National Address on Hurricane Irma
#Bahamas, September 6, 2017 – Nassau –
Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
7:00 p.m., Tuesday, 5 September, 2017
Office of the Prime Minister
Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Center
Nassau, The Bahamas
Fellow Citizens and Residents: Good evening.
I report to you this evening that we are facing one of the potentially severest natural disasters in the modern history of The Bahamas. Hurricane Irma may be one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded! On its current path, Hurricane Irma, which is currently a dangerous Category Five storm, with sustained winds of approximately 185 mph, poses a dire threat to Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.
The wind speed, rain and expected storm surge make this a potentially catastrophic hurricane. Accordingly, we must act quickly to protect lives, with a particular emphasis on the residents of the southern Bahamas, who are at the greatest risk. I note that Irma may also bring severe weather to the Central Bahamas. Leave has been suspended for members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
Because of the potentially catastrophic effect and the potential loss of life resulting from Hurricane Irma, and after consultation with Cabinet colleagues, the National Emergency Management Agency and the Met Office — the Government has taken the decision to institute an emergency evacuation to New Providence for the residents of MICAL and Ragged Island.
The emergency evacuation will be begin early tomorrow morning and will be conducted by aircraft. To underscore the threat posed by Hurricane Irma, I note that this is the largest such evacuation in the history of the country. We are advising in the strongest possible terms that the residents of MICAL and Ragged Island comply with the evacuation from their respective islands.
Let me be very clear: Those who refuse to evacuate, place themselves in potentially great danger from this monster hurricane, including from dangerously strong and high storm surges, which is one of the greatest threats from a hurricane. Emergency personnel and assistance will be unavailable during the immediate impact of the hurricane for those in MICAL and Ragged Island who do not evacuate. Furthermore, rescue and recovery may take an extended period of time for those who did not evacuate.
Let me again make the strongest plea possible to the residents of MICAL and Ragged Island to evacuate their respective areas. Do not put your life and those of your loved ones at unnecessary risk. Do not be foolish and try to brave out this monster storm. The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life or serious physical harm. With Hurricane Katrina in the United States and Hurricane Matthew last year, there were those who refused to evacuate. As a result some people lost their lives in the U.S. Here at home, many lived through terror as their homes flooded and they feared for their lives and that of their loved ones, because they refused to evacuate.
As I stated at the NEMA press conference yesterday: “Life is precious. We must make every effort to preserve and protect life, including the elderly, the indigent and other vulnerable individuals.”
The evacuation from the Southern Bahamas will be completed by tomorrow evening. Those who agree to evacuate should secure and bring identification with them, including passports, NIB cards and voters cards, as well as medication, clothing and toiletries adequate for several days.
We are asking those who agree to evacuate, to contact family members, friends and church fellowships to accommodate them during their stay in New Providence. For those who do not have such accommodations, the Kendal Isaacs National Gymnasium will be used as a major shelter for those evacuated from MICAL and Ragged Island.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese has also generously agreed to the use of Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road as a major shelter. These centers will be adequately staffed by various personnel, and will be secured by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Elective and non-emergency surgeries at the Princess Margaret Hospital will be cancelled to ensure that there is the necessary medical personnel to help staff various shelters. The impending evacuation is part of the Government’s disaster preparedness and management plan. We are working to ensure that the evacuations are completed as efficiently and as orderly as possible given the circumstances at hand and the possibility of the hurricane taking a different path than currently forecast.
We are receiving constant updates on the location and the potential impact of Hurricane Irma. We are also closely monitoring Tropical Storm Jose, which may develop into a hurricane by Friday. As I stated yesterday:
“Bahamians and residents throughout the country need to monitor the location and proximity of Irma to the island or cay on which they live … “Maritime traffic, fishermen and boaters should take all necessary precautions as Hurricane Irma approaches The Bahamas.”
Given the dynamic nature of a hurricane, all Bahamians, throughout our archipelago, should closely monitor the track of Hurricane Irma.
