ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder.
By LETRE SWEETING
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder said the government would “repeal and replace” the Commercial Enterprises Act in the next Parliamentary session, eliminating some “objectionable” aspects of the legislation.
THE law came under withering criticism from the Progressive Liberal Party in opposition, with Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis pledging in 2017 to repeal the legislation.
The law allowed enterprises wanting to establish themselves in The Bahamas in niche sectors to get work permits for management and key personnel.
Mr Pinder said the administration would “foster the economic development zones component of that” law, but remove the “automatic granting of work permits and the employment aspects of it that are objectionable to us.”
Under the law, a “specified commercial enterprise” can obtain an Investments Board certificate to receive work permits for specific positions.
“We did a full review of that piece of legislation coming into the election,” Mr Pinder said. “In our blueprint for change, you would have noted, we had some objection to that legislation.
“Our objection was focused around the automatic grant of work permits and ensuring that Bahamian employment is protected. However, on a full review of the legislation, we thought there were aspects of it that would be useful for economic development.
“So, it provides for commercial enterprise zones, which would be given some commercial preference in different types of industries. We see that happening in Dubai and Cayman Islands and other countries. So we thought that was a valued piece of the legislation that really needed to be expanded upon and reformed.
“So, it is on our horizon.”
“Instead of doing a full repeal, we’re taking a more progressive approach on it.”
Amending the Commercial Enterprises Act was a promise the administration reiterated in the 2021 Speech from the Throne.
It also pledged to amend the Education Act to “provide for universal pre-primary education for three and four-year-olds, consolidate the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of The Bahamas (NAECOB) and the Pre-school and Day Care Council, and specify home-schooling modalities”.
Asked about not executing this commitment, Mr Pinder said: “Well, you know, we have passed over 100 pieces of legislation in less than two years so we’ve been rather aggressive in our legislative agenda. To say that we’re not going to advance something that was in the prior Speech from the Throne would be incorrect. Certainly, we stand by the legislative agenda that was reflected in the first Speech from the Throne, and those items will be addressed in the coming legislative session.”