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Monday, July 17, 2006 

17th July
Enthusiasm Builds For Mayaguana Job Prospects
By Quincy Parker
When he spoke with The Bahama Journal recently, MICAL MP V. Alfred Gray was unable to say who is monitoring the 10,000-acre development on Mayaguana to ensure that the developers, who are in a joint venture with the government, live up to the terms of their agreement.
However, Minister Gray was enthusiastic about the job prospects for Mayaguanians.
"I can tell you that I have heard very little by way of complaints," he said.
"Mayaguana, having a population of under 300 people, by now is very close to full employment."

Asked how the government is preparing Mayaguanians for higher-paying managerial jobs as opposed to simple labour, Minister Gray explained that the Ministry of Labour is about to establish a labour office on Mayaguana, which will promote training.

"I believe that the present population may not have the skills required without training, and the company itself – being a joint venture company with the government – is obliged to train the workers in whatever areas they would need to work," Minister Gray said.

"But because the project is really only in the infrastructural development stage…it is a little ways from [making decisions about who to hire for] hotel management and people who will make the beds, and the maids and the cooks – we are a little way from that," he added.

The minister said that with the establishment of the Labour and Training Office will come the training facilities that will be required to prepare Mayaguanians who are presently there for the jobs which will be created by the development.

The main objective of the billion-dollar joint venture between the government and the Boston-based I-Group is to develop Mayaguana’s infrastructure to such a degree that other investors will see great potential for investing in that island, according to the developers and government officials.

Unbroken by much in the way of hills or valleys, the flat expanse that is Mayaguana is ripe for a major infrastructure inlay, according to Junaid Yasin, executive vice president of the Mayaguana Development Company (MDC), the joint venture between the company and the government.

Minister Gray told the Journal that the Ministry of Works has an "oversight department" that oversees the various anchor developments and other projects unfolding around The Bahamas, but Director of Public Works Melanie Roach explained that no such department existed.

Ms. Roach pointed out that there are "project officers" in the Ministry of Financial Services and Investments, each of whom is assigned to monitor a development project underway.

However, Financial Services and Investments Minister Vincent Peet explained that Director of Investments Basil Albury would be the person to say when the last time the government conducted any level of oversight on the Mayaguana development.

Mr. Albury was unavailable over the weekend.

Minister Gray addressed the concern that such a large-scale development might threaten the culture of Mayaguana – specifically the fear that Mayaguana’s cultural identity will be lost.

"It’s not going to be a lost/found issue…the development is one which is needed, and as the development grows so will the population, and Mayaguanians who are living there now will not be removed, but added to," he said.

"I see Bahamians moving there from everywhere, and whatever is indigenous will remain that. It might expand because of the population explosion, but I’m not seeing that Mayaguanians will be overshadowed by the development."

Minister Gray said the he certainly expected that the Mayaguana Development Company will have to bring in employees from elsewhere in The Bahamas as the project progresses.

"But so far the development has been a blessing for the Mayaguana people and those who are descended from there, because everybody who wants to work in Mayaguana – as I understand it – is presently working," he said.

The Bahama Journal - Bahamas News Online Edition
Copyright Jones Communications Ltd. ©2005 - Nassau, Bahamas.

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