Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has reminded Jamaicans living overseas that they are just as important to the growth and development of the country as nationals at home.
The Prime Minister’s reassurance came in her message to the delegates at the biennial Jamaica Diaspora North East United States conference, held on June 16 at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center, downtown Dorchester, Boston.
In her message, delivered by Consul-General to New York, Herman LaMont, Mrs. Simpson Miller said that “although we may be separated geographically, our historical, cultural and social linkages make us one. Wherever in the world a Jamaican can be found, there also exists Jamaica."
She noted that the conference, held at a time when the country is celebrating its 50th year of Independence, would provide participants with the opportunity to reflect and plan for the next five decades.
She stated that Jamaica, as a proud independent country, has made significant strides over the years, despite some challenges, among them is “being able to maintain a stable democracy, allowing our people to exercise their franchise to elect the government of their choice. We must always seek to protect this freedom."
The Prime Minister noted that the country has not made the kind of economic progress “we are capable of”, and called on all Jamaicans “whether living in Jamaica or outside of Jamaica, to bring their collective weights to bear on this matter, to ensure that Jamaica positions itself for greater sustainable economic growth with equity”.
She further urged the participants to use the conference to see how the Diaspora could be further used as a vehicle to initiate investment in Jamaica.
“Everything must be done to remove whatever impediment to investment exists. My government will be doing everything in its powers to ensure that persons, who would wish to invest in Jamaica, are able to do so in a hassle free environment,” she stated.
Consul-General LaMont, in his remarks, urged the delegates to use the occasion to seek ways and means of galvanizing all positive forces and skill within the region.
“This is necessary for building yourselves into a powerful bloc, by facilitating the coming together of all existing organizations within this region to speak with one voice,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Councillor Charles Yancey, who brought greetings on behalf of the Boston City Council, presented Consul-General LaMont with a resolution proclaiming Saturday, June 16, 2012 as ‘Jamaica Diaspora North East USA Day in the City of Boston’.
Councillor Yancey lauded members of the North East Diaspora for encouraging and mobilising Jamaicans in the region to assist in the development of their homeland.
Among others addressing the delegates were Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, and Jamaica’s Honorary Consul to Boston, Denzil McKenzie.
Chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora North East Foundation, Patrick Beckford, and Jamaica Diaspora North East Advisory Board representative, Irwine Claire, Sr., brought greetings.
Over 100 delegates attended the conference, which had as its theme: ‘Jamaica, the pursuit of fellowship and prosperity, the next 50 years”. Discussions were held around the issues of education, human rights, tourism, and trade and industry.
By Derrick Scott (Washington D.C.)