Ambassador Raymond Wolfe
Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations
to the Executive Board of the UNDP
on the Presentation of the Draft Country Program for Jamaica (2012-2016)
15th June 2011
Let me first acknowledge the laudable job which Ms. Helen Clark has done as UNDP Administrator to date, and thank her for the comprehensive report she delivered on Monday.
I also thank Mr. Fabiancic for having presented the draft Country Programme for Jamaica for the period 2012 to 2016. Allow me, further, to express appreciation for the work that is being done by the UNDP office in Jamaica and to acknowledge the spirit of active engagement and collaboration which characterised the process through which the document was prepared. Indeed, the document we have before us today is based on input from the Government of Jamaica, with our team from the Planning Institute of Jamaica at the forefront, the UNDP, and a range of stakeholders and development partners.
One of the most note-worthy developments in the period since the presentation of the last Country Programme for Jamaica was the island’s reclassification as an upper-middle-income country in 2010. While this reclassification constitutes recognition of some of the progress which the country has made in drawing closer to achieving some of the internationally agreed development Goals, including several of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, it serves to obscure several of the challenges with which the country continues to contend.
This situation is not unique to Jamaica, as the majority of our neighbours in Latin America and the Caribbean which are similarly categorised as Middle Income Countries still have a wide range of challenges on their development agendas. However, the socio-economic characteristics and levels of development of countries which fall in the middle income country (MIC) category, draws attention to the need for system-wide harmonization of the criteria which are used for country classification and determining resources allocation. My delegation is of the view that the UNDPs own human development index should be a key element in the process of moving towards system-wide harmonization of criteria for development classification.
In Jamaica’s particular case, one major challenge we face and which tends to be hidden by the ostensibly positive MIC designation is our significant debt burden. Indeed, the burdensome nature of our debt to GDP ratio has served to reduce our fiscal space and limit the range and quality of the public services which the Government is able to provide. In many instances, it is the most vulnerable who are the most affected by such limitations and whose needs tend to go unmet in those instances where the overall situation of a country places it in a category which limits its ability to access resources in a manner which would not exacerbate the debt situation.
Further, in addition to being an upper-middle-income country, Jamaica, is a member of the group of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), whose geographical characteristics render them acutely vulnerable to a wide range of environmental challenges, including natural disasters which are occurring more frequently and which, time and again, have served to undermine economic progress in a range of areas. We are also vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and to exogenous shocks such as those unleashed by the global financial crisis from which the Jamaican economy has yet to recover.
My point here is that there is great value in the United Nations system maintaining a strong presence in MICs such as Jamaica, despite the prevailing economic environment which has limited the availability of programmatic resources. For this reason, we must endeavour to follow through on the resource commitments which we have made and which provide the basis for advancing country-specific programmes such as those which have been presented to the Executive Board today.
The UNDP had been one of Jamaica’s key development partners since 1964, and there exists a strong working relationship which has at its core a mutual commitment to keeping the country on a sustainable development path. The broader partnership between Jamaica and the UN is evident in the extensive United Nations Development Assistance Framework for 2012 to 2016, with which the country programme is in sync, and which will serve to advance Jamaica’s long-term development Framework, Vision 2030, and its medium-term development framework.
Jamaica appreciates this partnership and looks forward to continued support under the new country programme. The new programme will prioritise poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, Democratic Governance and Environmental Sustainability and Energy Security. It will be geared towards strengthening policy, legislative and institutional frameworks to promote financial sustainability and equitable growth, supporting capacity development at the local government level, and facilitate efforts to improve the management of natural resources and disaster risk reduction, improve energy security and the development prospects of the most vulnerable. In this context, the Government of Jamaica endorses the country programme which has been developed for Jamaica.
The Government of Jamaica anticipates that its close and supportive working relationship with the UNDP will continue, as we work with national stakeholders and international development partners to support good governance, poverty alleviation and environmentally sustainable development practices.
I thank you Mr. President.