Give Jamaicans living in US more privileges — Phillips

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips says the time has come for the Jamaican Constitution to allow Jamaicans living in the United States of America

to be eligible to sit in Parliament, similar to their counterparts living in Commonwealth nations of Canada and the United Kingdom.

“That’s a relic of the world of 1962 and, quite frankly, it needs to be adjusted. But it requires a national discourse here,” Dr Phillips argued while he addressed NAJASO’s 40th anniversary luncheon at the Secrets Hotel here on Friday.

“Certainly, it is something that ought to be done because a critical part of Jamaica resides in the United States, and they are no less Jamaican in love of the country than those who are above in Canada or the UK,” Dr Phillips said.

NAJASO is a non-profit, tax- exempt, umbrella association of Jamaican and supportive organisations throughout the USA and internationally.

“We have to strengthen appropriate agencies of Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to ensure that the significance of the Diaspora is not just to be seen in the conference that we hold every two years, but moreso in a continuing engagement with the Diaspora community, including exploring how the Diaspora can be embedded in the national decision-making institutions of the country,” he stated.

In the meantime, noting that even as remittance plays a significant role in the injection of foreign exchange into the country, Dr Phillips, who is the People’s National Party President, encouraged more emphasis on investment by Jamaicans living overseas.

“I would like to see moves from remittance to investment flows in a much greater degree, because I consider the Diaspora community to be a vital source of investment capital that can lift the Caribbean.

And, at the same time, we in Jamaica need to recognise, and the rest of the Caribbean, that if we could see the Diaspora community as an extension of our domestic market for locally produced goods, it could make a tremendous difference to our productive capacity, our productivity, our earnings, and the scale of wealth in our country. And this requires an engagement,” Dr Phillips stated.

He added that a future PNP Administration would eliminate the red tape which stifles charitable donations from Jamaicans abroad, as well as embrace the expertise of Jamaicans living overseas.

“And one of the ways to do this — as we do for certifiable, bona fide, commercial organisations — is to register organisations which are trustworthy and allow them to bring in the hospital equipment, the school equipment and the other things, without having to endure the tribulations and privations of excessively cumbersome customs procedures,” Dr Phillips noted.

He further stated: “I believe it is also appropriate now that we have Jamaican immigration recognise the fact of dual nationality on the part of Jamaicans; most passports record where you were born. And when the Jamaican of dual nationality comes in they should be recognised as being Jamaican and be treated as an accepted part of the Jamaican community.”

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