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New Job Bill Will Ensure ‘Bahamians Are Priority’

The government’s new Commercial Enterprises Bill will ensure “that Bahamians are the priority,” despite the fact it will “liberalise the granting of work permits” to foreign companies.

Officially known as an Act for the Designation of Specified Commercial Enterprises and Specified Economic Zones in The Bahamas, the Commercial Enterprises Bill “seeks to liberalise the granting of work permits to an enterprise that wishes to establish itself in the Bahamas, and requires work permits for its management team and key personnel.”

However, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Anthony Newbold noted yesterday the company’s investment “must be a minimum of $250,000.”

Mr Newbold said the bill “limits the amount of any work permits that will need to be issued, ensuring that Bahamians are the priority.”

“[The] bill will also require investing companies to make an investment in training Bahamian employees so that they are able to work and prosper in these new roles that will be created and ensuring that Bahamian employees are given the opportunity to work at all levels of the company making the investment.

“The government will continue its move towards creating the environment that the country needs to grow economically, ensuring stable long-term employment for many Bahamian families. The prime minister has spoken often about creating a level playing field and a meritocracy for those who are willing and prepared to earn their way into higher paying jobs.”

According to Mr Newbold, not only is the bill expected to “lead to higher paying jobs,” it will “allow the private sector to drive job creation and not the government,” and promote “diversity in the economy.”

He added: “The bill will encourage investment in the Bahamas by allowing companies from many different sectors to make investments in [the] country, ensuring that Bahamians will be able to work in a diversified economy that will not depend on tourism alone. [It also] allows for companies to be located throughout the country and not just one targeted area.”

Mr Newbold also noted this bill will aid “the introduction of the technology hub in Grand Bahama and other industries that could emerge in other islands.”

According to Tribune Business, if passed into law as is, the legislation 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. If the director does not respond within that timeframe, the work permit will be “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”.

The bill will be debated in the House of Assembly today.

Comments

happyfly 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Uuuummmm ....Didnt somebody try this by creating "FREEPORT"

If I recall rightly as soon as it started to become the biggest (legitimate economic) boom this country has ever seen, some of them people went and bent it and broke it !!! And now they going to reinvent it all over again ???

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 6 days ago

"must be a minimum of $250,000."

250,000 is nothing. It sounds like a bar deliberately set too high for the average Bahamian but chicken feed for the foreign investor. The fact that Newbold points it out as significant is very troubling.

There's no stipulation in the bill for training of Bahamians. How long will a company be allowed to say "I can't find Bahamians to do the work"? What's the plan for qualified trainees to be identified?

Unless they're asking for a heart surgeon, what's the plan to ensure that that claim can't be made for a period longer than 3 years?

Also what is a "health care boutique", what is "wealth management", the language is simply too ambiguous. Who decides whether "in competition with" means the existence of 2, 10 or 100 local businesses? I can see locally established business owners using the bill to cover the simple fact that they don't want to employ Bahamians. I understand one high level cabinet minister was well known for making statements to that effect.

Another business owner recently made the statement I need this service "now", it's not my responsibility to train anyone.

What will this bill put in place to ensure Bahamians if not qualified today will be qualified to assume these positions and will be definitively allowed to ascend to the positions in 3-5 years?

I cannot believe that after six months this is what they brought....great idea but not well designed. I hope it's omission and not commission.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 5 days ago

So the issue is who is at the top. You would rather have it that no company can work here unless the top position is held by a Bahamian within 3-5 years. Even if this company employs 10-20 Bahamians with good paying jobs. Looks like Bermuda, Cayman, Singapore and other island nations will continue to benefit from the current economic situation, whilst we will have to hope some new hotel opens every 5-10 years to keep unemployment in the low double digits.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 2 days ago

No the issue is not "who is at the top". Clearly if you bring money in the country you have a right to run your "legal" business for as long as you like and to hire the key individuals you want.

