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Bahamas Government Committed To Growth Of Maritime Industry

by Amanda Banks,, London

01 November 2007

The government of The Bahamas has remained an integral partner in ensuring that the national maritime industry grows and expands to the benefit of Bahamians and investors alike, according to Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Kwasi Thompson.

Thompson made his comments before a gathering of shippers, businesspersons, government officials and tourism industry representatives at the recent official opening of Port Week on Grand Bahama at the Lucayan Harbour.

“Today, the island of Grand Bahama stands as the envy of the region,” Thompson stated. “In the city of Freeport the range of maritime facilities encompasses the Lucayan Harbour (formerly Freeport Harbour) which is one of the world largest man-made harbours and the deepest in the region with ample room for expansion.”

Thompson pointed out that the Lucayan Harbour’s location is one of its best strategic advantages, noting that it offers easy access to the international shipping lanes.

“This is something that Grand Bahama can be proud of,” Thompson said.

He went on to note that the successful management and expansion of the Freeport Harbour attracted international investors to explore additional opportunities on the island, recalling that in 1995, a major economic boost materialized when the Grand Bahama Port Authority and Hutchinson Port Holdings entered into a joint venture, “creating a new economic jewel in the crown of Freeport Harbour, called the Freeport Container Port”.

“Today, the Freeport Container Port is the largest container handling centre along the United States Eastern seaboard and one of the world’s largest and fastest growing container shipment hubs. This is something again that Grand Bahama Island can be proud of,” Thompson observed.

The Deputy Speaker also heralded the advances at the Grand Bahama Shipyard, and pointed to the economic contributions of other industrial companies such as the Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO), South Riding Point Holdings, Freeport Aggregate and CEMEX Bahamas.

“Let me say that the Government of The Bahamas is committed to the Maritime Industry,” Mr. Thompson announced, continuing: “It salutes all of those persons in the industry this week. We recognize its importance and we recognize that this industry must continue to move forward and that we must be able to provide progressive policies so that this industry can move forward."

“We are also committed,” he added, “to being a major player in the world. We recognize that we have the facilities and the infrastructure and we must begin and continue to be major competitors in this industry. We must also as we have done during this Port Week, continue to partner with the private sector because the only way we will be able to continue to move forward is if the Government continues to make partnerships with the private sector.”

Thompson also noted the close relationship of the industry to tourism, pointing out that in order for the Bahamian tourism industry to move forward, special attention must be paid to the Maritime Industry.

“We are committed to the regeneration of the Grand Bahama economy and we realize how important this industry is to the regeneration of this economy. So it is fitting that we are able to celebrate this first week of the Port Week (on Grand Bahama),” he concluded.

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