Beckles: Move will encourage local spend
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation’s chief executive said yesterday the private sector representative is in discussions with government to provide some form of incentive to facilitate the purchase of Hurricane Dorian related equipment and supplies locally.
Jeffrey Beckles addressed the Rotary Club of South East Nassau yesterday.
He underscored several billion dollars were likely to be spent on rebuilding and restoration efforts post Hurricane Dorian, adding local spending could help to mitigate economic losses and positively impact the economy.
Beckles credited the government for the exigency order which allows individuals who are directly impacted by the Hurricane in the affected areas to import approved goods duty free and VAT free based on the conditions outlined in the order.
However, he suggested that businesses such as local building material suppliers could be offered a similar incentive.
“What would happen if that same benefit was presented to every major supplier in the country. There are going to be tens of millions of dollars spent on building materials but what if we were to allow every building material supplier in The Bahamas to have a rebate or tax credit where they can provide a decent quote. That money will be spent at home. The more money we spend at home, the greater opportunity we have to mitigate the short all,” said Beckles.
He noted that cars, building materials and equipment will could be supplied through local firms.
“Several billion dollars will be spent on rebuilding post Dorian. Just imagine a percentage of that being spent at your local hardware and building supply store. We are working with government to ensure that the structure is right to ensure we can positively impact our economy while we undertake a masterplan to rebuild Abaco and eastern Grand Bahama,” said Beckles.
“He noted that such a move could mitigate economic loss and more positively impact economy by encouraging persons to spend locally.”
Beckles said the government is ‘open’ to the idea.
“The government is very open to the idea and they are working to flesh out the best possible solutions for all going forward. We are confident in that.”
Beckles also noted that rebuilding post Dorian should carried out with the future in mind.
“We can’t just build a stronger Abaco and eastern Grand Bahama because the vulnerabilities exist for our other islands,” he said.
“When you talk about economic impact, let’s not just look at what is lost but let’s look at the opportunity. The idea is to rebuild with the future in mind. Dorian has inflected tremendous damage on the people of The Bahamas. By the same token Dorian has also provided significant opportunities for us.”
He continued: “All is not lost. When we start thinking about how we are going to replace the income generated from Abaco and Grand Bahama it’s easy to get scared. When we look at rebuilding Abaco in particular, we should be focusing on not just for the 17,000 who live there but 40,000 people. Dorian allows us a great opportunity to take a serious look at town planning, zoning at coastal engineering and preparation.
“It also provides us a great opportunity for energy reform. Our view is to take look at what we want to be 20 and 30 years down the road,” said Beckles.