Jamaicans overseas could change how International Development is funded

By Silbert Barrett

KINGSTON, Jamaica – In keeping with the Hon. Marcus Garvey’s vision of uniting the African Diaspora the government should give the Jamaican Diaspora the rights to vote and set the path to a new approach in International Development.

With over three (3) million Jamaican living overseas with strong ties to their homeland the newly created Economic Development Council (EDC) could shape the future of international development by engaging the United States, United Kingdom and Canada in an innovative development program to offset portions of their development aid to Jamaica in exchange for a tax credit to Jamaicans living overseas if they subscribe to hold interest or shares in an Economic Development Bond Issue for Jamaica matched with low-interest loans from the World Bank and other multilateral lending agencies.

This could result in over US$5.0 billion annually in Foreign Direct Investment from Canada, US and the UK as these Governments have a better assessment of the value and asset base of Jamaicans living in the respective countries and therefore could encourage multilateral lending agencies and the World Bank to leverage their investments with the value of a Diaspora Economic Development Bond Issue.

Jamaicans overseas could change how International Development is fundedThis arrangement could definitely be a win/win situation for all stakeholders as greater transparency and accountability would be built into the program within a public-private partnership framework to re-capitalized and rebrand the Development Bank of Jamaica.

The Government of Jamaica could also use proceeds from the National Housing Trust (NHT) as added investment support for the “New Jamaica Development Bank” to undertake investments in Energy and other Infrastructures such as Roads, Reservoirs, and Healthcare. NHT capital tied up in a trust not earning interest could put the funds at risk.

One good idea for investing in a development fund is that the interest earned could be used to subsidized low-income housing development and investments in improvised neighborhoods.

The government should pursue investments in both public and private hospital development across the island.

Remittance As An Asset Base Is Valued At Some Us$63 Billion And Potentially Greater

“The acknowledged potential for improved management of remittances for national development, poverty reduction, and social well-being were important factors.

The large number of talented Jamaicans living abroad in the Diaspora was also identified as justification for the formulation of a policy on international migration and development.

The policy is meant to manage migration more effectively for its integration into national development strategies by harnessing its development potential to benefit the society and migrants themselves.”-Draft National Policy on International Migration and Development, October 2015.

Direct Remittance Investment (DRI) is not a foreign exchange service but an asset in perpetuity which must be managed like all financial assets in terms of protecting and growing that asset base.  It is a measurable Financial and Economic Asset.

Until our governments understand that it cannot continue to trade off the appreciating impact on the value of the dollar by DRI to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI),  DRI it will always be a curse on our National Debt.  It is a curse because those with power and huge financial interest manipulate the exchange rates to constantly drive down the value of the Jamaican Dollar to profit from the exchange rate spread, due to the increased inflows of hard currency from remittance which invariably increases the size and cost of our national debt.

Regardless of passing “IMF” acid tests, the structural impediments to growth in the Jamaican Economy are rooted deep in our colonial legacy, a fact most of us are not willing to accept. For too long race and class have played a dominant role in economic development planning and the policies to address fundamental social and economic issues are often skewed along that colonial mindset.

The volume of trading in currency speculation is estimated at an average of approximately US$10 billion annually. The government will need to greatly improve its business planning and investment modeling capacity to attract a significant portion of this investment away from currency speculation into other areas of the economy such are in Energy, Manufacturing and Urban Infrastructure Development.

Remittance as an asset base is valued at some US$63 billion (potentially ten times greater) and it is from this posture that the Government should negotiate. This will mean a significant restructuring of our fiscal and monitor policies in order for Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) to account for this new asset based on our balance sheet.

The Government of Jamaica should adopt a Foreign Policy regarding its Citizens living abroad to protect and advance their interest both locally and overseas. This interest must be defined as a national interest in both political and economic terms. America will protect its Citizen anywhere in the world at all cost. The PPP will adopt this posture and help to enhance the social, economic, cultural and political interest of all Jamaican living overseas.

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Posted in: National News
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