Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, has hailed the Republic of India as a valuable partner in the economic, cultural, and social development of the island.
He noted that India provided vital support towards Jamaica’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response and was the first country to answer Jamaica’s urgent call for vaccines.
“I was among the first recipients of dosages graciously provided by our Indian brothers and sisters. This fraternal and much-needed support will long be remembered; we thank you,” Mr. Holness said.
He was addressing the joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday (May 17), which was held as part of activities for the four-day State visit to the island of the President of the Republic of India, His Excellency, the Hon. Ram Nath Kovind.
The Prime Minister said that Jamaica values its long-standing friendship with India and is committed to deepening ties.
He cited the opening of the High Commission of Jamaica in New Delhi in September 2020 as evidence of the Government’s commitment in this regard.
The Prime Minister noted that while Jamaica and India established diplomatic relations on August 12, 1962, the countries’ ties date back more than 175 years to 1845, with the arrival of the first Indians at Old Harbour in St. Catherine.
He said that over the years, Jamaica’s social mosaic has been enriched by the contribution of Jamaicans of Indian descent and the Indian diaspora in Jamaica, who have provided unquestionable commitment to the growth and advancement of Jamaica.
“This has been a testament to our inclusive reality as evidenced in our national motto ‘Out of Many One People’,” he said.
Mr. Holness said that Jamaica has been the beneficiary of Indian know-how through courses and scholarships to build human capacity and improve the country’s knowledge base.
“There has also been significant support towards community development, including the approval, by the Indian authorities in 2021, of a grant of US$1million for the Kitson Town development project. India has also been a gracious partner towards cooperation in health and sports and other areas of infrastructure development,” he pointed out.
The Prime Minster made special note of India’s contribution to the development of cricket in Jamaica, including being instrumental in providing funding for the provision of flood lights at Sabina Park.
“These, and other tangible ways in which India has demonstrated in support to Jamaica, are also indicative of a commitment to South-South cooperation and to building long-lasting friendships,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that the Government will continue to work towards expanding the Jamaica-India partnership, which has been strengthened during President Kovind’s visit.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on May 16 to increase cooperation in the field of diplomatic training. This will add to the important capacity-building initiatives already being offered by India to Jamaica.
“We look forward to broadening our engagements at the multilateral level on issues of critical development importance, in particular climate change,” Mr. Holness said.
President Kovind, in his address, said that Jamaica is poised for “even greater economic success”, bolstered by ample natural resources, a young population and dynamic leadership.
“Its leadership in the CARICOM region… and a desire to shoulder greater responsibility make it a partner of choice for other countries,” he added.