JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has called for the Commonwealth to take a fresh approach to the challenges facing heavily indebted middle income countries like Jamaica.
Prime Minister Golding made the call on (Nov 23) at the first day’s meeting in Kampala, Uganda of members attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting from November 23-25.
Addressing a special meeting of Caribbean Heads with the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, on the Margins of the Commonwealth Summit, Mr. Golding pointed out that a number of countries in the Caribbean were in need of new responses to their debt problems to enable them to accelerate economic growth and social development.
While paying tribute to the UK Government for initiating the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief programme which had benefited a number of countries, Mr. Golding said he wanted the multilateral financial institutions and the Group of Eight (G8) developed countries, to examine the issues facing developing countries which were adjudged to be not poor enough to qualify for concessionary loans, but which nevertheless had to reduce their spending on important social services because of the high debt burden and debt service costs. These factors, he said, were reducing the prospects of countries like those in the Caribbean achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In this context, the Prime Minister said “access to financing and refinancing would be of enormous assistance to the Caribbean”.
The UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, welcomed the proposal and suggested that the Commonwealth Heads meeting in Uganda should support a call for the review of the International Financial Institutions to make them more responsive to the real needs of the present time and the challenges facing their client countries.
The CARICOM Heads also discussed strategies for concluding the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Commission on terms which would be mutually beneficial. Emphasizing the development component of the (EPAs), they reaffirmed their resolve that no country should be worse off than they were under previous agreements.
The UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown assured the Caribbean Heads that there was “no diminution of British interest” in the region and that his government would work with them in furtherance of their development goals.
The UK and Caribbean governments will hold the next UK/Caribbean Forum in London in April 2008 when issues such as trade, investment, education and security will be pursued in depth.

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