Caribbean bank to pump US$172m into Jamaica

Friday, December 15, 2017

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THE Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has announced a US$172-million programme of assistance for Jamaica that will run from now to the year 2021.

These resources will be augmented by 17.5 million in grants from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), the bank said in a release yesterday .

The programme of assistance, which was outlined in a new Country Strategy Paper, was approved by the bank's board of directors yesterday.

“This strategy will support Jamaica in its efforts to further diversify its economy, building on the relative success of its tourism industry. It will also focus on improving the business regulatory environment. In consultation with country stakeholders, the bank has designed the programme of assistance to respond to challenges that can stymie diversification, such as the high incidence of violent crime, inadequate semi-skilled and skilled labour and social inequalities,” Dr Justin Ram, CDB's director of economics, is quoted as saying in the release.

The strategy is built around four key pillars, with cross-cutting themes of citizen security, gender equality and energy security.

The first pillar, the release said, is to enhance educational quality and improve the effectiveness of social protection.

“CDB-supported interventions will focus on improving access to, and the quality of, education,” the release said. “At the community level, the bank will continue to support initiatives to strengthen local economic development and expand income-earning opportunities for vulnerable groups.”

The second pillar is enhance governance and citizen security.

“To strengthen implementation capability, CDB will support initiatives being driven by the Government of Jamaica and other international development partners to enhance performance monitoring and public sector efficiency. The bank will collaborate and leverage the expertise of key stakeholders to implement a comprehensive crime and violence prevention initiative and will consider support to reduce recidivism; build capacity among vulnerable groups; and expand income-earning opportunities for youth,” the release continued.

CDB said it will support inclusive economic growth and competitiveness through reforms to improve business innovation; develop climate-resilient economic infrastructure; and improve agricultural productivity, which remains an important contributor to gross domestic product, employment and foreign exchange earnings in Jamaica. Also, according to the release, grants from UKCIF will support agricultural development.

The fourth pillar is to strengthen environmental sustainability and energy security.

“The bank will support interventions to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters, and improve energy security and efficiency. This will include integrating renewable energy generation with other projects,” the CDB said in the release.

The new country strategy follows the 2014-2016 version, which had a resource envelope of US$38.5 million, the release said. It supported the Government's reform programme through a policy-based loan geared towards fiscal consolidation, growth and competitiveness, and social cohesion. During the period, CDB said it also provided technical assistance to strengthen capacity in the Ministry of Finance.

Individual projects to be delivered under the new programme of assistance will be appraised by the bank and, if deemed to be viable, will be presented to the board of directors for approval, following which disbursements will commence, the release said.

“The 2017-2021 Country Strategy for Jamaica aligns with the bank's strategic objectives of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development, and promoting good governance,“ the release said.

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