Laroda: Pledges from COP26 expected to be more secure than pledges from Hurricane Dorian pledge conference in January 2020
“From what I have realized so far, some of the pledges were not put into the government purse but were actually put on the ground”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Myles Laroda advised yesterday that the government is reviewing the pledges received from international organizations in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, along with the former administration’s Dorian spending.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Laroda said: “We have all options on the table with regard to that. We are reviewing past contracts of hire, contracts for services and all of that and if need be, it would be fair to say that there probably would be an audit of the department.”
He explained that while there was a significant number of pledges made, he has not seen anything to date to suggest that those pledges were realized.
“From what I have realized so far, some of the pledges were not put into the government purse but were actually put on the ground,” he said.
Laroda noted that the government now has to determine who made pledges and whether they were actually delivered on.
Hurricane Dorian, which has been declared the strongest storm to ever hit the country, ravaged Abaco and parts of Grand Bahama in September 2019 as a Category 5 storm. The storm was estimated to cause some $3.4 billion in damage.
The government reportedly received some $1.77 billion in pledges for recovery funding and in-kind services from different organizations.
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.
More than $300,000 in cash was pledged; however, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) only received $109,000 of that cash that day.
Former DRA Director Katherine Forbes-Smith advised that while 49 pledges were made, some of the pledgers could not be reached by the authority.
More than 300 local and international delegates attended the pledge conference at the Baha Mar resort in January 2020.
The pledges included initiatives in home-building and repair; educational assistance; renewable energy partnerships; relief aid; grants; direct assistance to storm victims; parks restoration; and loans and financing.
Laroda’s comments come as Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis prepares to address the World Leaders Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, for the global United Nations (UN) COP26 summit.
The summit provides countries like The Bahamas the opportunity to help secure global net-zero commitments; encourage regional and global partnerships on protecting and restoring ecosystems; mobilize international financial institutions to help fund climate action; and promote collaboration between governments, businesses, and civil society.
Laroda indicated that the pledges received from the COP26 event will more than likely be more secure than those Dorian pledges.
“There are countries who donate through particular agencies, especially for those countries who are affected by climate change,” he noted.
“This won’t be like those private donors. It will be monies coming from other countries who have set up funds through various agencies to benefit those countries who are feeling the effects of climate change.”
The climate change conference is being attended by countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994.