Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Caribbean Disaster Agency receives 50% budget increase

Published:Saturday | July 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM
From left: Ronald Jackson, executive director of CDEMA; Dr.Douglas Slater, assistant secretary general of CARICOM; and Prime Minister of St Lucia Allen Chastenet in discussion yesterday on the final day of the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government meeting held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has received a budget increase of close to 50 per cent, which amounts to more than US$600,000 (J$78 million) for its core operating costs.

According to Ronald Jackson, executive director of CDEMA, the budget stands at roughly US$1.3 million (J$169,000,000) for the 2018-2019 financial year, there is still a shortfall.

"To run CDEMA, we're looking roughly at about between US$1.8 million (J$234,000,000) to $US1.9 million (J$247,000,000) per year for core operating costs. Then there is what we call the programme budget, which we mobilise from the development donor community and which can vary from anywhere between US$20 million and US$40 million every three years," Jackson told The Gleaner yesterday.

 

EMERGENCY FUND

 

There was keen interest in disaster management by CDEMA officials and Caribbean Community leaders meeting in Montego Bay, St James, due to the threat posed by Hurricane Beryl.

Jackson reasoned that more focus needed to be placed on crafting an emergency fund, which would be used to finance recovery efforts across the region. He also argued that the financial resilience of CDEMA needed to be bolstered.

"Countries are going to be impacted by these adverse events, and when you are hit and you sustain 226 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) loss, it is going to challenge your ability to service the obligations you have," Jackson advised. "So we have to find a way as a region to ensure that there is a vehicle that is able to absorb the days when we have countries that can't make it ... ."

Jackson noted that CDEMA was seeking to supplement its core budget by recruiting regional technical disaster-management specialists through secondment.

"We are also negotiating with the government of Barbados under our headquarters agreement to see where we can get some concessions," Jackson disclosed.

brian.walker@gleanerjm.com