Categorized | National News

IRMA INFLICTS BLOW TO GB ECONOMY

In the wake of damage suffered at the hands of Hurricane Irma, economic experts are predicting  a further deterioration  in the struggling Grand Bahamian economy

Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) President Gowon Bowe told The Bahama Journal that preliminary reports of damage on commercial properties on the island of Grand Bahama as “troubling”.

“Everything that was going positive for Grand Bahama will be put on pause as persons  assess  the damage caused by the storm.

“We can see commercial properties in Grand Bahama in the city of Freeport that have suffered significant damage and certainly that economy has been teetering along for a very long time.

“Matthew really left them with significant damage, a lot of their commercial activity was impacted by it and any slow down, delay, or pause is going to be negative and we really need to figure out how that economy is identified in terms of what is it best used for.

“Our prayers definitely remain with Grand Bahama for the safety, but certainly the economic drain   this type of event is going to have on them is not going to bolster the economic activity that was starting to take place on that island,” Mr. Bowe said.

Speaking on how damage suffered in the southern islands of The Bahamas will affect their respective economies, Bowe said unlike some of the major islands, commercial properties on out islands are the staple income generators of their respective communities.

He  added that there are three areas that have to be focused on: the reconstruction and rebuilding of personal homes , the repairing of the infrastructure of government buildings and the loss of commercial activity.

“The Inagua salt plant that generates employment, as well as buying and purchasing activity down in those islands and when you couple them they relate to capital expenditure.

“Certainly I know the government is thankful for no loss of life to date , but on an individual level persons  would have seen devastation in their personal lives.

“For the southern Islands where they depend on anchor tenants like Morton Salt and other establishments in the southern areas,  it is going to be a tremendous blow because of the two-fold impact with the loss of revenue and the outright cash outlay that has to be spent to fix it.

“Overall for the Bahamian economy,  we have to be fortunate that center of commerce being New Providence having not suffered any extensive damage,” Mr. Bowe said.

NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell last week admitted that the repair and reconstruction programme started after the passage of Hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin “had slowed down” significantly, leaving persons in Grand Bahama and Andros more vulnerable to the passage of Irma.

In August it was revealed that the government does not yet have a timeline of when repairs will be completed on homes damaged as a result of the hurricanes, which ravaged part of the country in October 2015 and 2016.

Last year, the Christie administration moved a resolution for a loan of up to $150 million  to defray the costs of this country’s recovery and reconstruction efforts as a result of Hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin.

According to former Prime Minister Perry Christie, the damage caused by Matthew was estimated at $600m, while Joaquin imposed costs estimated at around $200m.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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