THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS (12th – 16th JANUARY 2015) COMMENTARY BY ELCOTT COLEBY
sildenafil capsule times;”>Ministers update the House
The big event last week of course was the Prime Minister’s trip to China both as the chairman of CARICOM and as Bahamas Prime Minister to seek greater trade opportunities for the Bahamian people. Ministers of his delegation and others used the occasion of Parliament to update members about that trade mission and other policy initiatives.
Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, Tourism Minister reported to the House on a number of important tourism related items Prime Minister Perry G. Christie covered with the Chinese leaders that were of particular importance to The Bahamas in fostering economic, social and cultural ties between our two countries. They included the following:
1. Specific initiatives and strategies in conjunction with the Chinese Government, relevant agencies and Chinese companies to grow tourism and direct flights from China to The Bahamas
2. Chinese investment by China Construction and Engineering Company of $150 million in Baha Mar Resort project, funding of Baha Mar ($3.5billion) resort project by China EXIM Bank, and the acquisition and $200 million redevelopment expansion of the Hilton Hotel property by China Construction Company.
3. Opportunities for further infrastructural investment in The Bahamas through concessionary loans and public/private sector partnerships.
4. Grant funding of a multipurpose auditorium to facilitate various indoor sports, vital to the development of the country’s youth, sports and sports tourism.
5. The allocation of the $8 million grant from the Chinese Government to fund various public sector projects with social, economic and touristic benefits.
6. The completion of a Memorandum of Understanding between Ocean University, one of the world’s leading marine science centres of research and The Bahamas Agricultural and Scientific Institute. The Memorandum of Understanding was also executed before departure from China. This initiative has direct benefit for the linkages between agriculture, fisheries, and educational tourism and skills development.
7. Confirmation of the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the Provisions of Goods and Services addressing climate change with a grant of $3 million by the Chinese Government to the Government of The Bahamas. The MOU is now ready for execution by the respective parties.
Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin announced the signing of a reciprocal air services agreement between the Civil Aviation Authorities of The Bahamas and China which paves the way for direct flights between the two countries. The Minister pointed out that many countries, including the US, have signed similar agreements with China to improve airlifts into their respective countries and therefore this was a beneficial policy option for The Bahamas.
Reporting from the foreign policy perspective, Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs apprised House members of the dual components of the China trip.
“There were two components to the trip” said Mitchell. “The principal reason that took The Bahamas to China was for our participation in the First Ministerial Forum of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on 8th-9th January, 2015; the second and equally important reason was to take advantage of the presence in China of the Rt
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. Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, to conduct high-level bilateral talks with the Chinese President, Mr. XI Jinping, and the Chinese Premier, Mr. LI Keqiang (pronounced lee-kay-tchee-ung), as well as with Chinese leaders of industry, all to attract their attention to possible business investments on their part in The Bahamas.”
Providing the House with an update on the implementation status of Value Added Tax (VAT) that became effective on 1st Jan, Hon. Michael Halkitis, State Minister for Finance told House members that as at January 12th, 2015, a total of 5450 or about 950 more than projected had registered for VAT. He said that the registration process continues.
On the issue of compliance, Halkitis said that The VAT Department has conducted a series of field visits in response to taxpayers’ complaints as well as to provide assistance to the VAT registrants.