The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves wants Caribbean leaders to impose a 1 per cent Disaster Levy on their citizens to go towards disaster recovery.
And while he agreed that residents may not be happy with the new tax, he is convinced that it will be in their best interest as the levy will support the resilience of the poor.
“They will say we are wicked when in fact the poor, particularly poor women and children are the most vulnerable to disasters,” he said during an address to officially kick off the 2017 hurricane season yesterday.
Dr Gonsalves said that regional governments face serious financial burdens following disasters.
“Every year, as soon as we have a small event, we have to find millions of dollars just to clean up”, he said.
According to him, most times, the leaders have to resort to borrowing from other countries to recover from disasters.
“We have to find money to buy food and to help poor people when their homes are affected. We have to sometimes find them homes or rent homes for them,” the Vincentian prime minister added.
Meantime, Dr Gonsalves is calling for the implementation of a disaster plan which he said should be specifically formulated for every household.
“Please families, do not take the weather pattern for a joke,” he implored. “You have to be prepared. You have to make sure you have a disaster plan set up in your homes.”
The prime minister also advised Caribbean children to refrain from cavorting in the rain during storms.
“I know they think it’s fun … rain falling you jumping up and down because children believe they are invincible … but it is dangerous,” he said.
The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins today, June 1 and comes to a close on November 30.