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Hurricane Dorian Extraordinary, Unexpected Fiscal Impact causes Bahamas Govt to present Supplementary Budget

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#NASSAU, Bahamas — January 30, 2020 — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest explained that the Government is presenting the extraordinary and unexpected fiscal impact of Hurricane Dorian as a Supplementary Budget, so that the Bahamian people are made fully aware of exactly how the Government intends to address the challenges which have emerged.

As he presented the Supplementary Budget Statement in the House of Assembly, Wednesday, January 29, 2020, DPM Turnquest stated that the supplementary appropriations outline both the expected revenue losses arising from the Hurricane together with the increases in the recurrent and capital expenditure allocations necessary to deal with the emerging restoration and rebuilding activities on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Peter Turquest, Bahamas Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance

“The Supplementary Budget Book provided to this Honourable House presents the expected revenue loss for this fiscal year, by the respective revenue categories, which underlay the adjusted revenue budget for FY2019/20; it details the additional capital and recurrent expenditure arising from Hurricane Dorian, as well as several other policy imperatives.  As these impacts are multi-year, the medium-term forecasts have been extended by one year and revised through to FY2022/23.”

He noted that in circumstances like this facing substantial revenue loss and significant new expenditure requirements, governments are compelled either to raise additional funds through greater taxation – or through increased borrowing in the near term.   “The Government has determined that additional taxes would not be optimal at this time, given the substantial impact of Dorian to our economy and the need to maintain private consumption levels.   Accordingly—and very conscientiously—the government has decided to fund the revenue loss and expenditure requirements through additional borrowings. 

“Thus, I am also tabling a new borrowing resolution for authorization to borrow beyond the $72.4 million (which excludes the $628.0 million for refinancing of maturing debt) approved at the time of the 2019/20 Budget Communication in May of last year.”

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He said, “As I mentioned during the tabling of the 2019 Fiscal Strategy Report in November, we anticipate that total revenue for FY2019/20 will now be reduced by $232.6 million, due to revenue losses and revenue foregone from VAT, Business Licence fees, Customs, and a number of other taxes in the Hurricane-affected islands.”

DPM Turnquest stated that it is important to remind the House that given the magnitude of the impact of Dorian on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, the Government unveiled an unprecedented package of tax incentives and concessions as a key part of the establishment of the Special Economic Recovery Zone (SERZ).  I know that members opposite agree—like all Bahamians—that this was and is the right thing to do.  

“However the impact of those much needed tax concessions for those island mean that over $200 million in tax revenues is being deliberately and consciously foregone.  This is being done so that the government is doing as much as it reasonably can to aid the speedy recovery and restoration of those impacted communities. 

“Thus, at year-end, we project a revised aggregate revenue of some $2,395.6 million in FY2019/20, as opposed to the $2,628.2 estimated at the time of the annual budget exercise.”

He added that given the total incremental spending that the Government will have to undertake to initiate rebuilding and restoration efforts, we anticipate that total expenditure will increase to $3,073.1 million for FY2019/20, in comparison to the $2,765.0 initially budgeted and approved. 

Abaco post Hurricane Dorian

The DPM explained that recurrent expenses are projected to be higher by $157.6 million, bringing the revised estimates to $2,687.6 million.  Of this total, approximately $82.7 million is associated with Hurricane Dorian, which include:

  • $23.1 million in costs associated with clean-up activities,
  • $12.9 million to facilitate food and accommodation assistance programmes,
  • $11.4 million to fund the extension of the unemployment benefit to eligible persons,
  • $11.1 million in allowances for affected public staff,
  • $5.4 million for the acquisition of supplies and materials,
  • a $1.5 million allocation to the new Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, and,
  • the remaining $17.3 million allocated to primarily cover contingencies, consultancy services, security and other costs.

