Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Opposition considers diaspora rep in Parliament

Published:Saturday | June 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM

AS PART of a new vision for Jamaica, opposition leader Andrew Holness is citing a Diaspora representative in the house of parliament if the Jamaica Labour Party forms the next government.

Holness was giving the keynote address to the UK diaspora community as part of Jamaica National Building Society annual Outlook forum under the theme, 'The Jamaican Economy: A Vision for Transformation', at the Kensington Town Hall in west London on Thursday.

Holness outlined several measures aimed at relieving Jamaica of its massive public debt which he claimed is at an average of 140 per cent of GDP annually, to bring economic and political prosperity to the island rather than poverty and a negative view of Jamaica.

He told the forum: "I am inclined to give the vote to the diaspora in Jamaica. I know it's not universally agreed in the Diaspora.. more people of Jamaican heritage and Jamaican connections live outside of Jamaica than in Jamaica. There is no reason why we shouldn't benefit from this; we just have to act on it. I feel it would be a good start to do what the French have done and we are still doing our research to see where France has created diaspora seats in their parliament."

He said that people from overseas would go to their embassies or high commission and vote and their votes would get counted, so that one member from the diaspora would end up in parliament.

"That person can speak on diaspora affairs, any affair; that person could run as an independent person which I would prefer, rather than to run on a party ticket because you want the diaspora issues not to politicised".

Holness added that the representative would not influence local issues as they would only have one seat.

"They would not be able to determine the government but they would certainly be a part of our discussions. They would be able to bring the diaspora issues there and would be able to give an eye on the programmes that are being put in place to make stronger ties for the diaspora," said Holness.

A diaspora bond, a sovereign fund and intensified agricultural production on the plains of St Elizabeth with water from the Black River were some of the other initiatives outlined by Holness as things he would focus on if he becomes prime minister of Jamaica again.