Jamaica wants debt-for-climate-change swap
Andrew Holness (file photo)

UNITED NATIONS (CMC) – Jamaica Friday told the international community that it is pursuing reforms to improve the efficiency of the public sector, improving its customer service delivery, pursuing economies of scale, reducing duplication and aligning the public sector towards enabling and facilitating economic growth and development.

But Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the 71st United Nations General Assembly that while his country was pursing these initiatives it was also pursuing “reforms aimed at boosting fiscal sustainability and growth we are also looking at innovative ways of matching our financing needs with sustainable development objectives.

“Jamaica will work with development partners to pursue debt for climate change swaps. This holds the potential of providing bilateral and multilateral relief for climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives.”

Holness said that such a mechanism has the potential to provide fiscal relief while helping to unlock pledged climate financing to fund adaptation and mitigation initiatives.

“As a climate vulnerable country, Jamaica will play its part to close the climate implementation gap while at the same time addressing our debt overhang. This has the potential to be a ground-breaking approach,” he added.

The Jamaican leader also used the opportunity to deal with what he termed the “emerging crisis of the withdrawal of Correspondent Banking Services to certain financial institutions in the Caribbean.”

Caribbean countries have complained about the decision of banks in the United States and Europe to stop doing business with regional banks effectively putting their respective economies at risk and collapse.

Holness said there was need to “effectively address the emerging crisis” adding “de-risking threatens our economies.

“This trend hinders our participation in the global financial system and in international trade. This in turn creates serious obstacles in our efforts toward promoting investment. We respect and have been complying with financial regulatory standards and working within a rules-based, multilateral trade and financial system.”

He said that trade represents approximately 70 per cent of the Jamaican economy and, as such, de-risking measures “threaten our integration and economic viability.

“Therefore, we encourage our international partners to take the approach of establishing principles that ensure inclusive development strategies based on a country's ability to engage in a vibrant, dynamic international trading system.”

In his address the Jamaican leader said that peace and security is a sustainable development goal (SDG 16) and is often spoken about in the context of peace between states.

But he said “peace within states is just as important.

“Jamaica, like much of the Caribbean and Central America, is challenged by crime, concentrated in certain communities. This has had a destructive impact on families, and has deterred investment and discouraged business development.

“Crime in sections of Jamaica threatens the attainment of sustainable development goals. Tackling crime is a priority of our government.”

Holness said that while the Jamaican government will do its part, the common problem facing the region requires deeper security cooperation.

“The international community must also move with greater alacrity towards eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons,” he said, adding that Jamaica is acutely aware of the destruction that can be wrought, as a result of easy access to small arms and light weapons, particularly when in the possession of sophisticated networks of organised criminal groups.

“Our strategic location, which is extremely favourable for trade and logistics, provides a potential transit point for illicit activities. It is this reality that has defined and propelled our participation in a range of bilateral, regional and multilateral arrangements, aimed at restricting the source, means and capabilities that have been fuel to these dangerous relationships, made even more destructive through links to the drug trade”.

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