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$100m Loan To Pay For Utilities And Shelters

DEPUTY Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.

DEPUTY Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THE $100m Inter-American Development Bank loan contingency that was activated following Hurricane Dorian will fund the restoration of public utilities and ensure the construction of temporary shelters on affected islands, Finance Minister Peter Turnquest explained yesterday.

Yesterday, IDB President Luis Moreno told reporters he had hoped The Bahamas would have never needed to utilise the loan.

However, given the level of destruction, particularly in Abaco, Mr Moreno said the money allows the Minnis administration “liquidity” to satisfy some immediate needs.

The IDB, beginning today, is also conducting a three-week assessment to place a dollar value on the cost of reconstruction, Mr Moreno said, adding the organisation was also looking into a major project to assist the government in getting close to $180m for the advancement of the energy sector.

Asked about the latter portion of Mr Moreno’s announcement, Mr Turnquest said as far as he was aware, the government had not agreed to this strategy.

Nonetheless, the concentration of resources has left Ragged Island residents wondering if they have been forgotten. The island is still without essential services after Hurricane Irma’s destruction there in 2017.

In this regard, Mr Turnquest said he did not believe any of the government’s focus had been removed from that island, which currently has a  population of about 60 residents.

The officials spoke to reporters following a brief meeting with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday.

“As you know Prime Minister (Hubert Minnis) outlined a vision for Ragged Island and as far as I am aware that is still very much on track and so hopefully they will start to see the kind of results that they wanted and that they expect to have,” the deputy prime minister said in response to a question from this newspaper.

Explaining how the government intends to use the funding, Mr Turnquest said ultimately the loan is an important part of ensuring people can get back to normal.

“As the president would have said, we have accessed the full $100m and it is going to be geared towards the public utilities - both BPL and the water utility. I think the minister of works has indicated what that investment is likely to be.

“We are also using some of that money to provide temporary shelter for residents as we try to encourage them to go back to these islands and help in the reconstruction and some of it will be used in the immediate emergency relief that is necessary in order to support them during this upscale cycle where we get people back and commerce started,” Mr Turnquest said. 

For his part, Mr Moreno said the IDB’s focus in on helping the Bahamas to rebuild in a better way.

He said: “I basically came here to the Bahamas to not only show our solidarity, but more importantly from the minute that the disaster happened we made a donation for disaster relief.

“More importantly we’re thinking as we are not a relief agency we’re basically a development institution and as such we’re looking at how to help rebuild Grand Bahama and Abaco family islands. In this context we’ve been looking at a number of things.

“First of all we had an emergency line of credit of $100m that the government of Bahamas can use as it sees the need to do some of the reconstruction and immediate reconstruction in terms of getting the energy back up, getting the water working and in the initial phases of all the removal of the debris. But one of the bigger challenges going forward, and I offered this to the prime minister, is how we can help support the new ministry that is going to be created to do the reconstruction and help them do the coordination with a number of donors.”

Dr Minnis announced the new Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction more than a week ago.

Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama Iram Lewis is the minister of state for the ministry, which is coordinating all of the storm related relief efforts.

Mr Moreno continued: “Tomorrow (Tuesday) a very big team from the IDB is arriving and they will be working for the next three weeks in doing a major damage assessment and that will put a dollar amount as to how much is the cost of the reconstruction that will essentially allow the government of the Bahamas to go to its partners to different countries that have expressed an interest in supporting the reconstruction to see how we can get funding for that.

“Then finally we’re equally working on a major project to get close to $180m for the energy sector that will be used in different tranches and then hopefully we’ll have that approved by the end of the year.”

The $100m contingency was approved by way of a resolution in the House of Assembly in January after it was previously approved during the 2018 budget exercise.

At the time, Dr Minnis said the contingent loan facility was “a line of credit that is on standby in the event the country is hit by a hurricane and needs additional funds to respond and to recover.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Mr. Moreno and his huge IDB entourage should be kicked out of our country and told to never return. They are here for one purpose only - to plant their big fat lending teat ('tit") on the lips of our drooling corrupt politicians who will gleefully suck away to their hearts content even though they know full well that our country is already mired in unsustainable debt.

Mr. Moreno claims the IDB is a development institution but he can't point to single country where it has been instrumental in developing the country for the betterment of its people; in fact the opposite is true.

The developed nations that both fund and direct the hideous lending missions of the IDB for their own geo-political interests, as opposed to the interests of the borrowing nations, use the IDB as a tool for usurping the sovereignty of the targeted nations, and gaining control over their corrupt governments. Yes indeed, this is all too easily accomplished by getting corrupt governments like ours hooked on borrowing.

The compensation packages of Mr. Moreno and the other more senior IDB executives is based on how well they carry out their hideous missions on the targeted nations like the Bahamas.

The IDB should be told in no uncertain terms that what we really need most is outright financial aid and grants, ideally directly given to known non-corrupt NGO's within our country. We don't need anymore very costly foreign currency denominated loans.

If I were in KP Turnquest's shoes I would tell Mr. Moreno (with tongue in my cheek) that the 'non-existent' government of Haiti is in desperate need of a very large IDB loan, on the most favourable terms possible, to assist with re-settling the many thousands of Haitians to be deported from the Bahamas.

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geostorm 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I had hoped that we would never have to use these funds, but alas, we do! Another 100 million added to our national debt. We were slowly on our way to financial recovery, but now we have another set back. Minister Turnquest and team, the way you get us back on track will determine your future success. I wish you well.

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TheMadHatter 1 month, 1 week ago

We have never had a sitting government tossed out and have zero seats in the new House. The PLP came close this time with 4. Almost zero. But THIS GOVERNMEMT going to make history in or before 2022 with NO FNM CANDIDATE winning any seat. Even St. Anne's going to "throw the rascals out." Zero. Zip. Nadda. None. Bye bye FNM. Not one seat.

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SP 1 month, 1 week ago

Finance Minister Peter Turnquest can play the dumb mouse card as long as he likes, but he still has to face the reality that beyond the remediation of those Islands infrastructure, the country has no choice but to seriously and immediately address the illegal immigrant problem nationwide before another "Dorian" like scenario plays out in Nassau, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Andros, Exuma, and any Island where illegals have developed shanty-towns.

Rescue, housing, recovery, and restoration phases would not have been such a massive undertaking for the government had the country not had shanty-towns and more illegals to deal with than legal residents.

An equitable portion of any loan should be earmarked for illegal immigrant apprehension, housing, medical and repatriation. Turnquest needs to clarify how these loans help to eliminate the illegals component.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

Couldn't agree more. Your last point is a very good one.

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