Weeks before he assumes leadership of CARICOM for the first time, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared that Jamaica will seek to change the policy regarding how countries fund the regional bloc, adding that contributions should be done more equitably.
He wants a new policy that considers variables such as each country’s level of indebtedness.
“As the second largest contributor to CARICOM, Jamaica has taken careful note of the scale of assessed contributions for which we are currently obliged to pay 23.15 percent of the budget of CARICOM…” Mr Holness said.
“At the meeting of the heads [of government], Jamaica will call for a review of the basis of assessment of our contributions. We will also call for a review of the system of classifying member states into more developed and less developed…”
Mr Holness noted that Jamaica has long advocated for the basic principle for each member state to pay its contributions according to capacity to pay.
“As such, we will continue to call for a contributions methodology that better reflects each member state’s capacity to pay in an equitable manner based on the most current and comparable data available,” the Jamaican prime minister further reasoned.
His recommendation for financial contributions to be more equitable is among those presented in a report prepared by a review commission, which was headed by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Mr Holness, who appointed the commission in 2016, yesterday listed a number of the recommendations as part of a resolution, which he successfully moved in parliament to garner bipartisan support before presenting Jamaica’s position formally to CARICOM.
Mr Holness, in the meantime, underscored the need for CARICOM to become more frugal.
“CARICOM must strive to spend more wisely [and] more responsibly in accordance with agreed budget levels…” he said.
“We should no longer be expected to adopt initiatives or strategies without the benefit of the transparency provided by the presentation of a thorough analysis of associated costs.”
Mr Holness added that Jamaica remains committed to ensuring that CARICIOM is funded adequately.
“I am pleased to note that Jamaica has been commended in recent times for keeping pace with our contributions in spite of the harsh economic and financial realities, and I commend the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade for the strenuous efforts it has made in that regard over the last year,” he said.
Mr Holness also suggested that member states face stricter sanctions for failure to make their financial contributions to CARICOM.
“We therefore support the [review] commission’s proposal for greater incentives or stricter enforcement of sanctions to promote liquidation of member states subscription arrears,” the prime minister posited.
His resolution regarding acceptance of some recommendations from the Golding-led commission was supported by the parliamentary opposition and passed with a few amendments. The recommendations accepted will be presented to CARICOM as Jamaica’s formal position.
By Horace Mills