UK of­fers Aid to the Caribbean

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The United King­dom has an­nounced a £300 mil­lion in­fra­struc­ture fund to the Caribbean and dis­missed repa­ra­tion claims.

UK Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron dis­missed claims for repa­ra­tions for years of slav­ery, in­stead an­nounc­ing The In­fra­struc­ture Fund in Ja­maica dur­ing his visit. The new fund, he said, will in­vest in roads, bridges and ports to help drive eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment across the re­gion. The In­fra­struc­ture Fund will be avail­able to 8 Com­mon­wealth coun­tries in the re­gion – Ja­maica, Guyana, Belize, Do­minica, Gre­nada, St Lu­cia, An­tigua and Bar­buda and St Vin­cent & the Gre­nadines; as well as Montser­rat as an ODA-el­i­gi­ble Over­seas Ter­ri­tory. The Prime Min­is­ter an­nounced the new fund will rein­vig­o­rate the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the UK and the Caribbean coun­tries and make the UK one of the largest bi­lat­eral donors to the re­gion.

De­liv­ered in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank, the in­fra­struc­ture fund will use money from the UK’s ex­ist­ing aid bud­get to pro­vide grants over the next few years for a range of projects that will help boost growth and trade across the re­gion, cre­at­ing jobs and open­ing up new mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties for Bri­tish busi­nesses.

There will also be a Smart Hos­pi­tals Pro­gramme that will build on a suc­cess­ful £8.4 mil­lion pi­lot pro­gramme with new fund­ing of £30 mil­lion. Fund­ing will be avail­able to 7 ODA-el­i­gi­ble Com­mon­wealth coun­tries in the re­gion: Ja­maica, Guyana, Belize, Do­minica, Gre­nada, St Lu­cia and St Vin­cent & the Gre­nadines.

A “skills for growth” eco­nomic pro­gramme will be aimed at the 5 ODA-el­i­gi­ble coun­tries in the Eastern Caribbean: An­tigua & Bar­buda, Do­minica, Gre­nada, St Lu­cia and St Vin­cent & the Gre­nadines.

These pro­grammes will: sup­port gov­ern­ments in the re­gion to get public fi­nances un­der con­trol while im­prov­ing public ser­vices; sup­port gov­ern­ments to make their coun­tries more at­trac­tive to in­vestors and for busi­ness to grow, cre­at­ing more jobs and tax rev­enue; work in part­ner­ship with both the public and pri­vate sec­tor to ad­dress the short­age of crit­i­cal skills which is con­strain­ing eco­nomic growth and em­ploy­ment.

To fur­ther en­cour­age UK-Ja­maica busi­ness links, the Cameron gov­ern­ment said it will also ex­tend £100 mil­lion in ex­port fi­nance to Ja­maica. With UK ex­ports to the Caribbean to­talling £1.1 bil­lion and bi­lat­eral trade at £2.55 bil­lion in 2014, the UK is the num­ber one ex­port des­ti­na­tion for much of the Com­mon­wealth Caribbean.

Four­teen Caribbean na­tions and a Bri­tish law firm are seek­ing repa­ra­tions from the U.K., France and the Nether­lands for the last­ing ef­fects of the slave trade, which over four cen­turies brought mil­lions of peo­ple against their will from Africa to Euro­pean colonies in the Caribbean re­gion. It is un­clear how much the en­tire Caribbean could be owed but the Na­tional Com­mis­sion on Repa­ra­tions (NCR) says Ja­maica alone could be owed at least £2.3 tril­lion, way more than the £300 mil­lion aid Cameron plans to dole out.

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