Fellow Bahamians and Residents: This is a time for national unity. In this spirit, I have briefed the Leader of the Opposition on Hurricane Irma.
I have also invited the Leader of the Opposition to join me at the Office of the Prime Minister during the preparation for Hurricane Irma, and to offer his advice as the country faces the threat posed by this monster hurricane, including during the rescue and recovery stages after the storm passes.
Before I close, let me extend the prayers, best wishes and solidarity of the Bahamian people to our neighbours and Caricom partners in the Northern Caribbean who will shortly feel the impact of Hurricane Irma. In the days ahead, I will call on the goodwill and generosity of Bahamians, at home and abroad, and residents, to offer whatever they can in terms of volunteerism, monetary and other resources to help those affected by Hurricane Irma. I make a special plea to the media to offer full and informed coverage to keep Bahamians and residents abreast of the impact of the hurricane.
I note once again that “Bahamians and residents should avoid relying on sources of information which may be questionable or unreliable, especially potentially fake information circulated through social media.”
Please do not resend social media posts, which appear false or questionable. Let us avoid as much gossip and panic as possible. I again thank the many departments, agencies, public officials, churches, NGOs and civil society partners involved in preparing for Hurricane Irma. Let us continue to move forward with resolve and courage. May God continue to guide and strengthen us with the spirit of resilience and community in the hours, days and months ahead, as we work together in the spirit of love and unity.
Thank you and good evening.
Press Release: Hon. Hubert Minnis
Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas
#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.
According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues. Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.
Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”
The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.
PM Davis ‘confident’ that Revenue Outturn will near $2.9 billion
By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services
#NASSAU, The Bahamas, May 30, 2023 – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said in the House of Assembly, on May 31, 2023, that public revenue receipts were strong over the nine-month period of July 2022 to March 2023, due to legislative reform, effective policy decisions, strengthened economic conditions and more efficient collection efforts.
“Analysis of the trends of the first three quarters of this fiscal year, and the years prior, suggest that the government is potentially set to exceed the $2.85 billion target set forth in the February 2023 Mid-year Supplementary Budget,” he said, during his Communication on Budget 2023.
“I am confident the revenue outturn at the end of the Fiscal Year 22/23 will near $2.9 billion.
Public spending has remained on track, and is well within the budgeted amount,” Prime Minister Davis added. “For this reason I am confident that expenditure at end of the Fiscal Year 2022/23 will almost reach the target of $3.1 billion set in the Supplementary Budget.”
He pointed out that the primary balance will, therefore, record a surplus of $68.4 million at the end of the fiscal year, a $54.8 million increase from the $13.6 million surplus projected in the supplementary budget.
“Likewise, the overall deficit is expected to improve to $520.6 million, down from the $575.4 million outlined in the supplementary budget,” he said.
Speaking of Government financing, Prime Minister Davis said that The Bahamas’ borrowing costs had begun to experience a downward trend in the previous quarter; but the cost of borrowing rose at the end of March 2023.
“At the end of the third quarter, the total average cost of borrowing for current outstanding debt had risen to an interest rate of 5.55 percent,” he pointed out. “This is notably higher than the previous year’s rate of 4.93 percent at the end of March 2022.
“This increase in borrowing costs is primarily attributable to the higher costs associated with external loan facilities.”
He added that, more specifically, the average interest rate for external financing had risen by 1.99 basis points, resulting in a rate of 5.55 percent as of March 2023, compared to the preceding year’s 3.56 percent.
“Throughout the past year, the interest rate policies of the major Central Banks have been restrictive, with a series of interest rate increases,” Prime Minister Davis said. “These adjustments have been primarily motivated by the escalation of inflation, and the resulting upsurge in interest rates has had an impact on the Bahamas’ external borrowing costs.”
He added: “However, the cost of borrowing in the domestic market has been declining over the past quarters.
