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Prime Minister Hubert Minnis' Contribution to the 2018-2019 National Budget Debate
Jun 18, 2018 - 9:10:34 PM

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Prime Minister Minnis' Contribution to the 2018-2019 National Budget
Nassau, The Bahamas - Contribution to the 2018/2019 National Budget Debate Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis, MP Prime Minister Monday, 18 June 2018 10:00 A.M.


Mr. Speaker:

I rise on behalf of the wonderful people of Killarney to offer my contribution to the debate on the 2018/2019 National Budget.

This budget provides hope and opportunity for new homeowners, entrepreneurs, young people, Over-the-Hill communities, and hope and opportunity for our future.

The inspiration for my Government and for this budget is to leave behind a better, more secure, safer and prosperous country.

Our vision and mission is to provide opportunity and hope for current and future generations.

Our vision is taking shape.

During last year’s election campaign, the FNM pledged to introduce free tuition for qualifying young people at the University of the Bahamas, (UB).  

I wish to announce at the outset that beginning in September 2019, all full time Bahamian students who meet certain entry requirements for UB will receive free tuition.

The details of these requirements will be announced.

Students will have to maintain a minimum GPA to maintain their grant. This requirement will also be announced.

This major investment in education will help scores of young people to realize their dreams as we build a more equitable society.

While talent is evenly distributed in any population; opportunity is not.

These new Opportunity Grants are a major national investment that will help scores of parents unable to afford the cost of tuition at UB.

Because many Family Island students cannot afford housing in New Providence, qualifying students from the Family Islands will be afforded $500 per month for an accommodation allowance

UB will maintain a proper housing register to ensure that homes, in which students reside, meet safety and other requirements.

This new register of homes will increase housing opportunities for students.  The allowance will be paid directly to qualifying homeowners.

I also wish to announce that all Bahamian students who qualify to attend BTVI, will be granted free tuition beginning this September, 2018.

To maintain this tuition, they will have to meet certain ongoing requirements, which will be announced.

This new initiative will help to build a more skilled and productive workforce.

    My Government is also pleased that we are now able to fulfil our pledge to remove VAT from medicine, and from breadbasket items.

Mr. Speaker:

    Given the long hot summer ahead BPL has agreed to a reconnection program for disconnected customers.

    To be reconnected, a customer must pay 25 percent of their outstanding balance.

I note, that BPL usually asks for a payment of 50 percent.

    Customers must maintain monthly payments of current bills plus 10 percent of arrears, which should allow full repayment in 11 months.

I note, that BPL usually seeks to have arrears repaid within six months.

    Customers must also agree to sign a payment plan.



Mr. Speaker: 

    I wish to provide an update on the Government’s ambitious affordable housing program.

    Our vision is to create a minimum of one subdivision per year over the next 10 years.

 

    This giving each Bahamian an opportunity to own and purchase land with all the infrastructure at a cost of less than $30,000 per lot.

The first islands to be a part of this program are: New Providence, Andros, Abaco, Exuma and San Salvador

Because a large number of Bahamians are under the age of 35, a percentage of service lots will be geared toward those 35 years old and younger.

    I wish to clarify a matter in which there seems to be some confusion. 

    Though I want to encourage qualifying public officers to apply for land in this program, this program is not restricted to public officers.

    Any Bahamian, who is interested in this program, and who meets the qualifications are eligible to apply, including single mothers, and moderate-income families.

Let me repeat: this program is not limited to public officers.

    Phase two of this policy, the commercial component, will be legislated next year.

This component will afford Bahamians the opportunity to purchase land at minimum cost for Bed and Breakfast hotels, helping more Bahamians to own boutique and small hotels, and to become involved in our primary industry.

Mr. Speaker: 

The Office of the Prime Minister has issued a request for proposals for a land audit, to be executed by a Bahamian service provider, or a Bahamian service provider, in conjunction with an international firm. 

The comprehensive land investigation and audit, once commenced, will establish land that is owned or leased by the Government of The Bahamas. 

The information in respect of Crown Lands, will be used in the determination of outstanding land applications, at the Department of Lands and Surveys. 

The findings will be used as a first step to develop a modern land registry in The Bahamas. 

The audit seeks to establish:

        What government-owned land has been directed for use by others, either in the form of lease holds, licenses, authorizations, joint ventures and contractual obligations;


        What government-owned land is presently under commitments to be alienated, either via grant, lease holds, or other means, which has not yet been perfected;


        What Government-owned land is presently under consideration to be divested either via grant, lease holds, or other means, which has not yet been perfected; and


        That government-owned or - leased out land is being used for its agreed purpose.


    Mr. Speaker:

    This budget redirects the disastrous course we were on because of the disastrous financial management, recklessness misfeasance and malfeasance of the PLP.

We are getting our financial house in order by addressing massive annual deficits and long-term debt.

Cleaning up our financial mess, will mean a healthier, and more productive economy, in which we will have the fiscal and budgetary resources, and room to invest even more in our people.

This is a responsible and transparent budget, with investments in education and training, entrepreneurship, infrastructure, health care, social development, crime prevention and other investments in our people.

Unlike former PLP budgets there are no tricks and gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors, no games in this budget.

This is an honest budget.

While the PLP governed mostly on their own behalf and on behalf of their well-connected allies and PLP cronies, this is the People’s Budget.

Mr. Speaker:

To restore our financial health and to move our Bahamas in a more prosperous direction, my Government is taking a strategic and balanced approach in our budgets and financial management.

Our balanced and holistic approach includes:

    Cutting expenditure, finding savings and reducing waste and costs in a number of areas;

    Aggressively targeting corruption and the misuse of public funds, which is a tremendous burden on public finances;

    Major investments in education and training, and the development of entrepreneurs;

    Major investments in critical infrastructure;

    Improving the ease of doing business in order to stimulate growth and productivity.

    Increased revenue generation through more domestic investment and foreign direct investment;

    Increased revenue generation by a higher VAT rate, and a sliding scale tax for gaming operators, among other tax measures;

    Ongoing reform of taxes, including ongoing decreases in or the elimination of various tariffs and duties;

    Major investments in BEC and renewable energy in order to long-term decrease the cost of electricity.

    Improved fiscal and budgetary management through financial accountability legislation, and the modernization of public finance, and public accounting practices, methods and technology;

    Investments in social development, social intervention and social services...

To read full see attached Prime Minister Minnis' Contribution to the 2018-2019 National Budget


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