Solid Canada stands with Jamaica
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
After meeting with several government ministers in Jamaica last week, a delegation from Canada has expressed satisfaction with the state of the projects being undertaken by that country locally.
According to Robert Ready, the Canadian high commissioner to Jamaica, the initiatives - more than 30 - are aimed at assisting, among other things, Jamaica's economy as well as the justice-reform programme,
Ready, the high commissioner to Jamaica since September 13, told The Sunday Gleaner that while Canada is concerned with the high levels of alleged extrajudicial killings in Jamaica, the relationship between both countries has not been impaired.
Jamaica has been the beneficiary of approximately CND$65 million, or more than 10 per cent of CND$600 that is being used to finance projects throughout the English-speaking Caribbean over the last five years.
This contribution makes Canada, as an individual nation, the second-largest international grant donor to Jamaica behind the European Union that comprises many countries.
Ready said the CND$65 million in grants that have been used to fund projects in Jamaica do not include resources spent on assistance to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF)
The high commissioner said a range of issues was examined when the delegation met with the slate of ministers in Jamaica. He revealed that the delegation, which arrived in the island last week, met with Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips; Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding; National Security Minister Peter Bunting; and Noel Arscott, the minister of local government and community development.
"We wanted to bring them up to date on the latest state of those projects. We wanted to get feedback from them and to talk about mutual priorities," said Ready. "So this was a good week for members of this development mission to come in and meet principals and operatives in Jamaica."
Ready pointed to a limp economy devoid of growth and troubling security and justice issues as priority areas for Jamaica.
"On the basis of our understanding of those priorities here in Jamaica, we deliver sustainable economic growth programming, as well as significant assistance to the justice-reform area.
"There is a sense in which a lot of Jamaicans feel that the justice system isn't as efficient in reaching determinations on both the civil and criminal sides and there are some reforms that would be desirable," said Ready.
Ready said that Canada has, since 2007, delivered CND$600 million to the region to develop and provide assistance to the English-speaking Caribbean, including Jamaica.
"This regional programme consists of a number of projects that focus on three primary areas, namely, sustainable economic growth, security and justice-related initiatives, and disaster mitigation and preparation.
"We are probably halfway through the expenditure of the CND$600 million at this stage, so there is a number of years to run to the scheduled completion in 2019," he said.
The senior diplomat expressed confidence that both the umbrella programme and the individual ones are going very successfully, as Canada responds to what it understands to be the priorities of Caribbean states.
In order to ensure a high level of success, Ready said Canadian officials engage in consultations with the governments in the region to identify development needs.
"When we develop these sorts of programming we engage, we try to respond to them in the way we prioritise our programmes."