JIS News

Jamaicans in the United Kingdom (UK) have thrown their support behind the government’s sugar lobby and are pressing their political representatives to bring the issue to the British and European parliaments.
Community groups in Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester and Leicester have initiated a letter writing campaign to their councillors, members of parliament and representatives in the European parliament, asking for Jamaica to be given more time to adjust to the new pricing regime for sugar announced recently by the European Union. The new regime will see the price of sugar from Jamaica and other African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries being cut by 37 per cent over a three year-period beginning in 2005.
Jamaican Councillors in Nottingham are also seeking to have the issue discussed at an upcoming Labour Party meeting and they want the party to raise the matter with British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Des Wilson, told JIS News that the Jamaican councillors were planning a public meeting to build awareness of the issue. “We had to get involved because anything that affects the Jamaican economy personally affects us. Any loss of earnings from the sugar sector will have a very serious effect on the entire country, especially rural communities,” he stated.
Councillor Hilton James, who is leading the Nottingham lobby, agreed that a 37 per cent cut in the price for sugar would be a problem for Jamaica. “We need to put more pressure on the British government on this issue,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Paulette Simpson, UK delegate to the Diaspora Advisory Council, informed that the group was working to increase awareness of the issue throughout the country. ” What we found out was that there was not an awareness of the issue and how it would affect Jamaica, so the challenge has been to create this awareness and encourage the community to act,” she stated.
She said individuals, community groups and organizations have been provided with a briefing document outlining the issues surrounding the proposed changes in the EU’s sugar regime and how it would impact on Jamaica. The Diaspora group has also met with the Special Advisor to the Mayor of London, Lee Jasper, on the matter.
In addition, Jamaicans and others interested in the matter have been encouraged to write to their members of parliament, councillors and representatives in the European parliament. A petition is also being circulated across the UK in support of Jamaica’s position.
Executive Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), Ambassador Derrick Heaven in August, met with leaders of the Jamaican community urging them to support Jamaica’s call for a longer adjustment time for the new EU sugar regime. Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Maxine Roberts has also called on the Jamaican community to support the cause and lobby on the country’s behalf.