Looking at it in more detail, we can see that:
- The average interest cost for domestic loans subsided by 27 basis points to 4.62 percent at end of March 2023, from 4.89 percent in the previous year;
- And the average interest cost for domestic bonds subsided by 3 basis points to 4.63 percent at the end of March 2023 from 4.66 percent in the previous year.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that those statistics affirmed the Government’s latest medium-term debt strategy, which aimed to shift its borrowing away from costly external commercial debt.
“Such debt has seen a sharp increase over the past five years, including recent interest rate hikes,” he said. “This strategic move will enable the government to once again rely predominantly on the domestic market to meet its financing requirements.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, when considering the maturity of debt, or the average time it takes to repay the principal amount in the government’s debt portfolio, a longer maturity period led to a reduction in refinancing risk.
“In essence, prioritizing longer maturities is key to managing debt effectively,” he said. “And so another element of the government’s medium-term debt management strategy is the goal of prolonging the average maturity time of its debt.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, in the face of “unprecedented turbulence” in the global financial markets, the Government was able to maintain its average time to maturity.
“At end of March 2023, the average time to maturity has decreased slightly to 6.7 years, down from the previous 6.8 years in March 2022,” he said. “This variance is due solely to the external loan component, as the average time to maturity on internal debt has remained steady at 7.1 years.”
“This highlights the significance of maintaining a prudent approach to debt management, and aligning this administration’s practices with the government’s optimal debt strategy,” Prime Minister Davis added.
“It is imperative that we continue to exercise prudence in this area to ensure financial stability.”
(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
PM states HCA model not working during budget debate
By ROBYN ADDERLEY
Bahamas Information Services
#FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, May 30, 2023 – The model of the Hawkbill Creek Act, the agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and the Grand Bahama Port Authority, is not working, said Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis during the opening of the 2023 Budget Debate on Wednesday, May 31 in the House of Assembly.
The island of Grand Bahama, he said, contributes 12 percent of the country’s GDP, however, there was a decline by 9 percent when compared to the previous year. Tourism, he said, increased in 2022 showing a growth in accommodation and food service.
“Unfortunately, the statistics show a prolonged decline in the Grand Bahamian economy. The evidence confirms the view of my government that the Hawksbill Creek economic model, which was meant to attract foreign direct investment, does not work.
“Furthermore, in our view, the government model of the Grand Bahama Port Authority must change, in order to realize the promise, growth and prosperity we all desire.
“Additionally, the Government of The Bahamas has serious concerns regarding the compliance of the GBPA and its related companies with the terms and conditions of the Hawksbill Creek Act, and its subsequent amendments.”
In the past, said the Prime Minister, administrations have attempted to address the issues however they appear to be “systemic and fundamental.” Decisive action will be taken, he continued, and a separate detailed announcement will be made at another time.
Prime Minister Davis mentioned that even though the GDP for several islands has experienced growth, Abaco and Grand Bahama have not done as well. Abaco, he said, saw a decline of 6 percent in 2022 with its contribution to the economy at 2.8 percent ranking the island as the third largest contributor.
“While there was a slight improvement in Abaco’s economy compared to 2019, it has yet to reach the levels seen before Hurricane Dorian. The decline in the economic activity is directly related to the slowdown in the real estate and construction sectors.”
He continued, “Declines in the real estate sector are directly as a result of a shift to higher intermediate consumption in 2022 from that of the previous two years. In terms of declines in construction, it should be noted that in 2020 and 2021, Abaco experienced significant recovery efforts in the form of debris removal, site preparation and building of damaged structures.
Such efforts bolstered the value added to the island’s GDP during those years. As those efforts wrap up, the industry saw a gradual decline as construction tempered to normal levels in 2022, resulting in a lower GDP.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said the Grand Bahama International Airport will be repaired, and a new healthcare facility will be built. Provisions have also been made for the continuation of an employment program for $4.7 million, along with the construction of a 50-meter swimming pool facility.
The House of Assembly has adjourned until Wednesday, June 7, when the debate will continue.
(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)
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