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Pm’S Blueprint To Save Over-The-Hill

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday tabled the long awaited Over-the-Hill White Paper 2018, unveiling his administration’s proposed plans for impoverished communities, which include a variety of tax concessions, an action plan for physical rejuvenation along with social and economic empowerment.

Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, Dr Minnis said the Over-the-Hill area will become the first empowerment zone in The Bahamas. He explained this concept as one known throughout the world and related to areas designated as such because they were deserving of incentives due to economic hardship.

However, gaming houses and businesses deriving proceeds from alcohol sales will be exempt from the benefits of this zone.

Dr Minnis said the groundwork toward formulating a sustainable programme for the Over-the-Hill community began last October, which means it took the government roughly six months to have a developed plan ready to present to the public.

“The incentives outlined will apply to residential properties – both owned and rented, commercial and industrial undertakings, with an aggregate turnover of $5m or under and all enterprises whose primary income is not derived from the business of gaming or the sale of alcohol,” Dr Minnis told Parliament yesterday.

“For those qualified residents and business owners with respect to the redevelopment of land and buildings it is proposed (that there will be) exemption from real property taxes, exemptions from customs duties related to construction, equipping and completing building and structures for a specified period and exemptions from excise taxes.”

There will also be exemptions from stamp tax imposed on real property.

He added when it comes to business taxes, all those applicable with the exception of establishments engaging in restricted activity and upon obtaining a trade certificate proving location in the empowerment zone, the government will offer a 100 per cent waiver on the assessed business licence tax.

Customs duties for the purchase of a vehicle with appropriate markings for use by the business will also be exempted, he said.

Dr Minnis told the House good corporate social responsibility is also essential to the success of this programme. He said it was the government’s hope to see businesses who benefit from the “generous” incentives give back to the community in beneficial ways.

He added there would be support for small and medium sized businesses, building local businesses and financial literacy in the community and creating opportunities for residents to invest in the cultural assets of the community.

As he highlighted the inner-city community’s high incidents of crime and poverty exacerbated by poor infrastructure and growing impoverishment of the environment by dilapidated homes and illegal garbage dumping, Dr Minnis said no government has invested the needed resources to facilitate a turnaround.

He said his administration was determined to change these circumstances by “taking back” the streets of the community by targeting illegal gun possession and introducing the empowerment zone concept, which relates to offering special incentives to area designated as such because of economic hardship.

“We know that the physical environs of Over-the-Hill is not where it should be,” he said. “While there are many gems in the community, there are also many rough stones.

“Over the past months, the people have witnessed a massive cleanup effort in the community. We plan to make this more consistent. We need to increase existing waste collection efforts in the community. We are planning to restore public spaces and recreational facilities.

“Two other key aspects of this component include: working on improving housing in the Over-the-Hill community and a ‘Water for all Strategy’ to eliminate the need for standpipes and outside toilets by 2025,” Dr Minnis said.

Better healthcare – including mental and family planning services, childcare options for working parents and support for healthy eating and living initiatives, is also a proposal of the government, he said.

Regarding green technology, Dr Minnis said he instructed the Ministry of Works and the Beaches and Parks Authority to work together to ensure upgrades to parks and to ensure all parks have free Wi-Fi. This he said, is to be accessible to all Over-the-Hill residents.

Two parks in the inner city are scheduled to begin refurbishment in June this year.

Programmes that support both the youth and elderly will also be established, he said.

“Critical to social empowerment is the process to become more self-reliant and to comprehensively address poverty,” the prime minister said earlier in his communication to Parliament. “Our programmes will deal with poverty reduction, skills upgrading and job training, supporting employment opportunities for residents, supporting community building, health and wellness programmes and crime reduction.”

Dr Minnis said these efforts would involve strengthening the social support system and facilities for families within the Over-the-Hill community. He told MPs officials would be mapping and assessing existing social support services, and then improving access and strengthening these programmes.

The government also plans to work with partners both inside and out of the government to improve the employability of residents. One programme, he said, will feature the facilitation of training residents to gain drivers licences and to assist with other forms of identification.

The white paper further features a community partnership Initiative, which is about partnering with groups already working in the community.

Dr Minnis said the government was not aiming to reinvent programmes or taking them over. As it seeks to work with existing initiatives, Dr Minnis appealed to those already doing positive work to let the government know and officials will to their best to assist.

He also extended an invitation to those in the community who want to do something to reach out to the government.

Through these efforts, Dr Minnis said it was his administration’s wish to see a rebirth of values, beauty and economic viability for the Over-the-Hill community.

Comments

TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrade Minnin's translation of this - da man's thought of yet another thing which makes no sense. God help Over da Hill when the PM does flag the area yet another one his ill-conceived thought up ideas floating around he head. How's Freeport and Inagua economically progressing these days? This man walks around kiss peoples economic death in his ministerial satchel.

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joeblow 5 months, 3 weeks ago

This sounds like an excellent plan to reduce government revenues through collection of taxes, increase government borrowing and increasing the national debt!

You can never create wealth in the inner cities without first changing the culture there through education and removing the vice of gambling. The number house bosses will continue to siphon off the wealth from over the hill because the people there prefer to take a chance with their money rather than plan, invest and grow it through hard work!!!

