Grand Bahama wary of the budget as a “ political ” tool



Journalist Freeport Tribune

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While the Grand Bahamians welcome the significant concessions and benefits announced by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in his budget communication last week, some see it as a “political” tool to attract voters ahead of the next election.

“I think it’s a campaign budget… that’s just full of promises,” said Freeport businessman Darren Cooper of D’s Car Rental.

He is disappointed that the government now sees fit to offer concessions to small businesses four years after taking office.

“I listened and I am disappointed that after four years, the government now sees the need to offer a concession to small businesses while we are asking (since) for them to take office,” he said. he declares.

Mr. Cooper said the Grand Bahamians want to see what is promised manifested, not just hear the promises.

“I welcome the announcement of the projects, but I would feel better when we actually see the start of work on these projects,” he said.

“I think a bunch of promises were made in the budget, and we want to see the protest. We are grateful for the concessions, but companies yearned for these concessions four (years ago) and could have used them to support their business.

“I’m grateful for what we got and hope there won’t be any paperwork to be able to accept or take advantage of the concessions.”

Businessman Brian Seymour thinks Dr. Minnis is selling dreams and promises to the Grand Bahamians.

He was skeptical of the announced plans for a four-story tower at Rand Memorial Hospital.

“What he said about the hospital about building a tower – it’s a dream he sells to people. It can’t happen. If you understand how government works, it will take 18 months for a shovel to hit the ground.

“What I expected from him was that the hospital by July 1 would be fully functional and operational, not a new dream,” said Mr. Seymour. “So it is not realistic and he has no more time.”

Mr Seymour said jobs were needed on the island.

“What people need are jobs, and it was nothing like Freeport. We need the economy to open up, and I was appalled when he said … most of his cabinet had been fully vaccinated, knowing that we (are) in a situation of vaccine hesitation . Why would you want to give out this information if not everything (from) Cabinet is fully vaccinated when they try to open up the country? ”

The Freeport businessman said the expansion of the Special Economic Recovery Zone (SERZ) order was good and had to happen.

Asked about the tariff and VAT concessions for work related to building and buying a property, Mr Seymour said he felt it was only beneficial to a specific group of people.

He said: “Most people could hardly find the money for food, so he was targeting a different segment. But the reality in Grand Bahama is that people are looking for something to eat, they are looking for work, and they are not looking to buy any property. He (Dr Minnis) is addressing a part of the community that isn’t really in pain, but most of the people I know have serious problems.

Businessman Anton Brookes, owner of Island Traders Shop and Ship, believes the government’s proposed concessions are timely.

“I really enjoyed the concessions from a business point of view,” he said. “I thought the SERZ order extension was well received by businesses, especially hardware and appliance companies.”

Mr Brookes said it would encourage people to shop at home and not spend their money in the United States.

“This will allow people to keep their jobs, especially in these economic times,” he added.

Mr. Brookes was excited about the new employment tax credit.

“I didn’t get all the details on this, but from what I’ve heard it looks like it would be a good incentive to encourage companies to hire more people and get tax relief on the job. VAT. So that was good stuff, ”he said.

However, he would like the government to move towards fairer taxes and not simply on the back of the little man.

Winston Pinnock, the owner of Jamaica Bahama Imports, criticized Dr Minnis on the timing of promises of “all the right things” made in his budget communication to the House.

“I think Hubert Minnis’ attempt to comfort us… is a day late and a dollar short. No doubt there are a lot of goodies in the package; the goodies we welcome.

“But I see it as a politically motivated plan to get people and the business world to warm up to the nastiness this administration has long done to us in so many ways.”

Mr Pinnock said the Grand Bahamians have been through a lot in the past four years.

“There are a lot of goodies out there and businesses should take advantage of it, but I’m not ready to thank Hubert Minnis for caring about Grand Bahama and the business world because of this budget and what he’s done, but we welcome the things that benefit us; we should have got them three and two years ago; it would have been much more appreciated, ”he said.

“The timing of this budget is political. You can’t be kind after you’ve been vicious to me for years and then all of a sudden you’re throwing the treats away. No, I say I take the goodies because I pay taxes and VAT, and as a citizen I deserve everything I get from the government, everything it can offer. But if it had happened two or three years ago, I would have said well done. But in the fourth year, I’m not ready to say that after what you’ve done in previous years. You offer a lot of goodies, but I know what the motive is, ”he said.

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