Persons interested in opening businesses ‘Over-the-Hill’ will be eligible for a variety of tax breaks including exemption from customs duties, real property and stamp taxes as well as a business license fee waiver, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.
While tabling the White Paper for the Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Dr. Minnis said, no government has invested on a consistent basis what needed to be invested to ensure inner city communities thrive.
Dr. Minis said areas that continue to face economic hardship will now be known as the “empowerment zones” and will receive special incentives.
“The over the hill area will become the first empowerment zone in The Bahamas,” Dr. Minnis said.
“The incentives apply to residential properties both owned and rented, commercial and industrial undertakings with a turnover of $5 million or less, and all enterprises whose primary income is not, and I repeat not, derived from gaming or the sale of alcohol.
“For those qualified business owners with respect to the development of land and building, the following is proposed: exemptions from real property taxes, exemptions from customs duties related to contraction, equipping and completing structures for a specified period, exemptions from excise taxes and exemptions from stamp tax imposed on real property.
“In terms of business taxes, the following relates for all applicable business with the exception of those engaged in restricted activities and upon obtaining a trade certificate, which will prove you are located in the zone, you will be afforded a 100 per cent waiver of your business license tax. You will also be exempted from customs duties for the purchase of a vehicle for the use of your business with the appropriate markings.”
Dr. Minnis said the initiative will also see a reduction in violent crime.
“We want to take back our ‘Over the Hill’ streets. We will strengthen community policing and go after illegal drug possessions, and strengthen programmes such as the rangers and police cadet core. We will be increasing surveillance for known drug dealers, gun offenders, repeat offenders and child molesters, in order to make our streets safer,” he said.
“If you are doing something positive and needs assistance, let us know. If you are from the community and want to do something, please reach out to us and we will assist. We are working with the church, the University of The Bahamas (UB) and the private sector, to see a rebirth of the beauty and economic viability of the over-the-hill community.
“This will realize a reduction or eradication of violent drug related and petty crimes. We also hope to stimulate the return of traditional families.
Two other key aspects of the initiative, according to Dr. Minnis, include improving housing and eliminating outside toilets by 2025.