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Mp: Grand Bahama 'Dying A Slow Death'

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PINERIDGE MP Rev Frederick McAlpine.

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

PINERIDGE MP Frederick McAlpine said Grand Bahama “is dying a slow death,” urging his governing party to try a “little harder and faster” to bring some economic relief to the island.

“Without an economic life raft, Grand Bahama is dying a slow death. We need a mission and a miracle urgently!” he said during his contribution to the Budget Presentation in the House of Assembly.

“We’ve heard it said Mr. Speaker, by none other than our leader; if we fix Grand Bahama, we fix the economy of the Bahamas.”

The Grand Lucayan Resort was a lifeline for Grand Bahama, but the property closed following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said that negotiations for the sale of the property had been a complicated process with the four parties at the table.

Although McAlpine is chairman of the Hotel Corporation Board – now the Tourism Development Corporation – he is not involved in the negotiation process.

Rev McAlpine noted that the island of Grand Bahama – with the second largest population – has high unemployment, a lacklustre economy with little to no national, local or international investment.

“Yes, we know the powers that be are trying but Pineridge, by extension Grand Bahama, has asked me to ask you, please try a little harder and a little faster,” he said.

He added that Grand Bahamians are hoping things will get better. “Why do you think so many of us are still there? There are so many from (Grand Bahama) anticipating returning home to the island they love.

“We need the Grand Bahama Port Authority, The Government of the Bahamas, private partners and stakeholders to come together and make something happen for Grand Bahama, less talk, and more action!”

Rev McAlpine noted that while efforts are being made by the Office of the Prime Minister in Grand Bahama to make something happen as it relates to making the island a technology hub, and to draw investors there, the impact would not be felt immediately.

“While Grand Bahama is thankful we also recognise that we won’t feel the residual economic effect until three to four years from now from these present investments. We encourage the Grand Bahama OPM to keep moving and ploughing on behalf of the people,” he urged.

The MP for Pineridge said Grand Bahamians must stop fantasising about the past and recognise that the days of the Princess, Shalimar, Laker Airline, and the International Bazaar are gone.

“We must forget those things that are behind and press towards new economic ideas, innovations, and self-preservation. We must now make Grand Bahama what we want it to be, and not what it used to be.

“We must do so by making it easy to do business in Grand Bahama, encouraging entrepreneurship, supporting small businesses and stimulating economic growth. This is the path that Grand Bahama must take in order to re-invent, re-invigorate, rejuvenate and revive its economic status in these Family of Islands,” he said.

On the issue of healthcare in Grand Bahama, The Grand Bahama MP said that many persons were disappointed that healthier items were not included on the breadbasket list as announced by the Minister of Health.

Rev McAlpine also mentioned the Rand Memorial Hospital – saying the healthcare facility is old and unable to adequately meet the demand of healthcare of persons living on or visiting the island.

He noted that the roof leaks and the building is in desperate need of refurbishing and renovating.

“The most modern aspect of the hospital is the operating theatre that was done when we were last in office. Everything else, as the young people would say, is popped down. For the second largest population in this country, we need to do more and better as it relates to this healthcare facility,” The MP stressed.

However, he commended the government for the decision concerning the relocation of the hospital’s cafeteria and kitchen away from the patients after a kitchen fire forced the evacuation of patients from the hospital.

Rev McAlpine also reported that are still complaints about long waiting times, and the differential treatment of Bahamian and foreign patients and staff at the Rand.

He said: “Too many persons are still waiting too long when showing up for medical care at the Emergency Room; which means that we could be understaffed, overworked or simply overwhelmed by the number of patients seeking medical attention.”

The MP said that too many of the Bahamians nurses are still complaining about not being treated fairly in relation to their foreign counterparts.

Rev McAlpine said that he also wished for the Minister of Finance to know about the shortage of hospital beds, patients having to lie down on gurneys and patients being prepped for surgery from the asthma bay.

“Enough is enough,” he stressed. “I’m going to suggest today what can be done to add to the coffers to increase revenue. We should stop demanding of our citizens what we are not prepared to demand of those foreigners.

“I recommend to this House for non-Bahamians using our hospitals and schools; that whatever the Bahamian pay-registrations may be, it should be made double for non-Bahamians,” Rev McAlpine suggested.

“If it’s not going to be a free lunch for Bahamians it shouldn’t be a free lunch for anybody else,” he said.

