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Helicopter aerial survey to properly access forestry damage

Helicopter aerial survey to properly access forestry damage

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Preliminary estimates for damage and loss caused by natural disasters of the past two months could run upwards of XCD $100 million.

So said Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves yesterday, during a sitting of the House of Assembly.

“The preliminary numbers that I’ve seen for the series of natural disasters between Tropical Storm Matthew and the trough system on the 29th of November,…the damage and loss across the various ministries is in excess of $100 million,” Gonsalves indicated.{{more}}

He further stated that this cost is in excess of five per cent of the Gross Domestic Project (GDP) of this country.

The Prime Minister also said that between the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas in 2010 and just immediately before Tropical Storm Matthew almost three months ago, loss and damage in the aggregate amounted to a number approaching 40 per cent of the GDP.

“The gross domestic product of the country is… roughly XCD $2 billion or US $800 million, which means that a number approaching 40 per cent is a number in region of XCD $800 million.”

He explained, however, that he is still awaiting estimates of damage from the Central Water and Sewerage Authority and the Forestry Division.

“We are not going to have the final number for Forestry until I can secure the services of a helicopter to go up and do an aerial survey, so that a proper assessment would be made of the damage to the forest,” he explained.

Gonsalves noted that even after these estimates, the final cost would be in the region of $100 million.

He also explained that there is some rehabilitation work which would require him to borrow money from commercial agencies, rather than wait on international organizations.

The Prime Minister explained that when finance agreements are signed with these international organizations, it takes “a good three years” before the project can really get started.

“When you borrow commercially, which we are very reluctant to do, but in some cases absolutely essential, it means that you pay higher rates of interest and short periods for the amortization of the loan, which puts pressure on not just the debt to GDP, but more importantly the debt servicing itself.”

The Prime Minister described this era as “going up a down escalator, with the down of the escalator being swifter than your steps are able to manage, as a consequence of the adverse climate change.”

Since September, SVG has been ravaged by several weather systems, which left two persons dead and extensive infrastructural damage across the country.(CM)

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