Readers of this blog would be aware of all I have said and written about Value Added Tax (VAT) and The Bahamas over the last three years. Every single point raised and hammered during that time is happening exactly as was laid out on this blog site. This is not because I have magical powers or a hidden treasure chest of information – it is because what we are now experiencing has happened in countless other nations. Much of what it takes is a commitment to study, learn and understand what needs to be known and understood about the world around us and our place in it. Things many of our politicians appear to be suddenly awakened to about VAT have been right before their eyes all along. As a Bahamian, it deeply concerns me to see the lack of critical depth displayed by those vying to maintain or gain leadership in our nation. It worries me that those who so desperately want the crown, have shown a frighteningly shallow grasp and a shallow level of relevant global exposure about the critical matters of the kingdom they want to rule over. Catchy taglines and puff-piece press conferences don’t run nations. Right now The Bahamas is not being governed. It is coasting from one peak and valley to the next. The true thinkers and skillful doers in our political parties need to arise or be given room to even productively exist, because we see where loving form over substance has gotten us so far as an independent nation. #242ThinkersArise
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.