Holness urges diaspora to invest
PRIME MINISTER Andrew Holness has urged members of the Jamaican diaspora to invest in more tangible and long-term ways in their homeland rather than simply sending home remittances.
Holness said although remittances has helped to cut the poverty rate, they also create a dependency in the recipients and do not contribute to investment.
The prime minister was speaking at one of nine engagements during a packed schedule on a two-day trip to New York last Thursday. It was held at the city’s upscale University Club and some 160 affluent, corporate movers and shakers attended the affair and waited with bated breath to hear what the special guest had to say.
He did not disappoint, candidly telling the guests that he knew a lot was expected from a 39-year-old leader, but having begun in politics at the age of 18, he was not going to use age as an excuse.
Holness was appointed to the post of prime minister just over a month ago, making him the youngest to hold that office. “Continue to send those funds home, but channel it into investments. We must make our bureaucracy more accepting of and easier for the diaspora, so we are looking at ways to help you, as a group, invest in entities such as the National Housing Trust, tourism and in marketing of foods from home,” Holness said.
He also told the group about the current state of the economy – third most-indebted country in the world – with a current state of indebtedness (140 per cent of GDP) which was not forced upon it but that “we borrowed the money”, so we have to take responsibility for paying it back.
“I have a difficulty with the belief that we can borrow our way out of debt. We have to manage our affairs and make the necessary sacrifices so that we do not end up with the riots and protests that are taking place elsewhere in the world,” Holness said.
He also informed the audience that there had been a drastic decrease in the crime rate, and outlined plans to make the 50th anniversary of Independence memorable. He answered a number of questions from the audience.
The prime minister’s ‘Positive Jamaica Foundation’ was launched at the luncheon. It aims to restore confidence in Jamaica by highlighting the positives about the island, removing garrisons and give children a chance to get the kind of education that made him what he is today.