The UK is to spend £25m on building a prison in Jamaica so that foreign criminals in the UK can be sent home to serve sentences in the Caribbean.
Jamaicans account for the third largest group of foreign national offenders in UK prisons, with more than 600 Jamaican nationals currently in UK jails, who cannot be deported because of Jamaica’s poor prison conditions.
The agreement was concluded today after years of negotiations as the Prime Minister made the first visit by a UK Prime Minister to Jamaica in 14 years.
The Prisoner Transfer Agreement is expected to save British taxpayers around £10 million a year once the first prisoners are returned from 2020 onwards.
The UK will provide £25 million from the government’s existing aid budget to help fund the construction of a new 1500 bed prison in Jamaica, overcoming one of the sticking points in the negotiations which had been the conditions in existing prisons in Jamaica.
The prison is expected to be built by 2020 and from then returns will get underway.
The UK Government has also announced it is to invest £300 million in vital new infrastructure in the Caribbean such as roads, bridges and ports to help drive economic growth and development across the region.
Delivered in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, the infrastructure fund will use money from the UK’s existing aid budget to provide grants over the next few years for a range of projects that will help boost growth and trade across the region, creating jobs and opening up new market opportunities for British businesses.
The Prime Minister said: “We want to help the Caribbean on their path of development – supporting economic growth and creating new opportunities for people living here.
“That’s what this £300 million infrastructure fund is all about. It will help to fund upgrades to ports, new roads and new bridges – making it easier here for businesses to trade with one another and with the rest of the world.
“And it will help benefit British businesses too who have the knowledge and expertise to deliver the infrastructure improvements needed.
“It makes the United Kingdom one of the largest bilateral donors to the region – concrete proof of our determination to reinvigorate this relationship.”
Types of infrastructure the fund could provide include: • 750km of upgraded single-lane roads, including 30-40 bridges • 20 large water production, storage and transmission systems • 75km of sea and river defences • 15 ports upgraded by providing specialist equipment to speed up freight movements
• 30 solid waste management projects for major cities/communities
To further encourage UK-Jamaica business links, the Government will also extend £100 million in export finance to Jamaica.
With UK exports to the Caribbean totalling £1.1 billion and bilateral trade at £2.55 billion in 2014, the UK is the number one export destination for much of the Commonwealth Caribbean.
UK Export Finance will now be able to consider medium and long term financing options for private and public sector borrowers in the UK, looking to invest in Jamaica.
The Government will also provide an additional: • £30 million to strengthen hospital infrastructure so they are more structurally resistant to natural disasters.
• £30 million to support governments in the region to improve the management of their public finances so that they can improve their own public services. This funding will be available immediately.