If you were to ask people their view of the role of government, it’s likely that you would never receive the same answer twice. We all have different attitudes, experiences and priorities and they inform our view of what government is for.
Some people might prioritise public services, others would say security. But all the answers you would receive could be boiled down to one core function: to create the economic and social conditions for everyone to have the opportunity to lead a safe and prosperous life.
For this to be achieved a few basics need to be in place, such as laws that protect us from harm, a quality education system, adequate housing and an environment that fosters a successful economy.
Driving Economic Development
Creating a thriving economy that includes more opportunities for our people is why this government is committed to the redevelopment of the cruise berthing facility and cargo port in George Town.
To be successful, economies rely on infrastructure; like good roads that allow us to travel around, moving goods and selling services, and an airport that links us to the rest of the world.
Another essential piece of infrastructure that serves as the heartbeat of any economy is a port facility. Almost 90% of the world’s cargo is transported by sea and as a small island nation we are dependent on our port for almost everything we use in our lives on a daily basis.
Let us just imagine for a moment what it would be like if we did not have basic infrastructure like roads, an airport or a port. We wouldn’t have an economy.
The development of our infrastructure is therefore about providing and securing the conditions that allow economic activity to flourish and encourages citizens to set up and grow businesses.
Creating Jobs and Opportunities
Government would love to see more young people gaining valuable experience working in the tourism sector and going on to set up tourism related businesses, safe in the knowledge that the cruise industry is secure.
But with cruise lines telling us time and time again that it’s just not feasible to tender their larger vessels, which are being deployed at an increasing rate, we risk falling off the schedules of several cruise lines in the future, if we don’t build the piers.
Reducing Shipping Costs
Similarly, business owners – small and medium sized in particular – could find it easier to grow their businesses if they could pay less in shipping costs for imported goods. Those savings could potentially be passed on to consumers.
But our cargo port facility is 40 years old and is currently processing 500% more cargo than when it opened its doors in 1977. As well as being too small to handle the volume of business we currently receive, its physical structure is degrading and in need of repairs.
An expanded port and cruise berthing facility are essential to achieving the goal of handling cargo and cruise passengers in a safe, timely and more efficient manner.
This is why this government is 100% committed to the cruise berthing project and redevelopment of our port. By investing in the building blocks of our economy we are investing in our people – and that is what government is for.