Jamaican government received EU grant
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Residents in sugar-dependent areas across the island are to benefit from an additional 6.5 million euros (J$910.2 million) in grant support from the European Union (EU).
The money, which is being provided under the EU’s Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries, Jamaica (AMS 2013) Project, was officially handed over on January 19 during a ceremony at the National Heroes Circle offices of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, in Kingston.
Finance and the Public Service Minister Audley Shaw, said the funds will assist the Government in reducing poverty and improving the living standards of the rural population in sugar-dependent areas affected by the EU sugar reform.
“The disbursement further aids the Government’s mission to reduce the economic and social disparities of our rural areas,” he said.
In her remarks, head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica Malgorzata Wasilewska said the allocation represents more than just a financial investment.
“It’s an investment in Jamaica and its people. We are demonstrating our firm commitment to Jamaica’s growth agenda with an investment in the sugar industry,” the EU head added.
For Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda, the EU’s AMS programme “has been a lifeline for the sugar industry”.
He noted that the programme, which has been in operation since 2006, has been transforming the lives of sugar workers, “by relocating them from barracks which were deplorable, into nice communities, which has lifted [their] spirits”.
Additionally, under the programme, sugar workers have benefited from the repair of roads, the introduction of social programmes, training, provision of sporting facilities, and entrepreneurial support.
The EU is Jamaica’s largest provider of grant assistance, providing more than €1.2 billion in official development assistance since 1975.
The AMS assistance provided by the EU supports implementation of the Jamaica Country Strategy II (2009-2020) for the sugar-cane industry. This is being done through the Sugar Implementation Unit of the Industry Ministry in the sugar-producing parishes of Westmoreland, Clarendon, St Catherine, Trelawny, St Elizabeth and St Thomas.
The specific objectives of the strategy being supported under the AMS are the creation of a commercially viable sugar-cane industry by strengthened sector management, improved field and factory productivity, and the development of the sugar-dependent areas to strengthen and support the improvement of living conditions in these areas based on sustainable economic and social development.
It also aims to support the national policy environment by improving the environmental and energy performances of the industry to promote the sustainable management of environmental resources and to contribute to an inclusive economy, social and environmentally sustainable growth.
The allotment is the first of two variable tranches of budget support under this phase of the AMS, which began in 2013, and for which a financial agreement was signed in 2014. The second tranche of approximately 15 million euros is expected to be disbursed in March 2018. (JIS)