By Lincoln Depradine
Pride Contributing Writer
TORONTO, Ontario – Canada is providing $15 million in funding “to enhance public financial management in the Caribbean’’, federal finance minister Joe Oliver has announced.
Jamaica is receiving five million of the $15 million that will be disbursed over four years, and also will be used to “provide technical assistance to Caribbean countries facing economic crisis,’’ Oliver said last Saturday in Toronto. He was speaking at an official ceremony marking the start of the Parade of the Bands in the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
“The first five million of the funding will be used to help the government of Jamaica make fiscal management changes to meet commitments under its International Monetary Fund program,’’ Oliver said.
“The remaining $10 million will go towards technical assistance in other Caribbean countries facing economic management issues. Through this funding, the IMF will work with the governments to provide short, medium and longterm advice, as well as training, to respond to the precarious financial situation. Many of these economies, especially those that rely on tourism, have not fully recovered from the global economic crisis. Public debt averages a distressing 90 percent of gross domestic product in countries that depend on tourism.’’
Oliver, a former investment banker, described Canada as “a key development partner in the Caribbean’’.
Canada’s exports to CARICOM companies, he said, are more than $1.1 billion, adding that Saturday’s funding announcement to the region “is in keeping with our objective of promoting an enabling predictable environment for economic growth through greater public sector efficiency’’ in Caribbean nations.
“I’m proud that Canada is promoting public financial management and helping stimulate economic prosperity as a way of reducing poverty in the Caribbean. It’s a region where we have a long history and deep roots, and whose people we care deeply about,’’ Oliver said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, in remarks at the ceremony, also highlighted the long historical ties between Canada and the Caribbean, saying she looks forward to the region’s participation in next year’s Pan AM Games in Toronto.
“We are going to have people from every island, every part of the Caribbean competing here, and we’re so looking forward to that,’’ Wynne said.
The premier also praised Toronto’s carnival and the diversity that forms part of the festival.
“We’ve got the Caribbean covered. We’ve got Jamaica, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago; my mother was born in Nassau, Bahamas, and grew up there. We are so, so happy to be here,’’ Wynne said.
“This is about a celebration of a relationship; it’s about a celebration of culture; and it’s about a celebration of who we are as Ontarians and Canadians, as we are able to keep our own culture and weave a new Canadian culture. That’s what we’re about; that’s who we are in this country and in this province; that’s what makes us strong.’’