Diaspora Conference to Discuss Policy on Overseas Donations


State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Delano Franklyn, is anticipating that the upcoming conference on the Jamaican Diaspora will inform the creation of a policy on overseas donations and grants.
He observed that donations and grants from overseas Jamaicans to various local charities were not done in an organised fashion, adding that those who were willing to make contributions to the development of the country, “have a different understanding and knowledge of what to do and where they believe there is a need”.
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank yesterday (March 24), Senator Franklyn further pointed out that some Jamaicans have encountered “serious difficulties” in trying to make donations, either through their own lack of understanding of the process or as a result of “bureaucratic bungling on the part of some agencies required to make the process as efficient as possible”.
“The government would like to sign off on a policy which would have common understanding among those of us in the Ministry, those required to give leadership to our Missions abroad, the wider Jamaican community and the agencies in Jamaica that are responsible for interfacing with those who wish to make donations,” the State Minister said.
The conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘The Jamaican Diaspora – Unleashing the Potential’, aims to address issues of varying concerns to Jamaicans living abroad. It will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on June 16 and 17.
“This conference will not be one of talk only,” Senator Franklyn emphasised, noting that the discussions are expected to influence the drafting of a policy document on donations and grants from overseas Jamaicans for submission to Cabinet.
He highlighted other expectations of the conference to include the development of lobby groups in the respective overseas Jamaican communities worldwide.
The State Minister pointed out that there were approximately 2.6 million Jamaicans living abroad, and the country would gain greater leverage internationally, “if we are able to operate not as 2.5 million but as 5 million people”.
He said greater leverage was required to influence discussions in a multiplicity of international negotiations, especially in regard to trade. “Thus, if we are able to identify influential Jamaicans who in turn, can influence the leadership in their own country, then we will have a situation in which Jamaicans influence discussions through CARICOM,” he added.
Mr. Franklyn also said that the idea for the formation of a Jamaican Diaspora Foundation would be forwarded and discussed at the meetings in June. The Foundation would operate independently of government and would require seed funding to begin operation.
Additionally, persons responsible for the fund are expected to raise money on a continuous basis, on behalf of the Foundation. It will be used primarily for research to provide scientific data that would better inform government policy on the Diaspora. The conference will also aim to reach some consensus on a specific date for the celebration of Jamaica Day worldwide. “At the moment, we have different groups, bodies and communities of Jamaicans celebrating different days as Jamaica Day,” the Minister said.
Other issues that will be explored at the conference include immigration matters, political involvement and the image of Jamaica abroad. It will draw together some 400 participants from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Jamaica. Agencies that interact with overseas Jamaicans on a regular basis will also take part. These include the Passport Office, Jamaica Customs, the Titles Office, the Registrar General’s Department and the Jamaican Overseas Department within the Foreign Ministry, among others.

JIS Social