Monday, September 26, 2016
Monday, September 26, 2016
Pictured: Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville gives the opening remarks at the 11th Annual Northern Bahamas Conference of The Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers, Grand Bahama, September 23, 2016. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)
Minister for Grand Bahama Michael Darville has urged attendees of the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers to work with the government to revitalize Grand Bahama and empower the people.
The Minister was addressing BACO’s 11th Annual Northern Bahamas Conference at Pelican Bay earlier this month.
He said he looked forward to “BACO’s continued commitment to enhancing the integrity of The Bahamas’ financial services sector.”
“The world is constantly changing and effective changing and effective governance must not only be progressive, but also reflect global best practices. As such, as our country evolves, one of the responsibilities of the government of The Bahamas is to find new ways to diversifying and expanding our local economy, particularly in the area of local and foreign direct investments.”
“In order for our financial services and other important sectors to remain competitive, our existing legislation must be amended to reflect advancements in our country. This essential principle was clearly demonstrated by this administration’s amendments to the FACTA Bill; the regularization of the local gaming industry by way of the Gaming Bill; and the establishment of the Okyanos Heart Institute Stem Cell facility, which was made possible by the passing of the Stem Cell Bill.”
“Therefore, in order to effectively traverse industries and transcend the risks involved, as compliance officers, it is imperative that you are cognizant of new and old regulations, trade agreements, litigation trends, industry best practices and international standards.”
The government, he said, monitors all economic signs in The Bahamas. The country has surpassed many in the region, “as we have sought to shift the social and economic paradigm of our country; and over the years, the importance of active and modern regulatory bodies, and the manner in which they positively affect policy has been evident.”
Addressing the creation of the Ministry for Grand Bahama in 2012, he said it was the primary purpose of the first Ministry established outside of the capital to transform the economy of Grand Bahama.
“Once my Ministry was created after 100 days of governance, high on the agenda was strengthening ties with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, while simultaneously addressing the concessions of the business community and real property taxes and business license taxes that were soon to expire under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.”
After months of negotiations with the relevant stakeholders, the Grand Bahama (Port Area) Investment Incentives Bill 2016 was enacted.
“Subsequently, draft regulations are near completion, and I am confident that we are well on the way to create a one-stop-shop in collaboration with stakeholders on the island, which will allow for a true partnership, and ensure accountability, execution of responsibilities, in accordance with international best practices.”
The Grand Bahama Port Authority will still be in charge of the granting of business licenses, but the government will now be in charge of the granting of concessions.
With the passing of the Investment Incentive Bill, Hutchison Whampoa, has agreed to proceed with $280 million expansion of the Container Port. A new Cruise Port will be established, as a result of the exclusivity for the ports of entry being lifted. This will be located in East Grand Bahama and is expected to pump approximately $250 million into the island’s economy.
“It is therefore safe to say, that just by passing this bill, the government has paved the way for an injection of a half a billion dollars into the economy of Grand Bahama, over the next decade. Furthermore, the accompanying regulations as it relates to the extensions of duty free concessions as defined, state that these apply specifically to a licensee who “currently has an existing investment and development in the Port Area and is desirous of further investing in the Port Area or ‘is desirous of investing and constructing a new development in the Port Area.’ This means that Bahamians and Non-Bahamians, as well as existing developments and undeveloped land will benefit.”
He said: “The framework has been set and the legislation has been passed. It is now up to you, our compliance officers, to go throughout your various corporations, ministries and departments to ensure that all engaged parties and stake holders are in full compliance. You are the key to ensuring that the laws and regulations that the government have passed on behalf of the people work in the best interest for all of us.”
Pictured: Minister for Grand Bahama Dr Michael Darville, gives a video presentation at the 11th Annual Northern Bahamas Conference of The Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO). The event was held at Pelican Bay September 23, 2016. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)