Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Jamaica gets US$14 million grant towards natural disaster resilience

Published:Tuesday | October 22, 2019 | 4:17 PM
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The World Bank announced a US$14.85 million grant from the Global Risk Financing Facility (GRiF) to support Jamaica in expanding its financial protection against natural disaster risks.

The GRiF is a multi-donor trust fund housed at the World Bank, supported by Germany and the United Kingdom, and this grant represents the largest made by GRiF to a middle-income country.  

World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean, Tahseen Sayed, made the announcement at the event “Learning from Jamaica’s Economic Turnaround” during the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings last week.

The event featured a presentation from Jamaica’s Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke on the lessons from Jamaica’s success in reducing public debt by almost 50 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in six and a half years while reducing unemployment and inflation to historically low levels.

Despite Jamaica’s fiscal achievements, the country remains vulnerable to natural disasters and extreme weather events that could threaten the macroeconomic outlook and fiscal gains.

“Approximately 18 months ago we set out our policy to take a multi-layered and strategic approach to protect Jamaica against the potential fiscal shocks that can be caused by natural disasters. In March we began the capitalisation of a Natural Disaster Fund with a historic allocation even as we finalised our application, with World Bank assistance, to the GRiF,” Clarke said.

“Assistance from the GRiF is crucial as the most significant of the layers involve low frequency, high severity events that can be covered, in part, by risk transfer instruments such as a catastrophe bond, which require premiums to be paid and hence fiscal space. This GRiF Grant is therefore highly appreciated as it makes the goal of multi-layered coverage more realisable by assisting Jamaica in covering the premium cost of a risk transfer instrument,” he added.

Recognising the risk of natural disasters, the government has embarked on an ambitious reform program, combining expanded financial protection against disasters with fiscal and public financial management reforms designed to enhance resilience.

“This GRiF grant bears testimony to Jamaica’s strong progress in building fiscal and financial resilience,” said Sayed. 

“The World Bank remains committed to deepening its partnership to help the country in its efforts to sustain these hard-won gains. We are pleased that the GRiF grant is one part of a package of new support provided by the World Bank, which includes US$140 million for fiscal resilience, growth, and enhancing social safety nets.”

The World Bank, with support from the United Kingdom, is providing technical assistance for Jamaica’s preparation of a National Disaster Risk Financing Policy.

It is also working with the government on risk modelling, which could be used to access risk insurance through the capital markets. 

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