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The Ministry of Finance and Planning will meet with relevant Ministries this week, to prepare submissions to access funding to repair damage to infrastructure as a result of Hurricane Dennis.Cabinet is expected to consider the submissions at its meeting next Monday, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has said, so that the “requisite expenditures can be duly authorized for such variations in the budget and expenditure as will become necessary for us to consider, when the first supplementary estimates are presented to Parliament”.The Prime Minister, who was speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday (July 12), said that a full determination of the cost of hurricane relief, repair and restoration could not be made at this time, as the assessments have not been completed. Cabinet has authorised each Ministry to proceed to undertake the emergency work that was required with funds, which were presently available.
He noted that although each agency was doing its own data gathering in terms of damage and loss, the Planning Institute of Jamaica had been charged with coordinating the process of estimating the full cost of the impact and was expected to announce a preliminary figure by the end of this week. The final figure and the full comprehensive report should be ready by the end of the month.
In the meantime, the Cabinet Office has compiled a situation report and appendices with input from Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and other agencies. The document was tabled in the House yesterday.
The Prime Minister has emphasised that the creation of resilient infrastructure and systems, and an informed, prepared population, which accepted its responsibility in reducing the impact of disasters, would become increasingly critical as cumulative disasters became the norm for the future. Citing a number of disasters, which have adversely affected the island in recent times, including floods, bush fires and drought, Mr. Patterson stated, “these impacts are important because they speak to cumulative vulnerability caused by our inability to recover from one disaster before the next arrives. The weakened systems and affected population are actually more vulnerable to each event because of the damage, whether physical or psychological, incurred by the last event”.
The Prime Minister said the damage from these disasters had been significant with the cost of drought in 2004 amounting to $323 million and Hurricane Charley $250 million, both excluding indirect costs. Meanwhile, Hurricane Ivan cost the country close to $25 billion.
Hurricane Dennis had followed a three-month drought, which severely impacted the agriculture sector and caused a number of bush fires.