Government could have the economic impact assessment related to Hurricane Dorian by next week, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday, adding that the government could also ratify changes to value-added tax (VAT) for the exemption zones on the islands affected by the hurricane.
Turnquest, who was speaking to reporters at the Office of the Prime Minister, said the economic impact assessment is being carried out by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), along with other agencies.
He explained that until the report is released it will be hard to say what the overarching impact of Hurricane Dorian will be on the country’s revenue.
Abaco and Grand Bahama represent roughly 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
“Once we have the data then we can extrapolate what the number is going to be in real terms,” Turnquest said.
He added that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis could make the declaration on VAT for Grand Bahama and Abaco next week, with the changes coming into force by November 11.
Turnquest said the businesses on those islands will need lead time to adjust their systems to the VAT change.
Last week, Abaco Chamber of Commerce President Ken Hutton told Guardian Business that the businesses that have been able to open since Hurricane Dorian were becoming frustrated while waiting for government’s instructions on how the tax-free zone imposed on the island should work.
Hutton said there had been some frustration on the island as businesses continue to charge the customers they have VAT.
When asked if he believed that VAT should not be charged on the storm-ravaged island, Hutton said, “As far as I know”.
Nearly every business in Marsh Harbour was destroyed due to Hurricane Dorian.