Despite the economic challenges caused by Hurricane Dorian and revealed in a recently published Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance (MOF) Peter Turnquest said yesterday that the government will ensure The Bahamas’ economic and fiscal recovery gains traction once again.
In a statement released by the MOF, Turnquest contends that projects on Grand Bahama and New Providence that are underway will ensure that the “medium-term prospects for these islands and The Bahamas overall continue to be exceptionally bright”.
“We have and will be able to demonstrate a fiscal strategy and a pipeline of investments that will ensure the economic and fiscal recovery that this administration led in its first two years will ultimately gain traction once again, as the country emerges from the
near-term impact of this event,” Turnquest said.
His remarks were a response to the IDB report’s findings, which he said points out the unprecedented economic damage caused by Dorian. The report, entitled “The Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas”, was prepared by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the IDB and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), working alongside officials from the Ministry of Finance and a number of other public agencies.
“This disaster assessment report is similar to the ones commissioned by the government after Hurricanes Matthew, Irma and other recent major hurricane events in The Bahamas,” Turnquest said.
“The report points out and details the unprecedented economic damage wrought by Dorian, which is estimated at some $3.5 billion. The island of Abaco registered some 87 percent of the economic value of the damage; the destruction and damage to the housing stock in Abaco and Grand Bahama accounted for most of the physical damage.
“Without question, an event of this magnitude, with losses equivalent to almost 30 percent of the national GDP, has had and will have significant impact to our near term fiscal and economic prospects.”
Turnquest said, though, that the government’s actions in the aftermath of the storm, such as the established framework for special economic recovery zones; the institutional framework to allow for expedited efforts to restore Abaco and Grand Bahama; the cleanup exercises; the tax concessions and the funding mechanisms for small businesses, are critical components to the recovery of the islands.
He added that Carnival’s cruise port development on Grand Bahama and the development of Freeport’s cruise port and the Grand Lucayan hotel property by ITM and Royal Caribbean; as well as The Pointe hotel project, The Residences at Goldwynn condo-hotel project, the Hurricane Hole mixed development project, and the Nassau cruise port redevelopment project, all on New Providence, will continue to be important economic lifeboats.
Turnquest said the Grand Lucayan project with ITM and Royal Caribbean “remains on track to be finalized by the end of year, kicking off the redevelopment of that property into a world-class family resort”.
“There are a number of smaller scale projects under development throughout the Family Islands,” he said.
“Several Family Islands will benefit from new or substantially upgraded airports in the coming years. The increased direct airlift to the Family Islands is critical as the vacation home rental market continues to be robust, bringing greater numbers of visitors to locations throughout The Bahamas,” said Turnquest.
“We cannot minimize the incredible human and personal toll this storm has had on its victims. We have lost loved ones, the lives of thousands of Bahamians have been disrupted in a way that money cannot altogether quantify. We are exceedingly grateful for all persons who have provided and continue to provide comfort and aid to those impacted by Dorian.”