Jamaican Government Confident That Island Can Bounce Back From Beryl.

Photo: Visit Jamaica 2014. Jamaica is a favorite English-speaking vacation destination for north Americans.
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Jamaica’s government remains confident that the island nation will be able to recover from the infrastructure damage caused during Hurricane Beryl’s recent sally along the southern coast of the island.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, noted in a statement that while the severe weather system’s path and intensity did not trigger Jamaica’s Catastrophe Bond, there are other sources of money for repairs.

The Bond is intended to provide Jamaica with financial protection against a Category Five or very intense Category Four hurricanes making landfall.

“The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has strategically put in place a multi-layered set of financial instruments to pre-finance the emergency response and recovery costs of natural disasters. While it is neither expected nor designed that all storms will trigger all instruments, the idea is that we should always be able to access resources from some instruments for every storm,” Minister Clarke said.

He acknowledged that preliminary assessments of the damage resulting from Hurricane Beryl means that the Government will have to draw on all of the resources available in the first two layers – the Contingency Fund and the Natural Disaster Fund, totalling $4.5 billion.

Additionally, Dr. Clarke said the Administration would likely have to tap into the next layer – an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Contingent Credit Line (CCL) – which facilitates a maximum provision of approximately $46 billion.

While advising that he initiated the process to access funds under the CCL, Dr. Clarke said, “it will take a few days to ascertain exactly how much of this Beryl will trigger as well as how much we will need”.

The Minister indicated that there are also other disaster funding arrangements in place due to the Government’s prudence and forward thinking.

“The GOJ has a $140-billion Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The PLL is intended for countries with strong fundamentals, and can be drawn in the event of liquidity problems that emerge from natural disasters or economic shocks,” he reiterated.

While noting that it is “too early to rule anything out”, Dr. Clarke said the Government does not “anticipate that Hurricane Beryl has led to, or will lead to, liquidity issues for the GOJ”.

As such, he said “this facility (PLL) is… unlikely to be drawn [by the Government]”.

“Over the next few days, the GOJ will aggregate the estimates of damage and interventions required and finalise the total resources from disaster risk financing sources. We have been proactive in arranging disaster risk financing that is contingent on the occurrence of natural disaster, in advance. As such, we do not need to scramble in the aftermath of Beryl to finance the emergency response required,” Dr. Clarke indicated.

He maintained that the Administration will remain prudent with disaster risk financing and other resources, consequent on the fact that Beryl was just the first named storm for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season.

Last year, the Government conducted public consultation on its National Natural Disaster Risk Financing Policy (NNDRFP).

The facility is designed to aid Jamaica in achieving improved resilience in handling the aftermath of disasters and adequately planning and preparing, financially, for these disasters.

It targets pre- and post-disaster measures, and primarily focuses on how to plan for and ensure adequate financial capacity to better afford the fallout.

This is expected to improve the Government’s responsiveness to the outcomes of disasters without putting a strain on the Consolidated Fund.

The ultimate goal of this policy is to minimise the fiscal impact on the national Budget.

In March 2022, Jamaica was elevated from Level 2 (“exercise increased caution”) to Level 3 (“reconsider travel”) by the United States Department of State in its advisories for foreign travel.

In January, the State Department updated its advisory with additional details about areas of concern, citing specifically crime and medical services in the country.

A spokeswoman for the State Department called the update “routine” and said there was no specific incident that spurred the advisory. She said the crime information remains substantively unchanged from the previous advisory.

The US State Department issues warnings for many countries including the UK, which it considers to be potentially dangerous because of terrorism and driving on the left.

Source: Jamaica Information Service, US Department of State.

 

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