Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell during his contribution to the debate in the House of Assembly yesterday made it clear that the government is not only working to improve employment in the country’s second city but in general has the best interest of Grand Bahama on its agenda.
Addressing issues of employment and Grand Bahama’s economy as a whole, Minister Mitchell said while Freeport takes pride in and makes noticeable contributions to the treasury, it must be noted that the city is a net consumer.
He also held that despite accusations, the Progressive Liberal Party has never taken its eyes off of Grand Bahama and its advancement.
“So yes, there’s a great contribution to the treasury but the government puts plenty of resources in Grand Bahama to make sure that it is a Bahamian place and that we protect the economic benefits for Bahamians,” he said.
One of the issues as it pertains to the availability of employment on the island the minister discussed, deals directly with the Grand Bahama Port Authority in its present situation upholding what he says to be their part of the bargain.
In addition, he said companies must begin making the concentrated effort to provide skill training for Bahamian workers to become a part of the economy.
“I think the last major investment that came to Grand Bahama were some 23 years ago. There have not been any huge investments since that time that really enlivened the city,” he said.
“So when people start blaming as it appears the member for Central Grand Bahama and starts trying to pin on the Progressive Liberal Party that this has not happened or the next has not happened. What has happened to the primary agent of this?
Where is their role in this? What have they done to promote the city and to bring the business that would drive the job and drive the investment?”
Furthermore, another issue he said lies with the relationship between the Grand Bahama Port Authority and its licensees.
“There is feeling among the licensees that is loudly expressed where you go that the Grand Bahamas Port Authority as regulator is collecting fees and charges, not producing the services that it’s supposed to for the city,”
“Mainly promoting the business and bringing in investment but at the same time not taking care of the interest of the licensees.”
Minster Mitchell said this problem must be reversed as the pressure grows greater for Nassau when Grand Bahamians cannot find jobs and must come back to the homeland.