The Government of Jamaica acting through the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MOFPS) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which articulates broad collaboration principles and strategic objectives and capitalizes on the commonalities between the objectives and approaches that establish the basis for ongoing dialogue and cooperation to disaster risk reduction and disaster risk finance in Jamaica.
Minister Clarke said, "Jamaica's economic progress is constantly under threat because of natural disasters. Even though Jamaica has made tremendous progress in economic reforms over the last 5 years, particularly in reducing public debt from 145% of GDP to less than 95%, this progress could be lost overnight due to a single disaster if we are unprepared. Recognizing this vulnerability, Jamaica has partnered with the World Bank to develop a country-specific National Natural Disaster Risk Finance (DRF) Policy. The intent is to improve the GOJ's public financial management and risk management frameworks in order to mitigate the financial risks that disasters pose, and to develop and launch financial instruments to mitigate or transfer the risk of financial losses due to natural disasters. Jamaica requested bilateral assistance and participation from USAID through the commitment of US$5 million to pursue this resilience goal and today's Signing Ceremony signals the commitment of the Government of Jamaica and that of our collaborating partners to that process."
The GOJ and the USAID share a common interest in supporting programming, and implementing development activities in Jamaica that are geared towards the creation of economic prosperity, reduction of crime, and increase in stability by targeting funds towards projects that should have a lasting impact and those that are intended to improve the lives of as many people in Jamaica as possible. Recognizing the risk of natural disasters, the government has embarked on an ambitious reform program, combining expanded financial protection against disasters with fiscal and public financial management reforms designed to enhance resilience.
In thanking Minister Clarke, USAID Assistant Administrator (AA) for Latin America and the Caribbean John Barsa said, "It is our hope that this new partnership will reinforce the work that is already being done by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. Further, the Memorandum outlines our mutual commitment to support innovative financing mechanisms that will provide financial reserves at times when it is needed the most, like in the wake of a natural disaster. Not only will this enable Jamaica to finance its own recovery, but it will also reduce recovery costs. This Agreement also marks another important step forward in the longstanding partnership between Jamaica and the United States and our growing engagement with the Caribbean region, as outlined in the US-Caribbean 2020 Strategy. An important component of the strategy includes promoting sustainable economic policies that will build the resilience needed to protect economic gains. USAID looks forward to continue to work with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service on shared priorities that will lead to a more secure and prosperous Jamaica."
The World Bank, with support from the United Kingdom, is providing technical assistance for Jamaica's preparation of a National Natural Disaster Risk Financing Policy. The USAID is an independent agency of the United States Government that works closely with the State Department and receives foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. USAID has been on the ground in Jamaica and working to help the people of Jamaica to improve their social and economic well-being for almost 60 years. USAID has assisted Jamaica with building resilience in the agricultural, transportation and energy sectors.