“We will be reshaping the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation and Institute into the ‘Global Connect Jamaica’, which will be a public-private partnership trust, geared towards encouraging the Jamaican Diaspora to invest in Jamaica,” said Holness at the launch of the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Andrew on Tuesday.
I have recommended a special Diaspora Commonwealth passport, which is the only “binding state action” that will recognize dual citizenship of Jamaicans living overseas. It would allow for ease of travel without Jamaican Immigration issuing you a visitor visa despite your foreign passport identifying you as born in Jamaica with the location where you were born.
I have also recommended a public-private partnership framework with the government and the Diaspora back in 2014 as well as a congressional styled budget office to appraise government spending and projects for economic, social and environmental value to the public, yet none of these policies has been considered let alone given legislative priority.
The Economic Growth Council (EGC) claims it wants to promote growth and investment not realizing that an unengaged Jamaican Diaspora already is by far is the largest investors through direct remittance investments (DRI) that exceed “the total of the island’s top ten foreign exchange earners; bauxite/alumina, tourism, sugar, coffee, rum, bananas, apparel, cocoa, pimento and yams” and what is really needed is better management of that important national asset.
In his opinion piece; Diaspora Vote and the Prospect of Enduring Democracy In Nigeria, Sam Amadi suggested that “The real problem is not technology. The problem is the conservative spirit in Nigerian politics that restricts the desirable to the existing and therefore limits the possibilities of transformation. If we extend the vote to diaspora Nigerians we open the Nigerian politics to a greater influx of ideas and finances that will ensure more civility and greater accountability. As diaspora Nigerian vote, they will invest more in the progress of the Nigerian state. The prospect of democratic politics and accountable governance in Nigeria requires that we free governance from the windfall of oil and base it on taxation from citizens.”
Therefore a formal engagement of the largest investor in the Jamaican economy should be more than just the mere love of country but a firm commitment to respect and honour the government’s constitutional obligation to treats all citizens equally under the law by ensuring that Jamaicans overseas have the same rights to influence the trajectory of public policies in the same way wealthy investor can and are currently doing. The right to vote is the right of all citizens, period.
by Silbert Barrett