More Bahamians are expected to have greater access to land through a land reform initiative that includes the modernization of the Department of Lands and Surveys and the elimination of taxes on land transfers to immediate family members, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on Wednesday during his contribution to the 2019/20 Budget debate.
The Prime Minister said the Department of Lands and Surveys is presently engaged in an intensive exercise which, in due course, will enable the Government to better manage the Crown Land leases and grants processes.
In particular, outstanding approvals for Crown Land leases and grants are being carefully addressed.
“We are employing a systematic approach in this phase of our efforts,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“We will commence, in short order, with the settling of matters for approved Crown Land leases and grants within the MICAL district, the islands of Great Inagua, Mayaguana, Acklins, and Crooked Island. We will continue island by island, leaving no island behind.”
Applications for Crown Land leases or grants are scheduled to be addressed in the second phase of the Land Reform process, said the Prime Minister.
“It is only right and fair that we first deal with those who have already paid for their land or who have been granted land, but who are awaiting final documents,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“We will continue to do all we can to have Crown Land leases and grants in the hands of the Bahamian people.”
Prime Minister Minnis said the Bahamian people will be updated accordingly as efforts are made to “bring an antiquated and often outdated Crown Land system into the digital and modern world. “
“We want to be as fair and accurate in this process as we can,” said the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Minnis also announced the elimination of taxes on the transfer or sale of land to an immediate family member.
The removal of taxes will make it easier and much less costly to pass on wealth from one generation to the next, said the Prime Minister.
“Quite often the taxes are too much and a barrier to passing on land to an immediate family member,” said Prime Minister Minnis. “This will be one of the greatest measures to help all Bahamians to have greater access to land.”
For property owners who hold their land in a company, taxes have also been eliminated when that land is transferred to an immediate family member.
The same applies when there is no change in beneficial owner on the transfer of land, including when the transfer is made from a person to his/her company, or vice versa, said Prime Minister Minnis.
“Access to land and the opportunity to own land is one of the greatest ways to generate and to build wealth across generations,” said the Prime Minister.