The issue is what does the Bahamas get for allowing entry for such a low one time fee and tax exemptions. If all we get is 250,000 this is a very poor deal, because DESPITE what the proponents say, nothing in this bill guarantees training or jobs for ?Bahamians. It says the investor can hire/train Bahamians IF they feel like it.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Bahamas gets a number of jobs depending on the size of the company, all the taxes that said company would pay, the rent from the company (or tax if the real estate is purchased). The knowledge transfer for the people working in the company, the foreign currency being brought in. And many other items.

However i can see that these items do not matter to you. You would rather we didn't try this and continue as is with something thats not working. I am sure you would say the Government should have it so Bahamians do it, by giving them funds. But then you would scream blue murder when the Government has to put up taxes to get the revenue to pay for these. As it is there is Nothing to stop you from setting up your own company to compete against these companies, however you won't. You will instead just blame foreigners and the Government for not giving it to you on a plate.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Rent?? That's what we get? What knowledge transfer, did you read the bill? Foreign currency brought in? Where have you been living? That money walks right back out the country.

I don't know if you've read a word I've said. I've made it quite clear that I support the initiative "in principle". Where I think it falls down is it hasn't done enough to encourage Bahamians to prepare and to help Bahamians to prepare.

I've been saying for YEARS , all while the PLP was in power, that the government needed to start training people for new industries. In fact when this govt unveiled the massive employment contracts handed out in the run up to the election, I said "don't fire them, PAY THEM A STIPEND TO LEARN". So my mouth een change no time. I've been big on training and the ability of Bahamians to be trained and retrained. For anything.

For your information I am in the process of setting up my own company to compete, and compete in revolutionary ways. I have been preparing myself for over a year now. I waited on no one. I moved whether I got help or not. Nothing in my life was handed to me on a plate. However for the first time in quite a long time, and given the political environment, I've begun to think I'll actually have to go outside my own country to get a fair shot. So you can bring that silly talk to someone else , not me.

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Comrades! Limbo ankolimboneee, the red shirts bend over to foreigners like a limbo $250,000 tree. Brungs giant bottle Vaseline - cause Minnis and KP, gut's big asses lube up.

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TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 6 days ago

This is a great Bill. Once again i am impressed. We need investment yesterday and we need a diversified economy with opportunities for Bahamians to learn and move up and that's what this Bill does.

I can tell you that in May of this year NOBODY and i mean nobody even Perry & Bran was more disappointed that the FNM won - but i am seeing action from them and not just words. Awesome stuff. Keep it up KP.

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Socrates 2 weeks, 6 days ago

the problem with this is going to be finding trainable bahamians.. its a poorly kept secret that our schools are not exactly turning out truckloads of capable students.. but when that happens, they (gov't and the unemployable) will spin this known deficiency and say things like they (the investors) dont want to train/promote bahamians.. seen this movie before.. we are very good at playing the victim card..

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Stop saying that. This is exactly what they want us to believe about ourselves. That it's impossible for us to learn. Look at how you failed at that other thing, dont hurt yuh head.

Will everybody be trainable, no. But unless they are bringing in 100,000 expats to match the entire workforce, there are more than enough persons with high school diplomas, AA degrees, bachelors degrees, Masters and PHD's to be trained to do anything. Other than build rocket ships.

We act as if the only people in the Bahamas who need jobs are 20 year olds who dropped out of high school. Have we forgotten the number of high paying jobs that left the country with bank closures? Those people have brains and are trainable.

I would have liked to have seen the government announce a training program that targets skills in the specified industries, something beyond please and thank you before this bill was introduced

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SP 2 weeks, 6 days ago

For such a small Island, there sure are a lot of dumb-ass geniuses like you here!

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SP 2 weeks, 6 days ago

This "Commercial Enterprises Bill" translates to "Destroy Bahamian Entrepreneurial Bill"!

