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'Park Our Pride And Grow Gdp'

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Jason Kinsale

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The government is being urged to eliminate the backlog of permanent residency applications within 30 days as a means to secure “easy money” for the Public Treasury and a multi-million dollar foreign exchange boost.

Jason Kinsale, the Bahamian developer behind projects such as The Balmoral, ONE Cable Beach and Thirty-Six on Paradise Island, told Tribune Business it “makes no sense” why such an immediate fiscal and economic boost was being delayed when this nation needs every investment dollar it can get post-COVID-19.

Pointing out that economic permanent residency fees are worth $15,000 per person, he said it was vital The Bahamas eliminate all the red tape confronting legitimate investors - especially the need for Cabinet to approve those already vetted and who have “ticked all the boxes”.

Mr Kinsale said such bureaucracy was already costing The Bahamas, citing the example of two foreign friends who had wanted to establish a business in this country and employ Bahamians. He disclosed that they packed up in frustration over the nine-month wait for their business licence and residency with the right to work permits and headed for the Cayman Islands, where they received the necessary approvals in five days.

Arguing that The Bahamas must “make it easier for people to come here”, and create the critical mass essential to generating higher economic growth levels, Mr Kinsale said the country needed to “park its pride and open up” to bona fide businessmen and investors.

Suggesting that COVID-19’s economic fall-out is a wake-up call that should ensure The Bahamas sheds its “complacency”, he added that the country needed to “stop thinking we’re so special” and realise that competition for foreign direct investment (FDI) and business generally is only becoming more intense.

And, in the pandemic’s wake, Mr Kinsale also called on The Bahamas to reconsider an Investor Citizenship initiative previously called for by the likes of Sean McWeeney QC, the Graham Thompson & Company attorney and partner, as a way to attract high-end billionaires to domicile in this nation and potentially set-up business ventures employing hundreds of Bahamians.

Identifying economic permanent residency as a low-hanging target that The Bahamas can use to immediately boost the economy, foreign reserves and the Government’s finances, the developer told Tribune Business: “The thing I’d like to see them eliminate is Cabinet-level approval for permanent residency.

“To me, that’s completely ridiculous. Why do we have persons who have already been approved, tick all the boxes, and they are waiting years for their permanent residency to come through? Why do we need Cabinet approval for someone to obtain permanent residency when they’ve ticked all the boxes? It makes no sense to me. It has to go. It’s one of the most archaic processes I know.

“If you’re looking for quick revenue sources, that’s millions of dollars there waiting to be processed. It’s $15,000 a person. I know there’s dozens, if not hundreds, waiting and people are very frustrated. If we can make it easy, the word spreads and people start coming to The Bahamas if it takes a month or two. But if it takes a year, say, they will go to the Cayman Islands,” Mr Kinsale added.

“I would have all those applications processed over the next 30 days and get this done. It’s easy money for the Government. It makes no sense to me why it’s being held up. I keep having calls from people who have purchased real estate from me above the $750,000 permanent residency threshold, saying: ‘Jason, where’s my permanent residency?’ I have to make excuses every time they call. It’s unnecessary stress.

“What else are we going to do to get money in quickly? I’m not an economist; I don’t pretend to be. I understand real estate and what people want, and sometimes you have to give them what they want. I don’t understand why it’s so hard. It drives me insane. It’s going beyond the frustration to insane, to anger. People are becoming angry, and when that happens they leave and invest in other places. We have to hang on to the people we have in the business community and hang on to their confidence.”

Mr Kinsale revealed many successful real estate developers were “going the wrong way”, and investing in smaller projects rather than doing bigger developments, because there was “not enough demand” due to the limited size of the Bahamian market and the red tape/bureaucracy confronting foreign purchasers.

“We’ve got a lot of amazing projects,” he told this newspaper, “but they take 10 years to sell out. In Toronto, a 200-300 unit development sells in a weekend. That’s due to immigration. We don’t have enough people moving to The Bahamas and we’re struggling.

