Chamber of commerce: We are 2-3 years away from Abaco returning to what it once was
NASSAU,BAHAMAS — The government’s decision to extend the Special Economic Recovery Zone (SERZ) Order amendment to the end of next year has alleviated “a lot of anxiety”, according to one Abaco private sector representative.
The order allows for the tax-free importation of building supplies on Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Abaco Chamber of Commerce Director Krista Albury told Eyewitness News: “For the most part, the announcement of the extension to the SERZ order until the end of next year has been a relief.
“We wish the announcement had come a bit earlier because of of how close it came to the deadline and there was a lot of anxiety.”
Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey made the announcement in a statement on Wednesday.
We are hoping to see more homes being built and persons returning to the Abacos.
– Abaco Chamber of Commerce Director Krista Albury
The extension applies to local and international purchases of building materials, plumbing fixtures and materials, electrical fixtures and materials, household furniture, furnishings and appliances, as well as hardware supplies.
“This extension supports the Davis administration’s commitment to assist the people of Grand Bahama and Abaco with the ongoing restoration and rebuilding of homes and businesses, which were extensively damaged or destroyed by the passage of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian in 2019,” said Moxey.
“As promised in our ‘Blueprint for Change’, this administration will continue to provide immediate relief for Bahamians whose lives have been devastated by natural disasters, while we execute our plans to rebuild our islands and create a more resilient Bahamas.”
The government in late 2019 declared the Abacos and the island of Grand Bahama special economic recovery zones to provide businesses and homeowners in the areas impacted by the deadly Category 5 Hurricane Dorian with a number of tax breaks and concessions.
Under the SERZ order, value-added tax (VAT), import duty and excise tax were eliminated on construction materials and all other physical goods sold and brought into the zones; discounts were offered on the VAT payable on the sale of real property for transactions valued up to $500,000; and exemptions were instated for import taxes on replacement vehicles.
Albury said: “Overall, the rebuilding efforts are going well. Work has been ongoing for at least two and a half years and it has been ramping up quite a bit.
“Construction is going very well but we are still facing a housing crisis. Workers need housing as well as persons looking to return.
“We are hoping to see more homes being built and persons returning to the Abacos.
“I would still say that we are two to three years away from Abaco returning to what it once was.”