Jamaica has been assured of full support and continued assistance from Europe, despite the current global crisis, by the head of the European Commission’s delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni.
Ambassador Alemanni said that despite the world economic crisis, Jamaica has the European Union’s (EU) full support and continued commitment to assistance. He added that while the world crisis has led to cut backs on a number of programmes, Jamaica has nothing to worry about as far as the EU is concerned.
“We are not cutting down our programmes in Jamaica; we are not cutting down on our programmes in the developing world. We have a sacred contract with you which is called the Cotonou convention,” he stated.
EU Ambassador to Jamaica, Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni (centre), signs the EU Banana Support Programme contract through which a total of JA$371 million will be made available for economic and social intervention programmes in traditional banana producing communities in six parishes across Jamaica. Looking on are, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), and Managing Director of JSIF, Mrs Scarlette Gillings (right). The signing took place at the Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay on Wednesday March 11, 2009.
He was addressing a signing ceremony for two contracts between the EU and Jamaican institutions; the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) for a total of $159 million; and the St. James Parish Council for approximately $212 million.
The funds are being granted under the EU’s Banana Support Programme, for the implementation of social and economic infrastructure projects in six traditional banana growing parishes – St. James, Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas.
Ambassador Alemanni pointed out that the EU’s commitment to Jamaica is firm, because the union believes that it is in times of crisis that cooperation is most needed. He asked that Jamaica also maintain its commitments to cooperation, as well.
He named the many areas in which the EU has supported programmes with Jamaica inclusive of the sugar industry, adding that he is confident that the agriculture minister is doing his best to bring to a successful conclusion the reform of the sugar sector.
Turning his attention to the Jamaican banana industry, which suffered great setbacks as a result of recent hurricanes, and which should be the main beneficiary from the two contracts which were being signed, the EU Ambassador said that within Union they are convinced that now, more than ever, they have to help in the search for alternatives for that sector.
“As EU, we are interested not only in the welfare of the sector, but also the people who rely on the sector, and that is why we chose to invest in measures that will help to cushion the fallout in the banana export sector”, he said.
Ambassador Alemanni said that there is opportunity in the present situation within the banana industry, for Jamaica to find new and viable alternatives that will help feed new industries that need to be developed.
“EU money is not blood money, EU money is banana money, EU money is sugar money, money for the community, money for the average man. It is not offered with conditions. The only condition is that it should be used for the welfare of the Jamaican People,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, in his address, expressed gratitude to the EU for its continued contribution to a range of critical developmental projects. He pointed out that the government and the EU have partnered in several projects over many years which have worked to their mutual benefit.
“We intend to continue the collaboration, as it relates to today’s signing to ensure that these projects are completed and, certainly from the Jamaican government’s perspective, we intend to ensure that our commitments are carried through, just as we are pretty confident that Europe will similarly carry through its commitments,” he stated.
He pointed to the many challenges posed by the unpredictable economic environment, which could lead to adjustments within a project or process. He said that allowances should always be made for adjustments, which should not be viewed as a lack of commitment towards policy or position.