He said, “This spending has and will facilitate a number of social assistance measures on the Government’s part.  For example, the Government has aided with rental assistance to evacuees from both Grand Bahama and Abaco, provided accommodations to hurricane victims by way of shelters, food assistance to victims outside of the shelters, and has also extended its national lunch benefit to displaced students that relocated to schools in New Providence. In addition, the Government is seeking to expand the National Insurance Board (NIB) unemployment benefit to 26 weeks from 13 weeks to eligible persons that have been impacted by the storm.”

BIS STORY By Llonella Gilbert

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Bahamas News

Scores of Students Equipped with Supplies to Return to School

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NASSAU, BAHAMAS, AUGUST 13, 2022 – As the new school year approaches, Sandals Foundation Ambassadors at Sandals Royal Bahamian have embarked on a back-to-school drive, donating school supplies to local schools and communities in Nassau as part of their commitment to education and community development.

Recently, a team of over 15 volunteers from the resort traveled to Gambier Primary School, where students and teachers were gathered for summer school, and distributed over 40 packages with school supplies that included notebooks, pencils, crayons, pencil cases, erasers, sharpeners, reading books, rulers and glue sticks and warm meals.

Public Relations Manager at Sandals Royal Bahamian, Renee Deleon, shared the impact that these donations will have on families and schools across the island.

“Education is pivotal to the growth of a nation and it is something that we are committed to at Sandals. We know that back to school expenses here like anywhere else in the world can be quite strenuous so we want to play our part in helping to ease the financial burden that this may present to families as schools look to reopen.”

Deleon further added, “Thanks to the support of our guests who packed for a purpose, we were able to collect these items that will allow students to be equipped with the essential tools they need to make a better transition to the classroom when they return to school.”

The gesture was met with song, dance and echoes of ‘thank you’ as the Sandals team made the presentations to the children. Principal Forbes explained how this donation will help to improve the teaching and learning process.

“I am tremendously grateful to the Sandals Foundation and their team members from Sandals Royal Bahamian for gifting my students with school supplies. This donation will go a long way toward allowing teachers to execute lessons and students to participate.”

Forbes also noted that the school has had a longstanding relationship with the Foundation.

“Over the years we’ve had a good relationship with the Sandals Foundation and I am happy that we still have them in our corner.”

In addition to this donation to Gambier Primary School, the Sandals Royal Bahamian team has distributed school supplies to the Community Touch Group. Donations were also made to children at the Nazareth Centre as well as some children from the Okra Hill community. Later this month the Sandals Foundation ambassadors will be giving back to children from the Nassau Village and Grove communities.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: These Sandals Foundation Ambassadors from Sandals Royal Bahamian were captured with bag packs filled with school supplies moments before they donated the supplies to the Nazareth Centre.

 1st insert: It is always a joyous occasion when Sandals Foundation Ambassadors go out to give back.

 2nd insert: Volunteers from Sandals Royal Bahamian were a picture of joy when they stopped by Gambier Primary School to donate school supplies and issue lunches recently.

 Release: Sandals Resort

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Bahamas News

GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President

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Re:  GBPA’s Response to fire in the International Bazaar

 

#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority is aware of the recent fire at the International Bazaar.

The GBPA has engaged, and continues to engage, with operators of the International Bazaar, which include representatives of the Bazaar Association and several property owners, so that we can continue demolition exercises on the dilapidated structures and buildings.

The GBPA is acutely aware of the need to demolish derelict structures within the International Bazaar for the safety of all businesses and visitors. We have performed demolitions in the past at our own cost, most recently in February 2022 when we, in partnership with owners, demolished fire-damaged buildings in the Oriental Section. We have also written to numerous property owners of dilapidated structures over the years to sensitize them to the need to repair or demolish their buildings.

In addition, we have engaged the Government of the Bahamas in advance discussions to approve our requested amendments of the Building and Sanitary bylaws, which would enable GBPA to execute more demolitions in a timely manner and recoup the associated costs.

With the requested bylaw amendments in place, GBPA can continue to make consistent efforts to address the remainder of derelict buildings in the International Bazaar and other dilapidated structures within the city.

