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Stabroek News



ODPEM pleads for grants
published: Friday | July 4, 2008


Jackson

Ronald Jackson, director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), wants the Government to implement a policy whereby public bodies and private entities contribute to the national disaster fund.

Jackson made the suggestion as he addressed yesterday's Rotary Club of Kingston meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

Insufficient

The ODPEM boss told the gathering that the fund, which currently stands at some $170 million, would prove insufficient in the case of a national disaster.

"That fund really needs to get up to in the region of $5 billion to $10 billion for us to see that we are truly prepared for the early-recovery process," Jackson said.

He noted that in the case of Hurricane Dean which struck the island last August, losses were valued at $22 billion.

"I think that a number of our corporate entities ought to look at how they can contribute to growing this fund," he said.

After the function, Jackson told The Gleaner that a structure could be implemented where entities such as the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and the National Housing Trust (NHT) contribute to the fund.

Encouragement

"We need to sit down and look at a structure as to how we can encourage contributions from private sectors, from other financial sector groups, probably from the NIS, NHT, other sources we can put in it," he said.

There is a Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility, but Jackson said this was a last resort for countries severely affected by a disaster.

With regard to a document for mandatory or compulsory evacuation, that legislation is still at the Attorney General's Office.

Jackson said the Disaster Act of 1993 was reviewed to address issues such as no-building zones, mandatory or compulsory evacuation, disaster declaration process and the role of civil servants in disaster management.

"It was reviewed to address some of the areas that we felt were weak in the act itself," said Jackson.

The document was sent to Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne in May.

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