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Efforts to mitigate the impact of Hurricane Dean on the Jamaican economy have been boosted with the signing of a US$10 million loan facility between the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank in Washington, DC.
The Hurricane Dean Emergency Recovery Loan agreement, which was signed on (Jan. 8) by Minister of Finance and Public Service, Audley Shaw, is aimed at rehabilitating the country’s social and economic infrastructure in the aftermath of last year’s major storm and seeks to ensure that economic targets are met, despite setbacks resulting from the hurricane.
The loan will facilitate the repair of basic infrastructure, particularly within the education and health sectors, and will also enable the repair of key parochial roads, thereby allowing access to important health and educational facilities in rural Jamaica as well as access to productive infrastructure. In addition, the facility will also assist Jamaica in building capacity in disaster preparedness and mitigation and will finance other initiatives aimed at strengthening the country’s response capability to deal with natural hazards.
In signing the statement, the Minister commended the World Bank for its work in significantly expediting the funding process which, he noted, would allow for the urgent repair of schools and community health clinics across the island.
He noted that “this partnership with the World Bank is demonstrative of the priority that the Jamaican government continues to place on deepening our multilateral cooperation, which is vital to achieving our overall national development objectives.”
Minister Shaw further emphasized that the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure was of “utmost importance to the Jamaican government given the devastation that was occasioned by Hurricane Dean and the impact that has been subsequently felt by thousands of Jamaicans, particularly many who are among our most vulnerable.”
He noted that funding provided by the World Bank would aid in repairing of 79 schools, 28 health centres and 14 farm roads, with a total of more than 120 projects which have been designated as beneficiary support areas.
According to the Minister, the Hurricane Dean Emergency Recovery Project will be administered by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), which has “an enviable track record in responding to the needs of the poor and the most vulnerable in our society”.
Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, who accompanied Minister Shaw to the signing, pledged the JSIF’s full commitment to the rehabilitation and restoration of infrastructure critical to the nation’s social and economic advancement.
Mr. Shaw, who also held a series of high level meetings with World Bank officials at the Bank’s Washington headquarters, is expected to return to the island today (Jan. 9).