Abaco Chamber: Abaco needs SERZ concession for at least 3 years

Daphne DeGregory Miaoulis, Vice Chairman of the Abaco Chamber of Commerce, told members of the media yesterday that Abaco is a Special Economic Recovery Zone (SERZ) ) needs three more years of concessions, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has robbed Abaco of three years of its recovery.

Speaking to the media following the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Coalition Power Breakfast in Margaritaville, she called on Economic Affairs Minister Michael Halquitis to extend the SERZ on Abaco’s behalf.

Degregory-Miaoulis said Abaco needs at least three years of concessions on value-added tax (VAT) and tariffs, while the island will take two years if the government agrees.

She argued that a year is likely too short for some Aberconians to make significant progress, especially given the ongoing supply chain problems.

On September 1, it will be three years since Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

“We’re really less than three years old, because in the meantime we’ve had COVID for the past two years…everything has come to a halt,” said Degregory-Miaoulis.

“So we really, really haven’t been given the three years we needed to rebuild.

“Now that things have loosened up and the supply chain is starting to free up a bit, we still have to wait a few more months, but we need to get another two years to make up for what we’ve lost.

“It’s too hard for suppliers, for those who haven’t been able to get their hands on the goods… No, it’s not fair.”

She added that the government appears to have started reimposing VAT and tariffs on certain items that were on the SERZ list following the hurricane.

According to Degregory-Miaoulis, there continues to be a shortage of housing for workers who need to be brought in to rebuild the buildings, and buildings destroyed during the hurricanes continue to be an eyesore in the community and another. It poses a threat to neighboring buildings in the event of a storm. Go through this hurricane season.

“They need to be wiped out,” she said. “Now, if a hurricane were to come, all the debris would cause further damage to the refurbished buildings.”

She added that Marsh Harbor’s docks are still in need of repairs, calling the situation “absolute chaos.” Abaco Chamber: Abaco needs SERZ concession for at least 3 years

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