NASSAU, The Bahamas — Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham said on Thursday, February 5, that foreign direct investments in The Bahamas are showing positive signs.

He also said that several of the tourism related developments, which stalled because of the global recession and international financial crisis are preparing to move forward this year.

“It is expected that as the US economy begins to grow there will be improvement in the second-home market. Also, investments in other segments of our economy are showing positive signs,” the Prime Minister said in his New Year’s Address to the Nation.

He said that Statoilhydro’s acquisition of South Riding Point Holdings in Grand Bahama is providing an excellent opportunity for that facility to once again become an important contributor to the Grand Bahama economy.

“The upgrade and refurbishment of the facility will result in the arrest and reversal of the substantial environmental degradation which has taken place at the site over the years. Some 55 individuals are employed by Statoil today,” the Prime Minister said.

He announced that Vopak Terminal Bahamas, the new owners of BORCO, are nearing completion of a $200 million upgrade and expansion of their facilities near Pinder’s Point and Lewis Yard.

He also said a $300 million expansion of the facility is scheduled to commence early in the second quarter of this year.

“Vopak’s continued investment in its facilities in Grand Bahama brings increased job security to the 169 Bahamians engaged at the facility and is expected to create an additional 30 jobs once the expansion comes on stream,” the Prime Minister said.

He added that work associated with the expansion has already created some 250 construction jobs and this number is projected to increase to as many as 600 jobs at the peak of construction.

The Prime Minister also revealed that a number of large international companies are opening corporate headquarters, sales offices and training facilities in The Bahamas.

Most notably, he said, the exclusive Swiss watchmaker Rolex (Caribbean) has received approval to locate its watch making and repair training centre in New Providence.

He also said that Oldcastle Building Product (Caribbean) was approved to operate its sales office for the region and North America from New Providence, and Brimac Environmental Group received approval to transfer its corporate headquarters to The Bahamas.

The Prime Minister said the Government is hopeful that a number of the stalled previously approved tourism related projects will re-start or commence in 2010.

“Several projects in Eleuthera, Abaco, Long Island, Cat Island and Rose Island are also encouraging,” he said.

The Prime Minister said while the pace of sales in the second-home market remained soft last year, the decline was considerably less than anticipated demonstrating that while big business was particularly susceptible to the slowing economy worldwide, private purchases went ahead.

In this regard, he said, second-home sales in New Providence, Abaco and Grand Bahama have proven to be most resilient while sales in Exuma, Eleuthera and Long Island have lagged more significantly.