NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is still waiting to receive funds and services pledged from worldwide governments and institutions during the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Hurricane Dorian Private Sector Pledging Conference earlier this year.
During a press conference with members of the media yesterday, Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority Director Katherine Forbes-Smith explained that while the value of the pledges totaled some $1.77 billion, the government has yet to collect from those individuals/organizations.
Forbes said 49 pledges were made, but some of the pledgers cannot be reached by the authority.
“We’ve made active calls to some of them and they haven’t responded,” she said.
“Then we have some other people who have responded and we are now working on some of those pledges.”
She further indicated that seven of those pledges were made by governments and are actively being pursued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Forbes sought to clarify that the government also could not take advantage of many of the offers, given that organizations required the government to engage their services as well.
Sixty-five percent of the total value of pledges was from The P3 Group Inc for restoration and rebuilding efforts post-Hurricane Dorian, under a lease-purchase agreement.
Forbes noted that the government will not likely take this offer given the terms and high-interest rates.
She said more than $300,000 in cash was pledged, however, the DRA only received $109,000 of that cash that day.
“The other $200,000 we have not gotten that cash yet and that was pledged by a local donor in The Bahamas,” she said.
“A lot of what’s going on with some of the monies not coming in has a lot to do with the COVID-19 [pandemic] and where companies find themselves.
More than 300 local and international delegates attended the pledge conference at the Baha Mar resort in January.
The pledges included initiatives in home-building and repair; educational assistance; renewable energy partnerships; relief aid; grants; direct assistance to storm victims; parks restoration; loans and financing.
“The pledge conference may not have been a pledge conference where we have gotten millions and millions of dollars,” Forbes added.
“We have been able to engage a lot of local and international donor snow that we are fully into this reconstruction process.
“So what is happening is we have the ability to engage more donors because they are now more in tune with what the needs of The Bahamas are.”
On Tuesday, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis said the government only received $364,000 in cash and deposits to date, labeling it as a “serious shortfall”.
Lewis noted that with the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of priorities have shifted for those who would have made pledges.
In the aftermath of the deadly storm, the government collected millions of dollars in donations from corporate entities, private entities, foreign governments, local government, intergovernmental agencies, non-governmental agencies multilateral organizations and non-profit organizations.