The government is “very, very close” to establishing an airplane registry, Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.
“…We decided to explore an aircraft registry,” D’Aguilar said.
“We’ve gone through the beauty contest, selecting a company. We’ve negotiated an MOU (memorandum of understanding). We’re now completing the negotiation of a contract where they would come on board and begin to implement the necessary steps for us to launch an aircraft registry.
“So, as you’re well aware, this is the government of The Bahamas and there has to be a very exhaustive due diligence period. You have to get in proposals. You have to vet all of them and this process is ongoing. We are very, very close to signing the agreement.”
He said the agreement will be with the Aircraft Registry Group (ARG).
D’Aguilar said the Office of the Attorney General is currently vetting the agreement.
“…When that exercise is completed, we’ll be looking to execute that document and begin the launch of an aircraft registry,” he said.
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.
Last week, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper called on the government to produce a report or an update on the establishment of the registry and its growth in The Bahamas.
“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.