Europe committed to supporting Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica: This country has been assured full support and continued assistance from Europe by the head of the European Commission’s delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni.

Alemanni says that, despite the global economic crisis, Jamaica has the European Union’s (EU) full support and continued commitment to assistance. He added that while the world crisis has led to cutbacks on a number of programs, it will not affect the EU’s support of the country.

“We are not cutting down our programs in Jamaica; we are not cutting down on our programs in the developing world,” Alemanni said.

The ambassador made his remarks at a signing ceremony for two contracts between the EU and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund for a total of J$159 million (US$1.8 million), and the St. James Parish Council for approximately J$212 million (US$2.4 million).

The funds are being granted under the EU’s Banana Support Program for the implementation of social and economic infrastructure projects in six traditional banana growing parishes – St. James, Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas.

Alemanni noted that the EU’s commitment to Jamaica is firm, because the union believes that co-operation is most needed in times of crisis. He asked that Jamaica also maintain its commitments to co-operation as well.

Alemanni said there is opportunity within the banana industry for Jamaica to find new and viable alternatives that will help feed new industries which need to be developed.

“EU money is not blood money, EU money is banana money, EU money is sugar money, money for the community, money for the average man. It is not offered with conditions. The only condition is that it should be used for the welfare of the Jamaican people,” he said.

Alemanni also named several areas in which the EU has supported programs with Jamaica inclusive of the sugar industry, adding that he is confident that Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, is doing his best to successfully conclude the reform of the nation’s sugar sector.

At the signing, Dr. Tufton expressed gratitude to the EU for its continued contribution to a range of critical developmental projects. He said the government and the EU have partnered in several projects over the years which have worked to their mutual benefit.

“We intend to continue the collaboration, to ensure that these projects are completed and, certainly from the Jamaican government’s perspective, we intend to ensure that our commitments are carried through, just as we are pretty confident that Europe will similarly carry through its commitments,” he said.

Dr. Tufton noted several challenges posed by the unpredictable economic environment, which could lead to adjustments within a project or process. He said that allowances should always be made for adjustments, which should not be viewed as a lack of commitment towards policy or position.

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