Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest said that while he’s aware of all the talk among the public about the $4 billion oil refinery project by Oban Energies, he urged Bahamians – particularly Grand Bahamians – to focus on the benefits such a project will bring to Grand Bahama. “There’s more to the story than what you see,” Minister Turnquest told participants of the 20th Annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook, which took place on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at Grand Lucayan Resort.
“You will be hearing more about that as the project proceeds. Today, as a matter of fact, the group is in East Grand Bahama beginning the final stages of their Environmental Impact Assessment. And we will continue to see activity, going forward through to the shovels in the ground. “We have confidence that this project is going to go forward, that the funding is available, that the environmental concerns will be addressed and that at the end of the day, we will have a project that will be a catalyst for the development of Grand Bahama as a whole, east Grand Bahama in particular.” Minister Turnquest reminded Grand Bahamians that what helped to bring about the “glory days” of Grand Bahama, when the economy was on the incline, was the industrial sector.
“So we have an opportunity and we have to see it through. Again, in the Heads of Agreement, we have requirements and everything is contingent on those requirements,” the Minister Pointed out. “As the Prime Minister has indicated, that Heads of Agreement will be Tabled and everyone will be able to see what it contains – the benefit and the risk to us as an island, as a country.” As the Representative for Grand Bahama, Minister Turnquest said that he’s pleased that there are a number of prospective developments slated for his constituency, including the Oban Energies Oil refinery in East Grand Bahama.
He said that a number of projects have been slated for Grand Bahama, including the purchase and development of the former Ginn property in West Grand Bahama. He also mentioned the purchase and eventual refurbishment of the Grand Lucayan resort by the Wynn Group. “The re-opening of this property is absolutely vital to the city of Freeport, particularly the Lucayan strip, which is a major contributor to the Grand Bahama economy,” added Minister Turnquest. “I know that there was some rumor that because Mr. Wynn was not here to speak at this Business Outlook, that there was some trouble with the deal. I just got off the phone with Mr. Wynn before I came into this room and I assure you that is not the case at all. There was some miscommunication and he is actually in the Dominican Republic, opening a property there. “But this deal is very much on track and we expect to have this wrapped up relatively soon; the brands that are associated with their proposal are very well known brands to us and they will give Grand Bahama the kind of variety of offering that we have been missing.”
Interestingly enough, Minister Turnquest said that Grand Bahama continues to attract interest with respect to the tourism industry. “As the Minister of State said, 2018 is poised to be a very significant watershed year for us,” added Minister Turnquest. “Between the government and our partners at the Grand Bahama Port Authority, we have to lock arms on these opportunities and ensure that we provide the best opportunity for these projects to become successful.” Drawing on a farming analogy, the Deputy Prime Minister told the audience that when one is planting, you don’t see results right away; it takes a while and in the meantime, the seed has to be watered and nurtured before it begins to spring up. “That’s the phase where we’re at,” said Minister Turnquest. “After years of going backward, we’re now starting to go forward and we must celebrate that.
“Prospects for the economy in 2018 are for furthering strengthening of activities, with growth estimated at 2.5 percent. Conditions in the Labor market are also consequently set to improve. These developments will be underpinned by the completion of the Baha Mar phased opening and by various foreign investment related projects, which have been foreshadowed by the Prime Minister. “As well, we expect the growth of both the tourism sector and the national economy to be favorably impacted by stronger projected growth in the United States, our major trading partner. The increase in investor consumer confidence in the United States bodes well for continued growth in tourist-related travel and investment interest in The Bahamas.”
Minister Turnquest said that the government is on track to bring the country’s financial house in order and that the Government remains on track to meet its budgetary target by year’s end. “The Government anticipates continued growth in the economy, which will be very much associated with improvements that we expect to happen here in Grand Bahama. As was pointed out by the Minister of State for Grand Bahama, various projects are being negotiated and/or are already in progress. “This signals a significant spike in the Grand Bahama economy and, in the words of the Honourable Prime Minister, what’s good for Grand Bahama, is good for The Bahamas.”