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A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Finance, the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), which is the private sector arm of the IDB, and the Grand Bahama Port Authority was signed yesterday at the Ministry for Grand Bahama.

Prior to the official signing, Minister for Grand Bahama, Dr. Michael Darville stated he was pleased to be a part of occasion and added that the signing will establish a partnership with the GBPA to provide private financing for infrastructural works and other specified projects in the city of Freeport.

“This is exciting news for us on Grand Bahama,” he added, “because it would pave the way for major upgrades in the city, the much-needed capital injection into the local economy and yes, ladies and gentlemen, construction jobs.”

Chairman of the IDB and of the IIC and State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis said the IIC has provided financial assistance to several private sector entities in the country, “however, in my view the endorsement of this MOU is historic when considering the initiative has the potential of expanding to other Islands of The Bahamas.

“The City of Freeport is known for its industries and proximity to international destinations. Moreover, ongoing and prospective economic activities are factors that will contribute to achieving the objectives of the MOU.”

He added, “While this tripartite arrangement is merely an explorative initiative, I am confident that the Minister for Grand Bahama and senior staff from the Grand Bahama Port Authority will provide excellent assistance to ensure that there are positive outcomes from the MOU. Further, I note that the Ministry of Finance, in its capacity as The Bahamas liaison to the IIC, is committed to the advancement of any initiative to enhance the socio-economic and environmental development of the country.”

Inter-American Investment Corporation’s general manager, James Scriven said the purpose of their trip to Grand Bahama was to introduce and promote the private sector arm of the IDB group.

“We are over here as a part of the IDB group. It’s a multi-national development bank focused on the development of the private sector,” he said.

The Inter-American Investment Corporation focuses primarily on four sectors: transport, energy, finance and agri-business. The main focus is on medium to large term projects that have a trickledown effect on the economy.

“IIC is not here to compete with the financial sector. We are over here to support and complement the financial sector by providing long term financing, as well as knowledge and technical support to our clients.”

He said he was pleased that everything they envisioned was becoming a reality and IIC was pleased to bring their investments into Grand Bahama.

Vice-President of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Henry St. George referred to remarks made by Prime Minister Perry Christie in May, that in order for there to be growth in the Freeport economy, and develop in line with the original plan of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, large sums of capital would be required to expand existing businesses and attract new ones.

“It was the prime minister’s determination to bring about a paradigm shift to the sourcing of new capital that fostered the strategic action of government in this MOU.”

Mr. St. George thanked the prime minister, along with Dr. Darville and Minister Michael Halkitis, who he said, were instrumental in making the MOU happen.

He described the moment as exciting, and added that the GBPA can now see the “tangible product of real, public and private, collaboration. Today demonstrates that when the government and the Port Authority work together, great things are possible and great new partnerships can be realized.”

Jerry Butler, Caribbean Executive Director, Inter-American Development Bank, said, “One of the most important parts of our group has been to do a lot of deals with sovereign governments, and The Bahamas is a very special owner of the bank and a very special sovereign government, in that the timing with everything we do right now is nothing short of perfect.”

Referencing the meeting of Boards of Governors held in Nassau in April, he described it as one of the best annual meetings with 48 countries represented.

He continued, that when James Scriven, general manager of Inter-American Investment Corporation, said he would come to The Bahamas and look at the private sector in the country and “make it work and make it grow The Bahamas, there was really only one place we could tell him to come, and that is Freeport.

“We happen to see Freeport as the alternative arm and leg to redeveloping growth in the Bahamian economy.”

Mr. Butler said he is excited and hopeful with the signing of the MOU for the opportunities of “real growth and entrepreneurship in The Bahamas.”






Written by Jones Bahamas

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