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Minnis Blueprint For Over-The-Hill

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis at Grant’s Town Wesley Methodist Church Hall on Thursday night. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune staff)

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis at Grant’s Town Wesley Methodist Church Hall on Thursday night. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune staff)

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and his team unveiled a sweeping programme to revitalise Over-the-Hill communities last night, a plan that ranged from eliminating the use of outside toilets by 2025 to offering tax concessions to businesses and residents by the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Coming after a difficult debate over the Commercial Enterprises Bill, the event saw Dr Minnis get back to his roots and make a clear appeal to people in poverty stricken communities whom he has spent the last several years vowing to prioritise.

In front of a packed crowd at the Grant’s Town Wesley Methodist Church Hall, Dr Minnis and his team promised to make the constituencies free Wifi areas, to create a food market for native products in the area, to construct a multi-purpose community centre that offers care for children, the elderly and opportunities for counseling to people of all ages, to create an auto-mechanic cluster that eliminates roadside mechanics in residential areas and to build a sports complex with volleyball, tennis, basketball courts and a swimming pool, among other things.

After all this, Dr Minnis teased even bigger plans that he said will be revealed later.

“…Tonight I only give you the cake,” he said. “Tomorrow I give you the icing. Be assured the icing is better than the cake.”

“We want you to have a better start,” he said, “so the higher you start it’s easier for you to now be a part of these businesses that do not exist now. It’s all for preparing you for tomorrow. We don’t want you to have only remedial jobs.”

Key details of the programme, including cost and a timeline, were not shared and remain subject to assessments, but Dr Nicola Virgil-Rolle, head of the Economic Planning Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, noted that $5m will be reserved in each budget to help the administration accomplish its goals.

Although the precise delineation of the inner-city tax zone has yet to be defined, the zone is expected to involve at least parts of Bain and Grants Town, Centreville, St Barnabas and Englerston. The tax-free zone is expected to be rolled out in a Nassau Over the Hill Rejuventation Bill at the start of the next fiscal year, Dr Virgill-Rolle said. That bill will lay out concessions, identify the minister responsible for the policy, establish a foundation to raise funds for projects in the communities and explain the penalties for breaches.

“We’re going to ensure there is a corporate social responsibility so what we will say is in order to benefit from many of these provisions,” Dr Virgill-Rolle said. “We want you to invest in something. We will step up the value of credits you get towards your taxes based on what you do. If you are going to invest in putting in some solar panels, invest in an education programme, invest in adopting, invest in additional hiring, those are things are considered as extra credit as well so we are going to structure a programme around that basis of give and take so it has to be a two way movement there in terms of benefit.”

Dr Virgill-Rolle said her team anticipates complaints of bias but said the targeted communities, based on poverty rates, comprise the most impoverished areas on the island.

She said: “The initial scope was to encompass Nassau Street at the western side looking on to Poinciana and Wulff Road on the southern side, everything west of Collins Avenue, so it includes some areas of Centreville, Bain & Grants Town and then upwards to Meeting Street, so not including downtown side of the hill. That would be the initial planning area. We are hearing from the consultation additional areas as well may be included. We are having those discussions… the plan is to move beyond these borders as well so in another stage we can move south of Wulff Road towards Robinson Road so we could include more areas as we fine-tune this project.”

Promises that businesses won’t pay business licence fees or real property taxes were met with cheers and applause from the audience, as was the promise that residents will not have to pay taxes on building supplies.

Following the event, the reaction from attendees who spoke to The Tribune was mixed.

“I think the whole initiative is going to be conducive for the development of persons living in the environment,” Garvin Dawkins said. “In terms of us now as citizens, now we have to elevate our mind and thoughts to make sure the initiative succeeds. I think it’s long overview.”

Brendon Bowe, 42, from St Barnabas, however, lamented that officials did not provide more immediate fixes for the problems residents in the communities face.

“This a long-term process,” he said. “People looking for help right now and I want to hear more about short-term processes.”

He said he’d give a “C+” for the government’s plan.

During his speech, Dr Minnis revealed he will participate in a walkabout in the Bain and Grants Town community in an effort to consult residents on the initiative.

Comments

BahamasForBahamians 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Lol the elimination of outside toilets by 2025?

What are these guys thinking ? At the rate they're going this FNM administration will be eliminated before that.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Minnis is doing the same old tricks .......... pandering to special interests with NO definitive national plan (hint,hint) to DEVELOP the country as a whole ........ What plan does he have for GB, Cat Island, MICAL, Long Island, Andros?????? .......... Is he giving his inner city people Local Government???????? ......... Or is the a bag of tricks that will continue to enrich the barons who control the ghetto economy?????????

