Private Sector Pledge Millions to Relief Fund


Several private sector entities on Tuesday (Sept. 14) pledged significant contributions to the Jamaica Hurricane Relief Fund announced by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in the aftermath of hurricane Ivan. The pledges were made at a special meeting of representatives of the private sector and leaders of business conglomerates at Jamaica House.
Hundreds of millions of dollars were pledged at Tuesday’s meeting with several companies promising to make their pledges after consultations with senior directors and board members. In addition, two banking institutions have promised to make millions of dollars in loans available to the public at special rates as part of their contribution to the recovery effort. Assistance in kind has also been forthcoming, with many companies indicating their willingness to provide relief supplies and freight forwarding services either at reduced rates or free of cost.
In his opening remarks at the special meeting, Mr. Patterson commended the private sector for the commitment given ahead of the hurricane and for the positive response the government had received from the commercial group since the onslaught of hurricane Ivan. He said this played a crucial role in ensuring that adequate food supply was available to the public before and after the hurricane.
Turning to the imposition of a period of public emergency, the Prime Minister said that as the country was faced with the prospect of a hurricane occurring at night, measures had to be implemented that would give the security forces the requisite powers to act and ensure public safety. Mr. Patterson said an assessment of the damage caused by Ivan was still being undertaken and he noted that the military might be deployed to assist in the assessment in order to ensure that the process was completed as quickly as possible.
In updating the business leaders on the resumption of public utilities, Prime Minister Patterson said that electricity supply was being restored to the essential services sector first after which electricity would be restored to the productive sector and residential customers. He said every effort was being made to ensure that the commercial sector could return to full productivity in the shortest possible time.
Mr. Patterson said it was everybody’s business to get Jamaica on the road to recovery as soon as possible, adding that this must be done in a manner that does not derail the development now taking place in the country. He said a comprehensive communication plan was being prepared that would involve the Jamaica Tourist Board and JAMPRO to ensure that the country remains visible in the international arena. This Mr. Patterson noted was significant to the tourism sector and to the investments the country was now attracting.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Patterson stated that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management had sole responsibility for the national relief effort and that all donations should be channeled through that agency. A special facility has been set up at the Norman Manley International Airport to enable the speedy process of relief supplies arriving in the island.
As the country engages in the recovery process after hurricane Ivan, Prime Minister Patterson will on Wednesday (Sept. 15) meet with members of the Diplomatic Community and External Agencies as well as Church leaders, trade union representatives, non-governmental organizations and the medical association of Jamaica.

JIS Social