Budget Debate Continues


The Minister of Social Services and Urban Development and the Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini gave his take on the Hawksbill Creek Agreement in the House of Assembly on Thursday while during the 2023/24 budget debate.

The Hon. Obie Wilchcombe said, “I have always had a problem. So when I hear the Prime Minister say change, Prime Minister is now following what Sir Lynden said about bend of break. Now he is change must happen. And we’re forgetting that when the Hawksbill Creek Agreement was signed August 4th, 1955 was a bad deal, it was a bad deal. We gave away my land, home of my birth.”

Reading from The Quiet Revolution written by Dame Doris Johnson Wilchcombe continued, “‘the Hawksbill Creek Act virtually made Groves the emperor of Grand Bahama empowered to do pretty much as he wished with 211 square miles of the 408 square miles that comprise the island. He was apparently to build a deep water port and to bring in industrial and commercial enterprise. The government sold him 150,000 acres at $2.80 an acre. Many of which he later resold for as much as $50,000 an acre. His enclave was given freedom from Bahamian taxes until 1990. He was given the total power to levy license fees on anyone who wanted to do business in the main and he was given a strong say in banishing anyone who displeased him through use of the Bahamian government’s no questions asked deportation procedures’.”

Wilchcombe says he believes Grand Bahama needs government intervention in order to succeed. He also said,” Grand Bahama should be contributing much more to the GDP. It cannot be correct that you have the container port, you have the shipyard, you have all those companies in Grand Bahama and they don’t contribute that much to the GDP.”

Of late, the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and the performance of the Grand Bahama Port Authority have been the topic of public comments by several past and present Parliamentarians. In his budget communication for 2023/24, Prime Minister Davis said that “decisive action” was needed on the issue.