BRADES/KINGSTON – Montserrat is included as one of the Commonwealth territories eligible to receive assistance from a new £300 million infrastructure fund to the Caribbean from the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced the new fund on Tuesday in Jamaica on the first leg of a 2-day visit focused on reinvigorating the relationship between the UK and the Caribbean countries. It will make the UK one of the largest bilateral donors to the region.
The government is to invest £300 million in the Caribbean such as 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 eligible for ODA (official development assistance): 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.
According to a UK Government statement, “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.
Welcoming the fund, the Prime Minister said: “We want to help the Caribbean on their path of development – supporting economic growth and creating new opportunities for people living here. That’s what this £300 million infrastructure fund is all about. It will help to fund upgrades to ports, new roads and new bridges – making it easier here for businesses to trade with one another and with the rest of the world. And it will help benefit British businesses too who have the knowledge and expertise to deliver the infrastructure improvements needed.”
The International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “Too many Caribbean countries are held back because they remain vulnerable to severe economic or climate shocks. With some of the highest energy costs in the world, it is difficult for businesses to compete in global markets, leading to decades of slow or declining growth. Britain’s close relationship with the Caribbean and our new support will help boost growth and kick-start economic recovery across the region as well as creating important trade and investment opportunities for the UK.”
Types of infrastructure
Types of infrastructure the fund could provide include:
- 750km of upgraded single-lane roads, including 30-40 bridges
- 20 large water production, storage and transmission systems
- 75km of sea and river defences
- 15 ports upgraded by providing specialist equipment to speed up freight movements
- 30 solid waste management projects for major cities/communities
To further encourage UK-Jamaica business links, the government 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.
UK Export Finance will now be able to consider medium and long term financing options for private and public sector borrowers in the UK, looking to invest in Jamaica.
The government will also provide an additional:
- £30 million to strengthen hospital infrastructure so they are more structurally resistant to natural disasters.
- £30 million to support governments in the region to improve the management of their public finances so that they can improve their own public services. This funding will be available immediately.
The Smart Hospitals Programme 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.
The “skills for growth” economic programme is 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