The cost of Hurricane Dorian is beginning to become clearer.
Not the human cost - for that we still have the very slowly rising death toll and confusion over how many are missing. The financial cost to the nation, however, is starting to be priced up.
Finance Minister Peter Turnquest yesterday warned that the county will have a bill of more than $430m because of Hurricane Dorian - $230m in spending on recovery and $215m in revenue reduction.
That money, of course, will have to be made up from somewhere, and already there have been warnings of a cut in spending across government departments.
If you look around at government departments, certainly there is little sign of lavish spending in recent times on infrastructure - so as any manager of sizeable businesses will tell you, when significant cuts come that will often mean cutting jobs. Shrinking the number of people contributing to NIB or being able to pay for as much in VAT might not be as helpful as some might imagine.
Previously, Mr Turnquest has said there would be no new taxes or increases in existing taxes - although he always added one word at the end: yet.
That hour may be coming, but - isn’t it about time the government got a little creative with ways of raising revenue?
They’ve already been creative in one respect - setting aside $10m as a loan programme for small and medium-sized businesses to help recovery.
But can they be creative in taxes?
The Bahamas has a huge number of tourists, for example - is there a way to impose a short-term $5 tax per visitor to go towards hurricane recovery. Literally call it a hurricane recovery tax to let the visitor know that it’s going towards rebuilding the country they’re visiting.
How about those residents who live here for an environment free of income tax, in their Lyford Cay, or Old Fort Bay or Albany recluses? Without imposing an income tax, could a contribution be drawn from them? Perhaps a one-off tax on properties worth more than $5m?
It’s a dilemma - and one we don’t envy a Finance Minister who had worked so hard to balance the books. Dorian truly has blown a hole in the budget that the highest-performing economy in the world might have struggled to deal with.
But as he considers his options, we hope Mr Turnquest can find some inventive solutions - and that he’ll have the support of the Cabinet when he does.
Paying it forward
The challenge that The Bahamas faces, of course, would be all the tougher if it were not for the help we are receiving from elsewhere.
In today’s Tribune, for example, we report that China has donated $500,000 to the National Emergency Management Agency, making good on their earlier promise that the first $20,000 they donated was but the first aid they were offering.
Of course, in recent weeks, we have recorded donations from Canada, from the UK, from all manner of places. Even the nation of Micronesia donated $100,000 to assist - all of which does two things: helps to start the rebuilding right away, and eases the burden of cost later.
Significant help has come from the US - not just in donations, but in the hours and manpower of rescue teams immediately after the hurricane, without whose efforts many more lives might have been lost.
That time for donations has not stopped of course - aid will still be coming to us from afar, and we must make sure that we too continue to give to those in need.
The pace of donations at many shelters has slowed now after the initial rush, and more will be needed. Non-perishable food will always be welcomed for people stuck in shelters or staying in people’s homes who need to eat but now have no income, but there will be other specific donations needed too. Organisations such as the New Providence Community Church or the Equality Bahamas team based at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas will welcome your help.
After all, if the world is reaching out to help us, those of us able to do so should be reaching out too.