US foreign aid to Caricom countries

Monday, February 19, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Your columnist, Sir Ronald Sanders, whose articles are always well worth reading, has, repeatedly and quite rightly, pointed to the need for the Organization of American States (OAS) to be reformed and repurposed. ('Firing up a furnace in an igloo — The OAS' – Sunday Observer February 18, 2018).

In that column, he asserts (not for the first time) that the bulk of United States foreign aid to Caricom countries goes to Haiti and Jamaica. This is nominally correct. For 2017, Haiti received US$377 million, Jamaica US$29 million, and US$32 million was shared among the other 12 Caricom states.

However, these raw figures may mislead since they fail to take account of population differences. In per capita terms, Jamaica ranks sixth behind Haiti, Belize, Barbados, St Kitts & Nevis, and Guyana. This is an important clarification.

In US foreign aid disbursements to Africa, for example, Ethiopia received the second-highest share (US$1.1 billion) but ranked 23rd of 47 African countries on a per capita basis, and received roughly the same per capita (US$10) as Jamaica compared with Belize (US$23), Barbados (US$19), St Kitts & Nevis (US$15.50) and Guyana (US$12.50).

This year, the OAS is observing its 70th anniversary. That milestone would be best observed not so much in celebration, but in candid retrospection and purposeful repositioning. Caricom has an important role to play in such an endeavour.

Bruce Golding

Kingston 6

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