Hurricane Dorian Extraordinary, Unexpected Fiscal Impact causes Bahamas Govt to present Supplementary Budget
#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.
“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.”
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.
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
Soca Warriors crush Bahamas at home
By Rashaed Esson
#TheBahamas, March 27, 2023 – Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors dominated the Bahamas at home, at the Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau, for the 2022/2023 Concacaf Nations League on Friday, with a 3-0 victory.
The Soca Warriors struck their first blow within the first 5 minutes of the game, with Kareem Moses making the first shot in the top left corner of the net giving T&T one to the Bahamas’ zero (1-0).
Soon after, in about 26 minutes, they made another shot giving them 2-0 away from home; the scorer Joevin Jones. By the 34th minute mark, the winning goal was made by Ryan Telfer, T&T now at three.
Neither team scored any additional goals as the match progressed despite attempts made by various players.
Trinidad’s win gives them 12 points through five matches. Next match for the Soca Warriors is against Nicaragua; that clash is set for Monday March 27 (at home in Tobago at the Dwight Yorke Stadium), in a tussle of winner-take-all on the final match day. The victor takes home a promotion to League A and a spot in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Angus Eve, T&T’s head coach expressed that the job is only half done, keeping aware that more challenges are coming their way, one of which is the nearing match against Nicaragua who is one point ahead of the Warriors.
Meanwhile, The Bahamas will journey to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with hopes of emerging victorious there.
7 million lives at risk because of salt
March 24, 2023 – Without immediate and widespread efforts at curbing salt intake, 7 million lives will be lost by 2030 according to the World Health Organization. The warning follows the first-ever Global Report on Sodium Intake Reduction, which revealed that the world would not meet its sodium intake reduction target of 30 percent by 2025 on its current path.
With only 5% of WHO Member States protected by mandatory and comprehensive sodium reduction policies, the rest of the world must immediately implement ‘highly cost-effective sodium reduction policies to protect against some of the most common non-communicable diseases.
No Caribbean country was mentioned in the group of nine countries with comprehensive salt laws, but Barbados is currently set to make effective stringent regulations to govern food consumption and food quality.
Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General said:
“Most countries are yet to adopt any mandatory sodium reduction policies, leaving their people at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. The WHO calls on all countries to implement the ‘Best Buys’ for sodium reduction, and on manufacturers to implement the WHO benchmarks for sodium content in food.”
North America and the Caribbean have the highest child diabetes statistics in the world, with the second highest prevalence in adults as well. In Turks and Caicos in particular, over 300 hundred residents have failing kidneys, a number described as ‘alarming’ by experts. Kidney disease is fueled in most cases by diabetes and hypertension.
The WHO is then advising Governments to do four things:
- Reformulating foods to contain less salt, and setting targets for the amount of sodium in foods and meals.
- Establishing public food procurement policies to limit salt or sodium-rich foods in public institutions such as hospitals, schools, workplaces, and nursing homes.
- Front-of-package labelling that helps consumers select products lower in sodium.
- Behaviour change communication and mass media campaigns to reduce salt/sodium consumption.
With these measures in place, the salt reduction target can still be achieved, according to the WHO.
FBI and Bahamas looking into woman’s death
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – The FBI is investigating a woman’s ‘suspicious’ death on a Carnival Cruise ship in February. The unnamed woman and her husband boarded the Carnival Sunshine on February 27th, for a trip to the Bahamas, but she was dead before they arrived in the port in The Bahamas.
The FBI said Carnival’s team had administered life saving measures when the woman was reported unresponsive, but they were unsuccessful. The body and the woman’s husband were released to the Bahamian authorities when the cruise arrived in the country.
In a statement shared with US media houses, Carnival Cruises claimed the death has been a natural one. The Nassau Guardian said a source told them the police findings had concurred with that assessment saying it was a “normal sudden death of a tourist who wasn’t feeling well.”
The FBI was waiting for the cruise and when it got back to South Carolina on March 4th, they immediately boarded and began to investigate the room based on ‘evidence of a crime.’ The FBI also searched the couple’s car.
No updates have been shared to contradict the currently established cause of death.
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