Chairman of Barbados Port Inc David Harding has made a strong plea to Government not to privatize the facility.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler recently announced that the sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) was all but complete, with Government simply “waiting on the cheque” to consummate the deal.
He said at the time that the divestment of BNTCL was part of the Freundel Stuart administration’s statutory reform programme that involves the amalgamation or sale of the over 50 Government-owned entities in order to cut costs.
Government has not indicated that it was considering privatizing Bridgetown Port Inc, although, over the years, persons of various degrees of influence have called for its sale.
At a recent ceremony to show off improvements to the port, Harding made a case for it to be kept out of private sector hands, insisting that the management team had functioned “beyond what you know in the private sector”.
Reading from a prepared speech, the Chairman had then outlined the various stages of development at the facility over the years, pointing out that it now compared favourably with other international port facilities.
“For many of you I took you down memory lane to reinforce the fact that the Port, whether it be port contractors, the Barbados Port Authority or the current Barbados Port Inc, we have never shirked our duty, never adopted a can’t do attitude. Yes there have been trying times over many years, with the clamour from all sides that the Port is inefficient, that the port should be privatized or sold or both,” Harding said.
“Let me just say here today for the record, that this is not what we are about, that this board has no other mandate but to improve its services with its customers while it improves its bottom line. And without contradiction I can say that we are well on our way to achieve these two positions for our shareholders, the Government and people of Barbados,” he added.
The $115 million upgrade included the building of an additional berth, upgrades to existing ones, acquisition of 17 additional forklifts, two empty container handlers, and five electric straddle carriers. Construction began in May 2015 and was completed in October last year. (MM)