Jamaica Foreign Minister Urges New Definition of “Middle-Income” Country

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Above: Jamaica Foreign Minister AJ Nicholson

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Jamaica is likely to be graduated from receiving grant funding from the World Global Fund and other funding agencies, due to its status as a “middle-income” country.

But the definition of “middle income” needs to change, according to Jamaica Foreign Minister AJ Nicholson.

“We are strongly advocating that special consideration be given to countries like Jamaica, which face special developmental challenges due to their vulnerabilities occasioned by small size, the openness of their economies and limited capacity to respond to natural disasters and other external shocks,” he said last week during the State of the Senate Debate in Parliament.

Nicholson said that the development progress of a given country should not be threatened by the “abrupt and precipitous withdrawal of financial assistance due to its classification.”

“With this level of uncertainty surrounding development financing, the Government of Jamaica is concerned that gains made to combat HIV/AIDS and in treating chronic non-communicable diseases, are at risk,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry will continue to vocalize Jamaica’s position on the matter, he said, particularly to the way international financial institutions treat highly indebted and vulnerable countries like Jamaica.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last year, Simpson Miller urged countries not to ignore middle-income countries on the development agenda.

“We dare not forget that a significant proportion of the world’s poorest citizens live in Middle Income Countries — this is a diverse group which includes large developing economies and Small Island Developing States, such as those in the Caribbean,” she said at the time.