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Tax incentives for inner city next May

Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Though it has yet to be fleshed out to the public, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said he intends to launch his targeted tax incentive program for inner-city communities in May 2018.

Speaking to The Nassau Guardian on Sunday, Minnis reflected on the country’s fiscal constraints impeding many of the Free National Movement’s key platform promises to improve the lives of Bahamians.

However, he said the government’s pledge to the inner-city community program is paramount and will be financed in the next budget.

“This current budget is really not our budget,” said Minnis of the 2017/2018 budget.

In his budget contribution in May, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest advised Parliament that the government would have to borrow a combined $722 million to cover the deficit left by the Christie administration and finance its commitments in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Minnis administration has repeatedly pointed to this and what it has called an alarming amount in outstanding bills left behind by the former administration as hindering its policy agenda.

It was revealed in October that the GFS deficit for the 2016/2017 fiscal year stands at $695 million, up from the $500 million projected deficit in May.

During the budget debate last year, former Prime Minister Perry Christie said the GFS deficit in 2016/17 would come in at $100 million.

Minnis verbalized the tax-free zones for Over-the-Hill and depressed areas while in opposition.

Debating in October on a resolution thanking the governor general for delivering the Speech from Throne, the prime minister said, “We are laying the groundwork for the introduction of targeted tax incentives for inner city communities.”

But the program was not expounded on then.

At the time, Minnis also said the government is “focused, resolute and determined” to improve the economic vitality of The Bahamas, and to improve the standard of living for all Bahamians.

To this end, the prime minister pointed out that the government has appointed an Economic Council of The Bahamas, responsible for providing advice on job creation and growth, critical to economic recovery.

He also noted that his government has appointed an Ease of Doing Business Committee.

Its mandate is to make specific recommendations to make it easier to do business in the country for Bahamians and foreign investors, according to the prime minister.

In the Speech from the Throne, the Minnis administration said it is aware of the extent of poverty and social injustice in the nation and promised to implement tax free economic zones, a rent-to-buy program, expand the reach of social services and provide mortgage relief for homeowners.

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