in to the Grand Bahama Port Authority so whatever anybody pays the Port Authority 100 per cent of it is spent on the betterment or maintenance of Freeport,” he said yesterday while a guest on the Love 97FM Sunday talk show, Jones & Company with host Wendall Jones.

The GBPA functions as the sole regulator for the City of Freeport. But, many critics have referred to it as the anchor around the neck of Grand Bahama, whose economy has been in the doldrums for years.

Grand Bahama residents have long complained about the service charge fees that they pay to the GBPA for their properties.

They have agitated for a reduction in service charges as they cannot afford them.

But, Mr. Fair said “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

“At the end of the day people have to be paid, people have to drive on roads that don’t have potholes. You hardly ever see a road being dug up here. I’m assuming it’s because all of the utilities run alongside the road. You drive along the road in Nassau and you hardly ever see a road that isn’t dug up,” Mr. Fair said.

“We have a lot of programmes in place where disadvantaged Bahamians who are unemployed or whatever, who can’t pay the service charge we’re not throwing them out of the houses or anything like that, we are doing everything we can with every sympathy, but bills have to be paid. Wherever in the world you live you’re paying some form of tax to have the privilege of living where you live.”

Given the state of the economy and the high unemployment rate in Grand Bahama Mr. Fair admitted that the Port’s delinquency rate is very high.

“It is quite high. But, we’ve been very understanding. Our social conscience is constantly something we discuss. We are very concerned about creating additional opportunities here that will put people back to work.

Aware of the effect of high energy costs on doing business, the GBPA is pursuing commercial activity or industries that don’t rely heavily on power.
Mr. Fair said GBPA’s Board has identified and is looking at establishing distribution centers on the island, which rely less heavily on power and can also provide many jobs.
“Having a ‘free port,’ container port and airport in this location as close to the U.S. and the Americas to actually stockpile and have a distribution centre for your products is a real advantage for many international businesses,” the GBPA chairman said. “We’re looking very much for job creation opportunities.”
A major trade mission to Panama and Brazil has been planned for early next year. GBPA and government officials will attempt to market the advantages of doing business in Freeport.
As for the GBPA’s future, he noted that shareholders don’t necessarily stay the same forever.

“One of the great benefits of Freeport is that we’ve had two shareholders, who have been incredibly stoic and supportive in Sir Jack Hayward and the St. George [family] in the development of Freeport and have stuck with us through thick and thin and they’re not running for the hills, they are satisfied with their investment. But, who knows what will happen in the future,” he said.

“One thing I do know is that neither the St. George family or the Hayward family would sell to anyone that wasn’t somebody they felt would be very much for the benefit of The Bahamas.”

Mr. Fair admitted that there have always been inquiries to purchase the Port, however, he said for the last three years there have been no inquiries because of the economic recession.

“Who knows? As things turn around again and this place turns around and I want to say boom, but continue to develop as a viable economic base there might be inquiries again from investors who want to buy. You have wealthy people who are always looking out for new investments and right now there are nothing in the cards,” he said.

Touting himself as a “half full guy, rather than a half empty guy,” Mr. Fair said he is very optimistic about Grand Bahama’s future.

“I look for the opportunities; I see the way The Bahamas has grown in the last 40 to 45 years and I see the opportunity for this jurisdiction, this island, this town to become a greater contributor to the GDP of the country and therefore the good of the country and the wealth of the country,” he said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook