The Government and Opposition leaders have yet to mention this to the nation, but the Emergency Relief Guarantee Fund, implemented in 1999, enables the government to stand as guarantor for commercial bank loans for the reconstruction of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed in a disaster. Residential homes can be eligible for a government guarantee of up to $50,000 max, and businesses up to $75,000 max. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE GOVERNMENT WILL PAY OFF YOUR LOAN FOR YOU, IT MEANS IT WILL SERVE AS YOUR CO-SIGNER TO HELP YOU GET APPROVED FOR THE LOAN. The government is authorized to guarantee up to $20 million total for all homes and $10 million total for businesses. One million dollars is allocated to this Fund each Budget Year as mandated by law for contingencies. And payments out of that Fund must be brought before Parliament.
A week after the passage of Joaquin and days after the Prime Minister said he would sign Exigency Orders for the islands impacted by Hurricane Joaquin, the Notice of Exigency has finally been issued tonight – BUT THERE ARE PROBLEMS:
1 – NO EXEMPTION HAS BEEN DECLARED TO REBUILD & REPLACE FARMING AND FISHERIES INDUSTRY ITEMS, AS HAS BEEN DONE IN PREVIOUS EXIGENCY ORDERS FOR PREVIOUS HURRICANES. The economy and livelihoods of Family Islands like Long Island as an example, consist significantly of farming and fisheries. Farms and fisheries vessels and materials have been completely destroyed. WHY HAVE THESE ITEMS NOT BEEN INCLUDED FOR DUTY EXEMPTIONS AS IN PREVIOUS EXIGENCY ORDERS?
2 – REBUILDING & REPLACEMENT ITEMS – The Notice says that the following building and replacement items can be brought in duty-free for 90 days – Building materials; Plumbing fixtures and materials; Household furniture, furnishing and appliances; Generators and Motor vehicles. IN PAST EXIGENCY ORDERS, ISLANDS THAT SUFFERED CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE HAD BEEN GIVEN AT-LEAST 6 MONTHS TO BRING IN THESE ITEMS DUTY FREE INSTEAD OF ONLY 90 DAYS. Also, Electrical fixtures & materials are not listed for exemption as were listed in previous exigency orders. And what about critical machines & equipment for businesses? Continue reading
Whenever The Bahamas suffers a natural disaster like a Hurricane, among the VERY FIRST Orders that are supposed to be IMMEDIATELY issued by the Minister of Finance (who is also Prime Minister) are what are called Exigency Orders. These Orders declare that a category of items will be permitted to be brought in duty-free for the relief and rebuilding of the all storm damaged islands covered under the Orders, and for the replacement of items destroyed during the storm like vehicles, household furniture, etc. The Orders also give a time frame for how long items will be permitted to be brought in duty free. An Order is supposed to be issued for each individual island affected. Continue reading
Flights and ships with relief supplies are going to ALL the islands affected by Hurricane Joaquin, NOT JUST ONE. Some Bahamians who do not have family on these islands or genuine concern for the lives affected need to stop being petty, hateful and heartless. On a simple common sense human level, Long Island has thousands more persons living there than the other islands, so by COURSE, that would and should mean they would end up getting more of the supplies BY VOLUME. That doesn’t mean supplies are not earmarked for all the other islands. But the problem is, people (including politicians) with no family on any of these islands or genuine human concern for our storm victims are not looking at HUMAN BEINGS on these islands, they are looking at POLITICS and in some cases SKIN COLOR – hence them being hateful and/or making noise without knowing what is really going on. And that’s the raw cold truth. It is the Bahamas Government that has not facilitated getting supplies to parts of Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana, South Long Island, etc that have been cut off from the rest of the Bahamas and the world since last week. Bahamian and foreign donors alike already have so much supplies ready for those islands, they just need to be able to get to the areas still not reached. Alfred Gray himself said THE GOVERNMENT (AND ITS AGENCIES) HAS NOT GONE TO THESE AREAS BECAUSE OF FLOODING (EVEN THOUGH THAT’S WHAT BOATS AND AIR DROPS ARE FOR). And there are still many areas of South Long Island too that are not getting immediate help because of flood waters that have yet to recede. Continue reading
REPORT TO NATIONAL MEDIA: NEMA Chief Stephen Russell tells the national media today that while NEMA HAS NOT RECEIVED ANY REPORTS OF DEATHS OR MISSING PERSONS AT THIS TIME, NEMA still has to go “door to door and street to street to satisfy itself” that there are no [dead] bodies in any of the homes or structures on the storm ravaged islands. Several areas of Long Island, Acklins, and Mayaguana remain cut off from other areas due to flood waters that still have not yet receded. Communications to some of these areas had taken almost a week to be established.
NATIONAL MEDIA REPORT – Wednesday, October 7
What we have seen Bahamians come together and accomplish for Hurricane Joaquin’s aftermath is nothing short of remarkable, outstanding and a tide-turner in Bahamians being able to see what we can accomplish for one another if we simply come together, drop all personal agendas, and combine resources of all kinds toward meeting the most important goals in life – saving lives, preserving lives and rescuing the wounded, the traumatized and the defenseless. Those of us who before may have believed Bahamians couldn’t do this, now see what I have been saying to Bahamians on this blog for over three years – YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A BIG NAME TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. This culture we’ve been taught of sitting back and waiting hat in hand on politicians, only to continue to be enslaved by them, is being BROKEN. Continue reading
(VIDEO) NEMA Chief Captain Stephen Russell confirms to my online media page that the Commissioner of Police is now investigating what he referred to as “unconfirmed” storm deaths on Long Island. Mr. K. Darron Turnquest, speaking to me via the Facebook Group “Long Islanders Association” said quote: “We have confirmed deaths in Long Island…this is the information coming to members of the Association.”
Standby for video of interview with NEMA Chief Captain Stephen Russell
My interview with NEMA Chief Captain Stephen Russell, who advised that as of the interview time (Saturday, October 3 at 11:17am) NEMA had no CONFIRMED reports of any fatalities on any of the islands affected by Hurricane Joaquin. Interview sought following concerns voiced by Bahamians home and abroad about such reports and about the status of loved ones on the islands.
This weekend has been one of the bloodiest on record with murders and other shootings. Most of the murders, attempted murders, armed robberies and other violent crimes in this country happen using a gun. Guns are flooding our streets. Bahamians are crying out for stiffer gun laws. When the current government came to office, they abolished the mandatory minimum sentences they met in place for gun and some drug offences. By doing this, persons convicted of gun crimes may never see a prison cell as their penalty. The mandatory minimum sentence was 4 years, meaning once you got convicted of the gun offence, you would automatically have to serve at least 4 years prison time. As soon as the Minister of National Security was sworn in, he told the media he went to visit CONVICTED CRIMINALS at Fox Hill, and said the convicts complained about their jail time being too long. He said HE AGREED WITH THE CONVICTS, and that his government would “review” the penalties on the books. AND THEY SURE DID REVIEW THEM – THEY KEPT THEIR PROMISE TO CRIMINALS AND MADE LIFE EASIER FOR THEM BY LESSENING THE PENALTY FOR THEIR CRIMES. Continue reading