We are not beggars - Brown
A CLAIM by Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Edmund Bartlett that Jamaica should steer away from its "overtly mendicant" approach to development was quickly challenged on the floor of Parliament yesterday by Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate.
Bartlett, who made his contribution to the debate before Brown, indicated that the country should stop seeking to beg its way out of its economic plight.
The opposition spokesman said Jamaica should no longer remain complacent with an inordinate level of dependence on aid "because growth generation at the national level must be at the centre of our foreign-policy thrust".
In a spirited response, Brown accused Bartlett of discussing the issue based on a false premise.
He said Jamaica's foreign policy has never been based on mendicancy.
"I think it is an insult to the many persons who have worked long and hard including persons on that side."
The state minister for foreign affairs and foreign trade said in most instances, Jamaica had made positive strides where foreign policy is concerned.
"The foreign policy of Jamaica over the years has inured to the economic benefit of Jamaica," he stressed.
On the question of Jamaica's trade policy, Bartlett said that he was amazed that the country had not improved its 15-year-old trade policy.
With the country's trade policy last reviewed in 2001, Bartlett said in 2011, the Government had made steps to carry out a review of the policy to take account of developments at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
"A programme was set up for it to be reviewed in 2011 and, to date, the Government has not been able to complete the review of the policy and present a new one," he said.
"We are operating our trade arrangements like a ship without a rudder. We must have a trade policy and enabling plan, clearly setting out the objectives we aim to achieve, informing how we intend to achieve [them] and what we expect from these achievements," he added.
He said with only 15 years remaining before the country reaches its Vision 2030 target [date], "it is time that we promulgate a policy that would fully integrate Jamaica's foreign-trade policy into a national development plan".
However, Brown said the International Trade and Relations Subcommittee of Cabinet has mandated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to examine a trade strategy, noting that a trade policy might not be necessary.