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DIASPORA SPECIAL

What is the purpose of the diaspora conference and is it of any real value?

By Adrian Frater

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With remittances a primary source of foreign exchange earnings, one of the most respected voices on diaspora issues, Professor Neville Ying, wants a session at the 2022 Jamaica Diaspora Conference to show gratitude to Jamaicans abroad. The conference takes place this week, from June 14 to 16.

While the conference, which is being held under the theme, ‘Reigniting A Nation for Greatness,’ will look to open new avenues for investment, Ying, the Executive Director of the Jamaica Diaspora Institute, said Jamaicans abroad deserve special recognition for its unwavering support of the country.

“One of the recommendations I have made for the conference is to have a thank you session to the diaspora for all the contributions they have made to the country,” said Ying, whose involvement with the diaspora spans 19 years. “It should be noted that the diaspora is poised to contribute US$3 billion to Jamaica’s economy this year through remittances.”

Speaking at the recent launch of the 2022 conference, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the event will focus on exploring business opportunities as members of the diaspora will be urged to invest in various sectors.

“Our capital market, real estate, business process and knowledge process outsourcing are doing very well,” said Holness, in outlining areas he considers ripe for investment. “There are also good opportunities in agriculture and logistics.”

However, as it relates to him wanting to see gratitude being shown to the diaspora, which stood tall for Jamaica during the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ying said the US$2.1 billion in remittances in 2020 create a buffer for the local economy as tourism suffered major losses.

“In the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic in 202O, remittances increased by 20 per cent, and it helped to cushion the US$2.3 billion lost in tourism. That is how important the diaspora is,” declared Ying.

Adrian Frater is a journalist with over 20 years’ experience in Jamaican media.