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Family Island Officials Welcome New Development Act (Bahama Journal)
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Posted by:Jun 11th 2008, 10:22:38 am
Fig Tree News Team

June 11th, 2008
Family Island Officials Welcome Planned Concessions
By Sasha L. Lightbourne

Some Family Island administrators are looking forward to the promised benefits that would come as a result of the enactment of the Family Islands Development Act.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham tabled the proposed legislation in the House of Assembly two weeks ago during his Budget Communication. The act is expected to come into effect on July 1.

Mr. Ingraham said the act is intended to stimulate and encourage investment in the least developed islands.

The act would provide duty free and excise tax free import of all construction material to be used for the construction of a new building or for the rehabilitation, remodeling or extension of a new or existing building.

Cat Island Administrator Charles King called the proposed legislation good news.

"This is a major plus for Cat Island," he said. "Can you imagine if you were paying duty on items that you were about to bring in to construct a house? If the duty was going to be $20,000 you donít have to pay that anymore."

Mr. King said the residents could now put that money into their savings or start their own businesses.

"With all the projects about to come on stream on the island, persons can now save their money and invest it in their own entrepreneurial skills," he said. "I believe this is a very good incentive for the people not only in Cat Island but for persons in other islands that have been declared duty free."

Sweetings Cay and Water Cay, Grand Bahama would also benefit from the legislation.

"We are excited especially with the economy being what it is and because oil prices seem to be increasing daily," said Rufus Johnson, a Grand Bahama administrator. "Persons want to own homes so the act will bring great consolation to persons who are first time homeowners."

Preston Cunningham, the administrator in Inagua, shared similar sentiments.

"This sits very well with us especially in terms of the islands that are in the southeastern part of the Bahamas," he said. "We have a number of persons with young families who really work for a dayís pay with hope that they can eventually own their own homes because that has been a difficult task to accomplish."

Mr. Cunningham said he is sure many Bahamians would benefit from the piece of legislation.

Dr. Huntley Christie, the administrator for Andros and the Berry Islands, said people on those islands are excited about concessions and exemptions from customs duty.

"This initiative is going to cause construction to increase thus putting money into the pockets of our builders," he said. "There are persons who we call contractors in their own right and many of them are becoming certified, so we have a number of them on the island so Iím sure that this will be a big boost for them."

Administrator Gary Knowles of Eleuthera called the bill progressive.

"It will help to foster greater economic activity in the Family Islands," he said. "What it does is it almost overnight increases the level of activity in the construction field and so people will now see this as an opportunity to invest into projects that the government has on the drawing board or that is ongoing."

Current Island, Eleuthera would benefit under the act.

"This act will really encourage persons in Current Island or persons who want to build homes in Current Island to almost move immediately and to begin construction," Mr. Knowles said. "In the past those islands that Iíve worked on where the act has been enforced, we have seen tremendous increase in the level of construction especially by local Bahamians so we see this as a real incentive for Eleutherans."

Other islands that would benefit under the legislation are Grand Cay and Moores Island (Abaco), Rum Cay, San Salvador, Long Island, Crooked Island, Ragged Island and Cays, Long Cay, Acklins, and Mayaguana.

"Development on these islands hold the potential to transform the quality of life of Bahamians by helping to redistribute the population away from the concentration on New Providence and providing improved opportunities for the diversification of our economic base," Mr. Ingraham said.

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