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OldFort2012 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Spot on. They are destitute because of the way they think, not the other way around. But this will be an excellent scheme for them. They will buy vehicles & equipment without duty and find a way to resell them to someone not entitled and split the duty. A nice little earner for all concerned. The profits will go on more alcohol and gambling. All happy.

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seamphony 5 months, 3 weeks ago

i heard sunshine is good for depression/pessimism but i guess it's not a good cure for prejudice.

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OldFort2012 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It would be prejudice if I thought that this would be the result only here and nowhere else. I do not. I maintain that this would be the result if it was enacted anywhere. New York, Beijing, London, Moscow....anywhere on this planet. Greed and stupidity are universal.

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seamphony 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I like his ideas! It sounds like he does not see the betterment of life for these people as an EXPENSE but a long overdue INVESTMENT in the communities. Best wishes PM!

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joeblow 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Throwing money at problems never solves them. This country has perfected that art for many years and look at what it has gotten us! You can only help people who want to receive it. In a culture of entitlements there has to be change. Without it nothing substantial can ever be accomplished!

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seamphony 5 months, 3 weeks ago

we agree that the culture is what it is as you described. I blame the poor/rich divide that got wider and wider over the years for it.

I support this plan because mainly personally for me it's the morally right thing to do and professionally social science case studies are always exciting.

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DDK 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I do believe the PM means well, but how large an area does "over-the-hill' comprise these days? Will the folks benefitting from this magnanimous plan find themselves in a better position to support concerns "under-the-hill"?

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TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Ma Comrade DDK, we soon goin find out what territory comprises "over da hill" cause it shouldn't' take more than few hours before close this business day get your answer - considering the PM has appointed a greater number warm bodies to long awaited Over-the-Hill committee - almost as many warm bodies as the entire Inhabitants still residing on Great Ragged Island... maybe more than real born citizens still living over da hill. { You can't make this up }.

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stislez 5 months, 3 weeks ago

i think the phrase "over-the-hill" has a negative connotation to it, like the word "nigga" when a white person uses it!

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proudloudandfnm 5 months, 3 weeks ago

So how does this help Freeport? Or Mayaguana? Or any of the other islands that desperately need help?

Any word yet on the sale of Our Lucaya?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Minnis fully deserves to be hurt by the truth. After all it was his decision to cozy up to the low-life thugs, namely Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers, both of whom will benefit most from his ridiculous Over-the-Hill blueprint. The tax dollars of hard working honest Bahamians and their businesses are about to be plowed into the coffers of the gaming web shops throughout the Over-the-Hill community. If Minnis was truly concerned about the impoverished in our society he would shutdown the money-laundering and other illegal activities of the gaming web shops that mercilessly prey on the hopes and fears of the most downtrodden among us.

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BigD1 5 months, 3 weeks ago

gentrification ˌdʒɛntrɪfɪˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/Submit noun the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste. "an area undergoing rapid gentrification"

I am all for this. It works do your research. New Your is a prime example

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TheMadHatter 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Well now we know where the former shanty town residents are being moved to. Public money flowing to them just can't done.

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birdiestrachan 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Only doc and doc alone could think of something like this. how does teaching people how to drive be of help to them unless he has plans to provide them with vehicles.

Doc lacks vision, the man is blank so he blunders along. we shall all see how he will implement what he is saying.

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

@birdie what if they get a job that requires driving? Duh!

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TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I scratching me head how the some 40 appoints special over da hill economic zone farce of a committee are going figure out which side street gets cash from Imperial red shirts cabinet and which side street left make their own economic ways. Sounds likes the reds about introduce their own kinds separateness system of public purse segregation and discrimination of the old South Africa kinds... sorry ma comrades - you just happens lives or operates ya business or wrong side economic street. { This is about as well Minnis and KP planned as Oban and we done know how the fakness set in right out gate under sounds bullshi# firing starters gun }.

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bogart 5 months, 3 weeks ago

EXCELLENT,!!!

Better to try and adjust techiiques to uplift the poor and suffering and give them a chance to fish than not to try. Or simply give them handouts. Other progra,s have been tries such as Urban Renewal and various programs which have brought some forms of success but needs to be taken on the economic empowerment level for the community to grow. Roc wid Doc knows the area better than most and have credits an field practicals from the Univetsity of Wulff Road amply qualified.

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ashley14 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Good Morning My Friends! A safe and improved Over the Hill would be great. When I'm there I don't want to hang out at a gated hotel. I want to walk where ever I want. I want to eat where you eat and go to church with you. Feeling free to do this again would be happy day for me.

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joeblow 5 months, 3 weeks ago

In which case the people in those communities would have to understand the importance of respecting others (allowing you to walk without harassing you), being mindful of boundaries (keeping their hands to themselves), keeping their environment clean and being courteous. None of which has anything to do with what Minnis is proposing! People must see the importance of improving themselves first.

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bogart 5 months, 3 weeks ago

...the pore people needs to have the garbage trucks pass through their neighbourhoods quarter the amount of times the garbage trucks pass through the beautiful neighbourhoods of the beautiful people, rich, famous, big shots and politicians .....!!!!

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