Canada has committed $15 million in funding over the next four years to enhance public financial management in the Caribbean and provide technical assistance to regional countries facing economic challenges.
Minister of Finance Joe Oliver made the announcement at the launch of the 47th annual Toronto Caribbean carnival parade last Saturday at Exhibition Stadium.
Oliver said $5 million will be used to help the Jamaican government make fiscal management changes to meet commitments under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, while the remaining funds will go towards technical assistance in other countries facing economic management issues.
“Through this funding, the IMF will work with governments to provide short, medium and long-term advice as well as training to respond to the precarious financial situation,” said Oliver, who is the Member of Parliament for Eglinton-Lawrence. “Many of the economies, especially those that rely on tourism, have not fully recovered from the global economic crisis. Public debt averages a distressing 90 per cent of gross domestic product in countries that depend on tourism.
“Today’s announcement is in keeping with our objective of promoting and enabling a predictable environment for economic growth through greater public sector efficiency. This initiative is a special way to provide training through the IMF to Caribbean countries facing economic crisis. The IMF has the expertise in macro-economic development that makes it well placed to carry out this task.”
While on a visit to Barbados in 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new initiatives aimed at strengthening Canada’s long and historic relationships with Caribbean countries. They include support for trade competitiveness, disaster risk management and leadership development.
In the last seven years, Canada has invested more than $4.6 billion in international assistance to the Americas and $400 million in the region in 2012-13.
“Our program in the Americas is primarily focused on the Caribbean as well as Peru, Colombia, Honduras and Haiti,” said Oliver. “We are working with our trading partners to open new markets and create opportunities for businesses and jobs in Canada and throughout the hemisphere. We realize the stronger that trade and commercial ties are, the more we will be able to promote sustainable growth in the Caribbean and the Americas.”
Canadian companies comprise nearly 75 per cent of the international financial community in Barbados where a Canadian Trade Commissioner Service office was established in 1907. Both Jamaica and Barbados established diplomatic relations with Canada shortly after they attained independence in 1962 and 1966 respectively.
In addition, Scotiabank has been operating in Jamaica since 1889.
“Canadian investment in the region is estimated at almost $60 billion with millions flowing each year in the import and export of products and commercial and travel services,” said Oliver. We have much to learn from each other. Canada’s relationship with the countries of the Caribbean region means a great deal to us.”