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Cat Island partnership a model PPP, minister says

Guardian Business Editor

Published: Oct 24, 2014

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The development of a new airport on Cat Island is in its final stages and may break ground in a matter of months. According to Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle, the way the project has been developed and will be financed is a model the government will see used again.

Rolle pointed to the partnership between the government and Cat Island Partners Ltd., the developers of the $220 million Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Village, as a model public/private partnership (PPP).

“They will build the airport for us, and the government will take responsibility for the repayment of the commitment. We gave them a budget, we agreed on the design. The government will be lock-step with them in the development of it, but they will (build it) because the government does not have the capacity to get financing for that airport, which is essential to their development,” he said.

The Department of Physical Planning approved the developer’s plans for the New Bight International Airport last year. Phase one of the airport redevelopment, a $9 million venture, is supposed to involve the construction of a new terminal building and the resurfacing of the existing runway. The second phase is expected to bring the total bill to $16 million, chiefly through the construction of a new runway that will be 150 feet wide and 7,000 feet long.

Rolle said the government was “caught between a rock and a hard place”. Its desire is to see the PGA Village come out of the ground, but the lynchpin of the development is access.

“If you don’t have an airport, you’re not going to get the bodies to keep the place open,” he said. “So we said to the developer, you build it. We will allow you to repay the loan with us through, maybe landing fees.”

The minister said that this partnership could be used as a model for the development of some of the other airports around the country in dire need of either refurbishment or replacement.

“For us, the mantra has to be PPP (public/private partnerships), because we cannot wait for development to take place; development has to move quickly,” he said. “The people need it: we have high unemployment, and not many entrepreneurial opportunities. So we have to look at ways to continue to fund infrastructural development that would support economic development in the overall economy.”



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