Draft Diaspora Engagement Strategy completed

15 Jan

The Honourable Carl B. Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs (