Jamaica gets $2.8B in budgetary support from EU

Jamaica gets $2.8B in budgetary support from EU

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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THE European Union (EU) is providing close to $3 billion in budget support to strengthen Jamaica’s public financial management structure and its forest management/climate resilient projects.

Agreements for the two projects were signed at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday, as a prelude to the start of the Cariforum-EU Regional Consultations on a successor agreement to the current African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP)-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement at the same venue.

The Cotonou agreement has covered trade relations between Europe and its former colonies and departments for the past 18 years, after being signed in 2000 in Cotonou, Benin, by 78 ACP countries and the then 15 member states of the EU.

However, it will end in 2020, and the parties are currently discussing a successor agreement in Kingston under the chairmanship of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith. The discussions also include Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque and representatives from the member states.

The EU funds include €3.65 million ($509.1 million) to be used to boost the Public Financial Management (PFM) programme in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. The programme was initiated in 2015, on the recommendation of the auditor general, to improve oversight of government budgetary expenditures. However, it did not take off until the visit of a Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) technical assistance mission in April, 2017.

The other agreement was for €16.55 million ($2.3 billion) to improve the country’s sustainable climate resilience projects, primarily in the area of forestry.

Senator Johnson Smith noted that the EU represents the largest provider of grant resources to Jamaica, through its cooperation programme in support of Jamaica’s national development plan, Vision 2030.

She said that the Finance Management Reform Programme has been an important element of Jamaica’s macroeconomic stabilisation programme.

The minister also welcomed the assistance for the climate resilience projects, noting that the programme is aimed at better utilising forest resources for economic and social purposes.

“Over the years, the EU has provided in excess of €1 billion in financial and technical assistance to Jamaica. This consistent support has positively impacted the lives of Jamaicans in so many ways. The reach and breadth of the EU assistance over the years has been significant,” Senator Johnson Smith noted.

European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica hailed the Public Finance Management Reform Programme for its efforts to identify breaches and weaknesses in public spending.

He noted that the reform programme is assisting the Government in building the necessary structures of a modern integrated financial management system to improve public governance, transparency, accountability, and delivery of public services.

“Under the forestry programme we want to support the government’s vision of maximising natural resources, including biodiversity, and to adapt to environmental and socio-economic changes with a special attention to low emission and climate resilient economies,” he said.

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