JIS News

Members of the Jamaican community in the United Kingdom (UK) have been commended for their support of the government’s sugar lobby.
Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke and Executive Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority, Ambassador Derrick Heaven have said lobbying from the various Jamaican organizations and individuals has enabled Jamaica and other African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to get the hearing they deserved.
“I must commend Ambassador Derrick Heaven for what he has been able to do in mobilising the Diaspora for the kind of pressure that they have put on MPs in Britain. It has enabled us to get the type of hearing that we really deserved. And it has come from many of you, the letters have gone out. Politicians react to numbers, people are important and we listen to your voices,” Mr. Clarke said.
The Minister was speaking at a community meeting at the Jamaican High Commission in London on January 25. The Minister and Ambassador Heaven were in London en route from a meeting of ACP and European Union (EU) Agriculture Ministers.
The EU is proposing changes to the current sugar regime with the ACP countries, which will see a reduction in the price of sugar by 37 per cent. The price cut was originally expected to start this year, but has been delayed until 2006.
Mr. Clarke said the reduction would devastate rural economies and send thousand of unskilled migrants flooding into the towns and resort areas.
“We have to fight to retain as best we can, the level of pricing… I know that many of you will be willing to pay a little more, knowing that it is coming from your country and is supporting a cause. The price of bananas has decreased to us (Jamaica) substantially, but you are not paying any less for bananas,” he said.
Ambassador Heaven said the tremendous effort of the Jamaican community has had a significant impact, and he urged the community to utilise this leverage more to bring about positive changes in the lives of the community.
“You might not be able to appreciate how much those letters you have signed and sent to your MPs, the impact they have had. People respond to letters and we have not been sufficiently utilising this leverage to our own benefit and the benefit of our children and grandchildren. I would urge you to recognise just how important a potential you have to influence things on your behalf,” Ambassador Heaven said.
He said the letters from the community have caused Members of Parliament to write to the relevant Ministers.
“You have applied pressure and got them to at least listen to us,” the Ambassador said.

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