NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Abaco business community and private sector is awaiting more details on the proposed Disaster Authority to determine the direction and form ‘Project Ressurect’ will take, according to Abaco Chamber of Commerce president Ken Hutton.
Hutton told Eyewitness News Online yesterday: “The devil is in the details”.
According to Hutton, the private sector driven Project Resurrect initiative which seeks to create and fund a long-term strategic plan to rebuild Abaco anew has generated serious traction and ‘significant’ financial commitment thus far.
“The response has absolutely positIve. Everything is coming together. Our key thing is we need to wait until we see the structure, the capabilities and the authority of this new Disaster Reconstruction Authority.
“That is the key thing that is going to determine which direction and form Project Resurrect will take. We have gotten significant commitments thus far,” said Hutton, noting that power generation is a key part of the initiative.
“The energy component of Project Resurrect is going to be a significant piece of what we are working towards. It has to be,” he said.
Hutton continued: “Right now, based on what the Prime Minister has said, it looks promising. Until we see what the final version of what the actual Act says, I think that we are moving in the right direction but the devil is in the details.
“We have an idea what the structure will look like but we don’t know who will be on this. It’s very much unknown. We need more details.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has maintained the proposed authority is a major part of the necessary change in how the government and nation responds to disaster preparedness, response and reconstruction.
The authority has the ability to borrow funds, but only with the approval of the minister responsible for disaster preparedness and emergency management.
If passed, the authority’s powers would include accepting, depositing and acting as trustee and manager of any donations, endowments, gifts or bequests for the purpose of reconstruction of a disaster zone; entering into contracts; and appointing employees as it considers necessary.
It would be comprised of a Board of Directors and certain committees to deal with money matters.
The board would be comprised of a chairman, and deputy chairman appointed by the minister on the advice of the prime minister, a managing director, the director of NEMA or a representative, a representative of the ministry and not more than seven; nor less than three people appointed by the chairman, who would not hold political office.
NEMA may delegate any or all of its functions within a disaster zone to the authority when it deems it appropriate.
According to the bill, the authority would have sole discretion in the award of contracts, appointments, terminations, promotion or disciplining of employees, as well as the determinations surrounding beneficiaries of repairs in the aftermath of a storm.