Barbados is being urged to reinstate its national catastrophe fund.
Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson issued this caution during a recent courtesy call on Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson.
Jackson, who was accompanied by his deputy, Elizabeth Riley, and CDEMA’s Planning and Business Development Manager Andria Grosvenor, noted that the island currently relied on the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CRIF) in the event of damage or loss following a natural disaster.
However, he warned that CRIF should be seen as a last resort, even though Barbados had previously relied on its funds for non-catastrophes, such as Tropical Storm Matthew.
“Barbados needs to look at its triggering point. You don’t want to claim for rainfall and wind damage,” Jackson stressed.
Riley further explained that CRIF was a parametric trigger which had no relation to the impact sustained. She used the example of Dominica, which received a payout from the fund to the tune of US$19 million, but sustained US$1.3 billion in damages following hurricane devastation last year.
“You need to have your own fund because the CRIF will not cover all the costs you will experience,” she therefore advised.
The Mia Mottley-led administration was also urged to establish a continuity of government plan, which would indicate how the leadership of the country would be secured in the aftermath of a disaster.
Jackson noted that the governments of Dominica, Grenada, Haiti and the British Virgin Islands experienced challenges in getting back up and running following recent disasters.
In response, Hinkson said his ministry would look into CDEMA’s concerns. He also said Government was looking to implement a $5 million roof repair programme, adding that a Building Act was to be brought to Parliament soon.
Hinkson also said Government was committed to devising a regime for those with chattel houses valued at $225,000 or less, to have insurance.
“We must not be naive to think that we will solve these problems overnight,” he said.