The first in a series of workshops aimed at explaining provisions under the Economic Empowerment Zones Bill 2018 was held August 9 at Salem Union Baptist Church Hall, Taylor Street. The proposed measure has been debated and passed in the House of Assembly and the Senate on July 26 and August 9, 2018, respectively. The first workshop was held for business owners within the designated zone areas, who turned up to get first-hand information about the relevant concessions for their businesses. The facilitators were technical officers from various agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Works, Department of Information Technology, Inland Revenue, and the Small Business Development Center. Also present was Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis who in his remarks said the overall goal is to also have the tax-free zone initiative in Englerston, Kemp Road, Rock Crusher, Fort Charlotte, St. Barnabas, segments of South Beach and other “underprivileged or poverty-stricken” areas with similar challenges like The Over-the-Hill Community. “We want to decrease that gap of income inequality and improve the quality of life,” he said.
One of the first transformations to take place will be the redevelopment of historic Southern Recreation Grounds, then the sites of former St. John’s College and City Market on Market Street. The Prime Minister envisions that these projects would create jobs for residents in the area and elsewhere. Components of the Economic Empowerment Zone Bill are also designed to encourage residential and commercial property development and investment in these zones through various tax incentives. One such proposal is the Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative, which is built around six key pillars:
– Social Empowerment and the Preservation of Bahamian Heritage;
– Smart Technology;
– Green Technology;
– Youth and Elderly Empowerment; and
– Economic Empowerment
The Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative is led by the Office of the Prime Minister under the Over-the-Hill Unit, with Mrs. Samita Ferguson, executive manager, and Kemi Jones, project manager.
More images from the workshop below: