JIS News

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Delano Franklyn, has said Jamaicans living overseas remitted US$1.5 billion to Jamaica last year.
He noted that this amount, coupled with the cess on incoming telephone calls to the country, meant that close to one-third of the budget was being supported by overseas Jamaicans, and “outstrips what is garnered from bauxite, tourism and every other sector”. He also pointed out that remittances have also acted as a critical support for the value of the Jamaican dollar.
Senator Franklyn, whose portfolio includes the Jamaican Diaspora, was speaking at a community forum at the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) on November 25, organized by the Jamaican Diaspora-Canada Foundation (JD-CF) and the JCA.
The State Minister said the government recognized the importance of overseas Jamaicans to the economy, and so every effort was being made to show that they are valued.
He thanked the Jamaicans living overseas for their continued interest in Jamaica and the role they have played in putting the country on the world map in every endeavour that they have undertaken.
“Jamaicans are not people who just occupy space; we carve our own space. So I thank you for lifting the standards of the country outside of Jamaica,” he said.
The State Minister’s wide-ranging talk touched on a number of topics, including citizenship, education and crime. He said it was important for Jamaicans to become citizens of the country in which they lived, reminding them that Jamaica recognized dual citizenship and so they would not be losing their country’s identity by taking on another citizenship.
“It is critical that you regularize yourself, so if you are not a citizen, become one,” he implored. Turning to the issue of crime, which the State Minister acknowledged was the number one challenge facing the Government at this time, he said a number of initiatives have been put in place to try and combat this scourge.
“No government would sit back and do nothing about increasing levels of crime,” said Senator Franklyn. Highlighting some of the initiatives the government had undertaken, the Minister said resources have been increased to the Ministry of National Security and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). There was also increased contact between Jamaican security personnel and their counterparts in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, for intelligence gathering purposes, he said, adding that the number of police officers is expected to be increased from 8,000 to 10,000.
Amendments of several pieces of legislation have also taken place, but also very critical, asserted Senator Franklyn, was weeding the Force of corrupt officers, because “corruption erodes the integrity of the Force and leads to waste of resources”.
He threw out a challenge for the “best, brightest and most talented” to get involved in the political process in order to increase the quality of representation across the country.
The “historic” diaspora conference held in Kingston last year, said the Minister, illustrated the need for a strong united Jamaican diaspora, in and out of Jamaica. The next diaspora conference to bring together Jamaicans living in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Jamaica, will take place on June 15 and 16, 2006 in Jamaica.
During the State Minister’s four-day visit to Canada, he also addressed the congregation of the Revivaltime Tabernacle and held a press conference at the Jamaican Consulate General.