JIS News

The government of Jamaica has benefited from $1.1 billion (US$18 million) in grant assistance from the United States for post Hurricane Ivan recovery and reconstruction.
The allocation to Jamaica is part of a package of assistance valued at US $100 million, to hurricane-affected countries in the region.
Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies and United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Sue Cobb signed the agreement on Friday (Nov. 12) at the Ministry’s National Heroes’ Circle office in Kingston.
The recovery programme, for which the funds will be used, will be administered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) over a 12-month period ending December 31, 2005 and the agency will partner with the Finance Ministry, small contractors, non-governmental groups, community-based organisations and beneficiaries to effectively execute reconstruction projects. Ambassador Cobb said that the money was expected to go towards the rebuilding of homes, schools and community centres and provide assistance for small business enterprises. “It includes housing repairs and new construction, building and repairing water and sanitation systems, technical assistance for small and medium-sized businesses to get up and running, and grants for agro-businesses, fisheries and craft vendors, to bring those income producing enterprises back to their rightful places in the Jamaican economy,” she stated.
The aid to Jamaica, represents an expansion of the USAID’s US$7.5 million rapid response recovery assistance, which was initiated in October and USAID Mission Director, Karen Turner said that this expanded programme, was aimed at community and economic revitalization, and school rehabilitation. “The objectives of the expanded programme are very simple – help Jamaica restore lost productive capacity as soon as possible; generate employment; use self-help principles to empower communities to help themselves recover; and ‘build back better’ by using relevant building codes and appropriate technology to reduce vulnerability to catastrophic damage in future hurricanes,” she stated.
For his part, Dr. Davies expressed appreciation for the support and assured that the funds would be used in communities that were most in need.
He noted that Hurricane Ivan had been an economic setback as up to August, economic growth for 2004 and fiscal year 2004/2005 was ahead of target.
Notwithstanding the financial setback, he stated that the government intended to stick to its medium term macroeconomic targets, in particular, the balancing of the budget by fiscal year 2005/2006.
“This is not just an empty commitment,” he asserted, “because it has implications, implications for collection of revenues and implications for ensuring that whatever the expenditure undertaken can be justified.”
Minister Davies stated that the medium term programme had borne fruit, as there had been an oversubscription by European investors, to the bond issued after Hurricane Ivan. This, he claimed, was a reflection of the continued confidence by overseas investors in the Jamaican economy.

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