Diaspora Jamaica Conference delivered, says State minister
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown has said that at least four concrete deliverables have been achieved at the fifth biennial Diaspora Jamaica Conference.
These, he said, include the Diaspora Council; the Diaspora Database (which should be ready the first quarter of 2014); the Migration and Development Policy, and the Diaspora Policy.
"The council will look at the recommendations and begin the process that will lead to inclusion in the policy and ultimately implementation," Brown reported at a closing meeting Wednesday night at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
After three days of engaging in meetings with close to 800 attendees, Brown promised that within two weeks he should be able to tell the nation about the major actionable recommendations coming out of the conference, "so that the council can begin exploring with the aim of implementation".
The council, he said, would have a symbiotic relationship with the policy. "Members of the council will feed information to Dr Indiana Minto Coy, the consultant tasked with drafting the policy," he explained, summarising that the policy would guide further discourse and engagement with the diaspora.
Pleased with event's outcome
He said he was extremely pleased with the outcome of the event, which he said came close to the numbers generated in 2004 when the first conference was held under the leadership of then State Minister of Foreign Affairs Delano Franklyn.
Leaving the three-day event with a commitment to have consultations before making decisions affecting the diaspora, Brown argued that the major difference between this conference and others was the fact that he and his team were seeking to effectively engage and cooperate with the diaspora, "not argue and dictate".
It is estimated that some three million Jamaicans live outside of Jamaica, at least two million based in the United States of America, with the majority (750,000) located in the state of Florida. Some 650,000 live in the UK, the majority concentrated in London, while 300,000 are based in Canada, the majority residing in Toronto.