ECONOMICS Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis. Photo: Austin Fernander
By LETRE SWEETING
ECONOMIC Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis said he is open to reviewing a proposal from Village Road business owners who are requesting an economic stimulus package for loss of business due to ongoing road works.
After more than six months of ongoing road works and shifting completion deadlines, most recently to January 2023, some 16 Village Road business owners signed a proposal for better communication and some financial support.
In response to this Mr Halkitis told The Tribune yesterday that though he has not personally received the proposal he would be open to reviewing it.
“They have a proposal? If so, we can definitely take a look at it. Have not seen anything. Tell them to send it to me,” he said.
Meanwhile, Michael Fields, president of Four Walls Squash and Social Club, said yesterday on behalf of some Village Road businesses that they are “urgently” requesting a meeting with the government on this matter.
“We are requesting an urgent meeting with the government on behalf of a group of Village Road businesses. We have 16 signatories so far, and we are continuing to go door to door, for a proposal submitted last week requesting consideration of an economic stimulus proposal,” Mr Fields said.
“We were astonished to learn by listening to the radio this morning (Thursday) that the Village Road Improvement Project has been delayed by another month. This update was provided by the project engineer during an interview with Dwight Strachan on Guardian Radio. We happened to be listening,” he said.
“This was very surprising given that we had requested a meeting with the government from last week to discuss an economic stimulus proposal for Village Road businesses,” he said.
“When we notified the group about the delay to January they were flabbergasted. The uncertainty and the disruptions are crippling businesses, and while we understand and appreciate the importance of the project, businesses in the area need the support of the government to continue surviving and to rebound in the New Year.
“The conversation is long overdue, and we are requesting an urgent response from the government to meet with businesses in the area,” Mr Fields said.
Graham Weatherford, owner of Sure Alarm Systems Ltd on Village Road, added: “If you put everybody on Village Road out of business how does that work versus if you give people some incentives like you give them a break on real property tax and VAT.
“Whatever break you can give them to grow the business, so that when the roads are finished, they can be bigger, better and stronger, have more people, have more business to make more tax. You’ll give it now, but you’ll receive double later,” Mr Weatherford said.
On December 9, Mr Fields submitted a letter addressed to Alfred Sears and The Ministry of Works petitioning for several forms of support including VAT credits, a waiver on several business-related fees, refurbishment grants, sponsorship, concessions on Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) and the appointment of a public affairs officers who can communicate with business owners.
Mr Fields said as of yesterday, there has been no response from the government on the proposal.