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Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley, has called on Jamaicans in the Diaspora to invest in their homeland and in so doing, contribute to the country’s development.
“Take another look at Jamaica. Now is the best time to invest. Jamaica has a quality about it. The environment – it is the most beautiful place on earth. Speak to the people – from business and government to the local man – there is a richness, a texture to Jamaicans that makes each one unique,” Professor Shirley said as he addressed the annual fundraising concert of the Wolmer’s Alumni Association held on Sunday (Dec. 3) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Toronto, Canada.
The Ambassador, who is an alumnus of Wolmer’s Boys School, said that Jamaicans abroad could invest their money in real estate, government bonds, which offered tax-free returns, and in the development of retirement villages.
While acknowledging foreign investments in tourism, highway development, ports and telecommunications, the Ambassador said that Jamaica needed more indigenous support. According to Professor Shirley, while foreign investors brought in money, their revenues also flowed out of the country, but the Jamaican investors would re-invest that revenue in the country.
He noted that the country had begun to redefine itself as also consisting of nationals residing around the world. Some of the fastest growing countries, he noted, were those with large Diaspora communities around the world, namely India, Israel, Ireland, and China, which have harnessed their nationals’ talents and resources from where they were located.
Citing sports and international democracy as two areas where Jamaicans have performed exceptionally in the international arena, the Ambassador said Jamaica has “an influence that far outstrips what is expected of a country of just 2.5 million people.”
Ambassador Shirley, who will take up the position as Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus next August, commended the past students for assisting their alma mater and contributing to the lives of the next generation. He urged however, that in addition to money, they should also contribute their time.
Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Anne-Marie Bonner, commended the work of the Alumni Association, noting that, “any effort to maintain the Wolmer’s tradition and ensure that the quality of education to Jamaican students is preserved has my unreserved blessing.”
President of the Association, Trevor Massey, informed that the group, which comprises past students of Wolmer’s Boys and Girls and Wolmer’s preparatory, has donated Cdn$10,000 over the last two years to the schools and this year, intends to give even more.
Paulette Bellamy and Jon Williams, members of the instrumental group Touch of Elegance, wowed the crowd with their renditions on piano and violin, of classical music, negro spirituals, reggae, folk and ska.