Senior officials for Global Ports Holdings (GPH) have denied claims that their company will look to reduce personnel working at the port.
The agreement between the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and Global Ports Holdings has been of concern to members of the public, particularly the deal’s possible impact on the current jobs at the port.
In an interview on OBSERVER AM yesterday, Dr. Sean Matthew, Business Development Adviser for the Americas and Caribbean, said there will be no reduction in existing jobs at the port, but they will instead be restructured.
“There will be no retrenchment process, but there will be a new structure through the operations of Global Ports [Holdings] and there will be a lot more opportunity for the workers at [St. John’s Development Corporation] and those working at the port,” he said, adding, “We see it as more opportunity – from management all the way down to security.”
The officials from Global Ports Holdings also revealed that they recently met with the members of the Antigua and Barbuda Taxi Association.
According to Kerem Seckin – Merger, Acquisitions and Strategy Specialist for Global Investment Holdings; parent company of Global Ports Holdings – any report of the taxi drivers being ejected from the port is false.
“[The taxi drivers’] main concern was they were going to be charged certain fees at the port. What we said was we are working on our plan and it would be easier once we take over the port officially so that we see the operations ourselves and . . . every stakeholder, including [the taxi drivers], would be included in this process so that we can design the traffic flow of the passenger together with their suggestions,” Seckin said.
Seckin also said that reports of Global Ports Holding looking to have taxi drivers use electric cars was false, and it was a suggestion from his chairman, Mehmet Kutman.
“Global Investment Holding, our parent company, invests in various sectors where one of them is green energy and our chairman is for the development of green energy. So it was just a suggestion made by him to say that [GPH] can also support the taxi drivers to switch to green vehicles,” Seckin explained.
The executives also addressed concerns as to why they could not engage with stakeholders like the taxi drivers before the signing the GPH agreement.
Colin Murphy, Head of Business Development for the Americas said: “We were in a confidential conversation with the Government [of Antigua and Barbuda] and were limited by the terms of our Memorandum of Understanding, so we simply could not until the agreement was signed.”
Seckin added that because Global Ports Holding PLC is a listed company on the London Stock Exchange, there were certain restrictions on what could have been publicly announced or done until the deal was signed.
They also addressed the letter obtained by multiple media houses from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
In the letter, FCCA president Michele Paige wrote to Prime Minister Gaston Browne expressing concern about the GPH agreement, stating that it could price away many cruise ships.
According to Seckin, any doubling of passenger head tax will not occur any time soon.
“We cannot double the [passenger head tax] next year, because we have not amassed anything yet,” he said, adding that any sudden increase would risk cruise lines withdrawing calls to Antigua.