The Hon. Zhivargo S. Laing, Minister of State for Finance, was a keynote speaker at the Grand Bahama Business Outlook in Freeport. He took the opportunity to announce plans to establish and fund a Grand Bahama Business Development Board, designed to promote investment on the island, on a sustained basis. He maintains that Grand Bahama can be an attractive prospect, and that with efforts to make outreaches to the investment community abroad and in The Bahamas, the island can attract new businesses. *“Given this, I wish to announce today the Government’s decision to facilitate the establishment of a Grand Bahama Business Development Board, which would be a partnership between the Government, the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce,”* he stated.
The function of the Board reportedly will be (i) promoting investment in Grand Bahama; (ii) examining business procedures in Grand Bahama and making recommendations for improvement; and (iii) developing strategies for the broad growth and development of Grand Bahama.
*“The Government is prepared to fund this Board to the tune of $500,000 in the first instance, with matching funds from both the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce,”* he added.
Minister Laing further noted that Grand Bahama can have a larger more prosperous population driven by a sensible permanent residency policy geared towards attracting high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals, namely from Europe and Latin America.
Business prospects proposed included:
• an offshore finance centre satellite for the emerging super-economies, such as China;
• an offshore medical and educational district within the Americas;
• second home market and recreational spot for the wealthy of Latin America, namely Brazil and Mexico;
• host to an LNG Plant, providing new energy options for The Bahamas;
• a hub for regional power supply between Grand Bahama and Abaco, increasing scale and lower energy cost for both islands.
The Minister continued that the island could have a meaningful yacht and aircraft registry; a high-end retail centre for offshore shopping; and can be a major entertainment centre in all the Americas.