By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government will begin debate tomorrow on a bill intended to “lead to higher paying jobs” and “build a stronger and more stable economy,” according to a press release from Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
Dr Minnis said the Commercial Enterprise Bill will help to encourage investment in the Bahamas and “places a level on prioritisation on Bahamian labour and talent”.
The statement added: “The legislation seeks to build a stronger and stable economy by encouraging both domestic and foreign investment in The Bahamas; creating economic zones where deemed necessary throughout the country; targeting specialised business in computer technology, software design, data storage, maritime trade, aviation registration, wealth management and manufacturing enterprises.
“As well as fostering an economic environment that will help to lead to higher paying jobs, more job security and long-term employment for more Bahamians and helping the country to better compete globally.”
Dr Minnis said companies wishing to do business in the country “must be encouraged through policy and legislation to make an investment in the training of Bahamians to do jobs at all levels in various enterprises”.
The legislation is part of the government’s broader economic agenda for economic growth and jobs, which includes various projects and investments which will be announced when they are finalised, according to the statement.
The bill was tabled in the House of Assembly in October.
According to Tribune business, the legislation, if passed into law as is, would enable a “specified commercial enterprise” to obtain an Investments Board certificate granting it a specific number of work permits for certain positions.
The certificate, which will initially be issued for one year and can be renewed, would allow key personnel to set up the company’s physical operations in The Bahamas before they obtained a work permit.
Such a permit must be applied for within 30 days of their entry, and the bill mandates the director of immigration to make a decision on approval within 14 days of receiving the application. Should the director not respond within that timeframe, the work permit is “automatically deemed to have been granted”.
Work permits issued under the bill’s provisions will be for a three-year period, and are renewable for the same duration. They can only be revoked on grounds of “public safety, public morality or national security”.