Jamaica News: United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Country Head, Jason Fraser, says the diaspora is a critical development partner for Jamaica through remittances and other areas of support.
Data from the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) indicate that net remittance inflows during 2018 totalled approximately US$2 billion, representing an increase of US$19 million or nearly one per cent over the previous year.
Mr. Fraser said the United States (US) is the largest source of remittances to Jamaica, accounting for 63 per cent of the country’s total inflows at the end of December 2018.
“That’s more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of most developing countries,” Mr. Fraser added.
He was speaking during a forum on ‘Social Business Enterprises’ at the Eighth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston from June 16 to 20.
Mr. Fraser commended the Government for increasing efforts to mobilise and leverage the diaspora for development.
He cited, as an example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade’s creation of the Diaspora Affairs Department in 2017, which has been mandated to strengthen linkages with nationals living abroad.
While acknowledging that remittances are important, Mr. Fraser contended that “there is so much more that the diaspora can contribute to national development”.
“Indeed, substantially greater progress can be made in alleviating many of the country’s most serious and complex social problems, if non-profit organisations, government, businesses and the Jamaican Diaspora are brought together around a common agenda to create impact,” he argued.
Mr. Fraser said despite being a small island state, Jamaica has always been “very proactive, devising its own development agenda”.
This, he added, has resulted in the island scoring well above average in USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance Country Road Map.
“What is especially impressive is the spirit of collaboration that is employed as Jamaica seeks to draw on resources from all sectors… business, government, and non-profit and faith-based organisations… to catalyse large-scale investments and change,” the USAID Country Head said.
Mr. Fraser noted that the USAID has been working collaboratively with Jamaica’s private sector, civil society and average citizens upwards of the past 50 years, to develop programmes to ensure sustainable development outcomes.
The focus areas, he outlined, have included market-oriented and government policy reforms, economic diversification, private-sector growth, conservation and natural resources, improving agricultural development, and poverty alleviation.
Mr. Fraser said the USAID continues to streamline its programmes, particularly in the area of social service delivery.
Notable among these engagements, he indicated, are the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) and Community Empowerment and Transformation (COMET) project.
“I am proud about the USAID’s support for these programmes and social businesses, and we will continue to look to invest in social enterprises here in Jamaica. So, as we streamline our programmes and we look for strategic partners, we invite the diaspora to partner with us as we both work towards the common goal of helping Jamaica achieve self-reliance and resilience,” Mr. Fraser said.
Source: JIS News