DPM: IDB $100m contingency fund will be used on public utilities

DPM: IDB $100m contingency fund will be used on public utilities

IDB president: Major project to secure $180m for energy sector “hopefully” approved by end of year

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- The government’s emergency credit line from the Inter-American Development Bank will be used to restore storm-ravaged public utilities, according Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest.

Turnquest said a portion of those funds will also be used to provide temporary shelters for residents on affected islands, and immediate emergency relief.

He confirmed the government has already placed an order of “around $2.5m” for temporary shelters.

Inter-American Development Bank president Luis Alberto Moreno and executive board members met with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest at the Office of the Prime Minister this morning.

Moreno revealed $25m has already been dispersed from the contingency fund, but noted the government had full access to use the money as it saw fit.

An IDB team is expected to start its damage assessment tomorrow to determine the cost of reconstruction, and provide estimates the government can use as it seeks out foreign aid.

“We are equally working on a major project to get close to 180m for the energy sector that will be used in different tranches and that hopefully will be approved by the end of the year,” the IDB president said.

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said on Friday that it could cost the government over $110 million to restore utilities in Abaco.

Turnquest said: “We have access to the full $100m and it will be geared towards: one, the public utilities both BPL and the water utility. I think the Minister of Works has indicated what that investment is likely to be.

He added: “We are also using some of that money to provide temporary shelter for residents as we try to encourage them to go back to these islands to help with the reconstruction, and some of it will be used in the immediate emergency relief that is necessary in order to support them during this upscale cycle where we get people back and commerce started..”

The $100 million contingency loan was signed in April 2019, to cover unexpected public expenses arising from emergencies caused by severe or catastrophic natural disasters.

At the loan signing, Moreno said he hoped the government would never need to use the fund.

On Monday, the IDB president said it was fortunate the country was able to use the facility to have the liquidity it needed to quickly respond to the crisis. He said he hoped lessons could be learned from the “horrible disaster” to improve the lives of Bahamians.

Moreno said: “We are a development institution looking at how to help rebuilding Grand Bahama and Abaco. We had an emergency line of credit of $100m that the government can use as it sees the needs to do some of the immediate reconstruction, in terms of getting the energy back up, the water working, and initial phases of all the removal of the debris.

“But one of the bigger challenges going forward and I offered this to the prime minister is how we can help him support the new ministry going to be created to do the reconstruction, and help them do coordination from a number of donors.”