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‘Jokey’ Tax Breaks Won’T Aid Inner-City

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Government should seize abandoned Over-The-Hill properties for its low income housing programme, a well-known businessman is arguing, rather than employ the “jokey ideas” of Dr Hubert Minnis.

Sir Franklyn Wilson, the Sunshine Holdings chairman, told Tribune Business that dealing with abandoned, vacant properties in such fashion would be a far more effective way of revitalising inner-city communities than the tax breaks proposed by the FNM leader.

He explained that many buildings had fallen into disrepair because of inheritance and estate planning issues, with families failing to properly complete the probate process.

Sir Franklyn argued that the Government should fill the vacuum created by building new homes and buildings on these properties, noting that their sale to new owners would enable the Public Treasury to have sufficient funds to pay families who eventually probated their estate.

He added that Government would also benefit financially from not having to put in infrastructure and utilities because, unlike its new housing subdivisions, these were already in place.

Sir Franklyn was speaking after Dr Minnis last week unveiled more details on his plans to revitalise Over-the-Hill and other inner-city communities through a comprehensive set of tax breaks and concessions.

“We will institute a programme of far-reaching targeted tax initiatives to help stimulate business Over-the-Hill and in inner city communities,” he told the FNM campaign rally at Christie Park.

“We will help the people in the inner-city to invest in their own communities by using the tax code to spur jobs, economic activity and investment.”

The tax breaks an FNM government would implement would include the duty-free importation of construction materials for residential and commercial properties; no Business License fees or real property taxes; no taxes on household furniture; no taxes on capital goods and business equipment “after proper vetting”; and lower import duties on business vehicles.

Dr Minnis’s strategy appears to have been borrowed from the late US president, Ronald Reagan, who employed tax-free areas, known as Economic Enterprise Zones (EEZs), in a bid to attract businesses to revitalise depressed American inner-cities in the 1980s.

However, monitoring these ‘tax breaks’ to prevent fraud and evasion by those not entitled to them is likely to present difficulties for the Customs Department and other relevant agencies.

Family members living outside the ‘inner city’ may seek to evade due taxes by importing furniture through relatives who do live there, for example, with businesses also seeking to employ similar tricks.

Apart from the problems of ‘policing’, further issues relate to who will be eligible to receive such tax breaks, as not all ‘inner-city’ residents are poor or low income. And then there is the question of how to define ‘inner-city’ areas.

“In terms of Over-the-Hill communities, that sounds populist,” Sir Franklyn said of Dr Minnis’s tax plans. “The fact of the matter is there are pockets of poverty in pretty much every community you can point to in this country.

“It may sound strange, but the late George Damianos was giving me a ride down Eastern Road, and was pointing out poverty in terms of housing on Eastern Road.

“When you talk about assisting poor people, that’s not limited to a geographical area. You’ve got to be scientific about it,” he continued.

“You can’t say all people in Ross Corner are poor, and can’t say all the poor people in the Bahamas live Over-the-Hill. You can’t say these things. Public policy needs to be more thoughtful, in my view.”

Sir Franklyn then recommended housing initiatives as an alternative to Dr Minnis’s tax breaks, suggesting they would have a bigger impact by repopulating and bringing life back to inner-city communities, as well as improving the environment.

“If you want to do something for Over-the-Hill areas, if you want to revitalise Over-the-Hill, I recommend any Government of the Bahamas to this as policy,” he told Tribune Business.

“There are a lot of properties that are vacant. They are vacant because of problems of inheritance. Houses are in disrepair because estates have not been probated properly. It’s a result of abandoned properties because of the lack of probate.”

Sir Franklyn said there were “hundreds, if not thousands” of inner-city homes and lots afflicted by these problems. As a result, he suggested that the Government build new homes on these properties.

“If the people owning the land ever probate the estate, the Government can pay them for the land,” he told Tribune Business. “And if they ever do come forward, the money will be in the Treasury to pay them.

“You could build a large number of houses without having to spend a fortune on infrastructure because the infrastructure already exists. That will revitalise Over-the-Hill far more than these jokey ideas of Minnis to give free furniture.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 8 months ago

This corrupt scoundrel (Sir Snake) and his wife (Sharon) know all about "seizing" the property of others. They have been doing it for years and are still doing it today by buying from the banks (like BNS) for pennies on the dollar properties which have been foreclosed on. Sir Snake and his foreign partners have created a special company (Gateway) for this purpose. Rather than working with the borrowers so they may keep their homes, it seems the banks prefer foreclosing and then selling the foreclosed properties to Sir Snake's Gateway group at prices greatly discounted relative to the loan amounts forelosed on. Yes indeed, the Snake and his wife (working together with the banks) never miss a golden opportunity to pounce and capitalize on the misfortune of homeowners who have fallen on difficult times.

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John 8 months ago

The Government should seize abandoned Over-The-Hill properties for its low income housing programme, a well-known businessman is arguing, rather than employ the “jokey ideas” of Dr Hubert Minnis.

Blockquote

See how dangerously greedy this man is. He wants the government to start doing what he was doing for decades: preying on less fortunate individuals. He wants to make it illegal to be poor or to fall on hard times in the Bahamas. And if and when it does happen to you, the government is to step in and take your property. Not even 'aquire' it but seize it..who can support a government with this form of thinking?

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truetruebahamian 8 months ago

For once I agree with Snake. Minnis must find a more realistic and plausible platform. If I was FNM, I would say the words people want to hear but would work from the inside to throw his backside out. If I was PLP I would do the same with Christie's backside, and if I was DNA (which is a laughable - I wouldn't even work on it) - I would throw him overboard myself!

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sealice 8 months ago

So spanky this the same thing you told your pingdomites when they were saying the same crap before the last election?

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DDK 8 months ago

“If the people owning the land ever probate the estate, the Government can pay them for the land,” he told Tribune Business. “And if they ever do come forward, the money will be in the Treasury to pay them.

Doubt that would ever happen. More likely this idea would be turned into free land for the chosen few!

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