Darville wants more for entrepreneurs in Over-the-Hill billAsks how can the government speak about empowering residents without grant funding or low interest loans
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Michael Darville yesterday called on the government to provide financial grants or low interest loans to inner city residents with “good ideas” in an effort to spur economic activity as a part of the Minnis administration’s Over-the-Hill economic empowerment initiative.
Last month the Economic Empowerment Zones Bill, 2018 was passed in the House of Assembly, which provides for a number of tax exemptions and concessions for residents and businesses in designated Over-the-Hill communities.
When he tabled the bill, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the idea of the initiative is to reinvigorate businesses, create job opportunities, stimulate higher living standards and improve the quality of life for Over-the-Hill residents.
However, while contributing to debate in the Senate, Darville said the bill has nothing to do with empowering the poor residents of the community.
“There is nothing in these bills that provides for financial assistance, for residential upgrades, entrepreneurs. How can the government speak about empowering without grant funding or low interest loans? As far as I’m concerned this is the greatest flaw of your bill,” he said.
“Why is the government not providing grant funding and low interest loans for residents, particularly young people with good ideas in the Over-the-Hill community. Who will protect the people in Over-the-Hill from gentrification, and prevent wealthy businessmen from pushing them out for business expansion? And yes, where is the regulatory framework that will outline the results on the side opposite?”
Darville also called on government to make public the regulations that would ensure the proper execution of the initiative.
“Much of Freeport, Grand Bahama is a free trade zone. My question to the government is, after 60-plus years of operating a free-trade zone, who is really monitoring that?” he questioned.
“Without the proper regulatory framework in place, how will your government monitor the activity in these proposed economic zones?”