NASSAU, Bahamas, CMC – Prime Minister of Bahamas Dr. Hubert Minnis has announced the extension of an Exigency Order, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, that slammed into the island chain, over a month ago.
According to Minnis, the order has been extended to December 31.
The order allows for individuals directly impacted by Hurricane to import approved goods, duty-free and VAT (Value added tax) -free, and applies to areas impacted by the storm, including Abaco and the Abaco Cays, Grand Bahama, Sweetings Cay, Deep Water Cay and Water Cay.
VAT on fuel for generators will also be waived for areas still without electricity.
The Prime Minister made the announcements in the House of Assembly earlier this week, during his wrap up of the debate on amendments to the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act.
Minnis said this is yet another step taken by the Government to stimulate economic recovery on the islands of Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Cays, and to encourage residents to return home to begin the rebuilding process in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
He added that the concessions are part of the Government’s reconstruction effort that will require the assistance from many quarters.
“The government of The Bahamas invited the international community to assist with the search, rescue, recovery and restoration phases of this disaster response,” said the Prime Minister. “The government’s efforts are in conjunction with the extraordinary efforts of the local private sector, churches, NGOs and individual Bahamians.”
The extension to the Exigency Order is the latest concession being put in place to assist residents impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
Affected islands have also been designated as Special Economic Recovery Zones for the next three years. This will enable the impacted communities to benefit from a broad range of tax breaks and incentives and allow for the rebuilding of homes and businesses.
The special zone features seven key concessions – it allows for the duty-free purchase of all materials, fixtures, furniture, vehicles and equipment for business and residential construction needs. Business license fees for operations within the zone will also be waived.
Real Property Tax payable on all eligible properties will be waived once these properties are reconstructed, restored or otherwise made inhabitable by October of 2020.
A VAT credit of up to 50 per cent has been extended on the sale of real property, provided that the sale is immediately followed by material construction on, or enhancements to the property, or the utilization of the purchased property to material commercial activity.
A one-stop-shop of all key ministries will be equipped and empowered to ensure the resumption of commercial activity in the affected areas.
This hub will house representatives of the Small Business Development Centre, the Bahamas Investment Authority, the Ministry of Finance, The Bahamas Investment Authority, The Department of Inland Revenue, The Department of Environmental Health and Building Permits units of the various agencies.
A US$10 million loan guarantee and equity financing program has also been established as well as the extension of the Provisional Business License Program to all businesses – with some exceptions.