Jamaica’s PM encourages Diaspora to be voice for nation’s development

SOUTH FLORIDA – Prime Minister Andrew Holness told nationals in South Florida that Jamaica is a “state of being” and less about where they were born.

Speaking to a large audience at the tenth annual Awards and Scholarship Ceremony of the Jamaican American Bar Association, last Saturday (Nov. 18), at the Westin Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, the Prime Minister reminded his compatriots that there are as many Jamaicans at home as abroad, estimating that almost 350,000 are in South Florida.

With Jamaica’s prominence on the global arena, Prime Minister reiterated that the Diaspora could be a powerful tool for the national development.

He encouraged nationals to ensure legitimacy of their resident status in their Diaspora homes if they choose to become citizens of those homes. This would then allow them to have a voice of reason for their homeland.  Jamaica, he said, have produced world leaders in the global arena as voice of principle, reason, peace and justice, as they contribute to the development of other countries.   “We need to find the right voice to get Jamaica’s interests heard” he added.  “Your strongest support is when you are able to speak on behalf of your country.”

Don James with Hon. Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s PM encourages Diaspora to be voice for nation’s development

Jamaica’s Prime Minister (right) receiving a plaque of appreciation from the President of the Jamaican American Bar Association (JABA) Don James, Esq.., (right) last Saturday (Nov.. 18) at the Association’s 10th annual Awards and Scholarship Ceremony held at the Westin Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

Pointing to global issues that are affecting the island as well as the broader Caribbean region, Mr. Holness spoke of the “de-risking” withdrawal of US correspondent banks from the region which he said could hinder development.

According to the Prime Minister, the subject of climate change is another conversation now on the table.  He noted that the alarming frequency and intensity of storms due to climate change are of real concern.

As infrastructure and productivity is being hindered, Mr. Holness stressed to his audience that there has to be global action to counter this concern; and therefore support of the larger nations is needed to help the smaller islands, reiterating that the Diaspora voice could be useful in helping in this perspective.

As he updated nationals on progress at home, the Prime Minister spoke of recent meetings with the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at which Jamaica was praised for its economic improvement.  “We have done that through incredible sacrifice” to repay the national debt, he said.

The Prime Minister spoke of the 60,000 jobs created in the economy and ease of doing business in Jamaica which ranked the country 70th in world ranking of 170 countries.  These were signs that the country was ready for rebirth, he said.

As a result of the ongoing interest of persons in the Diaspora, a new debate was recently sparked to look at the Constitution for the possibility of Jamaicans abroad voting in Jamaican elections.  “It’s a progressive step which we intend to pursue,” he added.

While the Prime Minister expressed optimism about the improvement in the national development, amidst the challenges posed, the subject of crime and violence were still of critical concern, he stressed.

As he commended the Diaspora community for their ongoing commitment to Jamaica’s national development, Prime Minister Holness encouraged members to pursue ways to strengthen themselves in their communities as he shared progressive ways in which the expatriate community could be beneficial to Jamaica’s national development besides remittances.

The Prime Minister was presented with the Keys to Broward County by County Commissioner Dale Holness, a Jamaican national. He was also presented with a plaque of appreciation from the President of the JABA, Don James, Esq.

The evening’s programme concluded with a presentation of awards and scholarships to several law students in the South Florida community.

Commissioner Dale Holness and Prime Minister Andrew Holness receiving Keys To The City

Jamaica’s Prime Minister (right) receiving the keys to Broward County from County Commissioner Dale Holness last Saturday (Nov.. 18) at the 10th annual Awards and Scholarship Ceremony of the Jamaican American Bar Association (JABA) held at the Westin Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

The nearly 300 visitors included members of the legal fraternity across the tri-county South Florida region, civic leaders as well as college students pursuing a legal profession.

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness and reggae songbird, Marcia Griffiths

Jamaica’s Prime Minister (left) sharing a moment with Jamaica’s international reggae songbird, Marcia Griffiths, OD, at the Jamaican American Bar Association (JABA) 10th annual Awards and Scholarship Ceremony last Saturday (Nov.. 18) held at the Westin Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

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