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DDK 10 months, 2 weeks ago

IT ALL SOUNDS WONDERFUL!!!! Hopefully not pie in the sky! There is absolutely no point in allocating tax-payers' money to this worthy project unless plans are included at inception for maintenance, insurance, staffing and security of same (including camera surveillance). Would also suggest some sort of nominal fee for use of facilities as this might engender some sense of pride in the project.

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TalRussell 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade ProudAndFNM, let me tell you about Freeport. On page 7 of the latest economic report coming out Freeport since the May 10, 2017 general elections, points to the only two growth oriented businesses types in Freeport as being the Numbers Sellers and the Porta Potty Rentals Johnny on the Spots Outside Toilets.

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HonestTruth 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I think most Bahamians would agree this sounds like a wonderful idea, let’s just see how this is executed. Everything I’ve heard so far sounds great, it will be a difficult task to regulate this exercise and ensure it’s not abused.

Fellow readers, don’t pay attention to idiots like BahamasforBahamas, this guy has like 5 different accounts on this site and is clearly a PLP apologist. Please just read his previous comments, he applauds the previous administration (LOL WHY??) and criticizes everything this current administration does.

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OldFort2012 10 months, 2 weeks ago

No business tax in those areas? Great! What a genius idea!

We all know what is going to happen now, don't we? Businesses from just outside the area are going to move into that area. Rents will go up in that area and down next door. So, some losers, some gainers. Net result = a big fat zero.

What should be done is obvious since the 1930s (I always forget we are 100 years behind, so we will discover this in about 15 years). Spoiler alert: public works. Employ all the unemployed building roads, bridges, schools, hospitals. God knows we need them. They get immediate employment and immediate effect.

Print the money. It is simple. Just look at what the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan and European Central Bank are doing. You don't even have to think. Just copy.

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DDK 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Right OldFort but the money printers of the world are finally learning that this just does not work long term.... But then I am sure you know that.

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OldFort2012 10 months, 2 weeks ago

How that? Stock market new highs every day, record low interest rates, all time low joblessness, industrial production all time highs. How precisely is it NOT working?

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DDK 10 months, 1 week ago

Stock market not an indicator of how the REAL ecomony is treating everyday people who are struggling to survive!

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DDK 10 months, 1 week ago

Many people working two and three jobs just to put food on the table. Cost of living at an all time high! Industrial production of bombs and drones and war gear to "protect" the army for "protecting" the Great country from all its friends. Majority of the population unable to afford health care. Homelessness and soup kitchens at an all time high! Etc., etc etc............

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Minnis needs to tell the Bahamian people if he is committed to the National Development Plan that was created for the country for the next 30 years .......... And stop playing petty politics with the ghetto.

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TalRussell 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade Sheeprunner12, a red shirts government crashing in reverse.
While we all want the government day to succeed - you're left scratch heads why the red shirts cabinet fails so hard, so often at everything they touch or announce. This PM is stuck in reverse gear and without a rear view mirror.
Comrade PM, you're talking a tomorrows plan.... but the governing performances since May 10,2017 of the faces in photograph are not up challenges governing ahead next six months -much less 2025?

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birdiestrachan 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Listen and pay attention to what is said if you are concerned, Now the CEB bill which is designed*for Freeport. their biggest investment a car they will bring in duty free, any car , any vehicle. The doc gave the fluff. ..The real deal "This is a corporate social responsibility in order to benefit you have to invest in something,..

Instead of a cake did he just bring fluff. vapors. Pie in the sky or just plain ZERO.

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John 10 months, 2 weeks ago

NO OUTSIDE TOILETS BY 2025...History repeating itself? Remember back in the and early 90's when the government started taking landlords to court for not having running water and flushing toilets on their properties. Well some landlords attempted to comply only to find they got hit water bills from water and sewerage for thousands of dollars. Some put in electric pumps only to find that the entire neighborhood was using their facilities or the equipment was eventually stolen. So many of the landlords abandoned their properties or pushed down whatever structures were on them to avoid being taken to court. The point is government must go in with a partnering mindset and realize that many landowners may not have the means to bring their properties up to standard, without some assistance.

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Franklyn 10 months, 1 week ago

import duty is the one biggest setback to the development of the Bahamas ...where it will take most of the world x cost to start a business, that x cost here in the Bahamas multiplies by a factor of 2. Yes, understanding the countries need for the duty tax resources, being open-minded with a term payment on duty, say over a 6 month period (could ease the x-factor) while still retaining the same revenue.

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 1 week ago

2025 is a great stop down the road for the "can".

Eliminates the need to have anything done before the next election and no need to do anything to soon after the election either.

