“Apart from the financial burden this imposes, the psychological burden is immense”
Davis says his administration will bring relief to Abaco despite fiscal challenges
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said his administration is reviewing the seven-year wait requirement for missing individuals to formally be declared dead, asserting it “cannot be right” for relatives to wait that long for life insurance payouts.
Davis, who was delivering the keynote address at the 17th annual Abaco Business Outlook yesterday, noted: “Currently, life insurance terms don’t allow for timely payouts after people have gone missing, even when their absence is so clearly associated with a catastrophic event such as a Category 5 hurricane.
“We are reviewing this to see what interventions may be required, legislative or otherwise, so that people aren’t forced to wait seven years for a formal presumption of death after a disaster.
“Apart from the financial burden this imposes, the psychological burden is immense, and closure is not possible. This is a tremendous human cost in health and well-being.
“We know because these are the stories which Abaconians have shared with us.
“This cannot be right and my government is committed to fixing it.”
Davis said his administration is committed to bringing relief to the hurricane-ravaged island, noting that it has already extended the Special Economic Recovery Zone Order, which will allow those impacted by Hurricane Dorian to import vehicles duty-free no matter where they currently reside.
He also pointed to his administration’s plans to lower the VAT rate to 10 percent.
Davis noted: “We are currently reviewing a house-building proposal to build 150 homes. Several construction types are being considered, including modular and prefabricated housing.
“The prefabricated housing provides for a rapid factory to be built on Abaco, with the equipment brought in and people trained to operate them This is just one cost-effective option.”
Davis noted that apart from the strains being faced by the global economy, this nation’s current fiscal position has created added pressure.
“We have unprecedentedly high levels of deficit and debt. Public debt levels have hit over $10 billion, having doubled during the past four and a half years,” the prime minister noted.
“We have yet to understand how these funds were applied or how they benefitted the Bahamian people.
“Public revenue remains significantly down because of a combination of uncollected taxes; tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals, businesses and properties; and a sluggish recovery with no articulated plans for growth.
“The news of a further credit ratings downgrade, that had been suppressed until just after the election, made the situation even more bleak.
“But, as we have promised the Bahamian people during the campaign, my administration runs towards these challenges, not with hand-wringing despair, but with a variety of proposed solutions.”