On Wednesday, February 8th, the Prime Minister tabled the Grand Bahama (Port Area) Investment Incentives Regulations, 2017. These provide the Application Form for GBPA licensees to apply for certain concessions, which expired under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement (“HCA”) as prescribed by the Grand Bahama (Port Area) Investment Incentives Act, (“the Act”) of August 2016.
The Act brought the interim stay on certain expiring HCA concessions (most impactfully the Real Property Tax exemption) to an end on March 6th 2017, while offering GBPA licensees an opportunity to extend these by application to the Government under the Act and Regulations. We are very pleased, however, that the Government has seen fit to extend this deadline for a period of a month to April 4th 2017. We welcome this news particularly in light of the hardships being experienced by the people of Grand Bahama in the aftermath of the hurricane.
During this period, the Government and GBPA will be continuing our discussions regarding the One Stop Shop, and Framework, in accordance with the MOU and key recommendations made by the HCA Review Committee and McKinsey. All this with a view to improving the ease of doing business in Freeport and to remove uncertainty and boost confidence in new and existing licencees.
We are in talks with the Ministry of Grand Bahama to ensure this process achieves its objectives of extending those concessions that expired “in like terms” as set out in the HCA, and that licensees obtain an adequate opportunity for compliance, so the benefits of doing business in Freeport proceed uninterrupted, and licensees continue to enjoy all of the concessions which were offered under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.