Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in the House of Assembly yesterday. Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced that both a back-to-school value added tax holiday and a hurricane preparedness VAT holiday will take place during August and July.
He also announced during the budget debate in the House of Assembly yesterday that the Small Business Development Centre will reserve at least $2m to provide funding for Bahamians who wish to enter the home rental market.
“Last year,” he said, “my administration introduced legislation that permitted the Minister of Finance to provide VAT holidays up to two times per year for up to 30 days for specific reasons. We then introduced the back-to-school VAT holiday last August.
“This provided Bahamian households with VAT-free shopping on a range of school supplies as they got their children ready for the new academic year. The VAT holiday provided millions of dollars in savings across the country and was a boost for Bahamian businesses.
“This year, we are once again undertaking a back-to-school VAT holiday during the month of August.”
He continued: “The hurricane season began yesterday, June 1, and lasts until November 31. I remind Bahamians and residents to begin their hurricane preparations. To assist with these preparations, this year, for the first time, we will undertake a VAT holiday for hurricane preparations. This will be during the month of July.
“This will assist Bahamians and residents to enjoy VAT-free shopping on a range of critical hurricane supplies and equipment. The Ministry of Finance will provide the details of the dates and the items to be included for VAT-free shopping.”
Dr Minnis said the VAT holidays are only applicable for eligible items bought inside the country from local wholesalers and retailers.
“We want people to shop at home so that this money stays at home and benefits Bahamian businesses and, by extension, all of the employees of these commercial enterprises.
“So, my message to everyone is that they should use the month of July to get their homes and businesses ready for the hurricane season. Take advantage of the savings and avoid the rush.”
Dr Minnis also noted the popularity and profitability of the vacation rental market.
He noted that as of March 22, some 4,222 Bahamians and residents participated in the market, earning more than $14 million that month alone.
Airbnb listings include 398 on Exuma, 409 on Central Eleuthera and 185 on Bimini.
Dr Minnis said a SBDC initiative to help Bahamians wishing to enter the home rental market will “ensure that successful applicants follow through on preparing these properties for guests and that they list the properties for short term rental.”
“The programme will also include consultancy assistance to help guide applicants on how to list and manage these properties successfully. The reality is that the emergence of the vacation home rental market creates a wonderful and extraordinary opportunity for more and more Bahamians to become owners and direct beneficiaries in the tourism industry.”