The government is seeking to have The Bahamas’ vulnerability to climate change applied when it seeks concessionary financing, for which the country is often ineligible.
As the topic of climate resilience and resilience building has been at the forefront of global discussions, The Bahamas has joined similarly ranked small island developing states in urging for an alternative to per capita gross national income as the sole indicator of a country’s level of development and eligibility for concessionary financing.
“Unfortunately, The Bahamas has graduated and is now a middle-income country and not eligible for concessionary financing,” according to Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest. “Though we make the case to our partners that in the aftermath of a catastrophic storm, income to GDP means very, very little. And so, we’ve been pushing for a vulnerability index, that has been established by the Caribbean Development Bank, to be applied to situations like ours,” Turnquest said.
“When we consider the income disparity in our countries, where the wealth may be at a very small percentage of our population and the exposure that leaves to the remainder, we need to get ahead of our infrastructure deficit, but it’s going to take tremendous investment and sacrifice.”
Turnquest said because of this vulnerability the region, including The Bahamas, must take responsibility for themselves.
“We must ensure that we do our part to be as prepared and proactive as possible. A lot of the burden falls on the government because it is our responsibility to ensure that the physical hard infrastructure, sea defenses, soft defenses are in place ahead of an event. It takes tremendous investment of resources for that to happen,” he said.
“I’m proud of the last two years and what we’ve been able to achieve in terms of our fiscal consolidation. We brought our annual deficit of GDP down to one percent last year and before the storm, very much on track for a 0.5 or even a surplus budget. But that was before Dorian and we’re probably going to be back to 5 percent this year. It means that the belt that we have tightened, that we had hoped to start to loosen and to be able to invest in infrastructure and the things we need to do in order to be prepared, we’re going to have to continue to hold on.”