Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says support from the Jamaican Diaspora has been a “critical lifeline” for the country during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This, he said, is evidenced by a 70 per cent increase in net remittance inflows in March 2021, relative to March 2020; and a 36 per cent increase for the 2021 fiscal year, relative to 2020.
This is according to the most recent Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) remittance bulletin for March 2021.
Mr. Holness was addressing a Prime Ministerial town hall meeting, held as part of a virtual Jamaica Diaspora Sustainability Symposium, on Wednesday (June 16).
“With our foreign exchange inflows from tourism being decimated, remittances from our diaspora have been invaluable in maintaining our balance of payments as well as our net international reserves, which remain buoyant at over US$3 billion,” he said.
“There could be no clearer testimony of the depth of the support of the diaspora for their families in Jamaica, even during the most challenging times of the pandemic,” the Prime Minister added.
Mr. Holness expressed gratitude to the Jamaican Diaspora, in general, for the support it continues to provide to the country through various endeavours.
“I must acknowledge the invaluable contributions that Jamaicans [in the diaspora] have made to the development of their adoptive countries as well as to the development of Jamaica through various philanthropic, commercial and social-sector interventions,” he said.
He noted that beyond sending remittances, the diaspora continues to promote trade and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), spur entrepreneurship, create new businesses and transfer knowledge and skills.
The Prime Minister argued, however, that despite all this support, “the powerful reservoir of capital expertise and relationships remains largely untapped relative to its potential”.
Citing a 2017 study by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), Mr. Holness informed that the unrealised economic potential of the diaspora represents at a minimum, US$1.5 billion annually.
“This potential, if realised, can catalyse the growth and development of Jamaica. My Government is committed to seeking increased engagement in our diaspora to harness this tremendous pool of dynamic expertise and priceless human capital towards the development of our country,” he said.
The two-day symposium is being held under the theme ‘Jamaica and the Diaspora – Stronger Together for a Sustainable Future’.
It has been organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, with support from various partners.