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  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, says the proposed implementation of a National Diaspora Policy reflects the commitment of the Government across administrations to the development and well-being of Jamaicans abroad.
  • She said that the policy, which is now at the draft stage, has gone through various consultations and reviews, including valuable inputs from the Jamaican Diaspora.
  • “We had multilevel layers of consultation [including focus groups] and even then, there were deeper discussions with the Diaspora Advisory Board members… . This is part of a truly inclusive process, which has taken us to this draft National Diaspora Policy,” she said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, says the proposed implementation of a National Diaspora Policy reflects the commitment of the Government across administrations to the development and well-being of Jamaicans abroad.

She said that the policy, which is now at the draft stage, has gone through various consultations and reviews, including valuable inputs from the Jamaican Diaspora.

“We had multilevel layers of consultation [including focus groups] and even then, there were deeper discussions with the Diaspora Advisory Board members… . This is part of a truly inclusive process, which has taken us to this draft National Diaspora Policy,” she said.

She was speaking at a plenary session for the Eighth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Wednesday (June 19).

Mrs. Johnson Smith said the policy is intended to provide the foundational institutional framework for engagement with the diaspora.

“While we speak about diaspora engagement, diaspora policy, diaspora investment, et cetera… and while administratively it has been done to an extent, there is no institutional framework within the Jamaican policy framework,” she said.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said the intention is to now embed the policy “to make sure it is there in a formal sense, which will lead to its sustainability”.

“We need to have an institutional framework, which will allow us to develop greater understanding of and response to diaspora challenges, and we need to have a sustainable way to build greater affinity with the younger generation,” she further pointed out.

She noted, as well, that the policy will allow for a more cohesive approach to diaspora engagement.

“We have to improve communication and coordination. So we need a mechanism that, while flexible, will give a single platform to allow all of the various branches to have something to connect to, and we need to enhance diaspora contribution to national development,” she said.

During the session, Mrs. Johnson Smith gave a comprehensive presentation on the policy, seeking the endorsement of members of the diaspora before its presentation to Cabinet, then to Parliament.

Eight major policy goals have been established for the National Diaspora Policy. These treat with diaspora engagement and facilitation of their partnership in national development, including through human capital inputs, promotion of the well-being of Jamaicans at home and abroad, and the engagement of young people.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will have primary responsibilities for policy implementation and monitoring.

In fulfilling these duties, the Ministry will work in collaboration with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the National Working Group on International Migration and Development, and the Diaspora Advisory Board or its successor body.