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Upcoming diaspora conference won't be another talk shop, insists foreign minister

Published:Sunday | April 7, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is greeted by Wayne Golding, a member of the Diaspora Advisory Board, at the launch of the eight biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston last Tuesday.

Jamaica's foreign minister is insisting that the upcoming Diaspora conference will not be another 'talk shop'.

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith said the eighth biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, scheduled to be held in Kingston from June 16 - 20, is expected to generate tangible outcomes which are implementable.

This came against the background of what she noted were concerns from some stakeholders, who described the upcoming conference as a “talk shop”.

“It [has been] my intention, [since] I became minister with responsibility for the Diaspora, that we would change that and ensure that our conferences have direct outcomes which are implementable and specific” she said.

Johnson Smith further indicated that “we will be reporting on results of the last [conference in 2017, in terms of] where we would have slipped and succeeded, and also looking at how we take these conference outcomes forward, in an actionable way”.

She was speaking with JIS News following the 2019 conference’s launch at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, last week.

The event, slated for the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, will be held under the theme – ‘Jamaica and the Diaspora: Building Pathways for Sustainable Development’.

Meanwhile, the foreign affairs minister advised that the her ministry and its legacy partners were working to ensure that this year’s conference is “one of the best ever”.

“The ministry’s team is ready and the legacy partners are ready. We have more sponsors coming on board and everybody is very energised,” she said.

Johnson Smith said launch events have been planned for New York on Tuesday, April 9, at the office of the Consulate General of Jamaica, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Additionally, she said a focus group meeting on the draft National Diaspora Policy will be held with a broad cross-section of Jamaicans living in New York.

“We do intend that one of the significant outcomes of the conference is to finalise the consultations, so that we have a Policy that’s ready for presentation to Cabinet and tabling in Parliament,” she said.

Similar launches are slated for Miami and Toronto.

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