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Enterprise Bill May Have Changes

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

ALTHOUGH Free National Movement parliamentarians unanimously voted to pass the Commercial Enterprises Bill in the House of Assembly last week, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold, in the face of criticism from some, yesterday said the administration will consider “recommendations and suggestions” for the bill and incorporate those it believes have merit.

It’s not clear what timeline the government has set for considering the recommendations and debate on the bill, which begins in the Senate next Monday.

Mr Newbold’s comments came after former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham criticised most of the bill’s key provisions in an interview with The Tribune on Monday. Mr Ingraham said tradeoffs for Bahamians are not clear and the bill represents a piecemeal approach to changing longstanding immigration policies when a more comprehensive, bipartisan approach would be useful.

The bill would allow foreigners or Bahamians to receive “economic concessions” if they establish specified types of businesses in the Bahamas with an investment of no less than $250,000. Such businesses would be entitled to a specified number of work permits for executives, managers and people with “specialised knowledge.”

Asked if the Minnis administration is comfortable moving forward with the bill in view of the criticism, Mr Newbold said: “The administration has to accept that recommendations, suggestions, criticisms - that’s a part of the whole process of public consultation. The bill passed in the House of Assembly will be debated in the Senate beginning Monday. The attorney general has committed to speaking with several civil society groups, including the Chamber of Commerce who published a list of concerns they have. Whatever recommendations and suggestions the government thinks have merits, will be incorporated into that bill. No sane government will deliberately hurt its citizens.

“The former prime minister is a good Bahamian citizen, distinguished one actually, a three-term prime minister; he like everyone else should have a right to make commentary.”

Mr Newbold also appeared to reiterate Dr Minnis’ view about the health of the financial services sector. Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has said the sector is “dying” but Mr Ingraham said Monday the sector is “dynamic” and “evolving.”

“Financial services…has been on life support for some time now,” Mr Newbold said. “It’s been under threat for at least two decades. The Commercial Enterprises Bill is designed to do something differently from what we’ve been doing the last 40, 50 years. We all agree the economy is anemic; been that way for some time. We can’t keep doing that the same way; we have to do something different.”

Traditionally, the National Economic Council (NEC) has been responsible for considering investment policies and matters.

Mr Newbold yesterday refused to reveal who Dr Minnis has appointed to this council.

“I will let the prime minister decide [to release the identities],” he said. “He hasn’t given me approval to release those names yet. I’m not going to give you anything, but he will.”

Both the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have released press statements calling on the administration to disclose the identities of the people on the NEC. But the administration, which campaigned on a pledge of transparency, have not done so as yet.

It’s not clear whether those on the NEC advised the government on the Commercial Enterprises Bill.

Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis said yesterday: “I’m not only interested in who they have appointed, I want to know if they had impact on this bill. Transparency, accountability, they are catchy words. If they say they are transparent, release the names.”

Comments

OMG 2 weeks ago

Rightly or wrongly at least this government has the moral fortitude to consider changes after criticism . The PLP never listened to anybody - remember the gambling referendum as one example.

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TalRussell 2 weeks ago

Comrades! The Red Shirts want 'slightly modify a bad bill' so that fewer than 5,000 natives will feel the instant financial pains once the first rush Expats arrive open they businesses.
They going leave intact in the bill the part which allows the Expat's going directly from picking up the business licenses to Kelly Island to prepare open they "Expat Fry" businesses - where they will begin to hire even more Expat cooks and food servers. Are they expanding the current Fry" area at Kelly island, or planning on evicting the native operators?
{You couldn't made up this" Expat Fry"}.

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Dawes 2 weeks ago

Comrade how is the current economic situation working for Bahamians. Has it been a success? Is unemployment at 5% or less. Do people feel safe? Is access to healthcare easy?

