Caribbean Times was on hand yesterday to witness another monumental and far-reaching episode that is intended to bring bountiful gains for the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda. This was the YIDA International ground-breaking ceremony of the Guiana Island project at Barnacle Point. The Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Investments, Economic Development and Energy in the Government of Antigua and Barbuda gave a speech high- lighting the event. The Minister’s remarks are provided below:
More investments, more jobs and low- er taxes had been the mantra of the Antigua and Barbuda labour Party throughout the election campaign in the months prior, and the leaders of the Party meant every word of it. We knew that months would pass between signing a Memorandum of Understanding and having a backhoe dig the first foundation. We had no time to spend dilly-dallying. Time is of the essence.
It was China’s great philosopher, Con- fucius that said, “In a country well gov- erned, poverty is something to be ashamed of”. It is with Confucius’ great wisdom in mind and our great pride in our country’s advancing policies to develop through broad partnerships a wealthy, creative and progressive nation that I address you as part of this Groundbreaking Ceremony for Yida International Investment Group’s Antigua Special Economic Zone.
I am confident that The Antigua Special Economic Zone will become an engine for economic growth and will strengthen link- ages in our local service economy. This is development at the national level, and the country and the Zone shall work together to ensure that benefits reach every local business, every family and every child in
Antigua and Barbuda because our government adheres to Confucius’ philosophy so, “this is a country well governed”.
The plans revealed by the YIDA Group to turn an under-utilized piece of valuable real estate into a venue for generating thousands of jobs, does not involve harm to the eco-environment. I congratulate the YIDA Group for taking into account the high regard which this administration displays for both the environment and job-creation.
The Guiana Island project will enlarge the number of hotel rooms, but it will be much more than a hotel.
Making Antigua a hub for the YIDA Group’s strategy of growing its investments in the Americas, will mean more office space, more cargo and traffic, more jobs for our youth, and more economic activity following years of economic decline.
The Antigua Special Economic Zone is designed to provide fiscal incentives to facilitate the business operations of investors within designated areas. It will foster Antigua and Barbuda’s national economic development and lead to prosperity and improvement of people’s living standards, inside and outside of the Zone. Simplicity, speed and smooth trans- actions are important aspects that many investors consider in making business decisions. It is for these reasons that we have established this Zone.
Through the Cabinet and Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda, the 2015 Antigua Special Economic Act shall be legislated and passed. It will provide for drastic simplification of procedures, approvals, clearance and documentation of investment related matters. The Antigua Special Economic Zone will be a model for efficiency and success and will be managed by a highly competent team that is committed to facilitating investment activity on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda. A team of individuals has been selected to administer policy incentives and resolved issues by replacing “red tape bureaucracy” with “red carpet treatment”.
We have set forth several growth and policy objectives for the Yida International In- vestment Group’s Antigua Special Economic Zone as fol- lows: Increased trade and export up to USD 40 million per year; Growth of investment up to USD 300 million per year;
Longterm job creation up to 1,320 jobs per year; Local businesses revenue generation up to USD 450 million per year; National income diversification up to USD 660 million per year.
l this will lead to the creation of an Economic Tiger that will be the powerhouse of the region and transform the destiny of our country.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda is encouraged by the USD$ 70 million paid so far by Yida International to bring the project to this stage. It demonstrates your commitment that this is not just a ground- breaking ceremony, but also the actual commencement of construction in May 2015. The first phase of development will include a high-end ocean-front and beach-front villa community with construction of the first internationally branded resort all starting before the end of this year 2015… The entire development includes Antigua’s Guiana Island and surrounding areas with 2 five-star hotels,
1,300 residential units, a casino and conference centre , a 27-hole signature golf course, a marina along with a commercial/retail/sports facility.
A quick conclusion of the construction and the grand opening in the near future will see the addition of thousands of high quality rooms to augment our tourism plant. It is with this in mind that we look forward with anticipation to the project’s completion, which will take tourism in Antigua and Barbuda to the next level. I can’t think of an environment that is as blessed as ours, with beautiful beaches and guaranteed sunshine that would provide a more suitable business friendly environment and platform for global investors to conduct business and manage
their wealth, than the Antigua Special Economic Zone, with the signature development that will now commence.
Our promise to our beloved nation of Antigua and Barbuda is that we will govern in such a way that will positively transform the lives of our people and safeguard their future for generations to come.
So on behalf of our Government and our God-blessed nation of Antigua and Barbuda, we officially offer our sincere appreciation to Yida International Investment Group for their investment into the Antigua Special Economic Zone. We wish the Group unparalleled success with its investment projects in Antigua and Barbuda! May the historic spirit of our Antigua and Barbuda forebears go with you.
Thank you, YIDA. May the God of our forebears bless you. May prosperity and joy mark the continuous path upon which we have embarked, today. Safe travel. Thank you.