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Pm Warns Of High Cost Of Hurricane Recovery

Prime Minister Perry Christie at a recent press conference to discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

Prime Minister Perry Christie at a recent press conference to discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Perry Christie last night described the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew as “utterly devastating” as he estimated the total cost of repairs to be three or four times higher than the $100m in damages left by Hurricane Joaquin last year.

At a press conference at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Christie said the infrastructure in North Andros, Grand Bahama and New Providence were “relatively intact,” however he said there was “enormous loss” of personal items and scores of homes were “substantially damaged” by flooding.

Because of this, Mr Christie said the government has issued an exigency order, effective on Tuesday, to allow for specific tax exemptions on goods imported for rebuilding purposes as well as water, tarp, and some “personal items”.

The prime minister also said that given the economic cost of this disaster, which came a year after Hurricane Joaquin devastated the southern islands, the government is exploring the option of issuing a hurricane recovery and reconstruction bond.

The purpose of the bond, according to Mr Christie, is “to have an accelerated reconstruction programme, provide assistance to individuals impacted by the hurricane and to provide assistance to small and medium sized businesses.”

“Let me tell you how serious our challenges are, we estimated after Hurricane Joaquin that the cost was over $100m,” Mr Christie said.

“You can identify or multiply, two times, three times, four times - this cost is going to be very much more than Joaquin. Enormous damage has been inflicted on thousands of Bahamians, who were not so affected in such number with Hurricane Joaquin,” Mr Christie said.

The prime minister also pointed out that only NEMA-approved donations will be allowed the “benefit” of being brought into the country, “duty free, VAT free and with no processing fee”.

“We recognise that some people may claim that they have spent money that could be covered by the order before the order is promulgated on Tuesday,” Mr Christie added.

“So the Ministry of Finance, we have agreed to cover the period between the commencement of hurricane conditions and Tuesday when the exigency order will take effect upon proof and certification that it conforms with the requirement.

“The clearance of all relief supplies should be accompanied by a C-13 Home Consumption Form, in addition all goods should be properly manifested. Supplies assigned to NEMA would be granted duty and vat free privilege. In addition, no processing fee would be assessed for these goods.

Emergency supplies such as water, tarp, generators, personal building supplies not assigned to NEMA or a recognised charity should be released upon confirmation from NEMA,

therefore any unauthorised purchase or importation must ultimately be approved by NEMA if you are going to access the privileges offered by the Ministry of Finance.”

Mr Christie also said the government has agreed, with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, to provide tax rebates for donations from the private sector from businesses who donate to either the Bahamas Government Donation Account, the Rebuild Bahamas Account or “any other government approved relief fund.”

Any donation of $1,000 or more shall receive a tax rebate on business license fees equivalent to 10 per cent for the amount donated up to a maximum of $100,000, Mr Christie said.

For more information, residents are asked to contact the Department of Customs emergency numbers at 377-7027 or 377-7030 In New Providence or the local Customs office in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.

Comments

TalRussell 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrades! The PM promised that his government would put aside politics to get on with the recovery that resulted from the aftermath of hurricane Matthew. Sounded good, right? But then the PM within hours announces that he has appointed Shane Gibson as his head coordinator of the estimated the $300 million hurricane relief efforts at the government level.
PM is this your way to assure the people that the business of the nation's relief efforts have been placed under the most capable hands, or is it just normal PLP trash talk, again with the appointment of same old "no proof of them having changed a damn bit' members of the PLP's 2002-2007 government's days? Aren't the 600 workers at Sandals, still waiting for news to reach the ministry of labour's offices that their paychecks were yanked from under them by the owner of Sandals?

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Why is he of all people heading this relief fund??? As I send before, any organization who donates any money better put ten pairs of eyes on how the money is spent, whether the people contracted are qualified to do the work and whether they give value for dollar. Mayor Nagen is still in jail for awarding himself and his interests lucrative contracts from the hurricane Katrina relief fund.

As an aside, thieves and extortionists will always be thieves and extortionists. They don't care about you and your problems.

This only makes sense if it's to make sure the cuts are distributed efficiently???? Head Knowkes did quite well without the appointment of a "minister in charge of relief efforts".