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TalRussell 2 weeks ago

Comrade Dawes, if you were to list the Bahamaland for sale as a group of 700+ Islands and Cays, the listing sale price would be in the Billions and Billions of US$. We can and should experience 5% unemployment, provide every citizen with Universal BahamaCARE, allow the population to feel much safer, provide every citizen with a Guaranteed Yearly Income (GYI) of $28.800 and a Lifetime Pension of $560 monthly. I ask, why the hell not?

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Dawes 2 weeks ago

Because every time a Government tries to get something going everyone comes out and says this is not the way to do it, or hold on we must consult (been doing that successfully for years now). Things have to change and if we want to be able to compete with the rest of the world then we need to do it at a much faster pace then what we do now and open ourselves up. If we don't want to then fine lets say so and then we can sit and hope that every 10 years a new Bahamar or Atlantis opens to take up the slack in our employment. But if you want what you have said we should have then we will have to open up more and not be so scared of those foreigners.

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TalRussell 2 weeks ago

Comrade Dawes, the 'changes' are what got us to this terrible stage. The Bahamaland once was a simple, peaceful country and people. Backwards might be just the prescription the doc needs write. What we don't want return to are the plantation times - and sadly that's were we're headed.

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Dawes 2 weeks ago

Yup and in those days you had to take the mailboat to get to Nassau and line up at the phone to make a call. The world changes and so have we. You say no return to the plantation time, please name me one successful country that is in a plantation state, as all the successful country have opened up their economies (USA with Toyota etc, Europe with Ford, Toyota etc).

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TalRussell 2 weeks ago

Comrade Dawes, even before you hangup your telephone call - your private business done being talked all over place - cause the station operator would listen-in on your call and talk all your business. The postmaster was well-known steam-open your mail and go talk your business even before you got chance go get your mail. How sweet if we could only take time machine back station operator and postmaster days? I could write book such things. LOL.

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OldFort2012 1 week, 6 days ago

You are right. You would get billions. But only with vacant possession.

No one wants to buy land with squatters on it.

Where would we all go to? Haiti?

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OMG 2 weeks ago

You really have a simplistic understanding of a countries beauty and value. Years of abysmal governance has reduced the Bahamas to a nearly bankrupt, overpriced inefficient country, Between Brave Davies comments and your beliefs you have already put off many potential investors. Yes Bahamians should govern this country, should have opportunity but not when there are insufficient trained modern thinking natives. Yes there are many hard working and sucessful Bahamian businesses but equally many foreign owned small and large companies that work hand in hand with locals. This country has potential but are we better off after all the years of mainly PLP mismanagement, clearly not. Look at the potholed roads,crumbling infastructure, inefficient power plants, grade D average in schools,huge personal debt,unemployment and on and on. This is a dog eat dog world Ta and the Bahamas has to either change with the times or fail. Nobody outside of this country really cares and certainly doesnt owe us a living.

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TalRussell 2 weeks ago

Comrade OMG, here's shocker. 74.45% of all Out Islanders have never set foot in the nation's capital of Nassau Town... and Out Islanders are not of the belief that Nassau is the center universe. Out Islanders have never thought much positive about Nassau and are much embarrassed by what goes on in the nation's capital. What if Out Islanders separated from Nassau and established themselves as self-governing? When traveling abroad Out Islanders never tell people - they're from an island that belongs to Nassau.

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banker 1 week, 6 days ago

You have a defective liar genes for numbers appreciation. I love the .45% shtick. It shows creativity. Criminal creativity, but still creativity. Someday, when you are visiting god after eating the special brownies washed down with Crown Royal, I will introduce you to the truth. At first it will burn like holy water on the Devil, but eventually, just like gay sex in the PLP, you will learn to like it.

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TalRussell 1 week, 6 days ago

Comrade Banker, tread softly cause I knows lots intimate things with the same sex 'switch-hitter's red shirts gossip I never blog of.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 6 days ago

I want the CEB to provide incentives for Bahamian millionaires to invest in the Out Islands ..... I am sure OMG will support me on this one ......... Get some of the $1Billion that these millionaires have stashed away invested in the Out Islands.

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