By YOURI KEMP
The full cost of Hurricane Dorian could be determined within the month after the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) conducts its assessment, the deputy prime minister said yesterday.
K Peter Turnquest confirmed that the multilateral lender will conduct a mission to The Bahamas this week, and then provide the government with an assessment report on the extent of the damage inflicted by Dorian and repair costs.
He told Tribune Business: “The IDB has a mission here tomorrow and Wednesday to assess economic and infrastructure costs. That mission will report in about three weeks, when we will have hard data from which to plan and report.”
When asked if any of the IDB’s $100m loan facility has been spent as yet, Mr Turnquest added: “We have drawn down the $100m to be utilised to cover immediate temporary shelter costs, water and power restoration costs, which the minister of works has already foreshadowed.
“We are concerned about the restarting of the economy on both islands and, to this end, the government is providing incentives through low-cost capital loans, grants and subventions.”
This was previously mentioned by the prime minister when he announced the creation of Economic Recovery Zones for east Grand Bahama and Abaco, in addition to providing for $10m in grants and equity financing for businesses affected by Hurricane Dorian.
Mr Turnquest confirmed that the government is interested in “the creation of special economic incentives such as VAT and duty concessions to assist in the return of operations, especially the main economic drivers, to encourage return of the labour and people needed to re-establish and sustain the city [Marsh Harbour].
“We are focused on building the infrastructure to make that happen, and Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) and Water and Sewerage (WSC) are being given the resources they need in order to effect the rebuilding of their grids as soon as possible.”
Desmond Bannister, minister of works, has already said it will cost between $95m to $110m to restore BPL and WSC throughout Abaco alone, with the latter’s price tag being anywhere from $15m to $20m and the electricity utility’s ranging from $80m to $90m.
Asked if additional borrowing will be added to the $100m IDB loan in the short-term, Mr Turnquest replied: “As stated we anticipate drawing the full $100m in utility restoration, providing temporary shelter and subsistence provisions until the economy starts to churn.”
When pressed on the BPL and Water & Sewerage repair works alone costing more than the $100m provided by the IDB, and the need to find additional money, Mr Turnquest added: “So we are looking at any number of financing options as well as looking into the budget to determine the most optimal use of resources by shifting priorities.”
Mr Turnquest is hosting the IDB president, Luis Alberto Moreno, this week. The duo, together with several IDB executives, left for Abaco on a fact-finding mission together with the South Abaco MP, James Albury.