Fri | Nov 16, 2018

National disaster risk financing policy to be in place by next October

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 9:13 AM
A grocery shop dangerously perched on the edge, overlooking the Rio Grande river in spate in Portland.

Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke says the proposed National Disaster Risk Financing Policy should be in place before the expiration of the Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement (PSBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October 2019.

The policy development, which was approved by Cabinet, aims to position the Government and wider society to better plan for and finance damage and losses resulting from natural disasters, such as hurricanes and drought.

Speaking at a public forum at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday, Clarke said the initial policy analysis and preparation should commence in January 2019.

Noting that Wednesday’s forum marked the start of stakeholder consultations, he indicated that further public engagements would be facilitated during the policy’s development process, culminating with the document being tabled in Parliament as a Green Paper.

This, Clarke added, would pave the way for additional public consultations, “where representatives can speak of how the policy is likely to address their particular constituency”.

“We hope to have the policy finalised and in place by the middle of next year. This is a very aggressive but necessary timeline, because we want to ensure that prior to the expiration of our current PSBA, we have a strategy in place… a policy that has been tabled and debated in Parliament and accepted, and which becomes our National Disaster Financing Risk Policy,” he added.

Clarke said the policy’s implementation, which represents a comprehensive and strategic approach by the Government, will target pre- and post-disaster interventions.

“This entails mitigation and resilience measures, and post-disaster risk transfer measures, on how to plan for and better finance damage and losses, so that natural disasters don’t derail us from our objectives,” he noted.

The finance minister indicated that the policy would have 10 objectives focusing on ensuring that disaster resilience and planning at the local authority/parish level are “part of our public investment approach” in instituting safeguards.

Clarke said the World Bank is offering technical support for the policy’s development, while the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is providing “significant” grant funding.

“We hope to involve the IMF as far as ensuring that the strategies and plans that we put in place are consistent with our overall debt and growth objectives,” he explained.

Clarke emphasised that the policy, for which a Steering Committee will oversee key development processes, would provide the strategic context that enables the Government to prioritise the options for disaster risk financing.

The forum, which was jointly hosted by the finance ministry and the World Bank, was held under the theme ‘Facing the Fiscal Risk of Natural Disasters’.