PM Christie says more than 31,000 new jobs created in Bahamas

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NASSAU, Bahamas, Jan 24, CMC – Prime Minister Perry Christie says his administration has created more than 31, 000 jobs during its five year term in office with at least eight billion dollars being invested in the tourism sector.
Addressing the Bahamas Business Outlook conference here on Monday, Prime Minister Christie, said the efforts of his administration on job creation from foreign direct investment have been fruitful, “with approvals given for over eight billion dollars in touristic projects and, inclusive of 300 estate homes which, along with Baha Mar, will create an additional 15,000 permanent jobs throughout key islands of our archipelago.
“As a matter of record, the Department of Statistics has recorded the creation of 31,735 jobs during the current administration,” he said, adding that he was pleased with the level of investor confidence in the Bahamas.
Christie, who has been endorsed by his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) to lead it into the next general election, told the conference that the remobilization of the multi-billion dollar Baha Mar Resort is well underway and that the project will open in phases this year.
“It is my understanding that since the announcement, Baha Mar’s website has received over 20,000 views and 5,000 job applications have already been received for the 1500 positions now available, with several thousand more positions coming on stream by year end, when the project is fully completed.”
Christie said that the new owners of the project, CTF Enterprises, a Hong-Kong based conglomerate and operators of top branded hotels worldwide, “are also making plans to add additional features to what is already the largest single resort complex under development within the region”.
He said that Atlantis Resort, with 7,763 employees continues to be the largest private sector employer in the country and that its owner, Brookfield Asset Management,  is carrying out US$38 million in upgrades and renovations.
“In 2016, Atlantis contributed US$290 million in salaries, fees and taxes, for which the Government has extended appropriate concessions, and will maintain a vibrant capex programme over the next three years.”
Christie said that a signal achievement of his government has been the initiatives taken with respect to the expiring provisions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, which is expected to result in the strengthening and expansion of the Grand Bahama economy.
“The consultative process undertaken by this administration for review of the expiring provisions of the agreement has led to the implementation of a new policy framework and conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding with key stakeholders for commitments to further development,” Prime Minister Christie said, adding “this will deliver a wide range of economic and social gains for Grand Bahama’s residents”.
Christie said that some of the outcomes from this new framework include changes to the regulatory framework governing Freeport, creating improved transparency and regulatory oversight.
“Future concessions to developers will be administered by government and conditional upon compliance with real estate and business development milestones. A collaborative strategy is being developed with key stakeholders for attracting, retaining and expanding investment in Grand Bahama, including the injection of new equity capital into the Grand Bahama Port Authority group of companies.”
Prime Minister Christie said the cruise sector continues to expand with the recent negotiation by the government of a Waiver of Exclusivity from Freeport Harbour Company to enable development by Carnival Cruise Lines of a cruise port in Eastern Grand Bahama.
“More than US$350 million has been committed by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCA), Disney and Mediterranean Cruise Lines (MSC) for refurbishment and creation of cruise ports in The Bahamas,” he said, adding that the construction of a large pier and enhanced amenities at Coco Cay in the Berry Islands will enable RCCA, which is a minority investor in the Grand Bahama Shipyard, to transport over two million passengers per annum to the Bahamas.
“The development by Mediterranean Cruise Lines (MSC) at Ocean Cay of a $200 million, exclusive private cruise destination, the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, will enable MSC’s new, smart mega ships sailing in November 2018, to bring an additional 390,000 passengers to The Bahamas,” he said.
“MSC is committed to hiring more than eleven hundred twenty (1,120) Bahamians for the construction and operation of the Cay and, in partnership with the National Training Agency, will train and employ an additional 240 Bahamian crew who will join the 20 Bahamians already working on its cruise ships.”

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