May 13, 2013
The much talked about $15 million compensation plan designed by the government to bring relief to businesses adversely impacted by the beleaguered and controversial road works project has been branded a success by the Ministry of Finance.
The program, which commenced on December 5, 2012 and ended on the January 18, 2013 met its goal "to assist businesses that were deeply impacted during the road work improvement project" said Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis.
According to the minister of state, 248 businesses applied for assistance and over 229 qualified under the plan that was not tied to any information previously submitted to the government. He further stated that of the $15 million allocated, $3 million was set aside for micro loans to assist with operational costs such as inventory replenishment.
Under the plan, businesses had to produce evidence that they were in operation during the period of the road works and located on a corridor impacted by full or partial road closure. Qualified applicants benefitted from the seven components of the plan involving multiple agencies of the government.
The components of the compensation plan were as follows:
o Bahamas Electricity Corporation Plan: Consists of three categories of business owners impacted by the road works project. Customers in good standing, disconnected customers, and closed businesses;
o Bahamas Customs plan: This plan consists of a deferment of customs duties on equipment or inventory bought for the business for a period of sixty days;
o Property tax plan: This consists of a rebate/discount of 50% of the accumulated property tax due;
o Business license plan: A rebate/discount of 50% which has been accumulated during the road works project;
o The Bahamas Broadcasting Corporation Plan: This plan consists of various discounted rates for cumulative advertising costs;
o Micro loan facility: The maximum loan amount is $10,000.00. The interest rate was prime rate, which is currently 4.75. The maximum term of the loan facility is 3 years with interest only payments for the first year and principal and interest payments will commence at the end of the first year.
o National Insurance Board.
Qualified applicants received from the Ministry of Finance a certificate of enrollment indicating the nature and extent of the assistance to be provided. This certificate is then presented to the relevant government agencies for relief and compensation as specified on the certificate.
The Ministry of Finance revealed that a diverse range of businesses were approved for compensation ranging from large, medium and small businesses such as liquor stores, restaurants, barber shops, hair salons, pet shops, beauty supply stores, fast food vendors and schools just to name few.
Halkitis was not shy about his satisfaction with the success of the program. "I am very satisfied with the program and the opportunity to bring relief to over 229 businesses, especially small businesses that might have had to close their doors. I am also satisfied the scores of jobs that were saved."
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News date : 05/13/2013 Category : Nassau Guardian Stories