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Suck teeth, then they talking about climate change and coastal erosion and the government doing all it could for Nygard and Blackbeard's Cay. Don't forget all the dredging Resorts World was remitted to do for their ferry only to cancel the service within months. No vision. Destroying the country. Please resign

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 2 weeks ago

The PLP government cannot manage a hurricane recovery mission ........... case in point, the few match box houses they are building in the islands after Joaquin cannot even be built one year after the hurricane!!!!!! ........... much less other infrastructure ($100 million????) Now Perry puts Shame Gibson (the biggest ripper) in charge of hurricane restoration ........ he could have done worst by putting Brave in charge ........ but lots of contracts will be awarded to PLP cronies (like the 3 generals in Long Island) and the money will flow before the election ........... my dear Bahamians, we are in for a rough ride with these crooked PLPs ..... and do not forget that the Treasury is broke already

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BahamaPundit 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I have a feeling the hurting the PLP put on the public treasury for hurricane relief and rebuilding will far exceed the damage wrought by Hurricane Matthew. The treachery of the PLP frightens me way more than any storm.

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Economist 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Shame Gibson emmmm......that is scary!

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B_I_D___ 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Good chunk of repairs still ain't done from the first 100M in Joaquin...not disrespecting the cash outlay, but major money has been paid recently with no results or accountability...

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B_I_D___ 10 months, 2 weeks ago

VAT gonna jump...15% coming, regardless of who is elected next election...brace for it...

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John 10 months, 2 weeks ago

So what Perry is saying is in order for donations to be duty free, vat free and with no processing fees they must be donated to NEMA. While the idea may be good intentioned it will become a national disaster. It will slow the process of getting much needed supplies to hurricane victims. Also NEMAS track record of reaching all persons in need is questionable. Should have included the Red Cross and at least two other agencies.

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John 10 months, 2 weeks ago

The good part in this is that thousands of jobs will be created in areas of the country that most need them. This may be the stimulus needed to get the economy moving. Government should neither miss or mess up this opportunity. Get young men employed in hurricane repairs and recovery and have other jobs to piggy back on thst

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Required 10 months, 2 weeks ago

  1. What PGC means to say is that he has no effing clue as to how expensive this storm was.

  2. The tax rebates offered may (may) be an incentive to businesses to donate, but they sure as hell are not an incentive for non-business owners to open their purse. Thereby, again, highlighting that our country's regressive tax system benefits only the 1%, but HURTS the 99%.

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 2 weeks ago

The stipulation that the donations be made to NEMA is a simply an attempt at creating another massive pie, just like VAT and NIB. They could have just as easily given a list of approved organizations as John indicated. Head Knowles has proven itself more than capable. It would take little effort for them to produce an official document showing a wire transfer and audited records regarding distribution.

It also looks like an attempt at glory hogging before the election, there was no need to put a government minister in charge, absolutely none. A private citizen could have been appointed to the role. The appointment of this individual is so ludicrous, when a relative told me about it, I asked them if they were sure they'd understood what was said. I literally couldn't believe it and really didn't believe it until I read the news article for myself some hours later.

I hope organizations weigh the danger of giving money and supplies to this government, versus donating to reputable charitable organizations and the scales come out in favour of donations actually being used to help people versus a 10% rebate.

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B_I_D___ 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Head Knowles pissed off a bunch of people post disaster relief, including many businesses that donated VERY generously...Doubtful they will get the massive outpouring again...

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I remember taking some canned goods, clothing and a cheque for TransAir(?) to the distribution center after Joaquin, the gentleman who took the cheque must have been the most rude individual on earth, I can't say he snatched the cheque, he took it, never looked at me, never said a word and just walked away, I was astounded, this was a grown hip man with curly hair (side eyes) ...but anyway, I calmed my incensed self and said my feelings don't matter so much, I wanted the people to get help. If that was a pattern then they shouldn't be in the business of accepting donations, hopefully it's not a pattern.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 2 weeks ago

HeadKnowles got donations and accounted for their donations .............. no one knows what NEMA/MOF got to date for Joaquin and no one has ever seen their accounts ......... and what bank account does NEMA use???????? ................ is it not the Consolidated Fund????? .......... Where is the Auditor-General on this lack of transparency????????? ....... now we are back to Square One with Matthew and the same NEMA/MOF/Shame Gibson lack of transparency ............ and who can give any QS verification that the Joaquin damages were $100million (as Perry said) and that $100 million was actually spent by the government?????? ............... this PLP government operates on "smoke and mirrors"

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Well_mudda_take_sic 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Christie is the consummate doofus.....of all the very crooked crooks in his cabinet he appoints Shameless Shane Gibson (who received the Anna Nicole diamond encrusted 18k gold Rolex watch for very special favours) to shield him from the political heat associated with his government's obvious unpreparedness for a major hurricane. Lord give us strength!

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