Seeking to make a case for why voters should re-elect a “caring” Free National Movement (FNM) government come Thursday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Saturday pledged that in a next term, his administration would provide construction and other concessions for first-time homeowners to broaden Bahamian land ownership, safeguard the future for more of the country’s citizens and spur a construction boom.
“We have heard the needs and the calls of the Bahamian people,” said Minnis at a Free National Movement (FNM) drive-in rally at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre carnival grounds.
“I am happy to announce that a new FNM government is committing to providing housing construction concessions for all first-time Bahamian homeowners constructing an owner-occupied dwelling [valued] at $300,000 or less – no taxes, duty-free, furnishings-free, fridge-free, stove-free, microwave-free. Oh my God.
“Young people who are constructing their homes – and they say I don’t look out for the poor; they must remember I came from Bain Town, you know – constructing their homes for less than $300,000, all first-time homeowners, there will be no duty for materials, no duty on appliances, no duty on furnishing, no duty on microwave. I love coffee, so if you’re going to get a percolator to make coffee for me, no duty on the percolator.”
Minnis said these concessions would apply to owners whether they build on private land or government land.
He said the concessions, which are now available for government land communities and developments, will be extended to private land for owner-occupied dwellings valued at $300,000 or less.
“I have heard your cry; therefore, your FNM government, for all home construction, there will also be no VAT (value-added tax) on building materials nor no VAT on the value of the construction contract,” Minnis said.
“FNMs, this will benefit many potential homeowners. This will help to create a construction boom.”
He said the FNM is going to help to foster a new generation of homeowners across The Bahamas.
“We will ensure that each and every one of our young people [has] an opportunity to own a piece of the rock,” Minnis said.
“Now, I hear many of you say you roc’ with Doc. Well, now you will own a piece of the rock.”
Minnis said the FNM administration continues to push ahead with its plans to put more land in the hands of Bahamians.
He said the party is also trying to make it “as easy and as less expensive” as possible for Bahamians to become homeowners.
“We are moving ahead with plans to develop a housing development for young professionals,” Minnis said.
“The first such development will be the Prospect Ridge community. Young professionals will be able to buy land at a cost of $40,000 to $50,000. The equity in the land may be used to secure loans for construction. Just over 1,500 applications were received for the Prospect Ridge community.”
Minnis said accounting firms have already conducted the first review of the applications.
He said the FNM is committed to ensuring that all those who qualify receive a lot in either the Prospect Ridge community or a similar development on New Providence.
In April, Parliament approved a resolution to allow for the development of a residential community in western New Providence geared toward young professionals and the transfer of the land from the treasurer to the government for the sum of $10.
The community will be comprised of 83 acres of land, located north of John F. Kennedy Drive, between Prospect Ridge and the Ministry of Public Works, and will feature a clubhouse, pool, parks and a preschool.
Forty percent of the lots will be multi-family, available for purchase at $50,000, and 60 percent of the lots will be single-family, sold for $40,000.
On Saturday, the prime minister said, “The FNM is also committed to expanding this young professionals’ land program to Eleuthera, Exuma, Abaco and Andros.
“Those who buy land in these developments will not have to pay customs duties on building materials nor on furniture and appliances. Additionally, they will not have to pay real property tax for five years. We are also very advanced in the development of the Carmichael Village subdivision.
“This development and subdivision will provide 365 lots for Bahamians to construct homes. These will be constructed under concessions provided by the government. The Ministry of Housing has already issued letters of intent to approximately 100 people.
“The majority of these new potential homeowners have since obtained commitments from financial institutions to construct their homes. The next step is that the Ministry of Housing will shortly issue lot assignments to these new homeowners.
“This is the final step to secure their loans. The electrical works are completed. The sewer system is already installed. The water lines are already installed. The civil works are being completed now. Once all final tests are completed for the subdivision, the construction of new homes will begin.”