Mon | Dec 17, 2018

IMF squeeze funding for environmental project

Published:Thursday | March 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Suzanne Stanley, executive director of the Jamaican Environment Trust (JET), watches as Dr Carey Wallace, executive director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, explains that it was the International Monetary Fund which directed that funding support for Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica, a national public education campaign centred on proper collection, packaging and disposal of solid waste implemented by JET, be channelled instead into the Consolidated Fund.

The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) was following the orders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and did not have a say in the decision to cut off funding to the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica Campaign implemented by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), Dr Carey Wallace, executive director of the TEF, admitted on Tuesday.

For three years, the TEF was the main sponsor of the very popular and effective public education campaign, to which it contributed $134 million. But the agency subsequently pulled the plug on the project, leaving its future in doubt, a situation dictated by the IMF, with which Jamaica has a Precautionary Standby Agreement.

"The future of Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica is uncertain. In January 2018, Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica lost the support of its major donor, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, so everything that you've seen today on film, everything that you have all come to know and love about this campaign is now on hiatus, and it is now at risk of being discontinued all together," Suzanne Stanley, executive director of the JET told a shocked audience at Redbones Blues Cafe, New Kingston, on Tuesday evening.

"We can't let that happen, and we must not let that happen. We have to keep the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica movement going," she said.

Wallace, in his remarks at the premiere of a short documentary film From Nine Miles to Trench Town: How Three Jamaican Communities Joined Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica, applauded the initiative as "one of the most impactful projects that we've worked on - the results, the performance, the level of professionalism that we get from their team at JET ... actually set the standard for the other projects to emulate".

However, when Stanley announced that the funding had been cut off, Wallace felt compelled to return to the microphone to offer an explanation, declaring that he felt like "public enemy Number 1". It was only then that he explained that things were entirely out of the TEF's hands and that the IMF was calling the shots.

"They have asked us and insisted that we stay in our lane. That's what they keep saying. So it has to be a direct tourism-enhancement spend - monies that we collect from cruise passengers and air passengers coming in," Wallace disclosed. "The TEF had that money in our accounts to then spend on projects, and if the year ran out and the money wasn't spent, the money was still ours. We put it on fixed income, and it goes to the next year, and so on," he added.

"That has changed. We now have to collect and give it to the Consolidated Fund, and then each year, we budget for what we are going to spend and they give it back to us. Now, that's an IMF requirement ... and this happened from last year April," Wallace pointed out.