Rev McAlpine also expressed his concern about the CAT scan at the Rand Memorial Hospital which had been out of commission for some time but is now back in service after repairs.

He noted that on the weekends some patients had problems getting a scan done.

“The Rand is not a clinic; it is a hospital and should function as such. So provisions should be made for CAT scans 24/7. I’ve also been informed that we should be receiving another CAT scan. This should improve the service in that regard as well,” he said.

He also stressed that Grand Bahama needs its own oncology or cancer centre because it is too expensive and tedious for these persons to travel to Nassau for treatment.

Rev McAlpine said that the Minister of Health had informed him that they’re working feverishly to have this oncology centre up and running in the shortest possible time.

Another issue bothering Rev McAlpine was that while Cabinet members and parliamentary secretaries all have individual insurance – as do MPs – they also have insurance for their spouses and children even though they earn more than other elected officials.

“When the people of Pineridge elected me, they elected me, not my wife or my children,” he said. “So whatever I have to do for my wife and my child should be done from my earnings.

“As an MP only, I have to pay for my wife and child to have insurance, and rightfully so, they’re my responsibility. I earn less, but I have to pay out more (sounds like the Bahamian people, huh?). Nevertheless, Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries' insurances for their spouses and children are paid by the government of The Bahamas. So they earn more but pay less. So can you imagine somebody holding these positions? Spouses and children, and some people have more than two dependent children,” he explained.

He then criticised the government for not providing insurance to EMS personnel who are the first on a scene to emergency calls.

“The real unconscionable thing for me: ambulance drivers in this country have no insurance on their lives. How is it that the treasury of The Bahamas can provide Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries’ spouses and dependent children with insurance and cannot do so for the ambulance drivers in this country? That’s a crying shame!” Rev McAlpine said.

"With respect to this House of Assembly, other than the prime minister, if you can’t pay for all, you shouldn’t pay for any. I’m asking this question on behalf of the people, why successive governments keep paying for people who can pay for themselves but are asking more of people who cannot afford more or even to pay?”

Comments

John 1 year, 3 months ago

Grand Bahama is in a better position than it was a year ago. There are spurts of growth and revitalization. But Grand Bahama i(Freeport) is one of the areas of the Bahama did not pay its fair share of taxes to the government when it had 30 plus years of growth and boom. Yes the (Black) Bahamian Workers aid but no one else did. And so the city died. And those who got away with all, ALL the tax exemptions are waiting for government to give it mouth to recessitation. Persons come to Grand Bahama on Millon dollar fishing boats and puke at having to pay a $100 cruising or fishing permit. They bring all their supplies with them . And they take fish and other marine products sometimes valued in thousands of dollars. More rights than Bahamians.

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ashley14 1 year, 3 months ago

There is still a lot of good people on Grand Bahama suffering from lack of employment. It's a beautiful island that should be booming. The people are so nice and glad to see you.The island is so quiet. Many good memories of Grand Bahamas, back in the day.

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Porcupine 1 year, 3 months ago

So long as people, (the politicians) continue to get their free lunch, then most of them it seems simply don't seem to care what happens to the rest of us. This is sad, yet apparently true. The term "public servants" does not apply in this country. These representatives are here for what they can "take" for themselves and their families. Then, after a few years of these shenanigans they make the taxpayers pay their ways for the rest of their lives? Disgusting. We see it with our own eyes here on Andros. Representation? Yup, for themselves. If Grand Bahama is to re-emerge as a brilliant tourist destination, which I believe is very possible, it will be because of the hard work of those who live there. Forget placing your hopes in government. What has government really ever done for you? Bahamian politicians, for the majority, are there for themselves. Who has been paying attention that cannot see this?

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realitycheck242 1 year, 3 months ago

What baffels me is how come Bimini Abaco, and Exuma can bounce back and have booming economies after the hurricanes and Grand Bahama is still in the doldrums except for the industrial sector. My guess is Grand Bahama and in particular Freeport present situation has more to do with the lack on visionary leadership on the part of the port authority.as oppose to the government. That is what happens when second and third generation decendants of the founders lack the foresight and ability to execute on the vision of the founders for that city..

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banker 1 year, 3 months ago

The problem with the port authority is absentee ownership (at least on a day-to-day basis) and as a result the port authority leadership (especially the CEO) is a cancer on Grand Bahama. They want to make a tech hub, and yet I have known a tech entrepreneur, who after talking to the CEO of the port authority, didn't want anything to do with Grand Bahama or the Port Authority, or the Bahamas for that matter.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

"...why successive governments keep paying for people who can pay for themselves but are asking more of people who cannot afford more or even to pay?”