The GBPA itself has never owned any part of the International Bazaar but has historically subsidized the Bazaar for many years when owners were no longer maintaining its communal areas.

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Beneath the Waves’ summer camp inspires young Bahamians to become stewards of the environment

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#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – While the waters near Great Exuma are renowned for their unmatched beauty, last weekend, more than 40 students spent a day with Beneath the Waves learning the deeper value of the marine ecosystems that surround their islands and act as a bedrock for the Bahamian economy and way of life.

As participants in the non-profit’s summer camp, the young students learned about mangrove and coral reef habitats and the many species that live among them.

They heard about some of Beneath the Waves’ research, including studies of sharks, seagrass and blue carbon, and research methods like underwater video surveys.

Coral Vita Conservancy, which has been working relentlessly to restore coral reefs off Grand Bahama, sent team member Joe Oliver , Director of Restoration Operations, to assist with the camp and provide in-depth information on corals in The Bahamas.

Team ECCO, a North Carolina-based ocean education organization, also provided in-depth lessons on invertebrates and fish.

Long after the taste of ice cream at the end-of-day party has faded, campers will remember learning how to tag a lifelike shark. And they’ll wear their camp t-shirts with pride, remembering this is the day they learned to value the water all around them and what lies beneath the waves.

Eleven-year-old twin sisters Kassidy and Kaylee Burrows described the camp as a highlight of their summer vacation.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Kassidy. “And we learned all about sponges, the water, mangroves, coral reefs — how they protect animals and how they protect the shore — and also about animals themselves, aquatic animals, for example, sea anemones, corals, sponges and sharks.”

Kassidy was especially enthused to share her experience with helping to plant new mangroves.

“We found out how mangrove seeds can actually disperse into the water,” she said.

“And I thought they were going to be small seeds, but, in my opinion, they looked like asparagus kind of.

“We also got to go in the water and plant new mangroves.”

Beneath the Waves’ scientists have been studying The Bahamas’ waters for more than a decade, having helped with the creation and management of conservation policies, including the legislation that made the country’s waters a shark sanctuary in 2011.

The non-governmental organization knows that in continuing efforts to protect The Bahamas’ greatest asset, its natural environment, community buy-in is vital.

And in that context, the value of helping young Bahamians gain these kinds of hands-on experiences and lessons, ones they’ll undoubtedly carry with them through life, can’t be overstated.

Kaylee Burrows is already brainstorming the ways she can apply what she learned in her future career.

While the mangroves piqued her sister’s interest, Kaylee said she was fascinated by coral reefs and the important role they play on a global scale, though she noted they don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated.

“I learned that The Bahamas has some of the biggest coral reefs in the world,” she said. “We actually put pieces of coral on a pipe to help build a platform for the coral. The reason I chose coral reefs over all of the topics is because we the people of the Bahamas, don’t even recognize how important our islands are. These coral reefs are very beneficial to the whole world.”

Kaylee said she hopes to one day become a veterinarian and an author.

“As a vet, I can help not just land animals, but marine animals too,” she said. “As an author, I can write books on marine biology. I think this experience helped with my future career, and I’m forever grateful.”

Beneath the Waves Managing Director Jamie Fitzgerald said plans are underway to make the camp an annual event.

“We look forward to being able to work more closely with local schools in the islands we frequent, such as Exuma and Nassau, to develop educational materials around sharks and marine science, and to foster opportunities for internships and future careers for any aspiring Bahamian marine biologists,” Fitzgerald said.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Hands-on experience – Exuma students planting mangroves with the help of research scientists from Beneath the Waves  — just one of the many memorable moments from the non-profit’s summer camp that was held on July 23. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

1st insert: Learning about coral — With the help of experts from Coral Vita, a Grand Bahama-based organization working to restore reefs near the island, students built plaforms for coral. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

2nd insert: More to come  – Camp leaders and participants posed with the inflatable shark, as the first of what is hoped to be many Beneath the Waves summer camps came to an end. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

 

Release: Beneath the Waves

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