Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Ready to invest - Diaspora supports Lee Chin but says it wants more than talk of patriotism

Published:Friday | May 27, 2016 | 5:00 AMGary Spaulding
Growth tzar Michael Lee Chin

A summons from growth tzar Michael Lee Chin to Jamaicans in the diaspora to invest in the country has piqued the interest of diaspora representative of the Southern United States Wayne Golding.

Lee Chin has signalled that he will be engaging in a road show to eyeball the diaspora.

"I will be telling members what's happening in Jamaica and encouraging them to take some of their long-term savings and put it into Jamaica," he said.

In welcoming Lee Chin's overture, Golding said: "For the most part, the diaspora loves Jamaica, but like anything else, if you are investing, it can't be based on your patriotism alone."

He said that members of the diaspora would be keen to examine the proposal, helped by the knowledge that it was coming from a man of Lee Chin's stature.

Lee Chin stated in a radio interview on Gleaner's Power 106 on Wednesday that he was not expecting Jamaicans in the diaspora to increase their contributions to assist family members.

"We don't expect you take 20 per cent more to support Granny or Auntie," he said.

Instead, he suggested that members could consider taking 20 per cent of their long-term savings and put it into Jamaica as investment.

"You would be able to invest in energy/power generation, toll-road infrastructure," asserted Lee Chin. "I am referring to quality assets to ensure that your retirement would be very safe."

Lee Chin expressed confidence that investors would do better putting their assets here than investing in stocks in the United Kingdom, the United States, or Canada.

He also vowed to change what he described as graduating students into stagnancy. "To those (of you) who are outside of Jamaica, look to Jamaica because opportunities will be presented to you," he said. "We are going to get jobs. Don't despair."

Golding said that the diaspora was open to looking at the proposal closely.

"We think it is a good idea for us to invest in Jamaica," he said and reiterated his earlier position, "but like anything else, it can't be based on patriotism alone."

Added Golding, a lawyer by profession: "The proposals will have to have some sound business principles behind them and regulations to ensure that any investment that is being done here, especially in the United States, (is protected)."

He said that there is the presumption that once proposals of this nature are presented, whether backed by government or private enterprise, they are going to have some recourse if anything goes wrong.

"The average person who invests, whether you are a sophisticated person or just one who is looking to make a profit from your investment, you want to make sure that there is a comprehensive plan that is laid out, that is understandable, and with recourse if it doesn't go well."

Making reference to the financial collapse of the mid-1990s, Golding said that persons overseas were wary of investing because of the many things that went wrong with Jamaicans in investing here.

"So it would have to be something laid out that we could look at on paper and vet it," he said. "It must be a solid plan on paper that you can really digest, and that is the biggest hurdle to surmount."