Jamaica will have its debt with Norway, incurred from shipping purchases in the 1970s, written off, the Norway Government announced yesterday.
Jamaica, together with Ecuador, Egypt, Peru and Sierra Leone, owed a combined US$80 million (J$5.28 billion) between 1976 and 1980 when Norway exported 150 ships to the five countries, as part of an aid programme that was also aimed at boosting exports from its shipyards.
Erik Solheim, the Norwegian international development minister said the programme was a mistake, referring to the write-offs as a "little honourable" attempt to make amends.
"This campaign represented a development policy failure. As a creditor country, Norway has a shared responsibility for the debts that followed. In cancelling these claims, Norway takes the responsibility for allowing these five countries to terminate their remaining repayments on these debts," said Mr. Solheim.
The debt cancellation must first be approved by the Norwegian Parliament which will be presented as part of the Government's 2007 budget proposals on Friday.
Dr. Wesley Hughes, director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, which is the government agency responsible for interna-tional cooperation, told The Gleaner that he was aware of the write-off, but not of the details as they affect Jamaica individually.