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Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, says the Government is looking to draw on the vast resources of its Diaspora for the development of the country.

He said that the Diaspora represents a significant asset, which the Government believes can transform the country’s economic fortunes.

“We are of the view that there is a value proposition that is to be derived from the alignment of the interest of the Diaspora and investment opportunities that abound in the homeland…and if that alignment takes place, then we are of the view that we can transform the economic space of Jamaica, but we can also transform the economic fortunes of members of the Diaspora,” Mr. Brown stated.

He was addressing a plenary meeting during Monday’s (June 17) session of the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, now underway at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall.

The State Minister, who spoke on the topic: ‘International Migration: Strategies for trade, investment and development partnerships’, stated that the value of homeland/Diaspora partnerships is being recognised around the world, because of the volume of monetary movement for which migrants are responsible.

Citing statistics, he informed that there are an estimated 250 million migrants across the world, who account for the movement of approximately US$500 billion annually and trends indicate that these numbers will grow in the future.

This US$500 billion, he noted, represents between three to four times the amount of money that flows from developed to underdeveloped countries as overseas development assistance.

“So, in terms of the flow of resources from developed countries to developing countries, remittances outstrip that by almost four to one, and therefore, it is not surprising why the world is taking note of homeland/Diaspora partnerships,” he stated.

Mr. Brown, who has responsibility for Diaspora affairs, said that while overseas Jamaicans are responsible for approximately $2 billion flowing into their homeland every year, the Government views the Diaspora as being of greater importance to the country than just remittances.

Of greater value is the impact of the Diaspora in facilitating trade and investment, providing skills and expertise in various areas, and contributing to the health and education sectors to facilitate social development.

“It is important to understand the power of Diaspora communities and to ensure that there is a viable partnership between the homeland and the Diaspora communities for the benefit of both,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, in her presentation, described the Jamaican Diaspora as an indivisible part of the country, adding that its importance cannot be overstated.

Ambassador to the United States, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, moderated the session, which included presentations from Director, Plan Development Unit, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Richard Lumsden; President of SAGICOR Jamaica, Richard Byles; and Chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation, Earl Jarrett.

The conference takes place from June 16-19, and is being held under the theme: ‘A nation on a mission: Jamaica-Diaspora Partnership for Development’.

Contact: Bryan Miller