NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest yesterday said Hurricane Dorian’s impact has forced government to “reset our priorities and change our plans”.
Turnquest underscored the significant impact on the country’s near-term fiscal economic prospects, in a statement addressing the recently released assessment report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The IDB report estimated the “unprecedented economic damage” wrought by Dorian at some $3.5 billion, with Abaco sustaining most of the damage.
Turnquest said: “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.
“We cannot minimize either the incredible human and personal toll that this storm has had on its victims. We have lost love 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,” he continued.
“However, what is abundantly clear is that the government has taken and will continue to take decisive action to address the immediate recovery and rebuilding needs in Abaco and Grand Bahama.
“The government has established the framework for special economic recovery zones and the institutional framework to allow for expedited efforts to restore Abaco and Grand Bahama in a way that will eventually exceed the living standards in those islands before Dorian.
Turnquest said: “The clean up exercises have commenced in earnest; the tax concessions are being implemented; and the funding mechanisms to provide much needed capital to impacted small businesses have already begun to make disbursements.”
The deputy prime minister noted that the medium term prospects for Abaco and Grand Bahama overall continue to be exceptionally bright.
“In Grand Bahama, the Carnival Cruise Port development will be underway by end of year,” Turnquest said.
“The Our Lucaya transaction remains on track to be finalized by end of year – kicking off the redevelopment of that property into a world class family resort.
“The Pointe Hotel project in New Providence will be open early in the New Year. The Wynn Condo-Hotel project in Cable Beach, the Hurricane Hole mixed development project and the Nassau Port redevelopment project are all underway.
He said: “There are a number of smaller scale projects under development throughout the Family Islands. Several Family Islands will benefit from new or substantially upgraded airports in the coming years. This increased direct airlift in 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.”
Notwithstanding the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, Turnquest said the resilient spirit of Bahamians remain undaunted.
“In fiscal terms and economic terms – though this storm has forced us to reset our priorities and change our plans – we have and will be able to demonstrate a fiscal strategy and a pipeline of investments that will ensure that 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,” he said.