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Jamaica to benefit from US$7.52-m grant funding

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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Jamaica is set to benefit from an initial US$7.52 million in grant funding under the ninth cycle of the Caribbean Development Bank's (CDB) Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF 9).

The money will go towards education, transportation, enterprise development, and water and sanitation, through projects implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

The allocation is part of a provision of US$40.8 million being made available to nine Caribbean borrowing member countries of the CDB, under the BNTF.

The BNTF is the flagship poverty-reduction programme of the CDB aimed at contributing to improvement in the living conditions of poor and vulnerable communities in participating countries.

Speaking at the official launch of the project yesterday at the Courtyard Marriott hotel in New Kingston, Finance Minister Audley Shaw said the initiative will assist in empowering the lives of beneficiaries.

“We are quick to get these funds in the hands of the JSIF because we know that when it comes to the JSIF, we get every bang for the buck; we get good performance. They have projects done on time [and] within budget, and we are really proud of the JSIF as one of the outstanding public-sector agencies in Jamaica,” he said.

The minister lauded the CDB for implementing the programme, adding that poverty reduction is a crucial component for economic growth and development.

He said the BNTF will assist in improving the lives of the country's most vulnerable, particularly in the areas of education and human development.

Meanwhile, director, Projects Department, CDB, Daniel Best said that Jamaica is also eligible to benefit from an unallocated incentive amount of US$5.2 million to be distributed at mid-term based on project performance.

“These funds are to be carefully targeted through an evidence-based country policy framework or action plan which responds to poverty, particularly in rural areas,” he said.

Best noted that through the BNTF, the CDB supports governments in their poverty-reduction efforts by promoting socio-economic activities, environmental protection, and sustainable development.

“Over the years, BNTF has formed specific partnerships mainly with public works, water sector, and national training institutions. Under BNTF 9, however, we are committed to leveraging additional resources beyond our traditional funding sources to accelerate progress on poverty reduction,” he said.

JSIF Managing Director Omar Sweeney said BNTF 9 will continue to build on programmes that support education, transportation, road access, drainage and water supply.

“We will also introduce a component for enterprise development, and that will focus on agriculture and tourism, and developing new technology for persons in the rural areas to really have a sustainable livelihood,” he said.

The ninth cycle of the BNTF will continue to finance sub-project interventions in core priority sectors of water and sanitation, basic community access and drainage, and education and human resource development, including livelihoods. Encouraging greater private sector partnership has been built into the programme design to leverage additional resources for reducing poverty.

The core purpose of the project will be to facilitate the development of rural communities through increased access to basic services, thereby advancing Jamaica's thrust towards full rural development. The project is to be completed by December 31, 2020.

The BNTF is one of the longest-running regional poverty-reduction programmes in the Caribbean, and stands out in the global development arena for its community-driven approach tailored for the Caribbean context.

— JIS

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