Jamaican minister calls for more support for Caribbean region

Kingston, Jamaica (JIS) — Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Peter Phillips, has cited the need for a “new agenda” of support for Jamaica and other Caribbean states by key international stakeholders.

This, he said, to effectively address vulnerabilities related to climate change and significant debt, which regional territories currently experience.

He underscored these points while addressing a private sector luncheon held in Kingston on Friday for Inter-American Development (IDB) president, Luis Alberto Moreno, who was on a two-day visit to Jamaica.

Phillips said that not only should the international community acknowledge the challenges faced but “it is time that they and (ourselves) move into the operational phase with a new agenda of support for the Caribbean.”

He noted that in the Caribbean, “where most of the region’s countries are deemed to be middle income – a definition which inadequately describes the reality, given the poverty and structural rigidities that the region is grappling with – there have been promises of a global response, since the 2008 (global financial) crisis. However, that response has not yet come forth.”

Against this background, Phillips said Jamaica and the region will continue the dialogue initiated with the international community to ensure that, “together, we can energize the search for solutions.”

“We stand ready, with our international partners, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to discuss the nature and quantum of support required to ensure that Jamaica and, indeed, the rest of the Caribbean, once and for all, escapes the trap of low growth and economic underperformance,” he stated.

Phillips also underscored the need for Jamaica’s international partners to maintain their commitments to the country, consequent on the programme of economic transformation currently being implemented by the government.

This, he explained, as the scale of the transformation needed, “requires proportionate commitment on their part.”

Phillips also stressed the need for the private sector to explore existing opportunities for investments in Jamaica.

“This is particularly important, given the government’s inability to do as much as we would like on our capital accounts, given the financial constraints, which we face. It will require, in some cases, a new way of doing things, being innovative, exploring new markets, focusing on products that are higher up the value chain, and products that are particularly directed to export markets,” he said, while citing tourism and information and communication technology (ICT) as potential areas.

The luncheon formed part of the itinerary for Moreno’s two-day visit, on December 18 and 19, which coincided with commemoration of the IDB’s 45 years of partnership with Jamaica.

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