While underscoring the destruction caused by the recent hurricanes, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith said the territory’s gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink significantly next year.
“We project that GDP will contract by 40 percent in 2018 from 2016 levels,” Dr Smith said, adding that one of the territory’s main revenue-earners, tourism, was massively affected by the hurricanes.
“The preliminary damage impact assessment on the economy, not counting all sectors, is estimated to be more than $3.6 billion. This is more than three-and-a-half times our annual GDP,” he added.
The Premier made the statement at a United Nations (UN) high-level pledging conference yesterday at the UN headquarters in New York.
Dr Smith outlined his government’s vision for rebuilding the territory and invited the world leaders to partner with the hurricane-battered British Virgin Islands.
While calling for assistance from attendees at the conference, the finance minister also lamented the crippling notion that the BVI was ‘too rich’ to get assistance.
“It is important that we keep in mind that the BVI is not eligible for Overseas Development Assistance under OECD rules and have yet to receive any development aid as a consequence. It is difficult to understand why the BVI as a small island cannot even receive climate change related funds after what we have been through,” Dr Smith said.
He further said: “We have costed our plans, which indicate that almost $1 billion is required to rebuild areas specifically related to Government. With limited borrowing capacity, hundreds of millions of dollars from other sources will be needed to meet our goals.”
The Premier added that the material damage to the BVI and the economic impact will require a full-scale reconstruction of the entire society.
He told the world leaders that their “support for the BVI’s recovery help to determine how quickly our families will be back in homes, children back at school, our people back to work and our future more secure.”
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