Hurricane-ravaged East GB, Abaco and Cays to be designated special economic recovery zones
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The private sector yesterday expressed its support behind Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis designating East Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Cays as special economic recovery zones, with one private sector representative stating that the incentives would help “accelerate economic recovery”.
Ken Hutton, the Abaco Chamber of Commerce president told Eyewitness News, “I think I can say with confidence we are absolutely fully supportive of this initiative. It’s a bold step to break with previous actions and responses and I applaud the prime minister for taking these bolds steps. Without a doubt Abaco can return bigger and better. Abaco is already starting to recover. A lot of people [are] returning already. With these kinds of incentives in place, the recovery will accelerate.”
Minnis announced at a press conference on Sunday that East Grand Bahama, Abaco & Abaco Cays will be designated as special economic recovery zones for an initial period of three years.
Under this designation he revealed that there will be: futy Free purchase of all vehicles, materials, fixtures, furnitures, and equipment for all businesses and residential construction rehabilitation efforts; waiver of business license fees; waiver of real property tax payable on all eligible properties that are reconstructed Restored or are otherwise inhabitable by October 2020; a value-added tax (VAT) credit of up to 50 per cent on the sale of all property.
There will also be an establishment of $10 million loan guarantee and equity financing program of which Bahamian small and medium sized businesses can secure up to $500,000 in financing under the government program to fund the restoration of businesses or the creation of new businesses; establishment of a business assistance one-stop shop in Grand Bahama and Abaco that will house representatives of SBDC, Bahamas Investment Authority, Ministry of Finance, Dept of Inland Revenue, Dept Environmental Health & building permits unit of various agencies.
Additionally, East GB and the Abacos will be extended the bonded items facility similar to The GB Port Authority.
Minnis also announced the establishment of a new ministry, the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction to be headed by MP for Central Grand Bahama Iram Lewis.
Responsibilities of the new ministry, include relations with NEMA, relations with Family Island Consultative Committees and Administrators and disaster preparedness. The ministry will also be responsible for disaster response, disaster relief and recovery.