TC Winston

Cyclone damage currently estimated at $1billion

The cost of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston to the Fijian economy may be as much as Fiji $1 billion, according to the Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. During a special briefing to present the financial repercussions of TC Winston, the Attorney General told media this was an easy early estimate of the value of damages so […]

Peni Shute

February 26, 2016 8:20 am

The cost of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston to the Fijian economy may be as much as Fiji $1 billion, according to the Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Utlity services were hit the hardest, the AG said so parts of the West will be without power for up to six weeks. Photo: Fijian Government/Facebook
Utility services were hit the hardest; the AG said so parts of the West will be without power for up to six weeks. Photo: Fijian Government/Facebook.

During a special briefing to present the financial repercussions of TC Winston, the Attorney General told media this was an easy early estimate of the value of damages so far.

It is very very difficult at this stage to give an exact figure in damages but we can very easily say that if you take into account the number of homes all over Fiji that have been damaged or completely demolished, the impact on agriculture in terms of crops that are in the ground that have been damaged, the ability to plant, the ability of people to earn an income, and of course the impact on powerlines – you can easily say it’s a $1billion so far.

There no plans yet to realign the government’s $3.4billion budget for 2016 to cover the cost of rebuilding post-TC Winston. Khaiyum said the government was still in the assessment phase, and so it was too early to tell exactly how they would address the cyclone price tag.

He added however that regarding critical infrastructure, electricity services across the country took the hardest hit so power to the western division could take up to six weeks to restore.

So far, the cost of rescue and recovery efforts was borne by the National Disaster Management Office’s budget allocation, topped up by cash and kind international aid now more than $20million in value.

This includes international cash pledges amounting to FJD $7.65 million including a $2million USD grant from the Asian Development Bank and $1m USD in cash.

Of course Cyclone Winston will have an impact on the economy. Cyclones as you know have a tendency of slowing down economic growth.
Nonetheless, it is the responsibility of Government and every person in Fiji, every company in Fiji to ensure that we are able to recover as quickly as possible.

Khaiyum said it was critical that tourists continue to visit Fiji if we were to get back onto the economic growth trajectory the country had been in pre-TC Winston.

Quite ironically, a few days prior to the cyclone the IMF released a report… their assessment of the Fijian economy and it was very very glowing. They said the trajectory the Fijian economy was on was on a good trajectory.

According to the AG, the IMF believed the Fijian government had engaged in policies which would lead to a healthy growth rate for the country.

Khaiyum pleaded with tourists to return saying the tourism industry had suffered minimal damage, most of it superficial and he revealed that Fiji had recorded the highest visitor arrival figures ever in January.

As you know there is no disease, there is no illness, the hotels are operational and we would like people to come back and not cancel their holidays and visit Fiji again. That would be a very critical point as far as we are concerned in terms of economic recovery.
The best way that we can, of course our friends in Australia and New Zealand, the best way that they can help us, apart from the AID they are giving us, is to keep visiting Fiji.

The Attorney General acknowledged foreign governments, international organisations and local businesses for their contribution to the government’s relief efforts.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.