Plans to liberalise investment to help encourage rebuilding

By Syann Thompson

THE government plans on liberalising investment in storm-affected areas in order to facilitate the rebuilding efforts post Hurricane Dorian.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis told local and international donors of the Hurricane Dorian Pledging Conference held at Baha Mar yesterday that his administration plans to speed up the process of getting business done in affected areas of Grand Bahama and Abaco.

“We will liberalise the process of investment for affected areas,” said Dr Minnis.

Calling Hurricane Dorian a “generational tragedy”, the prime minister explained that it will take a long-term process to restoring affected islands. He highlighted that the Abaco cays are expected to play a vital role in the overall rebuilding of Abaco.

“The whole system must be liberalised, we must invite individuals without the obstruction to invest in our country and to help rebuild Abaco. If done properly, you will see a new Abaco, but the Bahamian populous must understand that it is not going to happen overnight it takes a process to build cities,” said Dr Minnis.

In order to work effectively, Dr Minnis stated that the contributions of the private sector and NGOs must match priority areas of the government. “As I have previously noted, we are urgently seeking to raise funds to complement the government’s ten million already given for home repairs,” said Minnis.

While he thanked local and international donors who have already supported the Bahamas financially, Dr Minnis explained to delegates that their continued help is needed as the country does not have the necessary resources to rebuild after disasters like Hurricane Dorian.

“We must not be ignored or side-lined by the larger countries or the continents of the world which must bear their responsibility in helping countries like ours to confront the existential and myriad challenges of our warming planet,” he said.

The Disaster Reconstruction Authority is tasked with establishing criteria, procedures and processes for transitional housing, services and assistance. Its functions are to assess the reconstruction needs of a disaster zone and prepare a reconstruction plan, among other tasks. 

“They can hire town planners and whichever professionals that they deem necessary and plan the city moving forward and plan the subdivisions moving forward. One of the things we want to make the land available to the authority for the people. We would use money from the donations to put in the infrastructure. One of the things we will insist on the homes is that solar systems must be introduced in the homes so we can have battery facilities within each subdivision, thus cut down energy and our carbon footprint,” said Dr Minnis.

He added, “Though this was a generational tragedy, we must rebuild as smartly and as speedily as possible.”