U.S. Virgin Islands to Receive $800 Million in Federal LoansBy
Territory’s bonds have tumbled since it was hit by hurricanes
Government to begin drawing on loans over next two weeks
The U.S. Virgin Islands expects to receive $800 million in emergency loans from the $36.5 billion storm aid bill approved by Congress earlier this month, Governor Kenneth Mapp said in a statement Tuesday.
The first draw down will occur over the next 10 to 15 days and will go towards rebuilding essential infrastructure such as hospitals and its water and power systems. The storm aid bill passed by Congress approved $4.9 billion of low interest loans for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to meet immediate liquidity during initial recovery efforts.
The U.S. Virgin Islands were devastated last month by two hurricanes that left thousands of residents without power and damaged its airports and hospitals. Governor Mapp had requested a total of $5.5 billion from Congress in a letter sent October 12. to rebuild, of which he said $1.36 billion was needed for housing alone.
The damage to the tourist enclave has caused the price of some U.S. Virgin Islands bonds to tumble amid speculation that it may worsen the financial pressure the government was already contending with. Bonds issued by its public finance authority that mature in 2025 and are backed by sales-tax revenue traded this week for about 45 cents on the dollar, down from 72 cents before the hurricanes struck.
In the statement today, the governor said that he is seeking temporary housing for citizens who lost their homes as a result of the storm. Despite the crisis, the commonwealth said it was preparing to re-open its ports to cruise ships and that the governor will meet with the chief executive officer of Disney Cruise Lines Wednesday on St. Thomas.