Tax-free zones initiative tabled in Parliament

Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis.

The legislative framework needed to implement tax-free zones to facilitate government’s Over-the-Hill initiative was tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis Wednesday .

The bill makes provisions for the redevelopment of The Bahamas, through the granting of certain exemptions and incentives for business, for the creation of economic empowerment zone.

“I would remind members that this bill declares inner city tax free zones and will be done in phases,” Dr. Minnis.

He detailed the boundary lines of the areas that will be impacted which includes: Delancy Street Wullf Road,  Nassau Street, and Collins Wall, in the first phase.

The second phase, he said, will include St. Barnabas, Rock Crusher portions of Fox Hill and Kemp Road.

In April, Dr. Minnis tabled the Over-the-Hill White Paper 2018, which laid out his administration’s proposed plans for impoverished communities. The plan also includes exemptions from stamp tax imposed on real property.

This, however, has raised concern about gentrification in those communities that stand to be impacted.

A key aspect of the plan involves the continued improvement of housing and a ‘Water for all Strategy’ to eliminate the need for standpipes and outside toilets by 2025.

A healthcare component will also be introduced for mental and family planning services, childcare options for working parents and support for healthy eating and living initiatives.

The government has said it also plans to improve the employability of residents. One programme, Dr. Minnis said, will facilitate the of training residents to gain drivers licenses and to assist with other forms of identification.

He said the overall objective is spur a rebirth of values, beauty and economic viability for the Over-the-Hill community.