Jamaica and Cuba to Strengthen Co-Operation in Five Key Areas
Jamaica and Cuba are to strengthen co-operation in five key areas, Prime Minister Bruce Golding has announced. These include tourism, health, water, housing and agriculture, the Prime Minister pointed out. Addressing journalists at a press briefing at the Norman Manley International Airport, today (May 7), following his three-day official visit to Cuba, the Prime Minister said both countries held discussions on matters pertaining to those five areas.
Mr. Golding informed that several discussions were held at the ministerial level involving Jamaica's Ministers of Health, Tourism, Agriculture, Water and Housing, and Foreign Affairs, and their Cuban counterparts, resulting in both sides reaching "understanding" in those areas. "As a result of that, we signed five frameworks of understanding, which will require follow-up work on both sides, and there is going to be some intensive interaction between officials on both sides to hammer out the details of those areas of co-operation," the Prime Minister said. Regarding health, he noted that both countries have had "very intense co-operation" in this area, in terms of the provision of personnel locally and through the eye care programme, which has seen Jamaicans going to Cuba for treatment. Against this background, he advised that the government was seeking to expand that programme into other areas of activity relating to the provision of health care.
He informed that Health Minister, Ruddy Spencer would be visiting Cuba next month for the fifth meeting of the Joint Jamaica-Cuba Commission. “There are some matters to do with health care that we want to pursue as a matter of urgency. I don't want to make any specific announcement about them yet, but what I would say to you is that they seek to address two critical areas of health care provision, and I was pleased that the Cuban government is as anxious to assist us as we are to receive that assistance," Mr. Golding said. In the area of agriculture, the Prime Minister noted that food production, and measures to enhance food security were issues which the government has been pursuing intensively over recent months.
He advised that discussions between Agriculture Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton and his Cuban counterpart had yielded a Memorandum of Understanding, which is expected to be the catalyst for Cuba providing technical assistance to Jamaica."I went and looked at some of their agricultural projects that we hope to replicate in Jamaica, and we had discussions with them about significant levels of technical assistance that Cuba is making arrangements to provide," the Prime Minister said, singling out greenhouse technology as one such area.
On tourism, Mr. Golding advised that a framework agreement had been reached, which proposes that both countries collaborate in terms of undertaking "multiple destination promotion," which would see Cuba as a destination that could complement Jamaica, rather than as a competitor "We feel that it is something that can help to enhance our own tourism product, if we are marketing, not just a holiday in Jamaica but a holiday in Cuba as well," he said.
For Water and Housing, Mr. Golding informed that the Minister with portfolio responsibility for this area, Dr. Chang, had negotiated the signing of two Memoranda of Agreement, one to undertake and establish a framework for water resource management, and the other for the provision of shelter."They (Cuba) have a similar problem with a large number of squatter settlements where people just occupy land without proper planning, without proper roads, and infrastructure, and we are going to be collaborating with them to see how best we can assist each other in that regard," the Prime Minister explained.