Major investments in other parts of the country unaffected by Hurricane Dorian should be enough to offset whatever shortcomings The Bahamas has when being rated by international agencies, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.
Asked by reporters yesterday if the government is concerned about a credit rating downgrade now that its fiscal projections would change due to Dorian, Turnquest said, “Obviously in any circumstance like this when you’re losing a significant portion of your GDP there is concern. However, as the central bank governor would have confirmed just yesterday, we do believe that the pace of investment through the rest of the country will continue to move forward.”
In its Monthly Economic and Financial Developments (MEFD) report for August, the central bank predicted that the economy will experience short-term economic fallout from Dorian.
But Turnquest is convinced rebuilding activity on those islands impacted, from foreign and domestic investors, will fill in the gaps.
“The Abaco community itself, the investors are eager to get back and to start to do their cleanup work and to get back into operation. The local business community too, despite the rumors, are also very eager to get back and have the opportunity to start rebuilding their businesses. So, we anticipate that within a reasonable amount of time we will start to see the rebirth of these businesses come back on stream,” he said.
“So yes, we have to be concerned because the revenue drops as a result of the storm expenditure rises in response to all of the social and infrastructure costs, you have to be concerned. But we’re trying to manage these things very actively to keep them in front of us, to ensure that we’re planning appropriately and responding as we see circumstances develop.”
Earlier last month, days after Dorian struck, Turnquest said the government was more focused on helping impacted citizens recover from the storm and less on the scrutiny from international agencies like Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.
Last week the government signed a deal with Carnival Corporation to begin the development of its $100 million cruise port on Grand Bahama.
Yesterday Turnquest pointed to this and other projects on tap for Grand Bahama and other islands as a stop gap measure to improve the country’s economic outlook in the wake of Dorian.
“Again, we are working with all of our partners to ensure that we respond to the concerns put forth. The Bahamas is in fact still open generally, the level of investment and the destination as a preferred investment destination is still very attractive and we believe we will have the best results we can doing the things we need to do to control the circumstance as it exists today,” he said.