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PM thanks Diaspora, seeks Brand Jamaica support

Published:Monday | June 15, 2015 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
Earl Jarrett (centre), general manager of Jamaica National Building Society, introduces Lisa Hanna (left), minister of youth and culture, to Doreen Lawrence, Baroness of Clarendon, OBE, who is in Montego Bay, St James, for the Sixth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference.

Western Bureau:

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has publicly thanked the Diaspora Education Task Force and the Hospital Liaisons for the estimated US$10 million they collectively pumped into Jamaica over the past three years.

"I commend the Diaspora Education Task Force and the Hospital Liaisons for working closely with the ministries of education and health," said Simpson Miller, while addressing Sunday's opening of the Sixth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference in Montego Bay, St James.

"In so doing, they have contributed an estimated US$10 million over the past three years."

In underscoring the importance of the diaspora's contribution to Jamaica, Simpson Miller said the support Jamaicans overseas give to their families, especially in times of need, must never be underestimated.

"On behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, I wish to thank you for your steadfast commitment to our beloved nation ... . I thank you for the work you do supporting schools all over Jamaica. We appreciate your contributions to the health sector," the prime minister said. "There are many community projects that you support, as Jamaicans overseas give back to our communities across the country."

looking forward to Policy

With regard to the request to have the diaspora play a greater role in Jamaica's internal affairs, Simpson Miller said she was looking forward to receiving the National Diaspora Policy, which is expected to address such issues. She noted that the document is at an advanced stage of drafting.

"The policy seeks to maximise the value of diaspora contributions to Jamaica's development, while at the same time address issues and concerns of the diaspora," the prime minister said. "The Diaspora Policy will also focus on engaging our people overseas in key areas of social and economic policy planning, including the national economic growth agenda, job creation and investments."

In calling for the diaspora to help promote and protect the much-cherished Brand Jamaica, the prime minister said Jamaica needs all hands on deck to guarantee the desired prosperity needed to meet the aspirations of the Jamaican people.

"As ambassadors of this unique and coveted brand, we must collectively protect the resources, standards and values that make Jamaica great in the eyes of the world," said Simpson Miller. "We have the potential to derive substantial economic benefits from our creative industries. Our country enjoys enormous international acclaim derived from the achievements of our athletes, musicians and cultural icons."

Continued Simpson Miller: "The same is true for our sought-after foods, and high-quality, world-famous products such as Jamaican rum, coffee and jerk."

She added: "The Government of Jamaica is continuing work to capitalise on the potential of Brand Jamaica. For example, the Protection of Geographical Indications Act seeks to preserve and protect the quality for which authentic Jamaican products are known."