Whitehead: More education on features, impact of legislation needed
Statutory instructions, or “acts”, that govern various sectors of the economy and regulate Bahamians’ day-to-day lives, hold many features that could positively benefit Bahamians if they knew how to find them and interpret them, said Judith Whitehead, managing partner at law firm Graham Thompson.
Whitehead, speaking yesterday at the 27th Bahamas Business Outlook, said one of the biggest impediments to progress in the country is the lack of education of Bahamians on the acts that govern the country.
“People don’t know what’s out there,” she said. “They are difficult to read and you have to pitch and patch things together. Government has an obligation to educate the public and be clear by putting them in clear language, so people can know what they have.”
Referring to specific legislation, she noted that many Bahamians see the Hotels Encouragement Act as only benefitting large hotel property developments, but she explained that if the act is read, it would be seen that it has “great application for small hotel owners”.
She added that the legislation was extended to include restaurants and nightclubs in order to broaden the scope of investment opportunities for Bahamians.
Whitehead also mentioned the Real Property Tax Act, revealing that Bahamian retirees who live on properties valued at $1 million could see a significant discount in their real property tax as is written in the act. However, she said “people are not getting the full benefits of these acts because of the language”.
Whitehead also spoke about the City of Nassau Revitalization Act, which she noted is a good tool that is not fostering enough growth in downtown Nassau.
“The City of Nassau Revitalization Act provides valuable concessions to brick and mortar stores, but is that enough?” she asked.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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