Chairman of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA) Louis Potter wants a more concerted effort to be placed on getting businesses back up and running in the territory.
According to Potter, many hotels, clothing stores, pharmacies and other businesses are still having a hard time bouncing back — now nearly a year after the 2017 disasters.
He said businesses are still feeling the aftereffect of the looting which followed the hurricanes.
“It would be nice if whether the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) or the government put some programmes in place to help businesses that are struggling,” Potter told BVI News on Tuesday.
“They (the government) had the generator programme and they gave some initial things but it is still very important that those businesses over time get, maybe, something like a guarantee for a bigger loan or a more sustained programme.”
He said the programmes could be in the form of monetary grants. He said government could also broker something resembling a Memorandum of Understanding whereby certain businesses are allowed further exemption from Customs duties.
“It (duty-free exemption) should go on for a little while longer because it is very clear that businesses are very slow in getting off the ground,” Potter said.
Recent Customs duty exemption extensions
Earlier this month, government announced that it has again extended its Customs duty exemption period.
The extension was effected to accommodate three different groups of persons.
The first group of persons are those who received late insurance settlements. They now have until September 30 to ship their supplies duty-free.
The other group of persons to benefit are the importers who had purchased overseas goods before March 31 but were unable to have them shipped to the territory before June 30. Their exemption has been extended to August 31.
Additionally, select persons who purchased goods after government’s previous March 31 deadline may also qualify for duty exemption up until September 30. To qualify importers must prove to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Customs that they suffered loss and/or damage as a result of the 2017 hurricanes.
The government has extended the exemption period at least twice before to allow persons who lost property during the disasters to import select items in the territory without paying Customs duties.