Seek debt write-off, Reparation Commission tells Government
THE NATIONAL Repa-ration Commission wants the Government to consider seeking a debt write-off from countries that benefited from the transatlantic slave trade.
In its report, which was tabled in the House of Representatives last Wednesday, the commission called on the Government to "provide a list of the national debt so that negotiations can be initiated under the umbrella of reparations to write off the present debt owed by our country as debt-for-equity swops by the nations identified".
The report further said the debt write-off is an important development strategy, one that is geared towards achieving sustainable development.
Jamaica's stock of public debt is budgeted to increase to $2.09 trillion this fiscal year. The debt stock is estimated to be 132 per cent of gross domestic product.
As part of the reparation strategy that is being proposed, the commission suggested that the Government negotiate with Spain and the United Kingdom for compensation for historic injustices and discuss with them the strategies needed for, among other things, the return of at least £23 million, which was paid to the owners of enslaved Africans in return for Emancipation.
Using the calculations of economic historian David Richardson, it is estimated in the report that the total monetary reparations owed by Britain to its former colonies is £7.5 trillion.
"Jamaica, being the largest and most profitable of its colonies, accounted for 30.64 per cent, or an estimated £2.2 trillion," the report said.
The commission noted that more than 10 million Africans were stolen from their homes and forcefully transported to the Caribbean as the enslaved chattel and property of Europeans.
"The transatlantic slave trade is the largest forced migration in human history and has no parallel in terms of man's humanity to man," the report said.
It added: "This trade in enchained bodies was a highly successful commercial business for the nations of Europe. The lives of millions of men, women and children were destroyed in search for profits."