“I had two friends looking to get permanent residency with the right to work in a business they wanted to set up. To get that and their Business Licence took nine months and they gave up. They went to Cayman and got it in five days of submitting their proposal. They’ve left, and they would have been spending millions of dollars here.”

Emphasising that he and other developers were not seeking tax breaks of further concessions from the Government, Mr Kinsale said it simply needed to assist with “creating real demand” for The Bahamas among investors and real estate buyers.

“We have to park our pride and open up this country. It’s the only way we’ll see this country grow,” he told Tribune Business. “We have to create demand and stop thinking we’re so special. We think The Bahamas is the best place in the world, but we have competition worldwide.

“We have to stop thinking we’re any different. We can’t do it. Enough is enough now. It’s done, complacency and hoping for the best. It’s over. We all know it’s over now. It’s time to take real action and bold initiatives. This is the time to do that.”

Comments

Clamshell 10 months, 3 weeks ago

After 50 years of telling wealthy expats to go suck a lemon, will the Bahamian government recognize it could use their cash? Or will it continue to treat them like wharf rats? I’ll put my money on the latter.

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K4C 10 months, 3 weeks ago

relax we are in the capable hands of a FNM/PLP combo ( both the same) administration and since independence any one not Bahamian is unworthy of bringing any wealth to the Bahamas

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Economist 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr. Kinsale you are absolutely correct.

That is why Cayman is so far ahead of us. That is why Cayman has low unemployment and a low national debt. It is why Cayman has better hospitals, better schools and education than The Bahamas.

But we have attitude, we are proud of our attitude, it might be destroying the country, give us high unemployment, an overloaded school system, high national debt and so on, but thats ok "we is Bahamian" and you have to understand how" we do things in The Bahamas". Even if it destroys us.

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banker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Cayman has had over 200 business in the past 18 months locate there. The sole reason is the ease of doing business. New business approvals in 5 days, work permit approvals in 48 hours for business owners, free import duties for one year for all new businesses and employees, work permits for employees in 48 hours -- 24 hours for temporary work permits, cheap office space and receptionist provided in the package. Plus crime is low and infrastructure is not rotting away especially electricity. The ease of doing business in the Bahamas is atrocious.

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Porcupine 10 months, 3 weeks ago

With all due respect, the new normal requires a departure of the old ways. By definition. To suggest that we will thrive if only we had more growth, is asinine. Everything points to the need for a steady state economy. More localized, less dependent on the outside. We can compare ourselves to Caymans disregarding that we have one of the highest FDIs and GDPs in the region here, the problem being how these incomes are taxed and distributed. The only beauty in growth is that it masks the unequal distribution of the massive income streams that have been in existence for decades here. The bottom line is this. The Bahamas will remain an attractive place to be for some time. Globalization will be severely curtailed. Our living world is collapsing. Of this, there is no doubt at all. Our climate is changing quickly, whereby more storms of more intensity will be the new normal. Temperatures will continue to rise, causing mass migration and severe social disruption. The very near future, if one pays any attention to the science, will continue to see seismic shifts in the ways of doing business. It is likely that the measures needed to prevent the spread of Covid 19 and related viruses will continue for our lifetimes. The existence of The Bahamas as a viable democratic nation is at risk. Our financial situation alone may thrust us into the hands of technocrats who will call the shots. Our localized economy may suffer even more if we see the collapse of our marine resources, conch, crawfish and fish stocks, as well as, push many more thousands of Bahamians into poverty and starvation. The money masters in this country now, those with few morals and even less Christian ways, will soon have even more control over our political process, and our economy. And further, due to their unscrupulous greed, they will be unable to relate to the growing number of truly suffering Bahamians which they directly helped impoverish. Our government, which has bowed down to the numbers bosses have put our banking system and entire financial future at great risk. At some point in the very near future, The Bahamas will need to start to produce things of value as an increasing percentage of our GDP. We will need to become much more food independent. We will need to adjust to a much diminished income stream and most importantly, learn to fairly distribute this income much, much more fairly in the future. You can pay attention to the science, or to your bible, it doesn't matter. The idea that things will go back to the way they were is an indication of the neglect we have shown learning and education. Those who have done well in the past have no guarantee that they will succeed in the future. When one sees multi billion dollar companies go belly up, does any Bahamian think that their intelligence trumps some of the world's best minds on business and other matters? The world has changed. Our old economy, if one is to believe reality, has come to an end.

