WASHINGTON — Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding has emphasised the need for multilateral financial institutions to create a special regime for indebted middle income countries.
Addressing a high powered team of United States Senators at a special meeting called in his honour on Capitol Hill, on June 9, the Prime Minister said it is a long-standing concern of the Government that Jamaica be accorded more “space” by the multilateral institutions, given its inherent vulnerabilities as a small, heavily indebted country.
“Although being one of the most highly indebted countries in the world, Jamaica is classified as a middle income country, which meant that it is not eligible to receive many of the concessions or considerations available to countries which are classified as poor, even though the combined effect of the high indebtedness and the vulnerabilities, create many of the same effects as those experienced by ‘poor’ countries,” Mr. Golding told the Senators.
He said that Jamaica is not asking to be included in the Least Developed Country (LDC) category; rather, “we have been making the case at the international level, for middle-income countries like Jamaica not to be penalised for their successes."
The Prime Minister also raised with members of the US Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the Vice Chair of Homeland Security, Senator Frank Lautenberg, a proposal he made to both President Barack Obama during the G8 Summit last year and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, which urged the US to come up with creative ways to effectively stem the flow of weapons into Jamaica.
Mr. Golding told the meeting that the illegal gun trade has contributed to the major challenges of security in Jamaica and the region.
Democratic Senator, Robert Menendez of New Jersey noted the concerns highlighted by the Prime Minister and enquired how the US could assist with the other challenges related to security.
The Prime Minister welcomed the request and noted that due to resource limitations, the Government is in need of assistance in a number of areas, for example, satellite tracking technology, which could improve the country’s anti-narcotics efforts.
He said this assistance would facilitate more information being shared on the movement of drug traffickers, particularly in Jamaican waters.
While agreeing that this concern needed further consideration, Democratic Senator, Tom Udall of New Mexico asked whether the tourism sector had been negatively affected by the security concerns being discussed.
In response, the Prime Minister pointed out that the sector had performed well, in spite of the recession and security concerns. The Prime Minister also noted that approximately 70 per cent of stop-over tourists to Jamaica came from the US, followed by Canada and Europe.
The Prime Minister explained that tourism had significant scope for investment and singled out Heritage Tourism for particular mention. He also noted that the Government has embarked on an investment drive in this area, and expressed a desire for more US investors to take advantage of the opportunities in the sector.
Senator Menendez, who is current Chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Global Narcotics Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired the meeting.
Among the Senators of the Foreign Relations Committee in attendance were Senator Christopher Coons (D, Delaware); Senator Marco Rubio (R, Florida); Senator Benjamin Cardin (D, Maryland); Senator Robert Casey (D, Philadelphia) and Senator Udall. Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D, Nevada) also attended the meeting.
Mr. Golding, who was in Washington, D.C. on a five-day visit, held talks with President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Luis Moreno; President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick and the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Naoyuki Shinohara. He also held bilateral talks with Mrs. Clinton.
The Prime Minister presented a lecture at the prestigious Brookings Institute, held talks with several high-level US-based investors, and attended a reception in his honour, hosted by Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks. Mr. Golding also launched the IDB’s art exhibition, which featured works of nine Jamaican artists.
Accompanying the Prime Minister were Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Ms. Onika Miller; Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson; Special Adviser, Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Christopher Zacca and the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Jamaica, Ms. Cherryl Gordon.
By Derrick Scott, JIS Reporter