Guyana will continue to benefit from development assistance through the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) regional programme, Canadian High Commissioner Charles Court has said.
In a statement yesterday in reaction to recent reports on future relations between Canada and Guyana, Court also dismissed suggestions that Canada intends to close its High Commission in Georgetown, calling them baseless and not a reflection of the relationship between the two countries. “Guyana has and will continue to benefit from Canadian development assistance through CIDA’s regional program in the Caribbean,” Court said, emphasising that “We view Guyana as an important partner in our engagement with the Caribbean.”
The statement comes a week after CIDA did not include Guyana in a list of the 20 countries it planned to focus on as it looked to make its international assistance more focused, more effective and more accountable. In 2005, the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin promised to target aid to 25 countries which specifically included Guyana. The new list of countries, however, does identify the Caribbean region as one of the areas to benefit from international assistance and also specifically mentions Haiti.
Court noted that Canada has a long history of close ties and cooperation with Guyana and Caricom, saying that it has been a “responsive, reliable and sensitive” partner of the region for many years. “Friends have said that our attention to this important relationship has wandered from time to time,” he observed, adding “But Canada is committed to this region, with an offer of partnership, stability, prosperity and freedom, which we hope our friends will help us develop, build and expand for our mutual benefit.”
According to Court, in the context of the current world economic crisis, it is more important than ever that Canada and Caricom move ahead with the negotiation of a bilateral trade agreement for the benefit of all parties. He noted that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stated the importance of following through on the G20 action plan to restore growth to the global economy and to reform the international financial system.
“Preparing now to strengthen our economic cooperation, modernizing vital sectors and helping governments position themselves to take full advantage of the recovery when it comes are key outcomes of a new trade agreement between Canada and our partners in the Caribbean,” Court explained.
“Canada is sympathetic to the needs of developing countries and will take into account the capacity constraints and vulnerabilities associated with small states through negotiations,” he added.
Court recalled that in 2007, when Harper met with Caricom Heads, he announced the country’s intention to double development assistance.
He explained that this means Cdn$600 million over 10 years to Caribbean programming through CIDA, a figure over the Cdn$550 million provided separately for Haiti. Further, he said Harper has also committed to working with partners in the region to enhance security, democracy and prosperity, in light of all the challenges it faces.
Canada’s commitment includes Cdn$17.5 million for the Caribbean Community Trade Competiveness Program, Cdn$20 million for the Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Program and Cdn$20 million for the Caribbean Institutional Leadership Development Program and Cdn$7.2 million to assist the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States debt management program.
Additionally, in September last year, Canada announced Cdn$2.5 million in funding to support the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Mach-inery (CRNM), while it has also set up a Cdn$17 million 10-year scholarship programme for students from Caricom member states.