JIS News

The government of Jamaica, as part of efforts to increase foreign investment, has targeted the lucrative Jamaica overseas community, estimated to be worth some US$40 billion.
State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Delano Franklyn, speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, said the government was activity seeking to “engage the overseas community to be able to increase the remittances coming into Jamaica over the next few years and to also attract investments from Jamaicans abroad.”
He noted that the inflow of remittances from Jamaicans living abroad had increased substantially from US$100 million in the mid-1990s to US$1.3 billion last year and the Jamaican government has not “yet tapped into the possibilities and the potential in this area.”
The economic value of the overseas nationals will be further explored at the upcoming two-day conference on the Jamaican Diaspora, to be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston from June 16 to 17.
The conference is expected to attract 400 participants from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, and will focus on the concerns of foreign nationals as well as how they can make contributions that will lead to the development of their homeland.
Senator Franklyn expressed confidence that improved relations with Jamaicans overseas in all likelihood, would impact on “Jamaica’s economic development and I’m absolutely sure it will also help to influence economic growth.”
Stressing that the economic value of Jamaicans living abroad could not be underestimated, Minister Franklyn said, “we need to do everything in our power to ensure that Jamaica is far more business friendly for the Jamaican overseas community.”
He pointed out that since the country was granted independence in 1962, the government has always sought to deepen and strengthen the relationship with foreign nationals “by virtue of the respective missions .but the level of activity heightened in 1993 when we saw a large number of Jamaicans returning home, particularly out of the United Kingdom.”
Given the mass influx of Jamaicans from the United Kingdom, he said, “it was felt by the Government that we ought to put in place a mechanism to ensure that the challenges being faced by Jamaicans wishing to return home were dealt with in a more open and upfront manner.” To this end, the Ministry created the Returning Resident Unit in 1993.
But complaints that the Unit seemed only to cater to returning residents and not Jamaicans living outside the country, who are also making significant contributions, led the Ministry to rename the Unit to the Jamaican Overseas Department, which functions in a more inclusive fashion, addressing equally the concerns of foreign nationals as well as returning residents.

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