Categorized | National News

Over-the-Hill Initiative To Improve Commercial Activity

Of the 600 to 700 businesses in the Over-the-Hill community, only 200 of them are considered formal businesses.  This was revealed  by Financial Secretary  Marlon Johnson Wednesday . This is being used  as a springboard to encourage the reintroduction of commercial activity in that community. 

During a recent town hall meeting on the Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative, White Paper, Mr. Johnson  said  that a survey  conducted in 2016  uncovered that many of the businesses in the community were not in the formal sector. 

“So, you have business going on, you all know it, you live in the communities, yet a relatively small number are registered and formalized.

“A lot of the prevailing wisdom is you avoid getting registered because you don’t have to pay your tax, your business licence fees or because it had been a hassle in a lot of ways to get registered.

“The challenge with that when you are outside the formal community is getting access to credit, getting access to concessions, it becomes difficult.

“So, the happy challenge we have is to lower the barriers for businesses within the community to become a part of the formal sector and find ways to become low cost and low hassle and that then opens the door for them in the formal sector to access credit and get the concessions and the things they need in order to go and to thrive,” Mr. Johnson said.

He told the residents that in order for the community to thrive, particularly as an economic empowerment zone, businesses must be regularized. 

“The extent to which  economic opportunities, commercial opportunities are created is the extent to which you could create jobs and incomes that truly in the heart of addressing poverty. 

“The interesting dynamic of the Over-the-Hill community is that it is a residential community; it is an old community, one of the oldest communities in New Providence, but if you look at it from a business to residential mix,  you will see that businesses, although it has a small strong business component, formal businesses are underrepresented in the community.

“So, one of the dynamics that has to change for the long-term liability of the community is that you have to get commercial activity back into the community,” Mr. Johnson said. 

The government  is looking to relieve major tax burdens, provide concessions on customs duties, relieve real property tax and stamp tax on the transfer of properties.

“Businesses that have a turn over of under $5 million, which is the definition given to medium sized businesses or a small business, these businesses will get full exemption from the payment of a business license tax or any type of business license tax that may come in the future. 

“The Customs Duty exemption one is an interesting one and it’s the most challenging administratively for us;  but it is one of the most important ones. Under the Customs Duty exemption regime, you will get exemption on all of the materials and all the items that you would need in order to build or refurbish or to improve your business. 

“There will be an exemption on all the Real Property Tax in the region and so what this provision will allow businesses who upkeep their properties, residential persons who upkeep their properties will be exempted from Real Property Tax.

“And of course, any transfer of properties or any sale of properties, will be exemption of Stamp Duties,” Mr. Johnson explained 

The Over-the-Hill area represents the most impoverished communities, according to Mr. Johnson.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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