Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Minister excited at Diaspora conference prospects

Published:Tuesday | July 18, 2017 | 7:00 AMErica Virtue

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has described the 2017 Diaspora Conference which opens this weekend as one of the celebrated successes in public-private partnerships, and a key event of the ministry's calendar.

Speaking at a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week, Johnson Smith said that the conference represents a hand-in-glove coming together of the Government's efforts and private buy-in to strengthen ties with the diaspora.

"The administration has been consistent in its advocacy of partnership, not only public-private, but how we reach out to the Jamaicans at home and abroad. It's not by accident, therefore, that we have brought it together under the theme of Jamaica 55, Celebrating Jamaicans at Home and Abroad," Johnson Smith told the gathering of reporters and editors.

A large cadre of local and overseas-based speakers will address the conference, including Dr Julius Garvey and Michael Lee-Chin, who will lead the Economic Growth Council panel.

A diaspora investment tool kit is still to be finalised.

"We have youth leaders identified across the diaspora and additional ones I met on my different engagements, and they have come together in the most fantastic way. So the content is exciting, the speakers are exciting and the fact that it is public-private partnership is something to be celebrated ... ," said Johnson Smith.

Local agencies invested in youth issues, including the National Youth Advisory Council and the Secondary School Council, will meet diaspora youths.

 

SEPARATED ONLY BY SPACE

 

Conference Chairman Earl Jarrett said Jamaica has for many years, depended on expatriate Jamaicans to compensate for the domestic growth rates of the economy from the jobs they secured around the world.

"The journey began with a movement of a group of Jamaicans who braved racism and weather to improve conditions in Jamaica. They all went with an ambition to return to Jamaica and invest. And even after these many years they still continue to support Jamaica. They are only separated from us by space," Jarrett said.

He said that the Caribbean Policy Research Institute has completed a policy paper on the economic value of the diaspora to Jamaica.

The conference opens this Sunday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com