The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is managing the spending of Hurricane Dorian recovery pledges to ensure transparency, Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Permanent Secretary Carl Smith said yesterday.
It was announced earlier this week that the UNDP will establish and manage a trust fund with over $1 billion in pledges.
Smith said the government will have some say in how the funds are used. He said the partnership is a bid to quell accountability and transparency concerns from potential donors.
“The UNDP is managing those funds in collaboration with The Bahamas government,” Smith said in an interview on the sidelines of the Canada-Bahamas Reconstruction and Resiliency Business Forum.
“Around the world, private sector persons are reluctant to leave their monies with governments because governments have a tendency to place their monies in the general coffer.
“So, for example, when you purchase gas in The Bahamas, there’s a tax in there that doesn’t necessarily go towards the roads, right?
“So, around the world they have this concern. And we recognize that, hence, one of the reasons why we engaged the UNDP.
“And they have a mechanism that already exists, the details of which we would have to work out for The Bahamas itself, whereby they will manage those funds in collaboration with us and in collaboration with the donors who donated their money.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the decision to contract the UNDP during The Bahamas Business Outlook on Thursday.
His announcement prompted questions about why the government would need a foreign entity to manage money earmarked for hurricane relief in the country.
The government of The Bahamas received $1.5 billion in pledges for Hurricane Dorian relief during a special pledging conference on Monday. The pledges include technical assistance, intellectual assistance, concessionary loans, equity, grants and guarantee financing.
The pledges included a $975 million loan offer from The P3 Group, Inc., a U.S. based company. The money would be repaid – with interest, if accepted. Minnis said on Thursday that the government will decide which pledges to accept in the coming weeks. The realization that some of the pledges funds will be loans raised concern in the public.
However, Minnis scolded critics, saying that their “silly, confused” comments show how uninformed they are.