The Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to improve the nation’s financial and fiscal resilience that will help to safeguard against losses during natural disasters.
The MoU was signed by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke and Assistant Administrator for the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau, USAID/Washington, Mr. John Barsa at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Heroes Circle, on Thursday (October 31).
A component of the MoU involves support in the amount of US$5 million from USAID to the Government of Jamaica.
The MoU illustrates the participants’ wish to cooperate in a mutual effort that will enhance Jamaica’s resilience to natural disasters, in support of Jamaica’s Disaster Risk Financing Strategy that calls for changes to Jamaica’s disaster risk finance policies.
It is also geared towards ensuring that Jamaica can mitigate financial risks from disasters.
In his address, Dr. Clarke said the Government is happy to partner with the USAID in this initiative.
“The Government of Jamaica has had a very long relationship with USAID, with our first agreement signed in 1963, which makes the USAID one of our longest relationships in the development space,” the Minister said.
“We know only too well that one disaster, for which we are unprepared, can erase all the gains that we have worked so hard to achieve…The Government of Jamaica, in light of that reality, is taking a forward look and strategic approach to ensure that we address the risk to our public finances that natural disasters present,” Dr. Clarke added.
The Minister pointed out that the MoU will help the Government of Jamaica with policies as well.
“We’re working towards the adoption of a policy on the public financial management of natural disaster risks, and that policy will speak to the measures that we’ll be taking before the emergence of a natural disaster event, to ensure that we have resources other than budgetary resources to draw upon, in the event of a natural disaster,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Barsa said the USAID is looking towards working with the Government to achieve the goals outlined.
“Jamaica’s exposure to natural disasters can put all of these accomplishments at risk, be it from a hurricane, earthquake or any other unplanned natural disaster. There is fragility in terms of what we have here, and planning is essential,” Mr. Barsa said.
“We have all heard that ‘you should save something for a rainy day’. As we all know, being in the Caribbean, a rainy day could be of hurricane proportions, but preparing ahead of time, we can mitigate losses and speed up recovery,” he added.