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Porcupine 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Do we shed tears, cry for the past, or move on like mature educated adults?

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The problem I have with the let the wealthy in and give them all the land they want is it's the same formula we've used since Columbus and it hasn't worked. For us. The rich are certainly happy that they get the fat of the land. But regular Bahamians are squeezed into poorer, densely populated, crime ridden environments.

Secondly we are not Cayman. Just because it works wonderfully for them doesnt mean it will work here. We can take some lessons and adapt them to our unique situation but we cant forget the differences. Cayman has a population under 70,000, 53% are expats. Cayman is a single island. We have a population of 400,000, we're an archipelago and we have a large unskilled workforce that needs boosting. Bringing in more rich foreigners will do nothing for us...well not "nothing". It will create a few low end jobs. It will add some taxes to the coffers that we will never feel. Just look at history. It'll tell you what will happen.

We need to address our biggest problem. An unskilled labour force. That will do more for the Bahamas than giving 100 realtors 6% commission off a 20 million luxury property

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Dawes 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Have to point out that Cayman is 3 islands. Whilst i agree we need to fix the education to really do anything here, that is a long term solution which will need money in the short term to begin to fix. This above represents the short term.

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 3 weeks ago

correction noted on the islandS.

Yes a widespread retraining program is a long term strategy but there are short term retrainings that could be taken.

They willtell you all of it will take a long time. I recall The chair of the Tech hub saying it would take 8 years to train someone in the technology field. Blasphemy. They tell you technology is for the smart foreigners, we have to go to Estonia and Israel for technology because we dont have programmers right? That's how they sold the CEB bill. They tell you all the smart Bahamians outside the country. Don't buy it. Ive come to the conclusion that its a giant brainwashing exercise. If you continuously tell a people what they cant do, why should they try? And why should they be alarmed if you wholseale give away an entire industry?

my bible tells me to transform yourself by renewing your mind and to redeem the time. We have persons of all ages, all socioecomic classes, with active minds who could be retrained on in demand skills within 1-2 years. Some skills 6 months.

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DWW 10 months, 3 weeks ago

that realtors can then pay school fees, buy groceries, put gas in the car, may mortgage, etc. etc. Then that $20m house isn't going to build itself that will employ bahamian architect, bahamian engineering, contractors, tradesmen etc. etc. and these guys don't want no regular old home they want state of the art top of the line everything. guess who is hired to install it? And then guess what, a small crew has to be employed full time to maintain it. There's an IT contract to maintain the smart home, theres a landscaping contract to maintain the yard. someones paying a hefty home insurance bill and some bahamain is making the commission on that policy. then don't forget the 10% tax to buy it that goes directly into the public slush fund and annual property taxes into the public slush fund. stop being so xenophobic. If you want to go be a farmer, no one is stopping you but i suspect you wouldn't know red soil from black soil if it hit you in the face.

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DWW 10 months, 3 weeks ago

out of that $20M id suggest roughly half of that stays in the country in taxes, wages, insurance, etc. etc.

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banker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Jason Kinsale -- Shane Gibson's half-brother, has come a long way since he was selling phone cards from vending machines. He came to glory when Shane was in government. Glory be to the father (King Eric), the son, the son outside the blanket and the holy gubmint.

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tetelestai 10 months, 3 weeks ago

No need to name shame, Banker. Your comments are usually quite cogent, cabined and mature. No need to deviate from - your usual - high standards.

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