Minister of International Business, Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss is predicting that the once bustling Fontabelle, St Michael area will return to its former glory, following the opening of Rubis’ 17th service station here.
The new facility, which is being operated by Warners Turnstone Trading, officially opened today at Fontabelle, after a joint investment of just over $1 million a year ago.
Addressing the official opening ceremony this morning, Inniss said the service station, coupled with the recent opening of the Honda car dealership next door, had positioned Fontabelle to attract even more investment and commerce.
“The investment that has been made here at this service station must not just be seen as an investment in a service station, but the faith thatcontinue to have in our economy.
“Fontabelle is beginning to be rebuilt and get some new energy to it . . . A few months ago we were able to open the new Honda dealership here and I think that has really spurred some renewed interest in this part of the outskirts of Bridgetown, and I expect it will grow from strength to strength,” Inniss said, while pledging that Government would continue to provide an enabling environment for the establishment of businesses there.
The minister said the recent investment was a show of confidence by the private sector in the local economy “at a time when some individuals are preaching doom and gloom in the society”.
Inniss said while Government continued to push for a renewable energy society, the country continued to be heavily reliant on fossil fuel, having spent $260.5 million on the importation of 1.2 million barrels of heavy fuel oil; 759,000 barrels of gasoline and 495,000 barrels of ultra low diesel fuel last year.
In 2015 Government spent $452.4 million on fuel imports, $193 million less that the $645.4 million spent in 2014, a reduction Inniss attributed to lower prices on the global market.
He warned that as the country continued to push for greater use of renewable energy, companies such as Rubis would have to adapt.
“It doesn’t mean that the investors in the Rubis gas station here will go out of business. It means that over time you will continue to reengineer your enterprise that you are able to provide [fuel] from renewable energy sources for the renewable energy vehicles for example, and provide other services,” Inniss advised.
Highlighting some of the company’s investment in the island since it acquired the Texaco assets owned and operated by Chevron six years ago, Chief Executive Officer of Rubis West Indies Ltd Mauricio Nicholls spoke of a “quite eventful” last year, with a number of refurbishment projects.
He announced that Rubis was expected to move to its new regional headquarters in Welches by June, and pointed to several upgraded and newly built service stations across the island.
Nicholls said the Fontabelle service station, which began operating two weeks ago, was already witnessing “strong sales”.
“So I am really sure it will exceed our expectations and projections we have made,” he predicted.