The business community has come to realize that The Bahamas is truly a paradise for many reasons. This is not the least because of the stable and attractive investment climate the government has created to facilitate the ease and effectiveness of doing business in The Bahamas. Our skilled professional workforce, stable government and economy, sound legal framework, modern infrastructure, proximity to key markets and investment incentive policies are just some of the elements which create this ideal investment climate.
The Bahamas welcomes foreign direct investment. It is a small developing country with an open economy, the two primary pillars of which are tourism and financial services. The economy has been undergirded by sound economic, monetary and fiscal policies, as well as uninterrupted parliamentary democracy since 1729. These have bolstered investor confidence and as the record reflects, facilitated great returns on those investments.
Presently, the Bahamian economy is experiencing a slight rebounding following the global financial crisis and recession. This upturn is underpinned by modest growth in the global economy and is reflected in significant public sector infrastructural development and private sector initiatives in the tourism sector.
During the economic downturn, The Bahamas Government commenced substantial infrastructural development initiatives. These include the redevelopment of airports on our Family of Islands, the deepening of Nassau Harbor, which now accommodates the world’s largest passenger vessels; and the creation of a new cargo port just outside the City of Nassau. We are also presently in the midst of extensive upgrades to existing road arteries and the development of new thoroughfares throughout New Providence, as well as other islands of The Bahamas.
In April, 2011, the government privatised the local telecommunications company, with the expectation of wider and higher quality services, as well as reduced costs to the consumer, in particular to the business community.
Each of these initiatives have served more effectively to connect The Bahamas internally and to the international markets to which we cater.
The investment climate and infrastructural support in The Bahamas have been able to attract and sustain significant touristic developments. Not only is the country home to the renowned Atlantis Resort and Aquatic Park on Paradise Island, but also home to the $2.6 billion Baha Mar Cable Beach Redevelopment Project, boasting hotel brands of Morgans, Rosewood and Hyatt.
Moreover, the Tavistock Group, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els have completed their exclusive high-end residential resort, marina and, of course, golf course development at the southwestern end of New Providence, called Albany. The Bahamas is also home to thriving all-inclusive resorts of Sandals and Breezes, as well as numerous smaller-scale eco-tourist developments, bed and breakfasts and fishing lodges throughout the Family Islands.
The Bahamas is one of the leading international business and financial centres. This sector of the Bahamian economy is marked by the strong public/private sector partnership which exists. This partnership contributes to keeping the associated legislative framework current and responsive, so as to accommodate the changing requirements of investors and to enable the country to continue to provide innovative instruments.
Key to the government’s investment policy is the encouragement of foreign direct investors to take advantage of opportunities available in The Bahamas for both agricultural and marine resources developments. The many islands of The Bahamas offer untapped potential as it relates to arable land. Indeed, the government targets areas such as agro-industries, food processing and mari-culture so as to attract direct investment.
The proximity of The Bahamas to the United States, and the privacy and anonymity which persons are able to enjoy in The Bahamas, have enabled our islands to become an oasis to persons desiring to have a second home, a home away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.
The country’s 700 islands, 29 of which are inhabited, offer a variety of options to the consumer, including luxurious condominiums, estate homes or one’s very own private island. Moreover, there is ease of access through the network of domestic and international airlines which travel to the islands, providing direct flights from all major international cities.
There are incentives to persons for choosing The Bahamas for this purpose as well. Overseas investors may acquire residential properties in The Bahamas of up to two acres without prior government approval. Additionally, persons who purchase a home in The Bahamas valued at $750,000 or more may receive accelerated consideration of their application for Permanent Residency in The Bahamas. These are processed within a period of 21 days.
The natural attributes of The Bahamas which make it ideal for tourism and second home buyers, when combined with the business environment created by The Bahamas and the skilled professionals available in the country, creates the perfect platform from which to undertake offshore medical centres and medical tourism endeavours.
The Bahamas is committed to implementing a diverse range of sustainable energy programmes. The country has embarked upon a series of policies targeted at developing alternative energy sources, expanding business opportunities in the energy sector, increasing energy efficiency and managing our demand on fossil fuel. To this end, import duties on many green products have been substantially reduced or eliminated. Additionally, we have encouraged private sector developers who wish to pursue projects supplied solely or in part by alternative energy sources.
The Government of The Bahamas has as one of its goals encouraging and facilitating business activity. Accordingly, a compendium of legislative incentives and concessions exist for doing business in The Bahamas, not only in the tourism hotel sector, but equally in respect of manufacturing and agricultural developments, as well as establishing timeshare facilities.
Such incentives include the availability of access to land owned by the government; and concessions on customs duties (or border taxes) on approved raw materials, equipment and building supplies, as well as exemptions from real property taxes for defined periods. The Bahamas has no restrictions on current account transactions, nor any restrictions on the repatriation of profits.
The government is continually engaged in the process of reforming our legislative and regulatory environment. For example, within the past year we have enacted a new Business Licence Act which has streamlined the process of doing business in the country. We have also launched a multi-million dollar consultancy programme with the Government of Singapore to implement a comprehensive e-Government services platform.
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