Categorized | National News

$800 Million Expansionary Investments for Freeport

Vice President of the Grand Bahama Port Authority Sarah St. George, while reviewing the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, said there are some $800 million of expansionary investments in Freeport.

While making a presentation at the Grand Bahama Business Outlook, Ms. St. George said extending Grand Bahama businesses will boost investor confidence within and outside The Bahamas.

She said businesses such as the Container Port, the Grand Bahama International Airport, the Freeport Harbour Company, the Grand Bahama Shipyard, and others, are existing stakeholders of those millions of dollars.

“The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) got 2.5 acres of land for a justice centre and are building the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre for $3.5 million,” she said.

“We have to include land and the building of two new government high schools (St George’s High and Jack Hayward High) – in all some $9.6 million. GBPA built and still funds a Children’s Library with $200,000 per annum; we built the Arts and Crafts Centre. We gave 80 acres and built the sport track and field facility for $2.5 million, assisted in the creation of local government with a $2.5 million contribution plus 12 public parks donated, also bus shelters, sidewalks and so on.”

In regard to certain provisions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA) that are said to expire in August, Ms. St. George said exemptions which expire are those relating to exemptions from real property taxes, personal property taxes and taxes on earnings.

“The exemptions which remain relate to customs duties within the Port area both import and export, stamp taxes or levies on monies remitted by banks outside The Bahamas, excise taxes and export taxes or levies on goods other than for personal use,” she said.

“GBPA feels that VAT legislation is still open to interpretation under the HCA specifically with regard to services, utilities and rentals but that is an ongoing debate with the Attorney General’s Office. What rides on the expiring concessions? The impact of additional taxes must be weighed against the urgent need for growth and stability in Freeport.”

After she said competitiveness and simplicity of regulation are the ideals, Ms. St. George said extending concessions will unlock that $800 million of much needed expansion and modernization.

“It will attract new investments and create new business opportunities for Bahamians,” he said.

“Last but not least, it will significantly increase Freeport’s direct and indirect contributions to the Government Treasury and NIB.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced a sixth member committee to review the half a century old agreement. He said the expiration of these incentives provides an opportunity for the government to secure a comprehensive set of new arrangements which can spur economic development and increase the island’s contribution to net fiscal receipts.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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