The government introduced one landmark piece of legislation during its 2008/2009 budget communication and announced the planned re-enactment of another; granting concessions for the development of Nassau and selected Family Islands respectively.

“Today we introduce a landmark piece of legislation – a Bill for the enactment of the ‘The City of Nassau Revitalization Act’. This is meant to focus capital investment in the city of Nassau over the next five years,” Prime Minister Ingraham announced in parliament Wednesday.

“When enacted into law,” he continued, “the provisions of the Act will grant exemptions and fiscal incentives to persons making capital investments in the city.”

These investments will include the construction of buildings for residential or commercial use and include also the renovation, repair or upgrade of residential and commercial buildings.

The government took a first step toward the revitalisation of the city of Nassau with the recent amendment to the Hotels Encouragement Act ,which extends concessions in the City of Nassau inter alia for the construction, refurbishment, upgrade, and/or expansion of restaurant and shops.

The concessions under the planned Nassau Revitalization Act include exemption from customs duty on all materials necessary for the investment imported into the country purchased or taken out of bond; exemption from real property taxes on all buildings comprising the investment, all additions thereto and land upon which the investment is situated and exemption from any Excise Taxes that might be levied.

“We fully expect that this Bill when enacted will serve as a catalyst for investment in our capital city, restoring the city centre to its former status as a charming and picturesque capital catering to the needs and tastes of individuals of wide ranging interests,” Mr. Ingraham noted.

Making good on a pledge made prior to the government’s re-election to office last year, Prime Minister Ingraham announced the re-enactment of the Family Islands Development Act; first put into force under the previous FNM administration to promote investment in selected Family Islands.

The government intends to adopt the Act and have it put into force by July 1.

“The balanced growth and development of The Bahamas requires that all parts of the country receive the focussed attention of the Government,” the Prime Minister indicated.

“Hence, as we provide incentives to stimulate investment in the City of Nassau we are also providing incentives to stimulate and encourage investment in our least developed islands.”

Development on these islands, Mr. Ingraham pointed out, holds 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.

The Act will provide for 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; and duty free and excise tax free import of any machinery used for the clearing of land for farming or construction carried out in any of the Family Islands specified.

Islands to benefit from the legislation are Sweetings Cay and Water Cay (Grand Bahama); Grand Cay and Moores Island (Abaco); Current Island (Eleuthera); Andros; Cat Island; San Salvador; Rum Cay; Long Island; Crooked Island; Long Cay; Acklins; Ragged Island and Cays; Mayaguana; and Inagua.

Touching briefly on infrastructural projects in Nassau and the Family Islands, Prime Minister Ingraham advised that the Inter-American Development Bank recently approved an increase in funding of $100 million to an existing loan for the completion of an expanded New Providence Road Improvement Programme.

“We shall introduce the Resolution seeking the authorization of this Honourable House to take up this increased loan facility,” he told parliament.

“I am pleased to advise that the work on the new Marsh Harbour International Airport is continuing,” Mr. Ingraham added. “A new terminal and control tower facility will be constructed during this fiscal period.”