Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
MINISTER OF State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Arnaldo Brown, does not expect the issue of whether the diaspora should have seats in the Parliament to be a major focus of a parliamentary committee established to discuss diaspora affairs.
"It is really for discussion," said Brown who, last Tuesday, sought and received the support of the House for the establishment of the committee.
The joint select committee will include members of parliament Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, Hugh Buchanan, Denise Daley, Ed Bartlett, Shahine Robinson and Desmond McKenzie.
The Senate will shortly name members to the committee.
Brown said the committee would receive submissions, hear testimony, evaluate research and engage in dialogue with relevant groups in the diaspora with the aim of guiding a national approach on diaspora matters.
Asked by The Gleaner about the extent to which the committee would focus on whether the diaspora should have a representative in the Parliament, Brown said, "There are members of the diaspora who do not believe that is a critical issue."
"What we are interested in is a genuine partnership between the homeland and Jamaicans overseas," the minister said.
"We are exploring the possibility of diaspora bonds to see whether there is an appetite among Jamaicans living overseas to participate in the economic development of the country through that vehicle, as well as any other vehicles," Brown added.
The committee, to be chaired by Brown, will, among other things, be tasked with the responsibility of determining whether to recommend constitutional amendments or policy considerations for allowing the Jamaicans overseas to hold Parliamentary seats.
The committee will also recommend foreign policy that could result in members of the diaspora investing in Jamaica.
"The diaspora is very important to Jamaica," Brown told The Gleaner.
"We have precedence of countries which have been able to bring about transformation by homeland diaspora partnership. Jamaica has many if not all the elements required for that type of transformation to take place, and what this administration is acutely aware of is that it will require policy focus," Brown added.