The Bahamas is seeking to attract new forms of investment via the Commercial Enterprises Bill
Applications from international companies looking to take advantage of the provisions of the Commercial Enterprises Bill are pouring. Several companies having already been given the green light to set up shop in the Bahamas.
As the Bahamas continues to face stiff competition from its Caribbean counterparts for foreign direct investment, the Commercial Enterprises Bill, which was enacted in December 2017, aims to attract additional investment into the country. The Bill provides for certain incentives and making the start-up process easier for firms in particular industries. Make no mistake however, the Bill also encourages local investment.
So what’s the Commercial Enterprises Bill all about?
The Bill officially known as (the Act for the Designation of Specified Commercial Enterprises and Specified Economic Zones in the Bahamas) was designed to facilitate the ease of doing business. It allows ‘specified commercial enterprises’ to obtain an Investments Board certificate as well as liberalise the granting of work permits to an enterprise that wishes to establish itself in the Bahamas and requires work permits for its management team and key personnel. The company’s investment, however, must be a minimum of $250,000.
The Investment Board ‘certificate’, which will initially be issued for one year and can be renewed, would allow key personnel to set up the company’s physical operations in the Bahamas before they obtained a work permit.
Such a permit must be applied for within 30 days of their entry, and the Bill mandates the Director of Immigration to make a decision on approval within 14 days of receiving the application. Should the Director not respond within that timeframe, the work permit is “automatically deemed to have been granted”.
Work permits issued under the Bill’s provisions will be for a three-year period, and are renewable for the same duration. They can only be revoked on grounds of “public safety, public morality or national security”.
The list of enterprises in the bill include businesses that deal in captive insurance, reinsurance, arbitration, wealth management, computer programming, maritime trade, nano-technology, biomedical industries, boutique health facilities, data storage or warehousing, call centers and software design and writing, among others.
Attracting pioneers and professionals in these fields is seen as a way to enable a transfer of knowledge and skills to the Bahamians.