WASHINGTON DC — Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, says the Jamaican Diaspora has a critical role to play in moving Jamaica forward.
Addressing a reception hosted in his honour by Ambassador to the United States (US), Her Excellency Audrey Marks, at her Maryland residence on Wednesday evening (June 8), the Prime Minister stated that the contribution of overseas nationals is more than the $2 billion in remittances they sent home every year.
“It’s much more than that; not only are Jamaicans contributing each day in all sorts of ways (but) many of them are investing back home. We must never discount and we must never take for granted the support of the Jamaican community that lives abroad,” he stated.
Emphasising that Jamaicans abroad are “outstanding”, Mr. Golding said they rank above nationals of other countries in terms of commitment to their homeland. He said that no matter how long they have been away, or how far away they are, “it is almost as if they have not entirely left home; a big piece of them is still anchored back home”.
He urged them to “come home often” and be a part of the effort to rebuild the country.
[ More Photos of PM at Ambassador Marks residence ]
Turning to the matter of crime, the Prime Minister told the more than 200 Jamaicans and friends of the island, that the strategic programme launched last year which is being carried out by the security forces is proving to be a success.
He said not only has the crime rate dropped but Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, is reporting a significant increase in the rate of convictions.
“This year, we have seen a 15 per cent reduction in major crimes and that is in addition to a 15 per cent reduction last year,” the Prime Minister said. He informed that the country is receiving intelligence support from the United States and Britain, which is assisting the process.
He said the improvements were being achieved without unnecessary loss of lives, noting that as of Sunday, June 5, the number of persons killed by the police had declined by 50 per cent.
“We are now getting better record in terms of reducing crime, better rates of convictions in the courts and the police is doing that without squeezing the trigger in the reckless way they did before,” he said.
Mr. Golding further informed that last year, 150 law enforcement officers, who had been found guilty of wrongdoing, were separated from the force, which is more than the amount removed over any three-year period.
He said that the police force is also now more professional, noting that of the graduating class of 2009, 43 were University of the West Indies (UWI) graduates, with 11 of them having master’s degrees.
Prime Minister Golding’s five-day visit to Washington DC officially ended yesterday June 9, with a keynote address at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) International Forum on Caribbean Investment and Development (IFCID). He is expected to return to the island today.
Since arriving in the US capital, the Prime Minister has held bi-lateral talks with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton; President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick; and Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Naoyuki Shinonara.
He has attended an investment luncheon with high level US-based investors and officially declared open the IDB Art Exhibition, where the work of nine Jamaican artists is on display.
By DERRICK SCOTT, JIS Reporter