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40 To Be Hired As Part Of Plan To Clean Up Over-The-Hill

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Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis addresses the town hall meeting. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune staff

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FORTY people in Centreville and Bain and Grants Town will be hired as environmental monitors for a 52-week programme to identify and help get rid of bulk waste, derelict vehicles and other environmental hazards, according to Rocky Nesbitt, the project manager of the Over-the-Hill rejuvenation initiative.

He announced this during a town hall meeting at the Grants Town Wesley Methodist Church last night where residents were informed how to access concessions under the Economic Empowerment Zone programme.

Mr Nesbitt said the workers, who must be between 18 and 45, will be hired expeditiously, as Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis wants them to receive their first pay cheque before Christmas. It’s not clear how the list of applicants will be whittled down to 40.

The monitors will be assigned designated blocks in the historically impoverished communities that comprise the zone and will be supervised by senior environmental inspectors.

Cleaning up the communities has been a key feature of the programme so far.

Mr Nesbitt said since January the Over-the-Hill unit has had “four successful clean-up campaigns” in which “about 200 persons assisted from the targeted area, moving about 150 derelict cars and about 500 tons worth of waste in Bain and Grants Town and Centreville”.

The most prominent component of the Over-the-Hill programme, nonetheless, has been tax concessions, which include business licence fee exemptions, real property tax exemptions, stamp and excise duty exemptions and customs duty exemptions on material used to build and renovate properties.

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Audience members look on at the meeting.

Financial secretary Marlon Johnson fleshed out details about the concessions regime, providing specifics on how long access to certain exemptions will last and what conditions must be satisfied to maintain them.

Customs duty exemptions on material used for construction and renovation of buildings in the zone will be valid for two years, he said, while eligibility to real property tax exemptions will require that a property is well maintained and in use. People not making improvements to their homes or businesses will not be qualified for real property tax exemptions. Mr Johnson said documents showing clear title to land is not necessary to reap the programme’s benefits given the legacy issues surrounding land in the country and particularly in Over-the-Hill communities; it would be sufficient for residents to provide proof of residence on a property for 12 continuous years.

Furthermore, only businesses up to date with National Insurance Board contributions and business licences taxes are eligible for the benefits, though Mr Johnson said they could enter government payment plans.

The business licence tax waiver is valid for one year, he said.

Applications for the exemptions are available at the Ministry of Finance and Urban Renewal centres in the zone. When approved, the applications will result in a certificate of trade for businesses or a certificate of development for construction. The construction project applications must include a list of materials needed to complete the project. The list will be reviewed by a quantity surveyor “for reasonableness”, according to Mr Johnson who said the surveyor will regularly visit construction sites and conduct a final review on the project’s completion.

Mr Johnson said the Ministry of Finance is working on an automated system that would allow residents to benefit from customs duties exemptions even when they shop locally, saving them the hassle of buying their materials abroad.

During a question and answer period at the end of the town hall, residents expressed a range of frustrations with their state of being, with most identifying a lack of well-paying jobs as a key problem.

Comments

birdiestrachan 1 year ago

See what you all can do to keep the lights on for the thousands.

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birdiestrachan 1 year ago

This all appears to be much a do about Nothing. ZERO

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TalRussell 1 year ago

568 days this side May 10, 2017 and all PM has offer handful 91,409 comrades voting red - is a "brungs your own rakes" jobs for balance 32 days til end 2018. ( Why make such Imperial red governing trivial up ? }.And, if all these 40 raking jobs jobs get filled up, Brent has lots "brungs you're own cutlass" weedin; jobs for adult men's - not lived passed age 45 }. Even once broke China, is long passed creating rakin' and weedin' jobs its 1.3 billion people.

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John 1 year ago

The concept is a good one. The necessity is a great one. But if there is too much bureaucracy and too much red tape that leads to frustration and disappointment, then it will turn into disaster instead of relief. Bahamians do not like government prying too much into their lives and once government makes a determination that a person/family/business is in distress help should be rendered without the requirements for it becoming oo burdensome. Just the idea of pumping new money into the areas and putting people to work will jumpstart some economic activity. Have government thought of partnering with the big businesses in the area to sponsor items like garbage bins, paint or other items? Or are they still battling with the web shops? The houses in Bain and Grants Town may be small and dainty but when the prime minister grew up there and Christmas was coming, everyone found one $20.00 to buy a gallon of paint, one palm tree leaf to sweep u their yard and one pine tree to decorate to feel the spirit. And one yard or two of linoleum to make the inside of the house smell new.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year ago

Urban renewal slush fund 5.0

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juju 1 year ago

Did Government clean up the property recently on the Bay Street waterfront between Victoria Avenue and Bay Street Marina? What an improvement!

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joeblow 1 year ago

Great! Now the government can say unemployment is down!

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DDK 1 year ago

Spend that VAT money!!!!!!! Buy more votes!!!!

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