Because it would be nice if we could reduce the number of poor people. Poor people suffer from a disease called belly-swell-itis. They refuse to use preventive medicine or cure medicine for this serious ailment.

The more you help poor people - the more they refuse to improve their lifestyle. They just react by making even more poor people at PMH. If they were just barely feeding 5 children before you "helped" them, 19 months later they will be just barely feeding 7 children.

Then the govt subsidies have to grow even larger and VAT has to go up even more. It's a vicious cycle, and the churches won't allow sex education for these poor folks to learn how this happens. They are told "Babies come from God." Sorry folks, that was just that one time when Jesus was born. Hate to burst your bubble.

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EasternGate 1 year, 3 months ago

So very true. Slack ass men and slack ass women breeding like animals!

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proudloudandfnm 1 year, 3 months ago

John. Grand Bahama is far worse off today than it was on May 10th last year. And that tax thing you mentioned is bullshit. GB is the largest contributor to the public treasury outside of Nassau.

Man if you don't know facts please keep your opinion to yourself...

GB biggest problem is and has been low quality investors. Improper vetting and a lack od performance demands in HOGs have us where we are today. Had we a non performance clause in Hutchison's HOG our hotels would be opened today.

Time for this government to get off its ass and do something! The thousands of us that have been forced to leave the island to find work WANT TO COME BACK HOME!

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

RealityCheck .... that is nonsense "...Freeport present situation has more to do with the lack of visionary leadership on the part of the Port Authority..."

You need to ask why does a business need a government business license to operate in the Port Area. Ask why the road has not yet been reopened between Princess Tower & Princess Country Club. Ask why every shipping container that travels on "the queen's highway" has to pay $50 to govt. Ask why a certain airline has yet to pay one single landing fee in Freeport. Keep asking questions like these and soon you will discover it is not the Port creating the hold-up, but instead govt regulations and taxes.

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proudloudandfnm 1 year, 3 months ago

There is absolutely no need to open that road.

Please leave that damned road out of the equation...

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proudloudandfnm 1 year, 3 months ago

And road tax on containers is charged on every island. FYI

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scampi75 1 year, 3 months ago

Freeport is my home, I've lived here 34 years, raised my kids here. I am a Bahamian and like it however, I also own my business which puts me in a prison like state. If I was lucky enough to have a job and rented a house then I have the choice to pack up, leave and look for greener pastures. But when you own, you're stuck! You can't sell your business or your home so, like me, I have no other choice but stay and really hope something happens. I don't want to leave but the reality is I'm not getting any younger and how long can I hold out? I've been lucky enough to stay open and make a living but after many years of long hours and sacrifice, it would be nice to have been able to put some money away for the "golden" years. Building wealth in Grand Bahama is a dream afforded to very few.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

ProudLoud...that closed road is what put the Intnl Bazaar out of business and more recently Ruby Swiss a Freeport legend is now out of business. You must not know much about Freeport - or you are an enemy of Freeport.

Yes, road tax is charged on every island but it should not be charged on FREEport - otherwise change the name.

The amounts Freeport has been putting in the Treasury has fallen tremendously since 1987 when Government started its War on the Whites getting rid of Canadian and British teachers.

Now everybody has to pay VAT to make up the difference. But it feels so good to shout "Honky!!!" it makes up for lost wages so well.

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ashley14 1 year, 3 months ago

Right now how can tourism in GB? There is nowhere to stay, and what available offers nothing to bring the tourist back. There is no live entertainment. The casino is a joke. I didn't see anyone in it. I don't gamble so I really didn't pay any attention to that. No busy beaches, with snorkeling, parasailing, banana boats etc. Tiki bars keeping the patrons drinks full. Literally it felt like a ghost town. Everyone I encountered was extremely nice, and appreciated your visit. More than encouraging to come back and I will.

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BahamaPundit 1 year, 3 months ago

Idiots. My idea is to make Grand Bahama and only Grand Bahama a legal marijuana zone. The US Federal Government is on the verge of legalizing weed (or letting states choose) nation wide. With the removal of the Federal ban, the Bahamas has no reason to criminalize marijuana. Use Grand Bahama as the platform for Bahamian entrepreneurs to legally sell pot to Bahamians and tourists alike. This lead to a huge boom in GB, as everyone flocks to its "high" shores.

