Prime Minister Minnis seeking China’s help in Bahamas reconstruction exercise

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis is urging China to assist in the reconstruction of the Bahamas by participating in next week’s United Nations Development Programme Donor Pledge Conference.

The January 13 conference is part of the government’s reconstruction programme following the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian when it slammed into the archipelago on September 1, last year, killing an estimated 70 people and leaving damage estimated at US$3.4 billion.

Image result for Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis (Right) and Chinese Ambassador Huang Qinguo
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis (Right) and Chinese Ambassador Huang Qinguo (BGIS Photo)

Minnis Monday held talks with the Chinese Ambassador Huang Qinguo on how Beijing could further assist in the recovery and reconstruction efforts on Abaco and Grand Bahama, the two main islands hardest hit by the Category 5 storm.

Prime Minister Minnis noted that in addition to the reconstruction of hospitals and schools, housing remained a key priority for his administration, noting that ‘if affected residents don’t have homes to return to, there will be little use for hospitals and schools”.

He reiterated his government’s position that all projects in the country carried out by international contractors are required to have an 80:20 Bahamian to foreign employment ratio.

“We are being directly impacted by climate change. Our response must include rebuilding smarter and with resilience.”

— Dr Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister, Bahamas

As a part of its reconstruction strategy, the government will launch a new housing project that will provide free Crown land complete with infrastructure to affected residents. It is hoped that funds raised at the Conference will help to fund the cost of the infrastructure.

Minnis said the government also has plans to use some of the funds raised at the conference to provide sustainable energy to individual homes in areas affected by Hurricane Dorian.

“We are being directly impacted by climate change. Our response must include rebuilding smarter and with resilience,” said the Prime Minister.

The government said it has already prepared specific reconstruction delivery plans, which have been cross-referenced with the damage and loss assessment conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC).