IDB loan to help with public utilities, temporary shelters

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday indicated that the government will tap into its $100 million loan facility from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to assist with restoring public utilities and setting up temporary shelters on Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, Turnquest and personnel from the Ministry of Finance met with IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday morning.

The meeting came in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian’s catastrophic impact on The Bahamas last month.

Turnquest said, “As the president [of the IDB] would’ve said, we have access to a full $100 million, and it is going to be geared towards… the public utilities – both BPL and the water utility. I think the minister of works has indicated what that investment is likely to be.”

Turnquest noted that temporary shelters for residents will be erected in an effort to encourage them to go back to these islands and help in the reconstruction process. When asked how long residents are expected to stay in shelters, Turnquest told The Nassau Guardian that he believes the timeframe will be six months to one year.

He also said that some of the funds will be used for immediate emergency relief that is necessary to support residents of those islands as the government works to restore commerce.

He said: “The shelters, as I understand, are going to be here very shortly. I know that in Abaco, hopefully this week, we will have some accommodations for the government workers, the necessary government people, to get the government systems back up and running and it’ll flow from there.”

While Turnquest could not indicate exactly how much the shelters would cost per unit, he said that the government has allotted for around $2.5 million.

Moreno said that the loan facility was something he had hoped The Bahamas would never have to use.

However, he said, the IDB is looking at how it can assist with rebuilding Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Moreno added that one of the bigger challenges moving forward is finding how they can help support the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Recovery and Reconstruction, a ministry that was established a little over a week ago.

He also indicated that a team from the IDB is expected to arrive on both islands to conduct a major damage assessment.

This, he said, will put a dollar value on the cost of reconstruction.

He also indicated that the IDB and the government is working on a major project to get close to $180 million for the energy sector.

He said the project is expected to be finalized by the end of this year.

Following their meeting, Turnquest accompanied Moreno and a team of IDB executive directors on a fact-finding tour of Abaco.

The IDB’s team met with a team of government officials on Abaco that gave a briefing of the situation on the ground and indicated upcoming needs.

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