- The European Union (EU) has contributed a total of €31 million or J$4.7 billion in development assistance to Jamaica, up to the end of September.
- Head of the Delegation in Jamaica, Her Excellency Paola Amadei, says this is more than the EU disbursed in 2012, and is close to 70 per cent of the allocation for the similar period in 2013.
- The organisation remains Jamaica’s largest provider of grant resources, which means its contributions do not add to the country’s debt burden.
The European Union (EU) has contributed a total of €31 million or J$4.7 billion in development assistance to Jamaica, up to the end of September.
Head of the Delegation in Jamaica, Her Excellency Paola Amadei, says this is more than the EU disbursed in 2012, and is close to 70 per cent of the allocation for the similar period in 2013.
“We still have some time to go [before the end of 2014], so the expectation is that by the end of the year, we would have disbursed a similar amount of money to last year,” she states.
Mrs. Amadei, who was speaking with JIS News at the EU’s headquarters in Kingston, recently informs that the EU contributed a total of $7 billion in development assistance to Jamaica in 2013.
In addition, Ambassador Amadei says Jamaica is also part of a larger group of African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that have also received development funds totalling some €1 billion from the EU for the period 2014 to 2020.
Of this amount, Jamaica has been allocated a total of €46 million under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Programme (NIP), towards its development efforts in the areas of justice, environment and climate change and public financial management.
Among the beneficiary sectors, justice has been allocated the largest share of the funding, accounting for 50 per cent of the allocation, or €23 million.
Additionally, environment and climate change initiatives will come in for renewed focus with an allocation of 33 per cent of the available funding or €15.25 million, while eight per cent of the money or €3.65 million will be spent on measures pertaining to public financial management.
The remainder of the funding will go towards initiatives in support of the civil society (five per cent or €2.3 million), and other support measures (four per cent or €1.8 million).
Ambassador Amadei tells JIS News that the EU continues to make significant contributions to Jamaica’s development out of its commitment to international solidarity, poverty alleviation, and the growth of small developing states.
“Our support programmes form part of our peace and development agenda, under which the EU subscribes to sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” she states, adding, “the objective is for all countries move up in the human development scale, as well as to see people in the country improve their situations and the creation of a more equal society.”
She informs that the organisation remains resolute in its support to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region, pointing out that even at a time when a number of European countries are facing economic difficulties and austerity programmes have been put in place, Europeans remain favourable to devoting part of their tax funds to cooperate with developing countries.
In fact, since formally establishing relations with the EU some 39 years ago, Jamaica has accessed official development assistance of approximately €1.2 billion or $170 billion, through the European Development Fund (EDF) and the general budget of the EU.
These funds have been primarily grant resources and have spanned sectors such as education, human rights awareness, security, agriculture and rural development, public financial management and private sector enhancement, with the primary objective of tackling poverty and achieving sustainable development.
The organisation remains Jamaica’s largest provider of grant resources, which means its contributions do not add to the country’s debt burden.
“The fact is that, unlike some other partners, the funding from the EU is in the form of grants, so the funds are given and stay with Jamaica, with the only condition that there is effective and transparent implementation,” she explains.
Mrs. Amadei also notes that a large portion of the funds is provided to Jamaica in the form of budgetary support.
“This means that the transfer is made to the Government of Jamaica on the basis of a framework of policies and commitments undertaken by the Government and it goes to the Budget and then is spent according to the priorities set by the Administration itself,” she says.
Ambassador Amadei points out that the EU does not interfere with how the funds are spent, but instead this is left up to the “discretion of the elected Government.”
While the Union’s contributions to Jamaica over the past three decades have benefitted a number of sectors, Ambassador Amadei considers the commitment to agriculture its most far-reaching contribution.
For example, the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries facility, which receives funding support from the EU, has been a major source of support to the agricultural sector for several years.
Through this programme, the organisation has been a significant partner in the Government’s efforts to transform the sugar industry in Jamaica.
The programme has also allowed the relocation of more than 800 persons under the Sugar Barracks Relocation Programme.
At the same time, the Special Framework of Assistance for the Banana Support Programme has been a major source of help to banana farmers and former banana growers, as the country works to diversify its agricultural produce in light of changing international realities.
The EU has also extended a helping hand to the country in the aftermath of natural disasters. In recent times, the Tropical Storm Gustav and Tropical Storm Nicole Rehabilitation assistance programmes have helped to bolster the national recovery efforts.
Another notable area of partnership between Jamaica and the EU is the Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP), which is implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) in vulnerable communities across the island.
Under the PRP, the EU, together with the Government of Jamaica, has rehabilitated and expanded several early childhood institutions, community centres and police stations, providing communities with better access to services.
For Ambassador Amadei, the signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2008 is also a significant achievement for both CARICOM and the EU. Under the agreement, products and services coming out of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM), such as Jamaica provide for a liberal trading regime with greater reciprocity than previously obtained.
Prior to the signing of the EPA, regional exporters enjoyed greater duty-free access to the EU market and quotas that allowed them to avoid price competition with states from outside the Lomé ACP bloc.
Meanwhile, one of the EU’s newest initiatives, the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), has a total of €22 million committed over the next three years to assist Jamaica in reducing maternal and child mortality.
The project is expected to assist the island in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and MDG five. MDG four relates to reducing infant deaths; while MDG five speaks to improving maternal health.
Under the programme, health workers will receive further training in the area of maternal and infant care; while the maternity wards at five hospitals across the island will be refurbished and equipped. These are: the Mandeville Regional Hospital in Manchester; Bustamante Hospital for Children and Victoria Jubilee, in Kingston;
St. Ann’s Bay hospital; Spanish Town Hospital in St. Catherine and Cornwall Regional in St. James.
“In addition, there will also be interventions to improve four primary health care facilities across the island as well as the Chapelton and Alexandria Community Hospitals,” Ambassador Amadei informed, adding, “This is to ensure that better service is not only provided at the larger hospitals, but also at the smaller facilities, so that women can go there during their pregnancies.”
As Jamaica and the EU look forward to celebrating 40 years of friendship and cooperation in 2015, Ambassador Amadei hopes that the relationship will continue to thrive, becoming even more beneficial to both parties.