More businesses expected to apply as Exigency Order praised by BHA
Since Hurricane Irene ravaged parts of The Bahamas, more than $170,000 worth of reconstruction supplies have entered the country with $42,705.87 in duty waivers. In excess of 65 applications made to NEMA! so far.
The numbers were announced this week by Hubert Ingraham, the Prime Minister, during a speech to Parliament on the aftermath effort.
“These are still early days, and we fully expect that quantities of imported reconstruction supplies and replacement goods will continue to be approved in the months ahead,” he said.
Of the 65 applications for exemptions, Ingraham said 50 were from residents and 15 from businesses located in Abaco, Acklins, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Exuma, Long Island and New Providence.
The Exigency Order, signed of Ingraham in late August, allows duty exemptions for goods necessary for the relief of residents, businesses and people engaged in agriculture and fisheries.
Cat Island and Acklins have been given the exemption for six months, while others on the official list, including Long Cay, Mayguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Inagua, Ragged Island, and Crooked Island, have three months to take advantage.
The Bahamas Hotel Association, which has assisted in the effort, praised the government for their “quick turnaround” in reviewing and approving applications.
“It was essential for our industry that repairs were done quickly to be able to bounce back into business as quickly as possible,” said Stuart Bowe, the President of the BHA.
“The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Finance have been cognizant of this and did everything possible to assist. There are still a few properties working out settlements with their insurance companies and will be making application.”
The BHA added that the most common materials for which businesses and those in the tourism sector sought duty exemptions were building supplies, roofing materials, equipment and furnishings.
It reported to Guardian Business that mor than 100 hundred hotels provided assesments within a week following the storm.
Most reported minor managed, Bowe said.
Thirty of those hotels, however, reported moderate to significant damage, some of which applied for the exemptions.
Bowe noted that islands not included on the official list have still been invited to apply. “While those islands may have escaped the full fury of irene, flooding or wind damage occurred with isolated properties,” he explained. “We were pleased that government recognized this and allowed for applications from areas outside of the designated islands providing they could prove their level of damage was moderate to significant.”
All applicants to the duty waiver are required to submit certifications from the local government administrator, and in the case of the agriculture or fisheries sector, further certification has been needed from the Director of Fisheries or the Director of Agriculture.
For materials purchased within The Bahamas, the Exigency Order has also allowed businesses to apply for a Custom’s Duty refund.
The Nassau Guardian
Published: Oct 07, 2011