UK Prime Minister David Cameron comes bearing gifts, making promises
The official visit of United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister David Cameron has yielded promises of a share of a £300 million fund aimed at growing the Jamaican economy as well as a new prison for the island.
The country also stands to benefit from a US$9 billion injection in the region by the UK over the next five years to finance climate-change projects.
Having enjoyed security cooperation over an extended period, Cameron noted that the two nations were already working to combat organised crime and tackle corruption.
But there is more to come.
"We have agreed to work together to build a new prison here in Kingston to improve the ability of the criminal-justice system to deal with crime and enable the UK to return criminals to serve their sentence," said Cameron.
Added Cameron: "This is in the interest of both of us and is a good example of how we can work together to benefit people here in Jamaica and in Britain, too."
Continued Cameron: "So I think it has been a good meeting, a very good meeting. I am convinced that Britain has a lot to offer Jamaica and its neighbours, too."
He said: "We want to be your partner for the future, your partner of choice, and I hope my visit here today can mark the start of a stronger relationship."
In doing so, Cameron took the first step in advancing his undertaking to make amends for what he characterised as the failure of the UK to nurture good relationships with Caribbean nations over a protracted period.
But although Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller disclosed that she brought up the issue of reparations during the late-evening talks, Cameron was silent on the matter.
"I brought to the prime minister's attention the issue of reparations, indicating that Jamaica is involved in a process, under the auspices of the Caribbean Community, to engage the UK on the matter, while we are aware of the obvious sensitivities involved," said Simpson Miler.
Instead, Cameron said that his visit to Jamaica and other regional states marks a new beginning.
"I prioritise the Caribbean because I am determined to reinvigorate our relationship," he said.
"We talked about how the UK can support the economic development of Jamaica and the Caribbean more widely," said Cameron of his meeting with Simpson Miller and her local contingent.
"I am delighted to announce that the United Kingdom will establish a new £300 million fund to provide grants for infrastructure projects across the Caribbean, including here in Jamaica," he added.
Cameron suggested that the fund would boost trade across the region with new roads, bridges, and port infrastructure.
"I believe that this will benefit British businesses that have the knowledge and expertise to deliver infrastructure improvement," asserted Cameron.
PROOF OF RENEWED COMMITMENT
He suggested that this would make the UK the largest bilateral donor to the region.
"This is proof of our renewed commitment to the region and Jamaica," he said.
In relation to the US$9 billion, Cameron said: "I am determined to ensure that some of that money will be spent right here, helping your country to adapt to these challenges and the changes needed."
After welcoming Cameron on his arrival and presenting Opposition Leader Andrew Holness and some of her Cabinet colleagues, who were at the Norman Manley International Airport, Simpson Miller said that the meeting reflected the strong bilateral relationship that exists between Jamaica and the UK.
"The importance of our relations with the UK is underlined by the fact that it remains one of Jamaica's leading trading partners, an active tourism market for us, and a source of foreign direct investment," she said.