The prime minister said he is making an appeal, as are other regional leaders, for separate loan funding for disaster relief efforts and said, loans for hurricanes should not affect the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) based on the Bahamas limited impact on global emissions.
During the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, the issue of climate change and its impact on small island developing states (SIDS) was discussed and – according to the prime minister – it had been realized that The Bahamas and other countries in the region, contribute very little to global emissions.
Yet, he said, smaller nations feel the “brunt of its impact”, with destroyed infrastructure costing millions and years to rebuild following hurricanes.
“The time has come for loans to be treated separately, not to be placed on our books so as to not disturb our debt to GDP ratio, subsequently interfering with our borrowing capacity,” Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said at a press conference on Sunday.
“If that is treated separately, but we will still pay it back, at least our ratio would be protected and we can continue to advance our country.”
Dr. Minnis added that while the country’s capacity to borrow remains very high, he cautioned however, that those figures are skewed.
“Our GDP per capita is not as high as reflected. Small island states should be treated differently,” he said.
“We cannot use the standard policy or procedure as used today, making it difficult to borrow or receive grants.
“The numbers are skewed because we have quite a number of areas that would be considered quite wealthy. But we know the majority of Bahamians are not in the category and these matters have to be dealt with.”
The total bill following Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew and Irma over the last three years, are still being tallied, with successive governments having to borrow millions for repairs.