Attorney General outlines plans to advance Bahamian businesses

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In order for The Bahamas to emerge from the challenges faced, reforms must be put in place to see positive economic growth, and to ensure that it is easy to enter into, and conduct business in, all areas of the economy. This statement coming from Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Ryan Pinder during his contribution in the Senate to the Speech from the Throne, on Monday, 8th November.

Senator Pinder said that the government is committed to advancing Bahamian businesses. “It is important that we allow Bahamians and their businesses to reap the economic rewards from the foreign investment projects in The Bahamas, and to create a platform for the advancement of domestic business generally,” he said.

“In this regard, we will amend the Hotel Encouragement Act to provide betterincentives for Bahamian-owned and joint venture boutique hotels and related tourism offerings.”

He said that the government will also ensure that negotiations for Heads of Agreements with developers and hotels, have commitments for the greater involvement of Bahamian professionals in all industries, including the creative industries, agri-business, consumables and other Bahamian products suitable for use in the tourism industry, and ensure that such provisions are complied with.

“We will not only negotiate these provisions, but unlike prior governments, we will ensure they are enforced for the greater good of Bahamians,” said Mr. Pinder.

“As part of our small business legislative agenda, we have already discussed with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation the drafting of legislation to create tax incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises owned by Bahamians in order to ensure that there is a pathway for growth.”

He said that the government is also committed to expanding economic opportunities, and that the commitment is not only for a legislative agenda that enhances opportunities for Bahamian businesses within current economic framework, but also to legislative initiatives that promote new industries and an enhanced framework for the management and exploitation of government assets, including current government stock holdings, and the management of natural resources for the benefit of Bahamians.

“Our government will enact appropriate legislation that will enable the lawful exploitation of the cannabis industry, creating an additional economic pillar for Bahamians.

A comprehensive regulatory framework will be enacted for growing, harvesting, production and export of cannabis and its byproducts with a goal ofensuring participation on a broad basis for Bahamians in the industry. We will also look to provide a regulatory framework for industrial hemp which will open up additional new and innovative economic opportunities for Bahamians.”

He said that the government will also enact Sovereign Wealth Fund legislation where economic development and use of natural resources result in revenue that is in turn used for the long-term growth and benefit of generations of Bahamians.

“We will structure it in a way where the investments of the government in private enterprise can be held and professionally managed for the maximum benefit of Bahamians.”

There are also plans for International Initiatives in Financial Services. Senator Pinder said that the standing of The Bahamas on the world stage is vitally important, as is the viability of the international financial services industry.

“We take the responsibility of compliance with international best practices seriously. In fact, shortly after coming to office we submitted an update to the European Union on our progress on enforcement actions and our regulatory framework in order to pursue the removal of The Bahamas from all of the EU lists,” he said.” It is also important to note that as we continue to act to be compliant with the international regulatory framework in financial services, we must remain innovative and progressive in our offering. I am committed to working with my colleague, Minister Halkitis in ensuring that the jurisdiction remains at the forefront of financial services innovation and opportunity.”

He added that this will require legislating new product offerings, facilitating the ease of doing business and commercial transactions, working closely with other agencies of the government in order to ensure that the country is viewed as a jurisdiction in which people want to live, and do business.

“This parallel track of lifting up our financial services industry was missing in the last administration, it will be front and center in this administration.”