Foreigner's with easy access to $250,000 are a dime a dozen. If we are foolish enough to allow this to pass, every small business in the country will be besieged by foreign competition who's only criteria will be to start a competing business larger than an existing successful Bahamian owned business thereby succeeding in destroying local struggling entrepreneurs and only succeed in further foreign ownership of the economy, flight of profits to other jurisdictions and continued degradation of the local economy.

Bahamians that have struggled for decades building small businesses for successive generations will be wiped off the map overnight as foreigners' come in better capitalized, with incentives not afforded to locals and duplicate the Bahamians business! S-T-U-P-I-D!

From the domestic industry to construction, hotels, and banking, foreigner's have displaced Bahamians over the decades without training Bahamians. Why would we suddenly think this culture of the genocide of Bahamian workers will change?

A governments' primary function is to protect its citizenry. A prime example is Bermuda, which has closed and restricted categories of jobs and businesses to protect lower skilled opportunities for Bermudians only.

https://www.bermuda-attractions.com/bermuda_0001c8.htm

Which government had any success “limiting the amount of any work permits that will need to be issued, ensuring that Bahamians are the priority.”? The current absolute disaster now faced in immigration where the ministers' solution is to simply rubber stamp all applicants? Where's the "Bahamian priority" in that?

Which investing companies to date made an investment in training Bahamian employees so that they were able to work and prosper in new roles that were created in any business to date, ensuring that Bahamian employees were given the opportunity to work at all levels of the company making the investment?

The "Commercial Enterprises Bill" throwing open the doors to anybody to do anything is asinine!

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Dawes 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Have you read the bill? I can only assume that you have not and are talking about items that are not even mentioned. They can not come in and open up in any industry they desire. It must be one named in the first schedule only.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

I read the bill, it's a very sloppy, ambiguous, loophole filled piece of work

And I read it before it became a national debate.

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DEDDIE 2 weeks, 6 days ago

The United States and Canada are not economic powerhouses because of third and forth generation citizens but due to the influx of immigrants. America is experiencing the same problems in its school system that we are. It's about time our government see the wisdom in competing for foreign entrepreneurs.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Have you actually read the bill?

This bill does NOTHING for Bahamians young, middle age or old. Not in terms of entrepreneurship OR employment. NOTHING. The bill tells investors they can come in for nothing, infirm no one, do what they want and hire expats for as long as they like. There is absolutely ZERO requirements that they hire ANY Bahamians. In fact the bill tells them don't even look.

The authorities can speak to what they would LIKE the bill to do, or what they HOPE the bill will do, but what it actually does is lock Bahamians out.

I noticed several weeks ago all this language popping up about what Bahamians "couldn't" do, and I knew it was dangerous talk. If the government were serious about this bill helping Bahamians, they would have announced the training program for Bahamians way before this. This bill is a payback to campaign supporters. The 250,000 threshold is a dead giveaway.

And don't start talking about us not "having the capacity". Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, Uber were ALL started by groups of five or less college age STUDENTS . That says to me, that we're two years of training away from our own Steve or Stephana Jobs. but someone has to recognize and stop telling Bahamians what they CANT do.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 6 days ago

You make it sound so simplistic when that is not the case. If setting up the next microsoft, Facebook, google, apple etc only takes two years of training why do we not have these by the thousands? Every year hundreds if not thousands of young Bahamians go overseas to college so we should have. Of course most of these then decide that they have more opportunity in whatever country they go to, so we lose the best and brightest. Maybe if we could make our economy dynamic and diversify to other industries we could lure them back. But what we are doing now is not working. Ask most parents with young kids what they would like for their kids to do, and most will be honest and say get to a college overseas and don't come back as nothing is happening here.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Learning is never a "simple" thing.

No one has made the investment in training with a specific goal. They simply continue to repeat, oh those Bahamians can't do it, it's too complex. My personal belief is it is by design to do exactly what they did yesterday so persons like yourself can agree that "we can't".

You don't have to create any thing for NASA to use. Two years, two years of showing people "how" and what is possible and I guarantee you, you will see wonders. There was a business owner the other day who said he wanted to open a software academy and he was only asked by officials "can my children attend". After runaround he left. I am convinced, there is no real interest in educating the inner city, they need them poor and uneducated in order to trade votes for chicken, beer one tshirt and 100 dollars

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Dawes 2 weeks, 5 days ago

There are many Bahamians who can do it and do, and they work at the top of their field. However they no longer live here as this country does not have the type of work they do, or the lifestyle they want. As such they never come back. If we have to have more work permit holders in order to diversify the economy and grow the Bahamian workforce i see no problem with this. Though it won't happen overnight in 15-20 years you will have Bahamians at the top of these new industries. It is people who want to close the Bahamian economy off to foreigners who sell Bahamians short. As Bahamians can not only compete against them but be better then them as well.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

"There are many Bahamians who can do it and do, and they work at the top of their field. However they no longer live here as this country does not have the type of work they do,"

"Lies". I am working on a project at this very moment they if I told you the details of you would say , I didn't know Bahamians could do dat. I am here.15-20 years is bizarro world. I've articulated a plan for the ascension of hundreds of Bahamians to the top of the ladder in five years or less. My plan was nothing revolutionary, so when I see it not being done or not bring listened to, I determine it's by design. By design we WANT to have thousands of people dependent on handouts in the inner city

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Dawes 2 weeks, 5 days ago

So you don't think Bahamians are capable, as you say what i have said is lies. Go to the US, Canada, UK and other places and check how many Bahamians are working at the top of their industries, be it doctors, finance people or others. This shows Bahamians can do it. I said it will take 15-20 years to happen, this is due to the schooling you would need which would be 3-6 years depending (and maybe more). Then you have to work your way up. There are not many people at the top of their industries with 2 years training, but i stand to be corrected.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

"Lies" referred to the "However they no longer live here as this country does not have the type of work they do," lies

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SP 2 weeks, 6 days ago

You've totally failed to comprehend the subject matter. "Competing for foreign entrepreneurs" is necessary on a global scale and is not the argument being debated!

America and Canada did not become economic powerhouses by destroying local entrepreneurship. Which this proposed bill will undoubtedly accomplish. In fact "going foreign" is what destroyed Americas manufacturing economic base, and caused Donald Trumps "make America great again" slogan so successful!

Had they mentioned this intention prior to the election, the outcome would have been drastically different as the majority of us, especially business owners and others aspiring to business ownership, would not have voted for them!

Bahamians now only own a minuscule portion of the economy. This bill would destroy what little we own, and effectively lock Bahamians out of economic participation as we cannot compete with foreigns with capital and do not have ready access to capital outside of purchasing cars.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 6 days ago

ALL, ALL, ALL it takes, is for someone's eyes to be opened to the possibilities

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Does anyone remember when the PM accepted the ~"stay out of our business" statement from the CEO at Albany without a word? This bill does exactly what the CEO requested.

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The_Oracle 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Rubber stamped Work permits for certain specified industries or specified economic zones smells like discrimination under WTO rules. In any case, if our natural inclination is xenophobic and our ethic is absent, will it trigger anything really?

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Listen, I WANT outside assistance, but not this way. I want people to come in to assist with setup, get paid very well for there part in getting us started, and then they got back to their countries where the opportunities for them are limitless.

Just heard on the news that the great Microsoft and Google are UNABLE to find employees with the skills that they want. MICROSOFT and GOOGLE. So you know what they're doing? They're TRAINING their own employees to take the positions.

There is nothing xenophobic about saying train your people.

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Islandboy242242 2 weeks, 5 days ago

It's a strange one. Some aspects of the bill could benefit Bahamians, some could very well hurt us. Not sure why in the world they would allow auto approval of work permits after 14 days (what if the application gets lost on someone's desk), and I thought it only applied to the original business creator, but section 7.3 says "and any in-house professional designated." .

