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Prime Minister Outlines Cost of Living Relief in National Budget

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By Lindsay Thompson (BIS)

 

#TheBahamas, May 27, 2022 – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis presented his first National Budget in which he outlined key priority areas to help Bahamians cope with major cost-of-living challenges. He presented the Fiscal Year 2022/2023 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

The Communication is entitled ‘Budget 2022: The Way Forward.’ “This Budget provides a foundation to strengthen our nation, to lift ourselves up, to face the future with strength and optimism,” the prime minister said.

The Budget is organized around central priorities defined in the Speech from the Throne and his government’s New Day Agenda — the first priority of which is to “help Bahamians cope with a cost-of-living crisis,” the prime minister said; “Bahamians were already struggling with high energy prices, high food prices, and expensive housing costs.”

In this vein, his government’s strategy for softening the impact of this global crisis includes: a mix of broad-based import duty reductions; increased enforcement of price controls; an increase in the minimum wage for public servants; increased social services assistance; important new support for Catastrophic Health Care; the establishment of the Universal Service Fund to make technology more accessible and affordable throughout the islands; a substantial investment in promoting home ownership, and energy reform to reduce costs, among other initiatives.

He revealed that the government sent a proposal to the Bahamas Public Service Union to increase the minimum wage with incremental increases beginning July 2022. And, that the government believes the rate of minimum wage needs to increase because of the “general erosion of spending power of ordinary Bahamians.”

“We also recognize that an important part of our tourism experience is our unique culinary products — and we need to ensure that the sector remains competitive. We have also therefore reduced the duty on food items used mostly in the restaurant and tourism sector,” the prime minister said.

Sharing the fiscal outlook for 2022/23, the prime minister said that the current budget projects a significant rebound in the Bahamian economy. “Total revenue is projected at $2,804.4 Billion, a 19.9 percent increase over the prior fiscal year when the economy was in the early stages of an economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It incorporates many of our revenue enhancing strategies and outcomes such as increasing Real Property Tax collections and compliance, an improved VAT performance, based on the economic rebound and growth in other fees as a result of improved revenue administration,” he said.

Also in the budget for fiscal year 2022/23, VAT collections are estimated at $1,411.8 million, a 52.4 percent increase over the prior year budget, the prime minister noted. The prime minister also announced that his government would seek parliamentary approval for a Supplementary Budget for additional expenditure of $216.9million and capital expenditure of $34.4 million, for a total of over $251million. “

This budget provides support for the here and now, and also charts the way forward for a brighter tomorrow,” the prime minister said. (BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

Bahamas News

Bahamas as Caribbean top 2024 Spring Destination

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Bahamas#Tourism, February 23rd, 2024 – The Bahamas has been categorized as the most popular Caribbean destination for travel in the upcoming spring season by travel insurance company Squaremouth, in a new report. It was the only Caribbean nation to make the list for the top 10 destinations. The report is derived from travel insurance purchases made through Squaremouth.

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Bahamas News

Regional Soldiers head to Jamaica to train for pending Haiti mission

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Rashaed Esson

Staff  Writer

 

#Haiti#KenyaMultinationalForce#CARICOM, February 22nd, 2024 – About 150 Bahamian soldiers are heading to Jamaica within the next one or two weeks for a joint training with Jamaican soldiers, in preparation for the pending Kenya led multinational force mission to Haiti according to Bahamian Defense Chief Commodore, Raymond King, in reports. Soldiers and security forces from Chile and Argentina will also travel to Jamaica for the training.

King informs that Kenya and Haiti are in the process of signing off on an agreement to allow Kenya to lead the force into Haiti, following advice from Kenya’s High Court which recently deemed Kenya’s decision to deploy police officers to the gang run nation as unconstitutional. This agreement includes a formal request for assistance from Haiti, allowing Kenya to legally intervene on the ground.

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Bahamas News

Major plans for The Bahamas announced Davis

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Bahamas#Development,February 22nd, 2024 – “Things are changing in The Bahamas,” were the words of Prime Minister Philip Davis as he outlined some of the Government’s plans to improve the nation through a decrease in the cost of living, enhanced security for Bahamians and the expansion of access to opportunities. Davis, who was presenting on February 21st, the Bahamas Mid-Year Review of the fiscal performance for the fiscal year 2023/2024, highlighted a long list of plans for the archipelago.

Here’s the full list stated in Davis’ address :

  • A new energy policy and an expansion of renewable energy, including microgrids, and an emphasis on engaging local Bahamian firms and building local professional capacity; 
  • An expansion of Bahamian ownership in our economy, including support for entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, and an expansion of affordable housing –with hundreds of families moving into new homes by this summer; 
  • A modern and award-winning specialized tourism product, with new investments across our archipelago, and major visibility and branding campaigns in New York, Florida, and the UK;
  • Progress on redeveloping downtown Nassau, long overdue;
  • New commitments to education, including a Parental Engagement Unit; more teacher training, modernizing the curriculum, classroom enhancements, improving school attendance, and using the Renaissance testing results to design individualized support for students; 
  • An expansion of technical and vocational training, including certification at the high school level;
  • An Empower Grand Bahama micro-grant programme for entrepreneurs; $1.5 billion in investments for Grand Bahama in the pipeline; the Beautiful Grand Bahama programme, in which collaboration has led to safer communities; and Collab Grand Bahama, which fosters partnerships between the government and the private sector to bring change and progress to Grand Bahama;
  • Major upgrades to our health infrastructure;
  • More support for our athletes and sports programmes;
  • We’re on track to pave 65 miles of road in New Providence alone this year;
  • Investments in NIB to improve fairness and efficiency;
  • A National School Breakfast pilot programme, which is already giving thousands of our children breakfast in their primary schools, and is ready to expand;
  • New classes, camps, lessons, and programmes at our Urban Renewal Centres;
  • A Youth Guard to strengthen our capacity during national emergencies, and give more young Bahamians a path forward;
  • A Task Force addressing unregulated shantytowns in New Providence and Abaco, with other islands to follow;
  • The selection and training of new immigration officers;
  • Saturation patrols and new investments and collaboration in crime prevention; 
  • A juvenile detention facility;
  • A cadre of officers trained to recognize and manage psychiatric issues;
  • Stronger partnerships and new patrol vessels to secure our nation’s borders; 
  • Major new investments across our Family Islands, including new airports, and road paving in Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Abaco, Long Island; Great Harbour Cay, and Crooked Island;
  • The development of our nation’s blue carbon credits strategy; and
  • A major investment in agriculture and national food security.

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