I find it interesting that they said they will devote 5 million per annum to the revitalization of the inner city as if it were a grand thing...but they've had 15 million in the budget for UR fir the past 3 years, can anyone point to ONE sustainable thing that UR has done? They've basically been throwing feel good money at people to take their eyes off the real problem. Not saying it's an easy problem to solve, but I was insulted for the people when Dr Minnis promised them free wifi...

I hope they're right and I'm wrong. This country won't be fixed until the prospects, good jobs, training, land, homes etc, for the people in the inner city are much much better.

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BONEFISH 10 months, 1 week ago

This announcement will be the fourth attempt to renew the inner cities of New Providence. There was a plan drawn up by Columbia University out of New York in the sixties under the UBP government. The Grants Town Urban Renewal Program of the Pindling Government in the early eighties. Never implemented. One of the reasons was the World Bank recommended that the entire over the hill area needed to be razed to the ground and left fallow for fifty years.This was because the water table was so so polluted. The Christie Government Urban Renewal Program.Poorly managed, no goals set and no real accountability for the funds spent. Now the Minnis administration turn. New Providence on the whole needs local government.However the ruling class don't want that. The media needs to do research on these things and don't simply repeat the words that come from the politicians' mouths.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 1 week ago

Excellent observation ........ the FNM traditionally cater to the suburbs, GB and the Out Islands where they get more support ....... but Minnis is a Bain Town boy, who is kicking against the FNM establishment ........ Interesting agenda, now that the FNM controls the ghetto seats in Parliament.

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DDK 10 months, 1 week ago

That's calling a spade a spade! No "inner city" euphemisms for you lol!

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 1 week ago

"Local government" is another sound good buzz word. Nassau is the seat of power, all the services are here, all the agencies are here, all the power is here. There's nothing that can be under "local government" that couldn't have been done under ALL government.

if we were a city stretched over thousands of miles and with millions of people there might be an argument. But which minister could you go to who doesn't understand the challenges facing Nassau? They can riddle them off like nursery rhyme. They're all local.....

I can hear them now, "we are bringing local govt to Nassau!" And everyone shouts and applauds, just like the people applauded for the wifi.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 1 week ago

Local Government can work ........ If the government take the finance and election shackles off the present legislation ...... Let the LG districts become autonomous municipalities with more fiscal independence and elected officials who must answer directly to their constituents and independent auditors.

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 1 week ago

Wasn't saying that local government couldn't work. It can....In the out islands.

My point was "it wont make a difference in NASSAU".

My understanding is that local government is called for in situations where the central leadership is so far removed from the realities of what is going on in far flung communities, that those communities are given budgets to take care of issues that are most critical to the ones feeling the weight of the problem.

Since all government ministers with exception of one or two live in Nassau and Nassau is only 21x7, not knowing exactly what is going on in Nassau cannot be the case. They know, so local government won't save us.

We need real (as opposed to paper) economists and effective governance. That will save us. Enough PR and spin.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 1 week ago

Soooooo, how come in the USA, they have a Federal President, Federal Senators and Federal MPs ....... and they have State Governor, State Senators and State MPs ........ and they have City Mayors and City Councils ....... and all have their roles and all function within their specific spheres?????

The problem in The Bahamas is that we have a PM who is really a Dictator and who controls an appointed Cabinet (Ministers) who sing for their supper .......... and where every dollar is controlled from ONE bank account (Consolidated Fund). That is why nothing seems to work outside of Nassau.

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 1 week ago

Re USA: Because it exactly describes what I stated. Far flung districts far removed from the central seat of power, each with their own individual set of challenges. We cannot claim that in Nassau, if someone in Carmichael sneezes we hear it in Westridge. There is a case for the out islands, but not Nassau.

And who exactly do you think will be appointed local govt administrator anyway? Someone like Howard Grant will get the job and he will continue to tell us drivel about how transformational this new govt is despite Having zero evidence to substantiate the claim.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 1 week ago

Well ......... explain why Washington DC has a mayor and city council???????

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 1 week ago

Seriously? You see the size of the US? It's a false equivalence,now if you told me 90% of congress and the senate were representing districts in Washington, D.C. you might have an argument.

You have 30 men in the HOA representing one island and you think we need one more to make things better? We need competent people, not more people... wake up call, Dr Minnis is not interested in competent people, he is interested in people who support him. Look at who he chose to look after the treasury. Thank God for Wendy Craig.

Your city manager will be an FNM sycophant. If they do implement local government and they appoint someone like Komalfe and give her a budget and real authority I'll eat my words.and no I'm not Dna, still don't think they ready, but I'm impressed by competent individuals.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 1 week ago

Well .......... LG works in the Out Islands ...... except they have NO flexibility in decision-making or fiscal independence ........ Nassau controls LG ..... So, if Nassau has LG, then it will be an interesting and curious co-existence for the two "governments" .......... That is my observation from afar.

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