Jamaica tops EU beneficiaries
Published: Friday | December 11, 2009
Jamaica is first-off-the-mark in seeking to access billions of dollars of grant funding provided by the European Union (EU) to assist Caribbean industries to compete with European counterparts under a new free trade arrangement - the European Partnership Agreement (EPA). In addition, the island-nation is among the top two middle-income countries worldwide to benefit from EU cooperation programmes.
Head of the EU delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni, disclosed recently that Jamaica has prepared a "very solid programme" that should be approved in Brussels in early 2010. He said the programme was prepared through a very meticulous stakeholders' process that involved enterprises and their umbrella organisations like the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and the Jamaica Exporters' Association, along with Jamaica Trade and Invest.
The EU has provided a regional fund of J$19.3 billion (€165 million) for five years ending in 2013, a significant portion of which is to be used to assist CARIFORUM countries - comprised of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states and the Dominican Republic - to implement the EPA, which has replaced the preferential trade arrangements under the Cotonou Agreement.
But according to the EU representative, slow action by regional bureaucrats has been preventing Jamaica from accessing billions of dollars from this regional fund.
"The CARIFORUM/CARICOM secretariat has been unable to come up with a viable proposal to start implementing these funds ... Jamaica has been trying very hard to make the secretariat move to mobilise those funds," the EU ambassador told The Gleaner recently. He disclosed that CARIFORUM had just presented the EU with a preliminary proposal that is now being assessed.
So with the CARIFORUM secretariat moving slowly, Jamaica has taken the initiative to earmark a portion - J$1.3 billion - of its national EU cooperation fund of J$24.6 billion (which includes support for sugar divestment) to implement the EPA, said Mazzocchi Alemanni.
"It will be the first implementation programme ever in the Caribbean. So Jamaica is ahead of everyone else," he stated.
Making reference to the recent criticism by British Deputy Minister Glenys Kinnock that Caribbean states were slow to access EPA-related funding, the EU ambassador pointed out that while the rest of the region was being tardy, Jamaica was way ahead of CARIFORUM partners, as well as globally, in terms of accessing EU cooperation programmes generally.
The EU ambassador disclosed that for calendar year 2009, the EU has disbursed $8.8 billion in grants to Jamaica with more to come before the end of the 2009-2010 financial year.
"Jamaica is now one of the fastest-accessing countries in terms of money committed and in terms of money disbursed," he stated. "In terms of EU funding per capita, Jamaica is the second-highest recipient, among non-LDC (Least Developed Countries) worldwide, after Namibia."
He attributes this to an excellent cooperation agreement with the Jamaican government who, along with the EU delegation, have thought up "very highly performing and fast-disbursing programmes on the key issues affecting the country - debt and crime."
'Jamaica is now one of the fastest-accessing countries in terms of money committed and in terms of money disbursed'
- Mazzocchi Alemanni
EU allocation of J$24.67 billion to Jamaica for 2008-2013
|(000 euros)||(000 J$)||Total|
Rural Development 58,125
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