Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Region advised to take disaster fund seriously

(L-R) Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association (SBA), Lynette Holder, Minister of Industry and Business Development, Donville Innis; Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller along with other members of the SBA.

(L-R) Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association (SBA), Lynette Holder, Minister of Industry and Business Development, Donville Innis; Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller along with other members of the SBA.

Caribbean countries are beginning to put the pieces of their lives back together even as the very active 2017 hurricane season continues.

Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller said the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, both Category Five systems, is all the more reason why Caribbean countries need to commit to and seriously support the regional disaster fund.

“Let us not wait for another Irma or Maria to begin to do what we know has to be done. The Caribbean region must come together fully now understanding that in any given year at least one territory in the region is likely to be severely impacted by one disaster or another.”

Simpson-Miller delivered the 8th Annual Leo Leacock Memorial Lecture as part of the activities for Small Business Week at the Errol Barrow Center for Creative Imagination (EBBCI) on Tuesday night.

Dominica was hard hit by Maria in the last week destroying more than 90 percent of building structures and leaving residents without adequate shelter. Simpson-Miller said disasters such as this drive home the point that climate change is indeed real especially for the Small Island Developing States who appear to be most at risk.

She also said the region needs to invest in building capacity and resources to deal with natural disasters and added there should be standard building codes established for all commercial and residential structures to possibly withstand these disasters.

She also suggested Caribbean countries form alliances with international countries who can provide aid.

“I further suggest that it may well be time to engage in the support of international countries who do business in the region such as cruise ships and airlines to contribute to such a fund. Islands in the region are not resource-rich nations and one hurricane can wreck havoc many times our GDP leading to decades or rebuilding and reconstruction.”

Simpson- Miller commended Barbados and other countries involved in the hurricane relief efforts noting “in times of disaster every little counts”.

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