Categorized | National News

Gov’t Reveals Economic Legislation Plan

The Christie administration plans to feverishly work on fixing the country’s fragile economy by stimulating private enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses, establishing a council of economic advisors and reviewing the country’s tax structure.

According to the Cabinet-prepared Speech from the Throne read by Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes, the government will address the economy, which is second to crime on its legislative agenda.

The first economic concern, according to the speech, is the private sector.

“My government is deeply wedded to the belief that private enterprises should remain the primary engine of job creation and entrepreneurial opportunity in our country and that tourism and financial services, supported by industrial expansion, fisheries and agricultural production, should be the chief areas of economic activity in our country,” Sir Arthur read.

“In this regard, my government is committed to the formulation and execution of policies that will encourage private investment in these areas while maximising job creation and career development for Bahamians in the shortest possible time.”

The government sees small and medium size enterprises as the job-creation engines of today’s economy to an ever-increasing extent.

“My government will re-focus the mandate of the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) and the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) to provide equity, credit guarantees and marketing and accounting support for fledging businesses.”

The government said it is also expecting to focus more on Grand Bahama, which has been in an economic black hole for years.

In fact, as soon as returning to office, the Christie administration established a Ministry of Grand Bahama – a promise made while on the campaign trail.

The government also said that it would amend the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.

The cornerstone of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement is that residents or licensees in the port area are free from personal income taxes, corporate profit tax, capital gains tax, death taxes or property taxes until 2015.

“My government will also implement a number of initiatives, including the grant of special concessions to promote the economic development of Grand Bahama and to facilitate the extension of the same benefits that are available under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement to east and west Grand Bahama,” Sir Arthur read.

The government said there is an emerging national consensus that the Bahamian tax system is “simply inadequate to meet the needs of a modern 21st century society,” which is why a review of the tax system will take place.

“My government will therefore launch an extensive review of the Bahamian tax system with a view to proposing alternative means of taxation that address the problems of the current system while providing the government with a stable, buoyant and adequate source of revenue to meet its governance obligations to the Bahamian people,” Sir Arthur read.

The Christie administration will also introduce legislation to establish a council of economic advisors.

“The role of the council will be to develop policy recommendations for government on the major issues pertaining to economic growth and stability including tax reform,” Sir Arthur read.

And a measure to keep everything fair while on the campaign trail the government also put a ban on new contracts during election season.

“There will also be laid before you legislation to prevent the entering into of government contracts, including contracts of employment or the payment of public monies in connection therewith, between the date dissolution of Parliament and the date of a General Election unless such contracts or such payments are pre-determined by an independent statutory body to be absolutely critical for the maintenance of essential services,” Sir Arthur read.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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