The government has been receptive to a proposal by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) to extend the exigency order in place for Abaco and Grand Bahama to major businesses in the country with products and services that would support the rebuilding of those islands impacted by Hurricane Dorian, BCCEC CEO Jeffrey Beckles said yesterday.
Beckles said he understands the government “is very open to that idea” and is working to flesh out the best possible solution going forward.
“The recently issued exigency order that gives the hurricane survivors and businesses the ability to import their replacement items duty free, [is a] great benefit,” Beckles said while addressing the Rotary Club of Southeast Nassau yesterday.
“But what would happen if that same benefit was extended to every major supplier in the country?
“What do I mean by that? There’s going to be tens of millions of dollars spent on building materials. What if we were to allow every building material supplier company here in The Bahamas the same opportunity to have a rebate on tax credit? Then where is that money being spent?
“That money is being spent at home. The more money we spend at home in our economy then the greater opportunity we have to mitigate that shortfall.”
Days following the passage of Hurricane Dorian, the government implemented a 90-day exigency order for the tax-free import into the affected islands of medicine and medical supplies, building materials, bedding materials, mosquito netting, electrical and plumbing fixtures and materials, household furniture, furnishings and appliances and electrical generators and other items.
But Beckles said the order should be expanded to businesses on other islands like New Providence that can provide those items at reduced prices and keep tens of millions of dollars in the Bahamian economy.
“In addition to that, when you start looking at the fact that we have to import cars, we have to import building materials, equipment, supplies, based on the estimate that there are about 22 to 24,000 homes and businesses either severely impacted or totally destroyed, that is a significant amount of rebuilding,” he said.
“If you were to put a number on that rebuilding you could come up with several billion dollars to be spent on material and rebuilding costs. Just imagine then a percentage of that being able to be spent at your local hardware store and lumber supply.
“Many homes built [will need] to replace furniture. Wouldn’t it be great if we could incentivize our local furniture distributors with the same capacity to provide your home with all of its furniture and appliance and the like?
“Same thing with vehicles. We have several local suppliers here, so we are working with our government to ensure that the structure is right to ensure that we are able to positively impact our economy while we undertake the massive plan to rebuild Abaco and eastern Grand Bahama.”