I could see how some new business/industry types could spur on growth and breathe some new life into our markets but seems like Bahamians are trying to make some of the listed industries work and grow here without foreign help - LENO Wealth Management etc. I would like to see us first look at incentivizing local Bahamians to start these industries rather than jump right to foreigners................................................................................................................ ........................................... . ... Are they going to designate some zones as Commercial Enterprise Zones and offer free crown land as well? The bill makes mention of zone designation then "economic incentives" to the specified zone so who knows how far that will go?

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

The bill will not benefit any Bahamian. What did you read in that bill that stops an investor from hiring only foreign staff and refusing to train anyone?

One of the commenters here already mentioned that he has a software company, he's hiring foreign staff and it's not his responsibility to train anyone.

To your point on wealth msnagement, quite a number if offshore banks closed recently. That talent is either at lower paying jobs or unemployed. What does "wealth management" mean anyway? It's a very broad term. Do you know the number of differing roles required in a wealth management firm? There's no specificity in this bill ANYTHING is possible and can be argued legally. What is "health care facility"? Can someone come in and open a dentist office? What's the threshold? Can someone argue well you have 20 dentists offices in Nassau, there's room for more so we can open 20 more with all foreign staff.

Bahamians need to open their eyes and see what isn't being said.

This bill is a welcome mat to open Businesses with no Bahamian involvement at the employee level or otherwise and 250,000 will do nothing to contribute to our economy. These are get richer bills for campaign supporters who have a few dollars

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Comrade ThisIsOurs, this red shirts so excited about brungin in foreigners that they goin climax in their undies. Minnis, KP and AG Carl, all seems be doing their due diligence to turn back the immigration clock to pre Pindling days?

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Dawes 2 weeks, 5 days ago

The reason for the 14 days is in order for Bahamas to compete with the rest of the world we have to be quicker at decision making. This is forcing the Governments hand to speed up the process. Companies can not wait months on end waiting on Government to give them an answer. They will just go elsewhere. The amount of investment lost in this country due to delays in applications and people wanting kickbacks is staggering, and if these had not happened this country would be a lot further ahead then we are now.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Oh please what a crock, what substantial business that YOU know of that must be set up in 14 days? You honestly believe that a business of any significance can complete their market research, scope out the land, lease or construct the office building, meet with the lawyers to understand the legal environment, locate housing all within 14 days??? Why do we swallow nonsense? 14 days makes no sense when you're talking about a business setting up operation that clause is solely for local business to jump over the "nuisance" of hiring Bahamians. Myers and Daguilar already tell you what they intend to do.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Quick glance but it takes 7 days in Singapore. You would not apply and then do your research about the viability, you check the viability then apply. Also you name Myers and Daguillar however the industries they are in are not on this list. This is for setting up a business, not working for an existing business, and is to facility its success which will help all concerned.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

I guess you forgot the part where they can amend the schedule.

As to the 14 days it does NOT make sense for a NEW business no way you look at it. You mean to tell me I'm opening in 14 days I've done all my research etc and if I don't get these approved, the business opening is bust? And exactly where are they going to find all these extra immigration officers to deal with the backlog of Haitian application and the 14 day turnaround. It's craziness

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Dawes 2 weeks, 5 days ago

If that happens then i will be wrong and i will no longer trust this Government. I currently am willing to take the chance that this bill will lead to a more diversified economy with Bahamians having the opportunity to join in and benefit from it, because what is currently happening here is not working.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

"IF" that happens???? The people tell you they have the right to amend the bill and your response is to wonder IF they would do it? Why you tink they put it in the bill? I took a chance on May 10th. On May 17th I started getting nervous, people said "naysayer", " shut up", "give them time" and on and on...the situation is getting worse.

New old just announced that the PM can make policy decisions without his cabinet.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 1 day ago

It's always If. At any point in time the Government of the day can change the law to what they want, as long as it doesn't affect the Constitution. This was the case with the last Government and will be the case with the next. 5 years ago we had no carnival, then the Government wanted one so there was one. Currently this Government says only those industries named, next Government may amend. Thats how Governments work.

