By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Minnis Government's "Over-the-Hill" revitalisation initiative is "only 50 per cent there" despite being a "good idea", the Bahamian Contractors Association's (BCA) chief said yesterday.
Leonard Sands said the proposed Economic Empowerment Zone (EEZ) must include key infrastructure improvements to facilitate increased economic activity within the inner-cityareas of Grants Town, Bain Town and parts of Centreville.
"I think it's a good idea, but it's only 50 per cent of the way there," he explained. "The inner-city initiative is a good idea but it's only part of the component. What is missing is the need for identifiable infrastructural improvements to ensure that if I increase the size of my business and outfit my business, am I sure the street can take the increased traffic?
"Am I sure that I have parking bus locations? You can't do it standalone and put it all on the community to get everything they need. There should be a consideration to make a central hub in the Bain and Grants Town area, so that all the buses have to stop and collect passengers. If you bring 50,000 people a day to a central place, business will pop up. The initiative is good but it's only 50 per cent there."
Mr Sands added: "We need to address some structural improvements that need to happen, and you want to bring that commerce from Bay Street into that community. If you make the thoroughfares and walkways more conducive for people moving from the cruise ships down Nassau Street into the heart of that community, when the shop owner increases the beauty of their store front, the tourists will be able to walk in and that's what I think will make the whole initiative successful."
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last week 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 and a plan for physical rejuvenation, along with social and economic empowerment.
Dr Minnis revealed last week that incentives outlined under the initiative 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.