Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 18, 2020(SKNIS): The National Disaster Management (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which had its first reading on October 15, 2020, was passed by the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis’ National Assembly on November 18, 2020.
Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and Mover of the Bill, stated that the purpose of the Bill is to make for greater alignment between the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) within the national disaster legislative framework.
“Mr. Speaker, this is a very short Bill and it is a very consequential Bill that follows naturally from the discussions we would have been having with regard to COVID-19 and other related matters as they all attend in relation to the pandemic,” said Prime Minister Harris.
“We anticipate Mr. Speaker that there will be further and more comprehensive reviews and modifications of the National Disaster Management Act to seek and ensure that the administrative and institutional framework that is well established under the National Disaster Management Plan is captured under the new law,” he said.
The Prime Minister additionally said, “In fact, the National Disaster Management Plan regulates collaboration and the coordination of efforts during times of disaster and emergency and it goes without saying Mr. Speaker that ideally all the relevant persons and agencies should be well aligned during the critical times.”
“In that vein Mr. Speaker, the expression NEMA has been defined and its power has been clearly articulated. Similarly, the NEOC, which is the National Emergency Operations Center, its location has been identified and linked of course to the National Emergency Management Agency,” said Prime Minister Harris.
He mentioned as well that there are a number of different persons and agencies involved in various disaster management exercises and they may at times have similar or overlapping responsibilities.
Prime Minister Harris said that “We know that we have a personal duty and responsibility to take care of ourselves and our families by wearing masks and sanitizing our hands, practicing physical distancing—all of these were covered in the legislation which we debated before, and what this attempts to do is to put a stronger footing in the operations at NEMA and the NEOC and to ensure that we have an alignment of the COVID-19 Bill in terms of the expectations and the coordinating role.