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evalynC 2 weeks, 5 days ago

The problem is that the Bahamas is currently just too BLACK. This bill is just an excuse for the FNM to brighten things up with some of their good friends who can't get away with too much non-sense in their own country. I was glad to kick the PLP out but lord knows that the next election is too far away. Just have to pray that we make it until then. WHAT PEOPLES TIME!!!

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

I'm making it my business to understand the process in Cayman that all of these men like to put up as the shining example. I was on their site for 1 min, here is what I found

Cayman Business Staffing Plan REQUIREMENT "A Business Staffing Plan is a detailed plan of the staffing needs of a business. This plan provides the Department of Immigration and the Business Staffing Plan Board with valuable information relating to the staffing needs of your business over the NEXT THREE TO FIVE YEARS. Click here for frequently asked questions relating to Business Staffing Plans"

Does this resemble anything to what this hill proposes? "Just show up and if you don't hear from us carry on."

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stillwaters 2 weeks, 5 days ago

We Bahamians are ready to attack, blame, and demand. We wait for expatriates to come to our country, bring money, open businesses, and hire us, without a cent of our money being involved. Then, lo and behold, we start demanding everything in the world from the people who have given us jobs and start acting like it's us that own the business. We want to reap all the benefits of other people's investments and effort. This always boggles my mind!!!!!

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 3 days ago

That's not a 100% correct statement. We welcome investment. But we CANNOT allow someone to come in with a one time investment of 250,000, be exempt from taxes for decades, take the bulk of the money outside the country and we know they will and claim that that was a well negotiated deal. All the people are saying is the benefits should be equitable, not even equal, but "equitable". You use our land and don't pay taxes, what do we get. That's business.

And trickle down is a farce, need something more tangible than that. Nothing has trickled down in this country in 43 years while those at the top grabbed the crown land and all the business opportunities that landed here.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 1 day ago

How many Bahamians now work in offshore banks or in the casino, which when they first came here, you would be hard pressed to see Bahamians. Thousands who have benefited from these industries coming here, and are either working here or overseas. This is the trickle down that people would hope happens.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 1 day ago

"Trickle down" has been proven to be a farce in the developing world, no self respecting economist uses the term anymore. It doesn't work. Do you recall that within the last year the govt reduced business license fees on certain business? One businessman came to the press to say how happy he was and even told us how well he did after the hurricane. You know what "trickled down"? Higher prices.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 1 day ago

So there are no Bahamian workers in the offshore banks or Casino? And having these industries here has not benefited these people?

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sheeprunner12 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Every Bahamian millionnare in Nassau ..........should be mandated to invest at least $250,000 in either his/her home island or island of choice with the necessary incentives ........ here is a list of possible investments ........ boutique hotels, apartments, car rentals, specialty vegetable/fruit farms, coconuts, tree fruits, corn/legumes, poultry/piggeries, fish processing, meat processing,salt manufacturing, hardwares, wholesale suppliers, water & ice making, online courier/shipping services, charter airlines, laundries/dry cleaners, ground transportation, ferries/watersports, taxi/tour buses, nightlife facilities, theatres, gymnatoriums, private health clinics, road repair, specialty construction & machinists, wood processing, renewable energy, special education, ........ etc, etc, etc. There are tons of options for investment in the Out Islands ........ with proper regulation and planning ............ Where is that in the CEZ bill???????????

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Does anyone know what a boutique health care facility is? Is that a mini hospital? A doctors office? A spa? A gym? A dentist's office? A skin care center? What is it? This bill is deliberately ambiguous for a reason. I wonder if our MP's can go in each constituency tomorrow evening and explain to us exactly what they banged on the desk and voted for...

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sheeprunner12 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Good idea ........ Good discussion for the next constituency town hall meeting.

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