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Bahamian Politics Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017 - 1:45:37 AM

DNA: A New Reality for Grand Bahama Island
By Branville McCartney, Leader, Democratic National Alliance (DNA)
May 4, 2016 - 12:03:12 PM

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Weeks after the launch of the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival celebrations on Grand Bahama Island, the soca induced delirium associated with the festival has worn off and slowly but surely, Bahamians are snapping back to reality. And what a sad reality it is. Now that the party is over, Grand Bahamians are once again faced with astronomical energy costs and a stagnant economy. A reality where thousands of Bahamians continue to lose their homes; and one without job opportunities for qualified individuals.

With unemployment already at record numbers, even more Bahamians may soon find themselves in the unemployment line. In just over a month, the iconic Grand Lucayan Hotel which has been a staple of the Grand Bahama tourism product will be sold. Back in March, the owners of the 409 acre property announced plans to sell the resort – the third largest in the country – in a sealed bidding process. The news of the sale has brought with it increased uncertainty for the nearly 700 Bahamians currently employed at the resort. For months now, media reports have speculated about the bidding process, the potential buyers and overall plans for the once vibrant property. Sadly, Bahamians have again been left in the dark. The Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Grand Bahama and the Prime Minister himself have been suspiciously quiet about the entire matter.

With the country still reeling from the GDP impact of the prolonged Bahamar debacle, the Bahamas’ tourism product can by no means withstand the fallout of another shuttered hotel property. Now, as the deadline for purchase submissions quickly approaches the Democratic National Alliance demands that the government come clean about matters related to the sale. What involvement, if any, has the government had in the sale and bidding process of the hotel? Are the potential bidders companies of repute? Have Bahamians been given an equal opportunity to participate in the bid process? Will the property close for any period following the sale? And if so, for how long? And most importantly what will become of the jobs for the nearly 700 Bahamians currently employed there?

This radio silence is a far cry from the many promises made by this PLP administration in the run up to the last election; promises of new jobs, a vibrant tourism product, and a transparent government, all of which would be facilitated by the Ministry of Grand Bahama. Since coming to office however, the ministry has done little to facilitate real development for the island.

Instead, it has proven itself a breeding ground for more cronyism, parliamentary appointments and has compounded the issue of government bureaucracy and red tape which has hindered development.

What Grand Bahamians want now, more than empty promises, is real decisive action on the part of the government. A DNA Government can provide just that. Our comprehensive plan to grow Grand Bahama begins with addressing record unemployment. The DNA has long espoused the belief that Bahamians must become owners of the economy. Government policies must move away from creating simple low level jobs but rather, the creation of long term careers; and even more importantly, BUSINESS OWNERS.

Empowering young Bahamians to follow their entrepreneurial dreams will require that we roll out the gold carpet for domestic investors, creating an environment of growth and economic stimulation. Along with addressing the shortfalls in the education system, growing Grand Bahama will also mean finding the balance between a bustling city experience and the Family Island charm which visitors expect when they travel to our shores. It will mean finding a way for tourism and industry to peacefully co-exist. It will require focused attention, and real collaboration with the Grand Bahama Port Authority in order to reverse the effects of years of neglect and mismanagement but it CAN BE DONE!

In the next general election, Grand Bahamians have a real opportunity to change the course and direction of this country; to change our reality. We have an opportunity to hit the reset button and finally demand real, transparent leadership securing first class governance for the nation’s second city.

Branville McCartney
DNA Leader

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