PM announces extension of Hurricane Dorian exigency order

The exigency order issued following Hurricane Dorian has been extended to December 31, 2019, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has announced.

The order allows for individuals directly impacted by the hurricane to import approved goods, duty free and VAT-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.

Value-added tax (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 on Tuesday, October 22, during his wrap up of the debate on amendments to the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act.

It 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.

The concessions are part of the government’s reconstruction effort that will require assistance from many quarters, Minnis told MPs.

“The government of The Bahamas invited the international community to assist with the search, rescue, recovery and restoration phases of this disaster response,” Minnis said.

“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 percent 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 $10 million loan guarantee and equity financing program has been established as well as the extension of the provisional business license program to all businesses – with some exceptions.

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