In a statement today, Ms Hanna said, members of the Diaspora have raised concerns that there was no broad consultation before the new body was created and the limited scope of the discussions failed to incorporate all the groupings and interests of Jamaicans living overseas.
Ms Hanna observed that there needed to be a review of the framework of the new diaspora body and its policies to ensure that Jamaicans who are actively engaged and willing to participate in a national programme are not left out irrespective of where they reside.
Ms Hanna said this review must answer the burning issues which include the following:
- Was the consultation limited to just a few members or was consultation broad-based across diaspora communities in each of the countries with large diaspora populations?
- What methodology was used for consulting with the diaspora in developing this new policy framework and structure of the Council?
- Who will chair this new Council and appoint the members? If the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is the designated chair and ultimately, selects the members, will this Council be a true representative body of the diaspora community or the government of Jamaica?
She said these and other questions must be answered as the Diaspora needs a framework and equitable policies that they can trust.
“This could become a problem if members of the Diaspora, who are unhappy with the process, remain outside of the process, then they will not have a seat at the table and their views will not be heard,” Ms. Hanna said.
The Shadow Minister said the Council needs to be an independent body that is able to represent the views of members of the Diaspora without political interference. She said it must be free to make submissions to government and other national stakeholder groupings without political encumbrance if it is to act in the best interest of Jamaica.
“Jamaicans abroad have always expressed a willingness to assist beyond sending remittances and therefore this platform of engagement through policy development creates a new opportunity, but it must be fair, reasonable and inclusive,” the Shadow Minister said.
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