Explaining that rural farm and maritime regions “bore the brunt of [the storm’s] fury,” Fiji’s government is coming to the realization that Tropical Cyclone Winston will create significant insured and economic losses for the island nation.
“Unfortunately the recovery process will take time. Perhaps a long time.” said Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama in a statement Wednesday. “Almost no part of our nation has been left unscarred.”
Tropical Cyclone Winston was a Category 5 storm when it hit Fiji over the weekend that brought 185 mph winds and is considered to be one of the most powerful cyclones to ever hit the South Pacific. Thus far at least 364 dwellings along with 65 schools are considered damaged or destroyed, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The government announced a series of “assistance packages” for displaced residents, including unsecured home loans at “interest rates below 5% over a five year term.” Fiji also announced that the Fiji National Provident Fund will “offer $1000 available to its members for immediate disaster relief, with an additional $5000 available for home repairs.”
“In the coming days, I will also make an announcement regarding a specific package to assist those who have lost their homes or whose homes have been damaged and need repairs.” Bainimarama added.
A storm of this size was not unexpected. A recent report by the Word Bank said that Fiji is expected to incur average long term annual losses of F$158 million (US$85 million) “due to earthquakes and tropical cyclones.”
The report adds that the, the Fiji non-life insurance market is the second-largest in the Pacific Island Countries with a total premium of F$174.5 million (US$95 million). There seven local insurers with a total premium income of F$145.5 million (US$78 million). F$29 million (US$16 million)—or 17 percent of the market—is with offshore insurers, the World Bank report adds.
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