Government looks to amend Immigration Act
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has said that the Government is looking to amend the Immigration Act to give overseas Jamaicans certain benefits akin to holders of a Jamaican passport.
She said the move was proposed by the Economic Growth Council (EGC) in response to the concerns of overseas Jamaicans about the hassles they often face when they come home to do business.
She said the amendment would see the issuing of a Global Immigration Card to persons living in the diaspora, which will allow them to stay in the island for an extended period, among other benefits.
"It will allow you, especially second and third generations and beyond, to be connected through this card and will give you certain benefits as if you were a Jamaican passport holder," Johnson Smith noted.
She was addressing the Jamaica Christian Diaspora Conference at the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites, St James, on Thursday.
The minister said discussions to facilitate the legislation were being fast-tracked. She noted that the move would deepen and expand partnership with the diaspora and make it easier for them to do business in the country.
She noted that the diaspora was critical to Jamaica's journey to economic prosperity.
"The main thrust of this administration is the achievement of prosperity through economic growth and job creation. We view this not as an end in itself, but as the sustainable means of uplifting, supporting, and protecting our most vulnerable at all levels," she said.
Johnson Smith noted that some of Jamaica's finest minds have been plying their trade overseas, doing well in business and making meaningful contributions by way of remittances.
She noted that as minister of foreign affairs, she wants to take it a step further by encouraging members of the diaspora to play a greater role in the country's economic development.
"There are many persons within the diaspora that have tremendous skills, talent, influence, and resources that can and should be harnessed for Jamaica's development," Johnson Smith said.
"I have spoken to many of them, and they are indeed desirous of using these gifts to the benefit of their homeland. We, therefore, seek the support of everyone, including the Church, to mobilise and identify specific ways where we can get our Jamaicans overseas to buy into the Government's growth agenda vision," she added.
She noted that Jamaica "needs all hands on deck" for the journey ahead, adding that together, "we can accomplish things that were once considered difficult."