No tax hikes in Dorian’s wake, DPM assures

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday the government will not increase taxes because of Hurricane Dorian.

“There’s no anticipation at this stage that we’re going to have to raise taxes,” Turnquest told The Nassau Guardian.

He added, “We are evaluating all of our financing options as a first step. We believe that through the facilities that we have available to us, we should be able to manage this situation without having to resort to any kind of increased taxes.

“As a matter of fact, you would know that the prime minister has indicated that we are actually offering some tax incentives in affected areas to offset the additional cost that we anticipate that citizens would have to incur in order to get themselves back to some form of normalcy.”

Dorian decimated chunks of Abaco and Grand Bahama early last month.

Turnquest said a comprehensive economic and social impact assessment in the aftermath of the storm is expected to be completed in three weeks.

The assessment team includes both “local and international technical experts”, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Early estimates have projected that reconstruction efforts will cost billions of dollars. 

The government secured a $100 million contingency loan facility from the IDB earlier this year.

The loan is designed to assist The Bahamas in the aftermath of storms like Dorian – a deadly Category 5 storm that killed at least 61 people.

During a communication in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Minnis gave a breakdown on how the funds would be used. 

“I note that these estimates are subject to adjustment and further refinement,” Minnis said.

“The proposed use of the funds are as follows: electricity restoration, $30 million; water restoration, $15 million; enhanced social welfare spending, $30 million; debris removal and clean-up, $15 million; reimbursement of evacuation and shelter cost, $1 million; unallocated funds, $9 million.”

He said the government will also utilize $20 million from dormant accounts.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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