Caricom to benefit from multimillion-dollar EU grant packages

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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SIX Financing Agreements of European Union-Caricom cooperation, valued at €114.8 million, which will have a direct impact for the citizens of the Caribbean region, were signed on Monday.

The agreements were signed by secretary general, Caricom and Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (Cariforum) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, and Commissioner in charge of International Cooperation and Development in the European Commission Neven Mimica during a ceremony held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

The six areas facilitated under the agreement include strengthening the Framework for Caricom Integration, €13.5 million; support for Cariforum States in furthering the Implementation of their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Commitments, €21 million; Caribbean Investment Facility, €50 million; Coconut Industry Development Expansion and Enhanced Support for the Caribbean, €6 million; support for the Effectiveness of Criminal Justice Systems in the Caribbean, €14 million; and Promoting Regional Integration in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, €10.3 million.

In his address Mimica said the signing is a testimony to the commitment of both the EU and Caricom/Cariforum to the importance of regional cooperation and integration as a means to address the enormous challenges faced by this region.

He noted that the projects seek to create economic efficiencies, liberalise certain areas, promote sustainable development and ultimately foster job creation and improvement in the lives of people in the region.

“This is the case for our support to the Caribbean Coconut Industry, which focuses on promoting a sustainable agriculture that is adapted to the realities of climate change,” he said.

Mimica said the EU's support to the implementation of the EPA, will help the region's efforts towards a deeper integration, both within the region and with the wider global economy.

“The Caribbean Investment Facility has proven to be an extremely useful tool in the region since 2012. With this new €50-million contribution, we will assure the financing of a new set of projects during 2019,” he informed.

For his part, LaRocque said the EU remains the single largest source of grant financing to the Caribbean region.

He noted that the value of the package of development cooperation, in the form of grants, made available to Cariforum under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) exceeds €1 billion.

Regarding the Caribbean Investment Facility, Ambassador LaRocque noted that this will provide financing for private sector development, renewable energy, transport infrastructure, climate change financing, water and sanitation, protection of the environment, and social infrastructure.

“This will be achieved through direct investment grants, interest rate subsidies, guarantees, risk capital operations and other risk sharing mechanisms,” he said.

As it relates to support for the Effectiveness of Criminal Justice Systems in the Caribbean project, LaRocque said this will help to modernise and strengthen court systems, processes and services; train and equip judicial officers and court staff and support judicial reform. It will also assist in clearing the backlog of cases in the judicial systems in the region.

“I look forward to timely commencement of implementation, so that the benefits to be derived can be felt in the short to medium term,” Ambassador LaRocque said.


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