State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, said that members of the Jamaican Diaspora have indicated an interest in subscribing to bonds designed to fund projects in health and education locally.
Making his presentation in the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 10), Mr. Brown said coming out of a recent fact finding mission within the Diaspora, there were indications of “more than a willingness, on the part of the Diaspora, to support a Jamaican bond, once they are confident that these bonds will be used to implement tangible projects in education and health."
The mission was undertaken by representatives from his Ministry, Finance and Planning, and the World Bank.
Noting that calls for the establishment of a Jamaican Diaspora Bond were made as recent as 2011, during the last Jamaica Diaspora Conference, Mr. Brown pointed to justification for the creation of the instrument.
Among these, he said, is the fact that Jamaica has one of the largest Diasporas, which generate more foreign exchange inflows, through remittances, than any local manufacturing or service industry, save for tourism.
He noted that Diaspora bonds are unique and creative financial instruments, which can be used to access private capital markets, to enable the creation of political and social good."
He cited Israel as an example, pointing out that the country successfully utilized the bond in 1961 to raise US$34 billion from its Diaspora.
Mr. Brown was quick, however, to highlight the need to complement the bond by encouraging and facilitating “Diaspora-direct” investment, which he describes, as a “subset” of foreign direct investment.
He noted that in some countries institutions similar to Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), are created solely for the purpose of targeting Diaspora-direct investors.
“In the context of the policy framework being developed, we will recommend a structure to lend more focus to the targeting of Diaspora-direct investors. There are many…entrepreneurs in the Diaspora, who are prepared to come and invest in Jamaica, if the effort that is required and the incentives that are required are in place to encourage their investments,” Mr. Brown said.