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Jamaica needs $16b annually to deal with disasters — World Bank report

Monday, July 16, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — A new World Bank report is suggesting that, on average, Jamaica would need $16 billion annually to cover losses from natural disasters.

Of this amount, it is estimated that $9 billion would be required to address hurricane damage to public and private buildings.

Titled, 'Advancing Disaster Risk Finance in Jamaica', the report, which outlines proposals for the formulation of a country-specific comprehensive disaster risk finance (DRF) strategy, was revealed during a ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston today.

According to the World Bank, the document is envisioned to be used as a planning tool for the potential development of a comprehensive DRF strategy that would equip the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service with information and instruments to manage contingent liabilities posed by natural disasters.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Fayval Williams, welcomed the report, noting that it has laid out in great detail, a roadmap for Jamaica to follow. “I greatly appreciate the work that went into the analysis. It was rigorous, it was practical and the roadmap is straightforward in its suggested implementation,” she said.

Williams noted that the report will help the Government to put in place those mechanisms and processes that will support the budget needed for disaster risk financing.

Williams contended that the country is now “at that point where we seriously need to evaluate and implement a set of financial instruments that suit our needs and will provide resources for us to call on to assist with swift recovery”.

She argued that access to these resources is critical given the fact that hurricanes rob Jamaica of economic vitality and set the country back, on average, about 2.5 per cent gross domestic product annually.

Citing research findings from the International Monetary Fund, Williams further pointed out that since 1950, more than 12,000 natural disasters have been registered globally. During that same period, the Caribbean has been hit by 324 natural disasters.

“Research shows that the economic impact of these 324 natural disasters in the Caribbean has been substantial, exceeding US$22 billion in cost over the period 1950 to 2016. We suffer about 38 per cent of the global damage from natural disasters,” she pointed out.

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