Gov't tables $100 disaster loan plan

The Deputy Prime Minister last night sought parliamentary approval to activate a five-year, $100m emergency loan facility to help The Bahamas cope with natural disasters.

K. Peter Turnquest said the strategy crafted with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will boost The Bahamas' disaster preparedness efforts by giving it access to immediate financing in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Resources from the facility are only to be used to cover damages in the aftermath of a severe hurricane, and can be accessed within seven days after the storm's passage. No costs are associated with the facility unless and until the Government draws down on it, means no interest applies unless the funds are used and it does not add to the national debt - yet.

“This is important because it provides the Government access to a substantial sum of money to immediately address critical needs in the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster. However, it has no budgetary implications unless we have need for the money,” said Mr Turnquest.

Resources from the loan facility can only be used for the procurement of goods and services deemed eligible for the execution of restorative work, and to assist in the provision of basic necessities to persons in the affected areas. While the facility spans a period of five years,the Government can request an extension.

“The threat of catastrophic natural disasters, and increasing severity of hurricanes, has the capacity to bankrupt nations. This is why the Government has developed a multi-pronged and diversified strategy for disaster preparedness," said Mr Turnquest.

"The combination of this $100m line of credit, the insurance coverage under the Caribbean Risk Insurance Facility and the planned establishment of the Disaster Relief Fund recently foreshadowed by the Prime Minister are all placing the country in the best possible position to respond quickly to the ever-present threat of hurricanes and other natural disasters."