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Regional governments urged to pay outstanding contributions to CDEMA

January 13, 2023
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Bridgetown, Barbados, CMC – Chairman of the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Shawn Edward, is urging member countries that have defaulted on their financial obligations to the regional organisation to honour their commitments.

Edward, who is also the Sustainable Development Minister in St. Lucia, told reporters that the regional disaster response agency was ramping up efforts to help residents better prepare for natural disasters.

While he was unable to disclose the amount owed to CDEMA by regional governments, Edward noted that some of the 19 members were not up-to-date on their commitments and efforts were being made to reach an amicable solution to the problem.

He acknowledged that while revenue streams had been restricted over the past two years “this is not in any way making an excuse for member territories who are defaulting on payments.

“I can tell you that since I came in I have put pen to paper, writing to participating territories to let them know their financial statements with the organisation, their responses have been very encouraging. We understand the difficulties that some of the participating territories face at this time.”

Edward said he was optimistic that in the near future, there will be some movements “in terms of the defaulting countries making good on their commitment and owning up and making their contributions available because funding is critical for the daily operations of the agency”.

According to CDEMA’s most recent annual report for the 2019/2020 period, total contributions approved for the financial year September 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020, were an estimated US$1.319 million.

CDEMA said that the Barbados government had agreed to pay US$130,647.21, increasing the total contributions payable to over US$1.343 million.

“The governments of Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Guyana, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Turks and Caicos Islands all made advance contributions. Total contributions received for the period under review totalled US$1,490,304.62. Percentage of total contributions received for 2019/2020 was 76.39 per cent,” said the report.

Edward, who is also St Lucia’s Minister of Education, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, took up the chairmanship of CDEMA last August and paid a one-day visit to the agency’s headquarters on Tuesday meeting with senior management and other staff.

He also met with Canada’s Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, Harjit Sajjan, who [was] in Barbados as part of a wider Caribbean visit on issues of regional priority.

Edward told reporters that part of that meeting will be to discuss how Canada can increase its support to the region’s disaster preparedness efforts.

“CDEMA is a very critical organisation for the region. If ever there was a time for us to pool resources together to treat with an issue that is of importance to the people of the region, I think now is the best time. So we need a strong CDEMA.

“We need CDEMA to get as much support as it can from participating territories and also some of the international organisations and friendly governments that we have been working with over the years,” Edward said, adding that the region did not have any “windfall” on which to depend.

Edward said a major part of the 18-year-old agency’s efforts in the coming months would be to raise public awareness with a focus on schoolchildren through CDEMA’s National Safe School programme which was introduced in 2020 with the training of individuals in participating member states.

“We have a very serious mandate that we will continue to execute on behalf of the people of the region to the best of our abilities, and we need all civil society organisations and government agencies to work in unison,” Edward said.

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