$363k in sponsorship from pledge conference

Of the $1.5 billion in pledges government said it received for Hurricane Dorian relief during a special pledging conference last month, approximately $363,960 constitutes “sponsorship from various entities,” according to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Carl Smith.

The pledges included technical assistance, intellectual assistance, concessionary loans, equity, grants and guarantee financing.

A full breakdown of the pledges was initially to be made public on January 17, according to Disaster Reconstruction Authority Managing Director Katherine Forbes-Smith.

Then, on January 19, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness Iram Lewis said the breakdown would be publicized by the end of the month.

Neither of the deadlines was met.

While appearing as a guest on the Guardian Radio 96.9 show “Morning Blend” with host Dwight Strachan yesterday, Smith also did not have the breakdown available.

However, he was able to give the almost $370,000 figure when asked specifically what amount of the $1.5 billion was in the form of cash with “no obligations”.

“I don’t have those figures broken out as that at this time, but we have, in terms of sponsorship from various entities, some $363,960,” Smith said.

While Smith acknowledged that the figure was “comparatively” small compared to the overall $1.5 billion government announced, he said he still believes the event was a success.

“In my mind it was a success because mind you now, persons have been contributing to the recovery effort outside of this pledging conference quite substantially,” he said.

He specified that the remaining balance would consist of not just loans but also services, but reiterated: “The government is going to release these figures by entity in the near future.”

The lion’s share of the pledges was a $975 million loan offer from The P3 Group, Inc., a U.S. company. The money would be repaid with interest if accepted.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has said the government will decide which pledges to accept.

The realization that some of the pledged funds were in the form of loans raised concern in the public.

The Office of the Prime Minister announced on Sunday that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis will give a national address on Abaco and Grand Bahama’s reconstruction today, however, Smith could not say whether the breakdown of pledges would be also be part of that address.

“I don’t know, but I can say that as the permanent secretary with responsibility for the ministry, it would be my responsibility to ensure that the public gets a detailed account of the pledging conference,” Smith said.

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