Govt to ‘ramp up’ Over-the-Hill outreach
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the government will “ramp up” the Over-the-Hill initiative following reports that less than 20 individuals have benefitted from tax concessions in the inner city neighborhoods.
In November, the prime minister announced that areas in the Over-the-Hill community were declared tax-free zones.
Last week, The Tribune reported that 17 residents have applied for concessions in the Over-the-Hill community.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Minnis said, “We will ramp up.”
He continued, “We recognize that there [are] some, in spite of all the [public relations] that we did, that said they did not know.”
The prime minister said he has spoken with residents and businessmen in inner city communities who informed him that they were not aware of the concessions.
He said while he will aim to do his best to help all Bahamians, including those who live Over-the-Hill, the public must recognize that improving inner city areas will not happen instantaneously.
“It’s amazing that the inner city was neglected for 50 years and you want resolution in one,” Minnis said.
“That’s impossible. Pregnancy takes nine months for babies to live. It [doesn’t] happen overnight and when the baby comes they crawl before they walk and then they run. They don’t enter the Olympics, so the Olympics is 30 years or 20 years away. So, it can’t happen overnight.”
The government’s white paper on its Over-the-Hill program was tabled in the House of Assembly at the end of April of last year. The Over-the-Hill area, Bain and Grants Town and Centreville, will become the first empowerment zone in The Bahamas, Minnis said when he tabled the white paper.
According to the map included in the white paper, the incentive zone will be south of the Queen’s Staircase, east of Nassau Street, north of Wulff Road and west of Collins Avenue.
The Economic Empowerment Zones Bill was passed in Parliament in July and offers tax exemptions and benefits for residents and businesses in the designated economic zones.
Minnis has noted that through these initiatives the government hopes to see a rebirth of the values, beauty and economic viability of Over-the-Hill.
He has said the idea of the initiative is to reinvigorate businesses, create job opportunities, stimulate higher living standards and improve the quality of life for residents of Over-the-Hill.