The uneasiness of doing business in The Bahamas

Dear Editor,

On the campaign trail, the Free National Movement (FNM) campaigned on a number of issues that were important to the Bahamian people and the private sector.

They created the impression that they cared about a fair taxation system, meritocracy, fighting corruption and conflicts of interest, freedom of information and improving the ease of doing business.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA), like many Bahamians, was aware that the FNM was not truly committed to the promises made, was no different from the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and lacked a plan for the Bahamian economy. Nevertheless, we were hopeful that the Minnis-led administration would at some point get its bearing and begin to govern in the best interest of the majority of Bahamians rather than a select few of special interest groups.

It has been almost three years since the FNM assumed office and appointed a National Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Committee. The current administration had promised an aggressive increase in The Bahamas’ Ease of Doing Business rankings while the EODB has expressed disappointment that its recommendations had not been implemented by the government. The committee had lamented the increase in the Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate, budget initiatives including the business license regime, taxation and efficiency within the public sector, following a negligible improvement in The Bahamas ranking from 119 to 118 last year.

The continued frustration of the private sector and Bahamians has been confirmed with the most recent ranking of The Bahamas on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report. In spite of efforts to better communicate progress made and facilitating informed responses to the World Bank questionnaire, The Bahamas’ ranking deteriorated from 118 to 119 in the most recent report. The report noted difficulty in the areas of starting a business, registration of property, payment of taxes and dealing with construction permits. These indicators negatively impact domestic investors and deter international investors from considering The Bahamas for large-scale investment.

It is apparent that the current administration can hardly get anything right.

Our nation lags behind other jurisdictions in terms of the pace of reforms and improvements within the Bahamian economy.

We are simply not doing enough, quickly enough, to make a significant impact on our ranking on this index.

The Minnis administration must own its failure in relation to our nation’s performance in this critical area and get serious about making the requisite changes without further delay or added bureaucracy.

– Arinthia S. Komolafe, leader, Democratic National Alliance

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