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Following  a rebuke from Shadow Minister of Transport Glennys Hanna-Martin, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar  claims  that all proposals for the Prince George Wharf  have significant Bahamian involvement, which he said is a huge factor for the Minnis Administration. 

He  says,  “we must think that we can be exceptional, and I think that’s what we’re pushing for. What we have there is less than mediocre, and you need some significant capital to create something exceptional and iconic.”

He added, “you don’t want to put ten million dollars  in here now and put 20 million in here later. You want to make a wow, and we want Bahamians to participate in all facets of it.

 “We want them to participate in the management, ownership, and to participate in the businesses that are down there. That’s what I call Bahamian participation.”, he said. 

According to the Minister, the previous administration raised around $430 million to build a new airport. They then  hired a foreign company to manage the airport. 

When asked why this government could not fund the port’s redevelopment in the same manner, Mr. D’Aguilar said that its more difficult now to raise the amount of money wanted using a similar construct given the current market scenario.

He said, “the benefits and the interests that is being paid on the Lynden Pindling International Airport, most of it is going overseas.”

He added, “the management of  that is being paid to a foreign company. So, I would much prefer to have a scenario where ownership of the concession is in the hands of Bahamians.” 

“They’re getting the dividends; they’re getting the interest—that’s what I want. I want a port down there that expands the number of options for Bahamian entrepreneurs, make the number of businesses that are around the Port double and possible triple. I want there to be an orderly  and easily acceptable transportation business down there,  because now its chaotic. There is so much more that we can do,” he said. 

Minister D’Aguilar  said  that the  Port’s evaluation committee is ready to select a bidder out of three submitted bids. 

These bids come from Global Parts Holdings, a collective bid from several cruise companies with local Bahamian businessman Gerald Strachan  and a group represented by Providence Advisors. 

The committee headed by Tourism Director General, Joy Jibrilu will make its recommendations to Cabinet, where the final decision will be made. 

This redevelopment is an attempt to boost cruise ship visitor spending as 75 per cent of country’s visitors flood Nassau’s streets spending a mere 11 percent.  

Mr. D’Aguilar made his comments while appearing as a guest on the  Love 97 Radio Programme  Jones and Company.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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