Minister of State for the Ministry of Finance and for Grand Bahama, Sen. the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson explained that the economy is beginning to show signs of recovery.
“People are feeling more hopeful about the future! There is a reason to be hopeful! We are moving from recovery mode to putting down the building blocks for sustainable growth,” Senator Thompson said during his Contribution to the 2021/22 Budget Debate in the Senate, Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
“This is not something that will happen overnight. To ensure sustainable economic growth, we have to tackle some of the big, fundamental, structural issues with which we have become all too familiar. Slow and uneven economic growth, persistent unemployment, and diminishing government revenues these issues have been inflamed by the twin crises.”
Senator Thompson noted that like last year, the government has a clear strategy, a clear plan and a clear vision of the impact we will have. Our Accelerated Bahamas Recovery Plan will shift the economy from recovery mode to growth- mode, for individuals and businesses. He said the plan targets the critical areas that have continued to plague the Bahamian economy and provides vital resources to underpin growth for the short, medium and long term.
Senator Thompson stated that the government is focusing on: job creation, small business development, tourism development, public & private sector investment, healthcare improvements & vaccinations, digitization & innovation and, of course, fiscal responsibility. He explained that each of these priorities has been carefully chosen and each one represents the government’s commitment to building an economy that is resilient, dynamic, sustainable and inclusive.
“This provides a road map, it provides focus and provides clear priorities for governance. This also sends a clear message to the people, private sector and the international community.”
Senator Thompson stated that support for private sector growth has been allocated through a number of Tax Credit and Tax Deferral programmes. He said these programmes are designed to bolster the launch of new SMEs and the expansion of existing businesses. This is a new and innovative way. To drive an increase in employment opportunities, our government will implement the Government Employment Incentive Programme. Businesses will be allowed to claim VAT tax credits of $400/week for up to 10 new employees.
“We are going a step further to shore up this private sector support by expanding the provisional licensing framework. This framework allows low-risk rated businesses to apply for and receive a temporary business license to operate, while the requisite approvals are obtained from the relevant government agencies, such as the Ministry of Works and the Department of Physical Planning.”
Senator Thompson noted that the turnaround time for obtaining a business license has been reduced, and what was once a potential hindrance to becoming a part of the formal economy has now been removed. He said, “We are certain that this expanding initiative will continue to launch us ahead in the Ease of Doing Business rankings from the World Bank. This is just another step in tearing down the barriers to Bahamian ownership, and ultimately, economic growth. We are looking at how we streamline the process of opening a business even more. I will have more to say on this in the coming weeks.”