CARICOM leaders are being implored to bring up to date their contributions to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency Special Fund so that the region can together react more quickly to natural disasters.
The call was made by Haiti's President Jovenel MoÃse on Wednesday night during the opening ceremony of the three-day 39th Conference of the Heads of Government of CARICOM at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
"The working capital of this important regional institution must first and foremost come from the contribution of the member countries," he stated, explaining that the contribution of the technical and financial partners should only complement and strengthen the region's efforts.
The region's hurricane season started on June 1 and ends on November 30. The Caribbean is not expecting the devastation that it experienced after being hit by hurricanes Maria and Irma last year.
However, MoÃse noted that natural-disaster management requires country ownership at the national level, with contribution to a regional approach. He has already instructed authorities in his country to pay Haiti's contribution to the fund.
This week, a Gleaner report stated that there were concerns within the CARICOM Secretariat that delinquent countries were tardy in paying their contributions to the regional body.
Director of Finance at the Secretariat Dawn Baldeo-Koylass reportedly said that because of the delayed payment of contributions by some member states, the Secretariat's budget and its ability to fulfil its mandate in a timely manner were negatively impacted. The concerns were expressed in a report from the 21st meeting of the Budget Committee of CARICOM.
A comparison of unpaid contributions for the budget years 2012 to 2016 shows that 84.3 per cent of the approved budget was unpaid by member states in 2016.
This compares with 49.4 per cent in 2012. As at December 31, 2016, the total outstanding contribution from member states stood at EC$46.3 million.
The only other year when outstanding contributions exceeded that of 2016 was 2014, when the debt, as at December 31, was 87.6 per cent, or EC$47.5 million.