Categorized | Featured, National News

Gov’t To Offer Hurricane Loans


top-photoFinancial assistance is on the way for Bahamians affected by Hurricane Matthew, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie.

The government will be working in conjunction with Central Bank to offer $30 million in loans to Bahamian residents.

He made the announcement while as a guest on the Love 97/JCN programme “Jones and Co” on Sunday.

“We were estimating the cost of Hurricane Joaquin to be around $200 million and we’ve spent $80 million so far just on infrastructure, not to mention personal contributions to homes that people lost and people who are qualified to receive assistance,” he said.

“Now we’re faced with a situation where the Ministry of Finance is putting out an estimate of $600 million as the cost of repairs for Hurricane Matthew, and when we look at that in terms of the context and we have decided that we better protect the recovery by borrowing $150 million and by making special provisions to do so.

“Moving forward, we have to have the Central Bank make some allowances for us to be able to loan to people on a basis of salary deductions so we secure the loan but we have to facilitate these people who are under stressful circumstances, who are doing ordinary business and the bank can’t help.”

“So we’re talking about straight borrowing of $120 million and securing $30 million worth of bonds and the Central Bank has allowed us to amend the procedures to allow residents of The Bahamas to be eligible to purchase these bonds that is intended to raise the money in pursuance in recovery,” Mr. Christie said.

Bonds are loans or IOUs, but the customer serves as the bank.

The customer loans money to a company, a city or the government and the respective party promises to pay back in full, with regular interest payments.

Mr. Christie also noted that the daunting task ahead of the government is finding ways to stabilize Family Island economies.

“In the Ministry of Finance, we have this obvious concern of what do we have to do to bring the economy back in places where the economy stopped.

“In Freeport for example, where the Americans have taken pre-clearance, where there was no hotel activity because power was down and people are without jobs.

“In West End, the industrial and corporate activity that existed there, do we have low interest loans to lend businesses to help them get back on their feet? In Andros for example where there was a fishing house that has been demolished how do we get this back as quickly as possible?

“Out and beyond the direct help assistance to people who live in homes and suffered severe damage it’s getting the economy up and running because that linkage is important to our survivability,” Mr. Christie said.

The prime minister added that the $150 million will not be administered by NEMA in the conventional sense but would be under the Financial Administration Audit Act, making the government accountable to Parliament with a line item in the budget accounting for hurricane expenditure.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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