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proudloudandfnm 1 year, 3 months ago

That road had absolutely nothing to do with the failure of the bazzar or Ruby Swiss man. Muddos. That raod offers absolutely zero economic benefits. Just leave it alone. Sheesh.

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proudloudandfnm 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't k ow where you're getting your info about Freeport's contribution to the treasury. So I'll just say you're wrong.

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realitycheck242 1 year, 3 months ago

@TheMadHatter and proudloud ....yourll beifing about the closure of a road which makes no sence .....I am talking about the visionary leadership that Sir Jack and Sir Edward bought to Freeport. They always had a plan A B C D and on and on when they headed the port authority. They kept the economy of freeport Bomming.. Those guys had the respect of the international investing community and Investors were always knocking at the port doors to do business in freeport. That why it was known as the magic city. . The second and third generation of their decendants who presently own the port and the people who have the senior positions at the port have not demonstrated the vision to return freeport to the magic city days. The Government seams to be rolling out more ideas than the port such as to reciently enacted Commercial Enterprise bill to facilitate the ease of starting a business there. Freeport being the industrial heart beat of the country should be courting businesses in the green economy and eco tourism sector. Every week the port should be leading a delegation to countries around the world seeking to attract companies to take advantage of freeport close location of the east coast of the largest economy in the world. Freeports death will end when the port develop and implement a vision 20K plan .

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Ma Comrade RealityCheck242, I'd stick my Freeport concerned neck out that the 'visionary' healing powers whatever delivery vehicle your using Medical cannabis, does seems be brungin 'visionary confusion' your head - far exceeding required medicinal potency... bet you does have munchies all time.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

Proudloud & Reality - i grew up in FPO until i went to college in late 80s then returned for 7 years - saw the writing on the wall and moved to Nassau.

I am, however, obviously an idiot. Go ahead and keep the road closed and encourage more government interference in Port Authority goals. That's what's been happening for much more than a decade.

But, who knows? Maybe it just needs time to pan out. Maybe try closing a few more roads, and adding a few more government obstacles to the Port Maybe that will bring even faster results. What do i know? Try it.

Talk to your people. Ask them to close 5 more roads and add 5 new fees, taxes, and regulations by month's end. Then we can all celebrate prosperity in July.

But wait!!!! Why bother with that? You suggest FPO never really sent much money to the Treasury anyhow. So it really doesn't matter. Let's raise VAT to 19. VAT 19. Sounds like it would go good with gingerale.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Ma Comrades, "I don't really see why Freeporters would want to allow the Port to continue stick around day longer while holding onto anything resembling economic power, control or dominance over Freeport..... .To Freeporters......the predictability Hawksbill Agreement going back of never even remotely coming close much promised 'magic city'..... negative memories are long in mind's Freeporters... time send family packing and return Freeport and its sitting empty economic development acres back to native Freeporters. Should Freeport be nationalized... absolutely... pass the Act and get it over with. Time stop false 'makeovers' of Freeport and market it not as some 'magic city' but as its strongest economic potential - as one of the colony of islands, island. Pindling bended Port... now time finish job . broken it.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

Madhattet, you talking plenty sense. Close tge roads to EastGB and WestGB and let the ends develop independently of Freeport. .... SMH

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

From the beginning 1955 under Hawskill Creek Agreement (or something like that,) Ma Comrade Freeporters, have never experienced what it's like have lived under true colony's form Free Enterprise Democracy.... Always denied by outsiders to have experienced what life be like living as Out Islanders. Free Freeporters, live likes Out Islanders.

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hrysippus 1 year, 3 months ago

Freeport's economy was destroyed by the corrupt and incompetent Lynden Swindling, he was pissed off that he had to pay back some of the money he had "borrowed" from prominent Grand Bahama investors. Like many Bahamians he thought borrowed money should be a gift, Bend or Break, he told them and the people cheered his courage. Similarly thus was Robert Vesco thrown out the country after the PLP crooks had bled him dry. I am sometimes surprised that ant foreign investors come here at all.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Few ma comrades who have never spent much time in Freeport, would be aware that fewer than 6% population have ever owned a lawn mower.... hardly any grass being mowed in Freeport considering how difficult it is grow grass in Freeport. Lots imported fake artificial grass lawns all over Freeport.

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killemwitdakno 1 year, 2 months ago

This is why DNA should have gotten all 5 Freeport seats.

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