Budget debate begins

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June 09, 2009

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Debate on the 2009/2010 budget began in the House of Assembly on Monday, June 8, 2009. Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham noted that "the time-frame of our debate will need to take account of the necessity for the passage of the Budget and the related Bills and the coming into force of the new Budget on 1 July, 2009."

Mr. Ingraham then began his contribution with a brief summary of some of highlights of the budget he presented twelve days ago:

• The Bahamian economy is projected to shrink by 3.9% in 2009. Growth projected for 2010: -0.5%; in 2011: 1.5% and in 2012: 3.0%.

• Unemployment stood at over 12.0% at end-2008, compared to a mid-year estimate of 8.7% in May 2008; unemployment is projected to rise further.

• Tourism, foreign investment and construction are all projected to remain weak in 2009.

• No new taxes this year and no increase but one in the rate of taxes.

• Write-off of outstanding surcharge accrued on owner-occupied dwellings following increase in the exemption level to $100,000 in 1994 and, in 2004, in respect of such properties valued at or below $250,000; outstanding taxes to be paid within six months from date of Amendments to the Real Property Tax Act.

• Thereafter, a new surcharge of 5 per cent per annum on outstanding balances.

• Property tax of 1 per cent on properties up to $7.5 million; on the value in excess of $7.5 million: 0.25 per cent.

• Tax on vacant foreign-owned property up to $7,000: $100; over $7,000: a rate of 1.5 per cent.

• Tax rate on buildings on leased Crown Cays: 0.5 per cent.

• Six tariff and excise tax rates eliminated and all moving to a lower rate; only 17 distinct rates of duty and excise remain.

• Excise tax on several tourist items lowered, either from 25% to 10% or 10% to 7%.

• A number of tariff rate cuts to ensure similar products face same rate.

• The tariff on several products reduced to “zero”.

• Duty on items imported temporarily rises from 7% to 10%.

"This is a realistic Budget in extraordinary times, whose principal objective is to promote and protect the interests of the Bahamian people," he continued.

Click here to download and read the Prime Minister's entire speech (PDF, 60 pages, 85.4kb). Audio files of the PM's contribution are also available on the official FNM website, click here.

Budget contributions were also given in the House on Monday by:

  • Charles T. Maynard, Minister of State for Culture - click here (PDF, 87 pages, 134.2kb)
  • J. Kwasi Thompson, MP Pineridge - click here (PDF, 14 pages, 12.4kb)
  • Kenyatta Gibson, MP Kennedy - click here (PDF, 10 pages, 15.8kb)
  • Carl Bethel, Minister of Education - click here (PDF, 58 pages, 95.1kb)

News date : 06/09/2009    Category : Business

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