Minister Chang Lauds Partnership with IDB

Photo: Garwin Davis Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang

Story Highlights

  • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says not only has the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) been a critical player in the water sector, but an unwavering supporter of Jamaica through some difficult economic times.
  • The Minister said the IDB was critical in the creation of the National Water Commission (NWC) from what was then 14 small, parish water companies from across the island with varying standards and operated by the local authorities.
  • Dr. Chang further noted that he was extremely pleased with the collaboration between the IDB and the NWC in putting on what he called a most timely conference, “given the fiscal and geographic realities of the islands in the Caribbean”.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says not only has the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) been a critical player in the water sector, but an unwavering supporter of Jamaica through some difficult economic times.

Dr. Chang, who was speaking at the Government of Jamaica/IDB Water Conference at the RIU Hotel, Montego Bay, on May 3, added that the Bank has been a very important partner as a multilateral agency over the last decade.

The Minister said the IDB was critical in the creation of the National Water Commission (NWC) from what was then 14 small, parish water companies from across the island with varying standards and operated by the local authorities.

“The NWC was designed to create a company that would attract the kind of financing to provide an efficient water utility company in Jamaica. But the truth is, very little was done to capitalise the company until a few years ago. The IDB was critical in that, as our first loan that exceeded US$100 million was obtained to put the NWC on a modern footing,” he pointed out.

Dr. Chang further noted that he was extremely pleased with the collaboration between the IDB and the NWC in putting on what he called a most timely conference, “given the fiscal and geographic realities of the islands in the Caribbean”.

He added that the Government, through the Ministry, stands ready to collaborate with “our partners” to effect meaningful improvements in the water sector.

“It is reported that seven of the world’s top-36 water-stressed countries are in the Caribbean, and the experts have warned us that climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of drought episodes in the region,” Dr. Chang explained.

“What this means is that we have to creatively address, at both the policy and operational levels, the development of sustainable water infrastructure, and this conference is a step in the right direction,” he added.

Dr. Chang argued that while the old adage “water is life” continues to ring true, one of the harsh realities is that governments of the region have to grapple with the dilemma of how to allocate their insufficient financial resources to address the demands for improved water infrastructure and other equally critical areas, such as health and education.

“The Jamaican experience no doubt presents many similarities to those of the Caribbean countries represented here today. Notwithstanding the numerous challenges, the region has come a far way in increasing access to potable water, as the majority of our countries represented here have reported access levels above 90 per cent. For us here in Jamaica, access to potable or improved water sources is 92 per cent,” the Minister said.

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