Categorized | National News

FNM Leader Calls for Duty Free Clothing

Free National Movement Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis suggested yesterday that the government should remove the duty on clothing, instead of preserving the duty free zone status for the high-end jewellery businesses located Downtown.

According to Dr. Minnis, if clothing becomes duty free, it will improve the attractiveness of Downtown, Bay Street and improve the variety of items that can be sold at competitive prices Downtown.

As a result, he said more job opportunities will be created in the retail clothing sector and the burden on taxpayers will be lessened.

In addition, Dr. Minnis said this will allow more entrepreneurial start-ups in the retail sector and revitalize the commercial real estate sector in the city’s centre.

As the government seeks to revitalize Bay Street, Dr. Minnis said the government should cease the reported practice of issuing licenses to foreign retailers.

“If they (government) wish to reduce the cost of shopping, they should do so for both visitors and Bahamians alike (and not only on Bay Street). Clothing should be given the same provision as is done for high-end jewellery and leather goods,” Dr. Minnis said.

“Just as the Pindling administration, in its final miserable years, decided to ‘change the face of Bay Street’ by licencing a host of foreign-owned duty-free jewellery stores, it seems that this Christie administration (in its final miserable years) is similarly intent on changing the face of retailing throughout the entire tourism industry.”

Dr. Minnis explained that such reckless abandoning of long-cherished economic empowerment policies could ultimately lead to the complete demise of the Bahamian retailer.

“The PLP (Progressive Liberal Party) campaigned on the slogan of ‘Bahamians first,’ but again it seems that in practice the PLP continues to put Bahamians last!” Dr. Minnis said.

He explained that if clothing is made duty free, any revenues lost in duty may be made up from the value-added tax charged on increased sales volumes in the retail clothing sector.

According to Dr. Minnis this includes VAT collected from more consumption due to reduced levels of unemployment, increases in stamp tax, and VAT receipts from real estate transactions related to commercial real estate expansion and rentals in the Downtown area.

“The FNM would further encourage the local clothing sector by looking at removing duty from sewing materials, patterns, threads, accessories and equipment, thereby creating more jobs and competitiveness in the fast-growing domestic fashion and design sector,” he added.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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