Categorized | National News

SYMONETTE DEFENDS COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE BILL

The opposition leader is being criticized for what a senior cabinet minister calls regressive comments concerning the commercial enterprises bill.

Progressive Liberal Party leader Philip Davis recently forewarned foreign investors about the bill, charging that it is fundamentally flawed, fundamentally wrong and fundamentally ill conceived vowing to repeal the legislation if his party regains control of the government.

Financial services minister Brent Symonette said he believes that kind of thinking sends the message that the PLP is against persons coming here to set up businesses.

” The PLP by their moves have taken the Bahamas back and I question their motives because obviously they don’t want Bahamians to succeed if they themselves as operatives cannot succeed,” Symonette said.

The bill has not just been criticized by the official opposition but also the private sector as well as that of three-time prime minister Hubert Ingraham who said he advises the government to rethink the bill before pushing ahead.

Both Symonette and deputy prime minister Peter Turnquest have responded with “everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

One of the major concerns being debated is the bill’s $250,000 threshold which is said by critics to be too low for potential investors to receive economic concessions.

Symonette argued that a lot of the target businesses do not require a big set up; like call centers.

“Due to our immigration policy one of the leading hotel companies in the Caribbean did not set up their headquarters here because of immigration and other political issues they went to another country. Some businesses like call centers only require a bank of computers, rented space and human beings. So when you talk about $250,000 that’s why the limit is at that. It’s not like you’re building a building or bringing in cranes for containers. It is you are bringing in people to do business and with a lot of the businesses nowadays they are done on computer so I don’t think we have to be scared about the amount,” Symonette said.

The deputy prime minister has told reporters that the government will look to see if the lingering concerns have all been addressed or whether amendments ought to be made.

Also weighing in on the debate was retired Anglican archbishop Drexel Gomez, who agrees the bill needs to be rethought, a suggestion he said he hopes the government gives serious consideration.

Archbishop Gomez – who at the time was appearing as a guest on LOVE 97’s evening talk show “On Point” expressed three major concerns – the first that while the government’s aware of the need for an economic policy, he had hoped it would have come up with one before now.

“I don’t see that this bill gives me comfort that persons coming into the country is going to do anything to build the middle class even if you have a significant volume of people coming in. Actually businesses of that size can only bring in a few people,” Gomez said.

He also took issue with the immigration aspect of the bill.

Under the bill, foreign businesses investing in the Bahamas would be entitled to a specified number of work permits for senior personnel.

If the application for those work permits is not answered after 14 days, they would be deemed approved which the archbishop said is totally unreasonable.

“ I think the immigration part of this is deplorable, it is backward thinking and it does not fit into anything I have heard in the world,” Gomez said

The bill was passed in the house of assembly last week.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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