Often, notices put out by the government are convoluted and they create confusion.
Based on the number of telephone calls, emails, WhatsApp and text messages we have fielded, it is clear that there is uncertainty among the residents of Freeport, in particular, regarding the tax-free concession made by the Government of the Bahamas for areas made distressed by Hurricane Dorian, inclusive of Grand Bahama.
The government sent forth an exigency order on September 2 which gave details of the process for bringing into the country hurricane relief supplies duty/Vat-free. An exigency order form is to be completed, along with the regular Customs Declaration form and they are to simply be presented at respective ports of entry for “on-site clearance and approval.”
Subsequently, the government informed of a special three-year exemption for East Grand Bahama and Abaco. Later, West Grand Bahama was included, with no particular reference to Freeport. Because of the Hawksbill Creek Act, Freeport is indeed that creature which functions under the quasi-government jurisdiction of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), in a different category from East and West Grand Bahama.
This is why when the government gives an order, it would be best, regarding Freeport, for a joint statement to be made with the GBPA. We submit that the entire public deserves clarity of disaster-related notices.
As it stands, Freeport residents, many of them, suffered damages similar to the devastation encountered by those who resided in McCleans Town, Pelican Point and High Rock before Hurricane Dorian. Houses and businesses were under 4-8 fee of water. Furniture, electronic equipment, china, bedding, etc. were destroyed.
Quite frankly the view here is that the tax-free grace period should be five years. Certainly, some of the small businesses will take at least that long to get back to normal, if at all. Others will not be able to continue on, because their profits were marginal at best. Many home owners in Freeport are faced with completely outfitting houses, apartments.
They need as big a hand as the government can give, and realistic concessions on the part of the GBPA. The approved goods will give comfort to the distressed and in general, make their lives much better, at this moment in time.
Reference is to food for personal consumption; bedding materials; medicine and medical supplies; household furniture, furnishings and appliances; bottled water; clothing; cots; building materials; and tents for temporary needs.
The gesture is a grand one and the government is to be applauded in this case.
Still though, when dealing with the masses, a thorough explanation is very necessary.