Categorized | Business, National News

Hawksbill Creek Agreement Town Meetings Begin in GB

A series of town meetings hosted by the Hawksbill Creek Agreement review committee began in Freeport at the Foster B. Pestaina Centre at Pro Cathedral of Christ the King on Monday.

The purpose of the town meetings is to garner information from residents so as to review and make recommendations with respect to the expiration of certain provisions within the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, while suggesting other appropriate measures to promote and sustain economic growth in Grand Bahama.

The six-member committee to review the Hawksbill Creek Agreement was announced by Prime Minister Perry Christie in March during a press conference at Grand Lucayan.

The committee is headed by Dr. Marcus Bethel, a businessman and former minister of health.

Other committee members include Sir Baltron Bethel, James Smith, Kevin Seymour, Maurice Moore and Cassietta McIntosh. W. Albert Gray is a consultant and Dr. Doswell Coakley, Chevonia McBride of the Ministry for Grand Bahama, and Terrance Roberts of the Ministry of Tourism, make up the secretariat.

During the press conference, the prime minister noted that in August of this year, certain provisions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement are due to expire, namely exemptions on business licence fees and real property tax.

“For some time the Grand Bahama economy, despite the broad incentives and tax concessions under the Hawksbill Creek legislation, has remained stagnant and with limited exceptions, thus adversely impacting economic growth in the private sector and government revenues. In the absence of aggressive policy interventions to jumpstart a new round of development, and enhance returns on existing investments, Grand Bahama’s economic performance could remain sub-par relative to other islands in The Bahamas. Thus the expiration of these Hawksbill Creek Agreement 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,” the prime minister said.

The first objective of the committee is to agree with the Grand Bahama Port Authority and principal licensees on a long term economic development plan which both protect and promote the shipping, industrial, logistics, tourism, real estate and other commercial sectors as the focus for Grand Bahama.

The second objective of the committee is to create a framework for immediate and long-term investment promotion on the island to attract investors capable of operating assets competitively at a world class standard, and effectively and efficiently utilize the land resources with proper environmental safeguards.

The third objective of the committee is to ensure that the mechanisms are in place to align the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s quasi-regulatory authority with the policies of the government and that a regulatory framework exists in keeping with present and changing international business best practices.

The fourth objective of the committee is to agree on a suitable framework for property tax and business licence that would not impede economic growth and contribute along with other suitable measures to the enhancement of the government’s revenue base.

Other meetings being held this week will be at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Eight Mile Rock on Tuesday, High Rock Primary School in East End on Wednesday and St. Mary Magdalene in West End on Thursday.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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