Prime minister targets greater investments from diaspora

Added: 05 Apr 2017
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (third right) and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith with (from left )Leon Mitchell, assistant general manager, Jamaica National Group; Don Wehby, CEO, GraceKennedy Group; Courtney Campbell, president and CEO, Victoria Mutual Group; and Dwight Balli, production director, J Wray & Nephew, at the launch of the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference in Kingston yesterday. The four companies were recognised for their enduring contribution to nation building. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated that the Government will be moving towards public-private partnership arrangements in order to encourage Jamaicans abroad to invest in the country.

Speaking at the launch of the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference at Jamaica House yesterday, he said that to facilitate this thrust, the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation and the Jamaica Diaspora Institute will be reorganised to form Global Connect Jamaica (GloJam).

The Jamaica Diaspora Foundation is a limited liability non-profit organisation mandated to strengthen the links and support systems between Jamaicans living abroad and those at home. The foundation seeks funding for its operations as well as the Jamaica Diaspora Institute, its operational arm which connects diaspora communities through the development of databases, and facilitates partnerships for research on migration and diaspora matters.

Holness explained that the objectives of GloJam are to connect Jamaicans in the diaspora, promote brand Jamaica globally, and attract investments to Jamaica.

The prime minister said that with three million Jamaicans living abroad, the country’s gross domestic product could easily double if ways could be found to integrate their resources into the local economy.

“Another objective of Glojam would be to pair leading entrepreneurs, executives and professionals in the diaspora with their counterparts in Jamaica with a view of expanding business opportunities,” he noted.

He pointed to direct support from the diaspora in 2016 which, he said, amounted to US$4.5 million in “dollar value” donations towards the health sector, and US$240,000 in kind which was processed by the National Education Trust.

To be held under the theme ‘Partnering for Growth’, the conference slated for July 23-26 is being shifted from Montego Bay to the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, as the Government moves to reinvigorate the biennial forum.

“This conference is being reshaped to be more solutions-oriented, targeting wide involvement. It is our aim to use the conference to create networks,” he stated. Holness noted the diaspora task force’s work in agriculture, education, crime intervention and prevention, technology, and immigration issues.

The forum will feature a marketplace exposition showcasing Government services and discussions focused on the Government’s growth agenda; opportunities in health, education, agriculture, research and innovation; and the cultural and creative industries.

Executive director of the Jamaica Diaspora Institute Professor Neville Ying said the conference will be “exciting, energising and engaging”, focusing on deepening and expanding partnerships in diaspora investments, skills and expertise, and philanthropy.

“We will also look at the issues in diaspora locations… special investment opportunities for the diaspora in areas like community tourism, music and entertainment, and the increased affinity and involvement of the second and third generation of the diaspora,” he said.

There will also be special group meetings and an array of other activities culminating in specific commitments for action emanating from the three days of discussions.

The launch also saw four local companies — Jamaica National, GraceKennedy, Victoria Mutual, and J Wray & Nephew — recognised for their enduring contribution to nation-building.