Ja hurricane recovery to cost $23B

Jamaica – Nearly $7 billion has been earmarked by the Jamaica Labour Party administration to continue the Government’s reconstruction and recovery efforts for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The housing sector received the lion’s share of $1 billion to carry out repairs to some 44,000 houses, which were damaged during the August 19 passage of Hurricane Dean.

In his first statement to Parliament as Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw identified at least seven areas in which the Government would disburse funds for the reconstruction and recovery exercise.

He said a range of sectors suffered damage, but the productive sector was hardest hit.

Mr. Shaw said total damage due to the effects of the hurricane had been estimated at $23 billion. Of this amount, total loss to the private sector was $16 billion, while damage to the public sector was set at $7 billion.

The agriculture sector suffered an estimated loss of $3.7 billion, with domestic crops accounting for $904 million of that amount. The Government will contribute $260 million to this sector through the provision of seeds, fertiliser relief, fruit tree crop assistance, support to the banana sector, the coffee subsector and fisheries.

Mr. Shaw told his parliamentary colleagues that the Government would provide $490 million for the recovery of the transport and works sector. The work will include repairs to roads and gullies, construction of retaining walls and the replacement of traffic lights.

In terms of the education sector, $558 million will be spent to repair schools for the financial year. Another $150 million has been set aside to carry out repairs of public buildings.

Commenting on welfare, the Government has allotted $182 million to 91,000 families under the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) and another $187 million in relief supplies to persons who suffered loss as a result of the hurricane.

Financing of the recovery efforts will comprise a mix of funding sources including multilateral grants – $965 million, bilateral grants – $214.2 million, local grants – $217 million and multilateral loans – $1.25 billion.

Mr. Shaw said the Government would be identifying an additional $2 billion to conclude the recovery efforts in the next financial year.