KINGSTON — No issue will be avoided: Every issue will be attended to, is the commitment from Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte, for the Diaspora Convention scheduled for June 15-17 in Ocho Rios.
“Engaging the Diaspora is a working progress, but the Government is committed to constructively engaging all Jamaicans, living here and overseas,” Senator Malahoo-Forte told a JIS Think Tank yesterday.
She said the issue of persons living overseas and having a vote, was one that has been discussed at length and will continue to be discussed. She pointed out, however, that a joint select committee of Parliament has already been established to discuss the issue.
She noted that persons born in one jurisdiction, who make the decision to live in another jurisdiction, invariably, as a result of that decision, end up losing some of the rights they would normally enjoy, as opposed to those who remain in the country of birth.
She stressed however that, at the Diaspora conference, all participants will be there as ‘free agents’ rather than as part of a delegation, and so all views will be heard.
“No issue that will be raised will be dismissed without thorough consideration of the pros and cons. We are committed to empowering Jamaicans, whether they reside in the homeland or overseas, all ideas must contend and we make a decision depending on what the priorities are,” she said.
The Minister of State said that the approach to Jamaicans who are no longer living in Jamaica, and who may have acquired citizenship elsewhere, is an issue that will be discussed at the conference.
The three-day conference will see Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Hon Audley Shaw, addressing participants about opportunities available for them to invest in Jamaica.
With Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence being celebrated next year, coinciding with the staging of the Summer Olympic Games graced by Jamaica’s outstanding achievements in athletics, a number of opportunities exist for investment in and around these activities, Senator Malahoo-Forte said.
The conference provides an opportunity for members of the Jamaican Diaspora to interact with the Government and people of Jamaica, and exchange ideas and perspectives.
By O. RODGER HUTCHINSON, JIS Reporter