Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff
ECONOMIC ZONE PLAN FOR SOUTHERN ISLANDS
A SPECIAL economic zone will be created for the southern islands to encourage people to invest in homes and businesses in these communities, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced.
The islands that will benefit are: Ragged Island, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Cat Island, Long Island, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, and Andros.
“Through the provisions of an amended Family Island Development Encouragement Act (FIDEA), residents and businesses on these islands — or investing in these islands — will qualify for both duty and VAT concessions on the full range of materials they will need to build or renovate a house, or to start or expand a business,” Dr Minnis said.
He said the basis of selection focused on those islands where the pace of consistent economic development has been behind that of the rest of the country.
“The designation as a special economic zone also provides concessions on business licence payable and on real property tax for qualifying individuals,” he added.
This includes concessions and discounts for VAT on conveyances, with zero VAT payable by Bahamians on transactions under $500,000, and with discounted VAT for non-Bahamians under that same threshold.
These concessions will last for two years and are intended to be a catalyst for accelerated economic activity in the southern islands by prospective investors, as as well as Bahamians who may be looking to build or buy a home in those islands, he added.
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE government is extending its current tax relief order to continue to support reconstruction efforts in Abaco and Grand Bahama, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday.
The relief order, which is known as the SERZ, will continue to the end of December 2021 providing tax relief for the full suite of construction-related supplies and activities.
“It will go a long way in supporting the full restoration of the impacted communities,” Dr Minnis said while delivering his 2021/2022 budget presentation in the House of Assembly.
He said the government will provide tax incentives to encourage property owners in the communities of Abaco and Grand Bahama for two years by eliminating VAT on conveyances for 58 properties under $250,000 for Bahamians.
Dr Minnis believes this will encourage people to invest in buying properties and homes on those islands.
Foreign buyers under the same threshold will get a discounted VAT rate.
“Under the Accelerate Bahamas Plan, we want to incentivise persons to move with urgency with the investment plans. Not only will this spur commercial activity, but it will also make these transactions more affordable for ordinary Bahamians,” he said.
Dr Minnis noted that residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama have benefitted from tax relief concessions to the tune of over $260m.
The extension of the Special Economic Recovery Zone Order will continue to ease the burden of rebuilding after Hurricane Dorian, he added.
In terms of the Grand Bahama economy, Dr Minnis said critical domestic and quality foreign direct investment will help to turn the economic tide here on the island.
He noted that his government has made substantial investments in the past fiscal year to prepare for the island’s eventual rebound by acquiring the Grand Bahama International Airport.
“We purchased the Grand Bahama International Airport for $1,” he said. “Pre-Dorian, this airport brought 75,000 visitors to Grand Bahama who spent more than $140m on the island over the course of the year.”
Dr Minnis gave an assurance that work will begin shortly to build a world-class airport and add to the international gateways across the country.