Lloyd says government may have to borrow to fund school repairs

Following an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report that found that Hurricane Dorian caused $72 million of damage to schools on Abaco and Grand Bahama, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday the government may have to consider borrowing money to fund repairs.

Lloyd said that funds from an IDB credit facility as well as donations will be used, but the government will likely have to figure out other ways to bring in more money.

“Abaco, as you know, was decimated, and it will take several years before we can bring ourselves back to what we consider to be a state of normalcy,” Lloyd told reporters outside Cabinet.

“I can’t tell you how they arrived at their figures.

“Our initial estimate was in the $40 million range. But when I made that announcement, I did say that the assessments were continuing. I should have better information with the assistance of the Ministry of Works by this Friday so we could know what the entirety of the scope of repairs and rebuilding would be to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Works.”

He added, “The government had taken a $100 million facility with the Inter-American Development Bank, which, at least a part of it, is going to be applied to the rebuilding efforts. You also know that there have been significant donations made to this country by countries and NGOs and individuals from around the world. And of course, we are probably going to have to seek some other forms of revenue and other forms of funding, such as possible borrowing. But that will be decided by Cabinet and will be revealed at the appropriate time.”

The IDB report found that across both islands, 45 educational facilities experienced damage. Seven schools were destroyed, and over 10,000 students and nearly 800 teachers were affected.

“At the time of this report and following the registration drive conducted by the Ministry of Education, approximately 1,500 displaced students had been reassigned to alternative schools across the islands of The Bahamas,” it states.

The storm, which devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September, caused $6.8 million in educational losses.

The report estimates $21 million in additional costs incurred during recovery efforts.

“They include the removal of rubble, school furniture to accommodate reassigned students and teachers, special equipment to conduct classes, fencing, security, school meals, payment of grants, security, psychosocial support to teachers and staff, enrollment fees and costs associated with the enrollment drive conducted by the Ministry of Education for displaced students,” the report states.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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