DPM: Nearly $120 million in non-hurricane related expenditure

DPM: Nearly $120 million in non-hurricane related expenditure
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Non-hurricane related expenditure is expected to cap nearly $120 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest.

Turnquest noted that government will ‘bring forward’ an additional $37 million for renovations to the Princess Margaret Hospital and a number of other critical operational needs.

His remarks came as he tabled resolutions in the House of Assembly to borrow $587.9 million to finance Hurricane Dorian recovery efforts and cover revenue losses.

“The Government has also identified a number of non-hurricane related spending initiatives, totaling $119.9 million for FY2019/20, which we consider imperative for orderly, stable, sustainable, and resilient governance,” he said.

“The Government has provisioned $30 million for the acquisition of a turbine generation plant to be used by Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), which is in line with the Government’s move to a more resilience-based economic strategy.

“The total spend for this acquisition is $27.3 million, which will result in a $2.7 million savings in Government spending.”

Turnquest continued: “The Government recognizes that the current state of the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) is unsatisfactory, and the renovations to this key pillar of infrastructure can no longer be delayed.

“Hence, the Government will bring forward an additional $37 million in FY2019/20 for spending related to the Public Hospital Authority (PHA) to initiate this renovation, as well as address a number of other critical operational needs.”

Turnquest said that recurrent expenses are projected to be higher by $157.6 million, bringing the revised estimates to $2,687.6 million.

“This spending has and will facilitate a number of social assistance measures on the Government’s part.

“For example, the Government has aided with rental assistance to evacuees from both Grand Bahama and Abaco, provided accommodations to hurricane victims by way of shelters, food assistance to victims outside of the shelters, and has also extended its national lunch benefit to displaced students that relocated to schools in New Providence,” he said.

Turnquest also noted the government is seeking to expand the National Insurance Board (NIB) unemployment benefit to 26 weeks from 13 weeks for eligible storm victims.

“On the capital side, spending is estimated to grow by some $150.5 million to a revised $385.5 million, with $100 million being directly related to hurricane restoration,” he said.

“A breakdown of these expenses include, $40 million for electricity restoration on the affected islands, $16.5 million toward temporary housing and related facilities, $7.0 million in this fiscal period for direct support to Small and Medium Sized Businesses, $6.0 million for the rehabilitation of water supply on the affected islands, $5.7 million toward building repairs,  $4.1 million to facilitate clinic repairs, $3 million for repairs to the Rand Hospital, a $2.5 million allocation to the new Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, and the remaining $15.2 million to cover the acquisition of office equipment and miscellaneous machinery and equipment, vehicle replacement, research and surveys, and other costs.”

Turnquest said that to-date the government has already spent $10 million toward the restoration of electricity, $6.3 million toward the rehabilitation of water supply, $6.5 million to initiate the repair of schools on the affected islands, and $3 million toward renovations at the Leonard Thompson International Airport in Abaco, including the purchase of equipment to meet international commercial flight requirements.