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Bahamas Development Bank Holds One-Day Leadership Forum To Assess Funding And Support For Small Businesses
As a part of the Bahamas Development Bank’s (BDB) and the Ministry of Finance’s on going efforts to assess the best options and models to effectively finance, promote, and sustain the development of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the country, the BDB recently hosted a one-day Leadership Forum on small business development at the British Colonial Hilton on February 3, 2011.
Eligible businesses will be allowed to customize their benefits under the government’s Road Work Compensation Programme, according to Ministry of Finance executive Simon Wilson.
Eligible businesses will be allowed to customize their benefits under the government's Road Work Compensation Programme, according to Ministry of Finance executive Simon Wilson.
The Small and Medium Size Enterprises Development Bill is currently being reviewed by the attorney general's office and is expected before Parliament early next year, Guardian Business can confirm.
Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle told Guardian Business that to date most of the consultation with key stakeholders has been completed.
"I'm looking to ensure that what we have analyzed and committed to with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDA) is consistent with the overall national economic development plan," he said.
In fact, he estimates the legislation could be going to Parliament "any day now".
"It is now before the attorney general's office and then from there, it's Parliament. We have finished most of the consultation, so the SMEDA legislation should be going to Parliament soon," according to Rolle.
Back in August, EPS Consultants, a local consultancy firm, began conducting a "needs analysis" survey on 800 small and medium-sized businesses throughout the country, as the government seeks to develop and introduce a SMEDA sometime next year. According to Donald Demeritte, the principal of EPS Consultants, the four-week process sought to "gather specific data from a representative sample of small and medium businesses."
"This information is crucial for the development of the foundational support for SMEDA, as it speaks to and seeks to encapsulate what businesses view as essential and practical for their viability and sustainability," Demeritte said.
The data gathering exercise was conducted on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Exuma and Long Island.
Officials from the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB), the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund also conducted a six-week consultation process on SME development that ended in April.
Under the draft legislation, the initial amount of capital required in year one to launch SMEDA would be determined on a needs basis.
Of particular interest to investors will be the option to approve the issuance of shares in SMEDA to other institutions or individuals.
Business advisory support services needed for SMEs will also be provided under SMEDA.
The government is expected to inject $25 million of capital for the creation of SMEDA.
Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder said the government has "catapulted" its compliance with its international trade obligation under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
During his contribution to the debate on the 2013/2014 budget communication, Pinder announced that the government has set the legislative framework necessary for the advancement of trade.
Under the EPA, there are certain reductions in customs duties that have to take place incrementally every two years over a 25-year period.
The first reduction was supposed to take place in January 2011 and the second in January 2013. However, Pinder accused the former Free National Movement (FNM) administration of neglecting its international obligations.
"The former government did not provide what was necessary for the implementation of our international obligations. The Tariff Bill tabled by the prime minister and minister of finance implements these first two tariff cuts and provides legislatively for the additional tariff reductions over the next 20 years," he said.
"I am pleased to report that as part of the prime minister's budget communication and the attending legislation tabled in this honorable place, this government, in just one year, has catapulted its compliance with its international trade obligations under the EPA and has set the legislative framework for the advancement of trade as a pillar of the economic development of The Bahamas."
Pinder pointed out that the Tariff Bill has also been modernized, reflecting the latest tariff codes, specifically the Harmonized System 2012.
"It significantly simplifies the schedules, by implementing a multi-column system. These features increase the ease of doing business and the transparency in trading, providing a mechanism to facilitate international trade," he noted.
Earlier this month, Pinder told Guardian Business that discussions are on track regarding The Bahamas' attempt to implement an EPA plan. His optimism came after the first round of validation meetings.
"We talked about opportunities and we talked about how we could fit the different industries into our implementation plan to cause exposure to the greatest number of clientele internationally and globally," Pinder said.
"We think they are going very well. The consultants should be complete with their final assessment report hopefully next week, so I'll have an opportunity to discuss it next week in the House during the budget debates."
The Bahamas is aiming to incorporate a value-added trade strategy to position the country as a hub in global value chains. This will better integrate production networks across regional states in an effort to source primary and intermediary inputs for additional export and production.
"The Bahamas is planning for opportunities associated with global value chains. We are creating a new, progressive business model in keeping with our globalized world, in order for us to take full advantage of outbound opportunities, as opposed to fixating on supposed inbound threats," said Pinder.
He believes The Bahamas' commitment to an EPA implementation plan is reflected in portions of the 2013/2014 budget communication.
With international business and cross-border transactions increasing dramatically, a partner in a local law firm said it is critical for Bahamians practicing law to keep pace with legal precedence, trends and changes in other jurisdictions.
Fresh from attending the International Lawyers Network (ILN) 2013 conference in Miami, Halsbury Chambers partner, Nerissa Greene, said issues of taxation, employment, energy and natural resources - once thought to be local - have such global repercussions today that attorneys who practice in The Bahamas need to keep abreast of evolving trends.
"It is no longer a luxury to remain abreast of changing judicial precedent, practices and procedures in other parts of the world, it is essential," said Greene, who specializes in real estate, conveyancing, family law, and civil and corporate law. "As responsible legal advisors and consultants, we must be 110 percent current with the ever-evolving face of law."
Although much of the conference focused on energy production and dissemination, including issues related to natural gas and fracking that don't pertain to The Bahamas, the value of seeing how fast law was being created in new fields could not be underestimated, Greene said.
"I think there is a misconception among the general public that law is static, that it's what is written in those leather-bound books that dominate law libraries. The reality is that while principles largely remain constant, nuances in the law change with great frequency and the procedural matters, evidentiary requirements, standards are always under scrutiny and can flip with a single case that sets new precedent," said the attorney who first rose to prominence by highlighting the benefits of pre-nuptial agreements.
Greene said attending the ILN 2013 conference also allowed her to network with attorneys from Asia, the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe. Membership in the ILN is limited and by invitation only. Halsbury Chambers is the official Bahamas member of the association of 91 high-quality, full-service law firms with over 5,000 lawyers world-wide. The ILN provides clients with easily accessible legal services in 67 countries on six continents.
"As attorneys, particularly in civil matters, we represent clients who may have interests in multiple jurisdictions so whether those clients are individuals or large enterprises, we need to be prepared to advise them appropriately because they may be comparing doing business in The Bahamas with doing business elsewhere," said Greene, "and that counsel can range from employment to taxation matters."
Greene's participation in the international conference was the second by a Halsbury Chambers attorney in recent weeks.
Earlier in November, estate planning specialist Mikia Cooper, a Halsbury Chambers associate, attended the 1st Annual Private Wealth Latin America and the Caribbean Forum in Miami, helping to boost the profile of The Bahamas. Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder was among the speakers at that conference, touting this country's competence in handling the most complex of wealth, asset management and investment matters.
After intensive workshops with consultants from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the general manager of the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) says the 10 year, $81 million infrastructure project will save the country $8 million every year.
Hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs expected to attend this year’s 2010 Visionary Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs Awards Conference slated for Monday, October 18 at 9 a.m. at the British Colonial Hilton are being encouraged to adopt an aggressive survival mentality in order to ensure their businesses’ ultimate success during these challenging economic times.