Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Sen. the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson stated that it will become easier to interact with the Government because of its focus on Digitization.
“The work at the Passport office, which has been getting rave reviews for simplifying and digitizing the passport renewal process, is an indication of what is possible,” Sen. Thompson said during a press conference, Monday, December 21, 2020, at the Ministry of
Finance to provide a deeper understanding of the Fiscal Strategy Report (FSR) tabled in the House of Assembly last week. He explained that in the first quarter of next year, at least five additional government services will go online, including the renewal of drivers licenses and the ability to obtain copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates online.
“Going into 2021, Bahamians throughout the country will see these changes manifested at the Road Traffic Department, the Registrar General’s Department, the Department of Social Services, the Judiciary Department, the Ministry of Finance and Dept of Immigration. Sen. Thompson stated that digitization is just one component of the broader promotion of the digital economy.
“We are creating a national digital marketplace so small businesses and other entrepreneurs will be able to trade their goods and services internationally through an e-commerce platform.”
He said while the country must embrace technology and innovation, the Government is also supporting Bahamians who might not have adequate access to the digital skills needed to participate inclusively in the digital economy.
“We are investing in skills development and education. Just last week, I participated in a ceremony in Grand Bahama to celebrate the launch of the DEVNET Software Development Program between the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and CISCO Systems, a worldwide leader in networking technologies, and cybersecurity solutions. This program will train 100 Bahamians as software developers to Cisco’sinternational standard.”
Sen. Thompson also noted that the Government is cutting out the unnecessary red tape to make it easier and faster to start a new business with its Ease of Doing Business efforts. “In the New Year, I have asked the Department of Inland Revenue (DIR) to expand the use of the provisional license, which streamlines and accelerates the time it takes to start a new business. DIR is already far along with its cashless services, which allows the business community the convenience of paying most of its business and property taxes online.
“Related to Ease of Doing Business is our promotion of domestic and foreign investment. By making it easier and faster for businesses to invest in The Bahamas, we are stimulating more opportunities for job creation and improving the conditions to accelerate economic growth.” He stated that in late October 2020, the Government announced its acceptance of the
Bahamas Economic Recovery Committee’s recommendation to restructure the Foreign Direct Investment decision-making process, so that applications under $10 million do not require submission to the National Economic Council. Sen. Thompson said this administrative carve-out would provide a more expeditious approval path for potentially high impact investments. The Bahamas Investment Authority will be provided with additional resources to focus on the promotion of Foreign and Domestic Investment.
He noted that this Administration’s support for the development of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Businesses is well documented.
Sen. Thompson said, “For hundreds of Bahamians, this means access to capital no longer has to be a barrier to small business development. The Government will also increase funding by $1 million to the Access Accelerator – Small Business Development Centre’s small grant program, which will now mean that 600 or more entrepreneurs will get the critical funding to start or grow their small business.”