NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Many businesses on Hurricane devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama were either uninsured or underinsured, private sector representatives have revealed.
Greg LaRoda, the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce president said GB chamber has surveyed almost 200 businesses in the aftermath of Dorian.
He spoke at a press conference yesterday to announce a $10 million loan guarantee and equity financing program to assist SMEs.
“After Dorian we at the chamber went out to make contact with local businesses to find out the impact of the storm on their businesses as well as what their immediate needs and concerns were,” LaRoda said.
“We had them resend to a short survey and almost 200 businesses have responded thus far. We asked questions around employment and we found that already there has been a 22 per cent drop in employment in terms of businesses that have already decided they won’t reopen, are downsizing or know that it will be a while before they would be back up and running. The number grows as time passes,” he said.
LaRoda said 90 percent of businesses were still closed at the time of the survey.
“Of those surveyed, 86 per cent said they planned to reopen at some point and 13 per cent said they weren’t sure or weren’t going to reopen,” he continued.
“We also asked questions around insurance and it revealed that a very high number, more than 80 per cent of businesses were either uninsured or didn’t have any insurance. Fifty per cent received major or catastrophic loss as a result of Dorian.”
LaRoda said many businesses were seeking VAT waivers to help with the replenishment of equipment, inventory and building reconstruction.
He also lauded the government for extending the economic recovery zone to the entire island of Grand Bahama for 12 months.
Krista Albury, of the Abaco Chamber of Commerce, stressed the Abaco business community is facing a ‘catastrophic challenge’ in the wake of Dorian.
“Over 90 per cent of businesses in Abaco have been completely destroyed,” Albury said.
“Many businesses are now faced with insurance claims challenges, are either underinsured or uninsured or because of the type of damage to their business it’s no longer covered.”
Albury said the biggest challenge facing Abaco right now is the lack of accommodations.
Still, she urged Abaconians to return home to help with the rebuild and restoration effort.