Following on from the previous month’s debate, the 2018/19 Budget was passed by the House of Assembly mid-June.
The Budget, which took effect July 1, included a fiscal provision to increase VAT to 12 per cent.
In his National Budget Debate Contribution, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis defended the VAT increase, saying that the current administration was “getting the financial house in order” and that this was a “responsible and transparent budget”.
He said that the the government was adopting a “strategic and balanced” approach in budgets and financial management.
Key points of the budget include:
- Cutting public expenditure;
- Major investments in critical infrastructure;
- Improving the ease of doing business;
- Increasing revenue though more domestic investment and foreign direct investment;
- Tax reform; and
- Improving fiscal and budgetary management through financial accountability legislation, modernization of public finance and accounting practices, and technology.
In total 24 MPs voted yes; 7 MPs voted no; and there were 7 MPs absent.
In the tourism industry, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation reported that first quarter international visitor results saw significant increases in foreign air and sea arrivals, which are up 2.8 per cent year-on-year. Foreign air arrivals reached a substantial 18 per cent increase compared to Q1 of 2017.
Grand Bahama saw an uptick of 5.1 per cent in foreign arrivals. The increase came after the island received a significant rise in cruise arrivals at the beginning of the year, as well as a big leap in air arrivals during the month of March.
“The Ministry of Tourism has put tremendous focus and effort into our marketing, public relations and sales programmes and we are very pleased to see these Q1 results,” said tourism director general Joy Jibrilu, who last month received the Allied Award from Caribbean Tourism Organization for exceptional work towards the sustainable development of Caribbean tourism.
“Our programme has targeted consumers across traditional and digital communications channels, and across regions including the US, Canada, UK, Europe and Latin America. We believe that the impressive increases in air arrivals are proof of the value of our marketing investment.”
June also saw Grand Bahama host its inaugural The Bahamas Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference, which ran June 20-22 at the Grand Lucayan resort.
The three-day event attracted a wide range of local and international participants to hear speeches on blockchain and cryptocurrency from professionals proficient in the field.
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