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PM on Grand Lucayan, GBIA deals: We can walk and chew gum

Responding to doubts cast by the opposition and some members of the public that the government will not be able to close the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort until and unless the government follows through with the public-private partnership for the redevelopment and management of the Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA), Prime Minister Philip Davis dismissed the assertion that both deals can’t be brokered at the same time.

Last month, Opposition Leader Michael Pintard said the government’s announcements about the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort and subsequent reconstruction of the GBIA were nothing but hype and showmanship.

His comments came after Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited revealed the due diligence period before the closing of the sale to Electra America Hospitality Group for $100 million had been extended an additional 45 days.

“We can walk and chew gum. Whilst the negotiations for the sale of the Grand Lucayan are taking place we are also at the same time working assiduously to ensure that the airport, the gateway into Grand Bahama, is also in that mix. We are not just leaving the airport aside to get that done, we are working in tandem,” the prime minister told reporters yesterday.

“In opposition you would have heard me speaking to the fact that for Grand Bahama to move on, there has to be a wholistic approach. We can’t just sell the Grand Lucayan hotel without understanding where airlift is going to come from, and what you need is a properly constructed airport with the proper amenities to attract airlift.”

Last week the board of directors of Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited said the sale was steadily progressing and on track for completion, so that renovations would begin during January 2023, as originally announced.

Yesterday the prime minister  also responded to recent comments made by one of the founding fathers of the Free National Movement (FNM), who told Eyewitness News this week that it was time for the government to take back control of Freeport from the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA).

Maurice Moore was speaking to the challenges reported recently between the GBPA and the Del Zotto family, which last month announced it was closing all three of its companies on the island, leaving more than 100 Grand Bahamians without a job.

“The Freeport construct was ceded to private hands from 1955, so the government never really had control of it. It was only after the bend and break speech that some elements of control were implemented. We feel that the promise of Grand Bahama has yet to be fulfilled and we are in discussions to see how we can construct that path to fulfilling the promises of Grand Bahama and Freeport in particular,” said Davis.

“We are now engaged in conversations to see how that path can be constructed. What the outcome of those discussions will be, I am not sure at this time, but I am committed to ensuring that path is constructed to fulfill the promise that Grand Bahama has.”

Davis said that he has attempted to intervene in the break down between the port authority and the Del Zotto family, a major employer on the island.

Both parties have held firm on their positions.