Jamaica will continue to get assistance from the European Union (EU), says outgoing Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska.
“It’s too early to say what exactly that assistance will focus on, but this would depend very much on what the Government identifies as the most urgent need. It could be support for small and medium businesses, it could be support of a big financial management. Those conversations will be continued by my successor,” she tells JIS News in an interview.
Ambassador Wasilewska, who will take up a new assignment shortly, says the EU will continue to assist countries recovering from the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) pandemic.
“We agreed that we should continue supporting the Government in those areas. Recovery from the huge economic impact of COVID is going to have worldwide priority, in order to help the countries recover,” she notes.
On the EU’s previous support for Jamaica, Ambassador Wasilewska, says during the period 2014 to 2020, some €46 million was allocated to Jamaica.
“But, if we calculate everything that we’ve managed to attract to the country in that period, it is about €102 million, so it’s more than double, which is pretty significant,” she adds.
The Ambassador informs that almost €10 million was reallocated to Jamaica to help the country fight COVID-19.
“We managed to reallocate some of the unspent budget lines or accelerate payments under the current financial cycles,” she notes.
Further, Ambassador Wasilewska says Jamaica’s health system was boosted through the donation of medical equipment allocated under the EU-funded Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC).
She points out that the equipment came at a time when there was a scarcity of ventilators and people were worried. “We more than doubled the capacity in the country with the ventilators that we brought, and other equipment. It is a long list of things,” she tells JIS News.
The Ambassador acknowledges that “partnerships and friendships in times of a crisis are crucial.”
“We will continue being a partner to Jamaica and we will try and focus our assistance in those areas that would be most needed by the people of Jamaica,” she adds.
On the matter of crime and security, Ambassador Wasilewska lauds the Government’s effort to reach a consensus on fighting crime.
“It is a good thing and I do hope that those discussions are fruitful… because I think the national bilateral consensus and bipartisan approach to crime and security are essential,” she argues.
The Ambassador was a guest at the Crime Consensus Summit held recently at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown, Kingston where a National Consensus on Crime Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness; Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Philips and other key stakeholders.
They included the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce; Jamaica Council of Churches; Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica; Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions; Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches, among others.
The MOU outlines the steps that must be taken for a sustainable reduction in crime, inclusive of milestones and agreements on a monitoring and reporting mechanism.
The Ambassador points to the work by the EU on “soft aspects of security” in Jamaica.
“We managed to get additional funding for citizen security, which will focus on social interventions and some of the most vulnerable communities to try and get young people especially, away from crime and from being attracted to getting involved in gangs,” she says.
She is hoping that discussions under the MOU will focus on issues relating to cyber security.
“We have seen worldwide that it can affect politics, elections, and privacy in ways that nobody wants today, so we would support the approach very much, and certain aspects of security,” the Ambassador tells JIS News.