Diaspora can help Jamaica to Attain Vision 2030 Development Goal

Mixed Achievement for Vision 2030 Development Plan for Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Director-general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr Wayne Henry, reported that the country has achieved, or exceeded just over a third of its targets under the Vision 2030 Development Plan for Jamaica.

In another 34 percent of cases it improved its baseline performance in key economic and social developmental areas.

Often referred to as the “Vision 2030 Plan” in short, the document is a roadmap which outlines how the country will achieve first world status by the Year 2030.

Dr Henry further disclosed that the 34 percent of targets that have not been attained are either the same, or worse than they were before. He was speaking to members of the Jamaican Diaspora at the opening session of the Eighth Biennial Diaspora Conference in downtown Kingston, on June 17.

Dr Wayne Henry
Planning Institute of Jamaica

The PIOJ director-general pointed out that, since the launch of the plan in 2009, the targets have been measured in three-year cycles under a medium-term framework. The country is now in its fourth cycle, 2018-2021.

“As at 2018, Jamaica’s development performance under Vision 2030 has been mixed, with 34 percent of the indicators being the same or worse than the baseline, which was established in 2007; 34 per cent of the indicators met or exceeded the target we established; and another 32 percent improved above the baseline, but did not meet the target,” he explained.

The targets that exceeded included the annual inflation rate; foreign exchange earnings from tourism; grade four literacy rates and the lowering of the unemployment rate, which the Statistical Institute of Jamaica indicated in its  January report, was eight percent.

Attendance at secondary schools; the poverty headcount ratio; rural poverty; environmental performance index; and court case backlogs, are some of the areas which remain the same or have worsened, he indicated.

Dr Henry made the point that by strengthening partnerships with its Diaspora, Jamaica can enrich its contribution to the country’s development goals.

His views are in line with a study unveiled by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) presented at the last Diaspora Conference, which showed that the Diaspora contributes a minimum of 23 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) through several sectors, including investments and tourism, but has the potential to contribute at least 35 per cent.

“The Diaspora plays an important role in fostering economic growth, strengthening social protection and building environmental resilience,” Dr Henry argued.

Beyond remittances, which provide critical support to Jamaicans locally, and shores up the country’s foreign currency reserve, Dr Henry noted that there is further scope to engender economic development through investment in real estate, the capital market and venture capital.

He also noted that there is was room for development through knowledge transfer.

“Many Jamaicans who migrated have distinguished themselves in their adopted homeland in diverse areas such as business, medicine, information technology and law. Sharing their expertise would advance the island’s knowledge capacity in a wide range of areas,” he maintained, pointing out that, the micro, small and medium enterprise sector, in particular, could benefit from an infusion of expertise from the Diaspora.

Diaspora vital to positioning Brand Jamaica 

Responding to the points raised at the opening session, Leesa Kow, deputy managing director at JN Bank, who formerly headed the remittance company, JN Money Services Limited, a sister company to JN Bank, commented that the improving economic conditions should inspire confidence among Jamaicans overseas to further invest in the country.

However, she said beyond the economic, there is more to be gained from the social input of the Diaspora to further the Vision 2030 agenda.

“There is an unexploited value that we can tap into among those in our traditional Diaspora markets, which goes beyond remittances and donations,” Miss Kow, who is also a former president of the Jamaica Remitters Association affirmed.

“There is power in the simple networks we build, through our relationships with Jamaicans overseas, which are vital to position Jamaica in the global landscape and strengthen its brand,” she commented.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith (centre), converses with (from left): Professor Neville Ying, executive director, Jamaica Diaspora Institute; president of The Victoria Mutual Building Society, Courtney Campbell; chief executive officer of GraceKennedy, Senator Don Wehby, and chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group and chairman of the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, Earl Jarrett. They were in discussion ahead of the opening session of the eighth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, Monday, June 17.
Global Diaspora Council to be established

Also addressing the opening session of the Diaspora Conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, disclosed that efforts are being made to further strengthen those networks.

She said the government is moving to establish a global Jamaican Diaspora Council, to include members beyond the traditional communities in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America.

This global council will ease the burden of the few persons who now serve on the Diaspora Advisory Board.

“The intention is to include, through the appointment process, representation from six regions, which are not currently represented on the board,” she said. “These are: Africa, Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; Europe and the Middle East.”

The minister said this will ensure that groups in these regions which are not yet well-organised will have an opportunity to formally engage with the Government of Jamaica and establish Diaspora groups to access support.

In addition to the global council, Senator Johnson Smith announced that the ministry is also seeking to establish youth councils in each major Diaspora market.

“We need to give them (youth) the space and the framework to devise and implement a sustainable means of deepening engagement with their contemporaries in Jamaica and in the broader Diaspora, otherwise we will meet every two years and hold a forum in which more young people need to connect,” she said.

A draft of the National Diaspora Policy presented to members during the conference was endorsed by delegates from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The policy will go to cabinet for approval.

The opening session was chaired by Senator Don Wehby, chief executive officer of GraceKennedy Limited, the legacy sponsor leading this year’s staging of the conference.

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