Future of Abaco Big Bird uncertain post Dorian

Future of Abaco Big Bird uncertain post Dorian
Devastation at Abaco's Big Bird’s poultry production plant .

Company blames government bureaucracy and red tape.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A well-known Abaco poultry producer said yesterday that it has ‘major reservations’ about restarting the business post storm citing government bureaucracy and red tape.

Lance Pinder, operations manager for Abaco Big Bird told Eyewitness News the fate of Abaco Big Bird poultry farm and its 35 employees remains up in the air post Hurricane Dorian.

“We have a lot of reservations about starting up the poultry part of this business again,” Pinder said.

“The red tape and the government bureaucracy was getting so bad, even in the last couple of months it was just getting worse.

“We just don’t know if we want to deal with it any more as far as the poultry part of it goes because you’re dealing with the government every day of the week. It almost became a full-time job for me in the past six months just dealing with the government. We had hired one person and were getting ready to hire another because I couldn’t see to running the farm any more. It was just becoming unsustainable.”

While farmers are eligible for duty free concessions,
Pinder said processing times for approval on critical items could take up to two months.

“Then there is the issue of getting Customs work completed in time, squared way and paid,” he said.

“You also have your VAT deadline but you’re VAT filing can’t be completed because you can’t get your Customs stuff cleared up. It just leaves you in a stressful situation. Pinder said: “The government will fine and penalize you. They want their money on time but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. The stress of it all shouldn’t be and no-one seems to care.

Pinder furthered challenges were compounded when government introduced its electronic single-window in July.

He said attempts to buy the 30 acres of farm land leased by the company were thwarted.

“Our 21-year lease expired two years ago now,” he said. “We started applying under the previous administration to purchase that 30 acres. We have tried with this administration to purchase that 30 acres.

Pinder continued: “We had to renew the lease for another 21 years. We have a million dollars worst of investments that property and they wouldn’t sell it to us. I understand why they are concerned because people go and build houses and stuff on lease land but it’s not fair.”

Pinder said the company has already received offers to help rebuild the farm but owners are still reluctant and “really unsure”.

He also lamented the lack of crop insurance for local farmers.

“For twenty years I have been pushing for a crop insurance program for farmers here because you’re just completely with no compensation for losses after hurricanes.

“You can’t get private insurance, you just can’t do it,” Pinder said.

“We didn’t mind paying a premium and putting it into a fund. It wasn’t going to be a freebie.

“Here I am with 15 acres of destroyed avocados and 25 acres of destroyed limes and I have no were to turn. It really puts you in a bad situation,” he added.