The Jamaican Government is keen on implementing measures to incentivise nationals living overseas who want to come home to study, work or invest in the country, says Leslie Campbell, state minister for foreign affairs and foreign trade.
One such initiative, Campbell noted, is the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) online portal for returning residents and students, which was launched last July and enables overseas nationals to make their application online instead of in person.
“This is certainly a welcome change particularly during this period of social distancing and other protocols due to the coronavirus (COVID-19),” Campbell said while speaking at the launch of the local branch of the United Kingdom (UK)-based Break Barriers Caring Hands (BBCH) on December 10 at Ultimate Lounge in Kingston.
The home care agency, which offers personalised service for the elderly, the disabled and children, was founded by Jamaican, Andrene Lewis-Longwe, who resides in the UK.
Campbell, who has responsibility for diaspora affairs, hailed the investment, noting that it is “encouraging to see initiatives like this, particularly at this time, when countries all around the world are grappling with the socio-economic challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic”.
He said the Government is committed to working with members of the diaspora for the country’s development, noting that overseas nationals have played a tremendous role individually and collectively in Jamaica’s progress over the years.
“I understand only too well the importance of supporting efforts to strengthen relations with the diaspora, including strengthening their affinity to Jamaica, promoting business and investment opportunities and, of course, ensuring that there are systems and measures in place to encourage investments and facilitate ease of doing business in Jamaica,” he said.
“Today’s launch is an excellent example of what we can do through engagement and partnerships and we encourage all of you to continue to partner with us as we remain focused on improving the lives of our people and country,” the minister added.
State Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Alando Terrelonge, in his remarks, congratulated and extended his support to Lewis-Longwe, who is a native of Gregory Park, which forms part of his East Central St. Catherine constituency.
“Andrene is the epitome of a black Jamaican woman who has strived for success and who has shown, by example, the benefits of hard work and having a dream that also includes other persons and caring for those persons,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to all the Jamaicans in the diaspora who continue to make a valuable contribution to the country.
Lewis-Longwe, for her part, said she was inspired to start a BBCH branch in the island after she attended a town hall meeting in London where Prime Minister Andrew Holness charged Jamaicans to invest in their country.
“He was encouraging us to invest in our homeland to help address some of the economical issues we face. He highlighted the need for us to get involved,” she said.
Lewis-Longwe said that the BBCH, which has an outstanding rating in the UK and has been in service for more than 12 years, will provide the same level of high-quality service to local clients as it does overseas, while providing jobs for Jamaicans and contributing to the economy.