Revenue from the Department of Immigration is down more than 30 percent, primarily as a result of Hurricane Dorian, Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson revealed yesterday.
He said that while revenue from the department exceeded projections during the 2018/2019 fiscal year, it declined sharply in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, from nearly $84 million to $57 million.
“During the 1 July 2019 to May 2020, the Department of Immigration accrued revenue totaling $57,465,076.24,” Johnson said during his contribution to the budget debate.
“This figure is down from our initial projection. You would note that in our projections to the Ministry of Finance for the period 2018/2019, the agency had forecast revenue generation of some $73,871,294 due to increased permit fees and increased income generation throughout the referred period, the agency collected some $83,853,424.80, an increase of $9,982,130.08.”
Johnson said applications for permits and residency decreased drastically last year.
“For 2018, the Department of Immigration processed some 153,474 applications,” he said.
“However, Mr. Speaker, for the fiscal year 2019/2020, during the identical period of time, the agency processed a total of 55,906 such applications for various permits and residency.
“This is approximately one-third of the amount processed in the 2018/2019 fiscal period.
“This reduction is not mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The nation practically shut down during the busiest period of permit expiring or renewing, that is, beginning September 1, 2019, due to Hurricane Dorian making landfall, the impact of which continued throughout 2019.”
Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama last year, leaving more than 70 confirmed dead and thousands homeless and displaced.
Only months later, COVID-19 brought the Bahamian economy to a halt, as the tourism industry shut down globally and local businesses suffered from curfew and lockdown restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the virus.
Throughout the budget debate, the two events have been cited as detrimental to the government’s fiscal goals and the 2020/2021 budget.