Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper yesterday called on the government to produce a report or an update on the establishment of an airplane registry and its growth in The Bahamas.
Last year, the government increased value-added tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.
It also removed customs duties from airplanes and helicopters, claiming that the move was an effort to build an airplane registry industry.
Yesterday, Cooper said, “…You said you were working on behalf of Bahamian people [when] you exempted planes and helicopters.”
He continued, “The Bahamian people wondered what this was about and how they will benefit, and some members accused this government of cronyism and catering to special interests.
“And one of their members quickly jumped to their feet and started to explain how this new plane registry was going to benefit the Bahamian people.”
Cooper questioned what ministry was involved in the process of establishing the registry.
“How many people are employed?” he asked.
“How many planes have been registered? Was this smoke and mirrors? Was this simply a response to the opposition’s claims that this is a government that caters to special interests and practices cronyism? Was this just a response to that? Or was this a meaningful industry in the making? That’s what I’d like to know.”
The Bahamas has been lagging in its efforts to build an aircraft registry industry, which can include significant economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for leasing, financing, surveying and insuring aircraft, as well as servicing, repairing, fueling and generally maintaining them.
In April, Algernon Cargill, the director of aviation, said the registry will be “well in place” by 2020, noting that the government had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the company responsible for creating such facilities in Aruba and San Marino, according to The Tribune.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar responded to Cooper yesterday claiming the government is engaging a consultant to help them grow the industry.