By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government will waive business licence fees for new businesses this year, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced last night.
He also said the business licence fee for businesses making less than $100,000 will be waived, though such operations will still be required to submit to the usual licencing process.
The moves are an effort “to encourage business development and small business,” Dr Minnis said.
Accordingly, he said the government will invest $25 million to help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
“This will amount to five million dollars a year, for the next five years,” he said. “It will be funded from the sale of shares from Aliv and BTC.
“This ambitious initiative will help stimulate the economy, and boost growth and employment. The initiative has several objectives. We want to enhance business development MSMEs through innovative programmes through joint ventures with the government, the private sector and the University of the Bahamas, to help provide training and capacity-building for new and existing entrepreneurs. The initiative will provide specific support for entrepreneurship and MSMEs development within marginalised groups, especially poorer communities and youth organisations.”
Last year, the administration was criticised by the Progressive Liberal Party for producing a budget that gave tax breaks to big businesses and not smaller ones. The Business Licence (Amendment) Act 2017 reduced taxes from 1.5 percent to 1.25 percent for businesses with a turnover exceeding $50m.
Dr Minnis also announced the anticipated launch of a Small Business Development Centre this year, approved by Cabinet.
He said: “It is an initiative spearheaded by the government in conjunction with the University of The Bahamas, and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, with support from the Organisation of American States. This centre will provide a resource for all Bahamians to receive advisory and technical support when seeking to open a business or expand their operations. The centre will steer entrepreneurs to available funding opportunities through government or private means. It will also assist business owners in navigating through the regulatory and tax registration requirements for a new business.”