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Senators back new EEZs for the east and west of Island

Orders to create Economic Empowerment Zones (EEZs) in St George's and Somerset have been approved in the Senate.

Economy Minister Kim Wilson said the new EEZs would help to encourage entrepreneurs and support existing businesses in the east and west ends offering tax breaks and other benefits.

She noted that while the new EEZs encompass several hotel developments, the resorts would not be able to “double dip,” taking advantage of both hotel concessions and the benefits of the EEZ.

“The have to choose one or the other, and they will certainly choose the one that benefits them most,” the Senator said.

UBP Senator Suzann Roberts Holshouser supported the expansion of the scheme to St George's and Somerset, but warned that the effort would be for naught if the businesses are not supported by the public.

“It depends on the people of Bermuda to actually support what is going on in the EEZ,” she said. “It's up to them to make this successful.

“Without them, this is a waste of time.”

The order was passed unanimously during Wednesday's debate.

Senators also approved the Exempted Undertakings Tax Protection Amendment Act 2011, which effectively promises exempt companies that they will not be subjected to certain taxes should they be put in place.

Introducing the Act, Junior Finance Minister David Burt said: “It is important to note that this extension is not the extension of an exemption from tax. The tax does not exist.

“At the current time there is no intention for the Government to impose such taxes. This amendment is not extending a current tax regime provision, and covered entities are not currently exempt from any tax under it.”

The existing Act is scheduled to end in 2016, while the amendment will extend the Act's duration until 2035.

The Senate also passed changes to the Government Fees Amendment Regulations 2011, which modified the cost of Government fees such as noise permits, and the Customs Tariff Amendment Act 2011, which removes or decreases the cost of importing certain items.

Among the items are printing equipment for the purpose of printing foreign newspapers and equipment to attach solar panels to rooftops.

The senate also voted in favour of a amendment that will increase workers compensation from a maximum of $170 a week to a maximum of two-thirds the weekly pay at the time of the accident.

Sen Atherden approved of the amendment, saying that she hoped it would encourage stricter enforcement of work safety rules.

“We would much rather have people not be injured and not have to worry about a claim,” she said.

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Published March 25, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated March 25, 2011 at 10:00 am)

Senators back new EEZs for the east and west of Island

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