Proper Storm Response

EDITOR, The Tribune

THE Organization for Responsible Governance extends every hope that everyone affected by Hurricane Matthew is safe.

As we shift our focus to recovery as a nation, we encourage the Government to heed the lessons gained from last year’s disaster relief.

We are pleased to hear that the necessary exemptions for duty and Value Added Tax for supplies will soon be passed. However, efforts to help those in need must be well co-ordinated across the public and private sectors to ensure that any available funds and supplies are used effectively and efficiently. All processes must be transparent, fair and clearly explained to the public.

The damage inflicted by Hurricane Matthew is further magnified given that it comes at a time when the Bahamas has an increasingly challenged economy. The use of public funds must be strategic and for the greatest benefit of the Bahamian public.

As we move forward, The Bahamas can draw from well documented international relief practices which can benefit both our peoples and our economy. Amassing large amounts of supplies and goods for general distributions, as was done last year in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin, not only requires a tremendous amount of manpower and logistics but also leads to significant wastage and theft.

Instead, donations can be used to give economic empowerment to those affected. Donations of goods and supplies can be fairly distributed to local Bahamian businesses to bolster their inventory. Concurrently, monetary donations can support financial grants or no interest loans to individuals who can then purchase necessary supplies and services from the local businesses. This will serve to circulate money into the communities of the affected islands and help to rebuild the self sufficiency of both individuals and businesses.

Where available, these funds can be accessed electronically or through debit cards so that they may be tracked, accounted for and analysed to better prepare for future relief efforts.

The Government, which has the necessary infrastructure, can partner with the depth and experience of the private sector to create a system that ensures that The Bahamas not only recovers but improves.

We recommend that as The Bahamas rebuilds from this national disaster, the long term recovery of the Bahamas and the sustainability of our economy remain in focus.



October 11, 2016

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