SVG: Finance minister states volcano damage could amount upto 50% of GDP

The Finance Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines island - Camillo Gonsalves, informed the parliament that last month, volcanic eruptions from La Soufriere could amount up to 50 per cent of GDP - Gross Domestic Product.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: The Finance Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines island – Camillo Gonsalves, informed the parliament that last month, volcanic eruptions from La Soufriere could amount up to 50 per cent of GDP – Gross Domestic Product.

As the Minister presented an – EC$117.9 million supplementary budget in acknowledgement to the volcanic eruptions, he stated, “Even preliminary, incomplete measures of the damage and the loss that we face are sobering estimates.”

Gonsalves further stated that even if the nation did not go to the full extent of the Red zone, the Orange zone and up the mountains, everybody is aware that clean up cost would exceed $30 million. The Minister noted that hundreds of livestock, including – sheep, goats, pigs, cattle and thousands of chickens, have been lost.

He asserted, “We are aware that there’s damage to over – 5,000 buildings exceeding- $35 million and at least $175 million of loss and damage has been inflicted on the agricultural sector, and some estimates are as high as US$150 million. We know that in the red zone, 100% of crops, vegetable crops, have been destroyed; 65% of arrowroot crops, 90% of tree crops, and 80% of root crops have been destroyed.”

The Minister also informed that around $50 million damage has caused to our forest, and still the evaluators, could not get all the way up into the mountains to assess the full extent of the damage to our forestry. There is damage to the public utility infrastructure -water, electricity generation and distribution capacity.

Gonsalves said, “And all of this introductory data excludes large swaths in the red and orange zone that were inaccessible at the time of the assessment, and the evaluations were done before the torrential rains that sent flooding and lahars down hillsides and caused even more damage to the infrastructure, lives and livelihoods.”

The Minister concluded, “While we hope that the volcano has completed the explosive phase of its eruptions, the scientists haven’t given us any such assurance, and when the estimations are complete, it is entirely possible that loss and damage could well approach 50% of the gross domestic product of SVG.”