The government extended Hawksbill Creek property tax exemptions until 2016 and rate exemptions until 2054, but removed property tax exemptions for foreign individuals and businesses. Renegotiation of this aspect of the agreement between the government and the port authority began in early 2015 and will continue, with statements by senior officials suggesting that the government may seek concessions to offset its public spending within the free trade area. The agreement signed between the Grande Bahama Port Authority Ltd (GBPA) and the government has a term of 99 years and consists of obligations, obligations and exemptions. In that document, the government also granted the GBPA about 230 square miles of land, known as the “port area” for development. Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Seymour said a number of its members were concerned about the expiry of the agreement and whether the government would extend the waivers. Seymour believes Freeport`s future economic success depends on HCA. “It`s an agreement that the government of the Bahamas has signed for 99 years, and because it doesn`t formally expire until 2054, I think it`s really not a choice for anyone – the government can either abide by the agreement or, if they choose to do so, but probably not, cancel the agreement. Early developers began dredging a deep-water port and building an airport and roads. These important infrastructural developments, along with the duty-free benefits of the agreement, have helped attract important industries to the island. Known as the second largest city in the country and the industrial capital of the Bahamas, the development of Freeport began with the signing of the HCA on August 4, 1955. This extension is necessary to allow for in-depth analysis and, where appropriate, further consultations, in order to lay the foundation and framework for the completion of the full potential of the Greater Bahama in the national interest, for the benefit of all the Bahamas.
Finally, Mr Spokesman, let me express my government`s thanks and esteem to Dr Marcus Bethel, chairman of the committee, and to the other hard-working members of the committee, namely that, when the time comes, at the end of the cabinet deliberations, Parliament will receive the information contained in the committee`s study and report. The context will, of course, be the bills that will have to be introduced by the government to give legislative effect to any changes to the tax relief provisions of the Hawksbill Creek accord. The government said the commission had “met with more than 100 interest groups, including civil society, manufacturers, developers, tourism operators, professionals, current and former parliamentarians on both sides of the parliamentary divide,” as well as town halls.