JIS News

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has said that engagement of the Jamaican Diaspora will continue to remain an important priority for the Jamaican Government.
Speaking during the 2010/11 Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday July 13, he informed that the period 2009/10 had been marked by steady progress in the Government’s engagement with those Jamaicans, who live beyond the island’s shores.
He said that although the scheduled biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference for 2010 was postponed, ongoing discussions continued with all stakeholders with the aim to agree on a new date.
“In keeping with mandates arising from the first Jamaica Diaspora Conference in 2004, significant progress has been made in developing the structures and mechanisms to enable the Jamaican Diaspora to contribute meaningfully to national development,” he stated.
Turning to significant events of the previous year, Minister Baugh mentioned the convening of a Conference for Future Leaders in August and the formal establishment of the long-awaited Jamaica Diaspora Foundation as a legal entity.
He noted that the late Professor the Hon. Rex Nettleford, OM presided over the inaugural board meeting of the Diaspora Foundation. “The late Professor’s sterling efforts in furthering the objectives of the Diaspora policy were invaluable, and he is sorely missed,” he said.
The historic Joint Select Committee of the Houses of Parliament on Diaspora Affairs also met twice and heard submissions from across the Diaspora. “Here, for the first time, the Diaspora was afforded the opportunity to present submissions to Parliament on the issues of their concern,” Dr. Baugh said. “These sittings were lively and thought provoking,” he informed.
Minister Baugh told the House that submissions were heard from as far afield as Shashemene, Ethiopia, on topics such as parliamentary representation for the Diaspora, voting rights, and the issue of dual citizens standing in local elections.