More than $105 million provided in VAT, Customs duties and excise tax waivers to islands devasted by Hurricane Dorian

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BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe

Since Hurricane Dorian in 2019, more than $105 million in tax concessions have been provided under the Special Economic Recovery Zone (SERZ) in VAT, Customs duties and excise tax waivers, said Prime Minister and Minister Finance the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis. The SERZ relief order was enacted following Hurricane Dorian to provide tax relief as part of the Government’s comprehensive strategy to rebuild the devastated islands of Abaco, its Cays and Grand Bahama.

In addition to the VAT, Customs and excise tax concessions, more than $11 million in business license fees have been waived for 4,475 companies in the SERZ, and close to $6 million was disbursed by the Small Business Development Centre to micro- small- and medium-sized enterprises, said Prime Minister Minnis. In September of 2019, due to the unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Dorian, the Government was also required to deviate from its fiscal targets to fund over $138 million in direct support to impacted families and businesses during the 2019/2020 budget year.

“While there is still much work to do here on Hope Town and throughout Abaco and Grand Bahama, we are making progress together,” said the Prime Minister, who was speaking on Friday 5 February at the commissioning ceremony of the Hope Town Shoreline Stabilization Project.

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused severe damage to the edge of Queen’s Highway and nearby sand dune on Elbow Cay, resulting in the loss of beach sand in front of the dune. Various attempts were made to re-construct the dune but in 2011, the dune was again severely damaged by Hurricane Irene, and a subsequent tropical storm. “These series of events accelerated the shoreline erosion, which ultimately damaged the seaside edge of the road, leading to a sharp and dangerous drop off,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“In some sections, traffic was reduced to one lane of road width. Immediate action needed to be taken to keep the road in a safe condition for motorists and pedestrians, and to stabilize the shoreline to mitigate further shoreline erosion.”

The Ministry of Public Works developed a design to repair the road and stabilize the existing dune and shoreline. A contract for $3 million for the work was signed in August 2019 with Bahamas Marine Construction, but Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project.

The scope of work included the rehabilitation of 790 feet of roadway, the construction of 850 feet of concrete retaining wall with steel railing and backfilling and planting of dune vegetation. “From tragedy to adversity the project pressed on and works were substantially completed in August 2020,” said the Prime Minister.

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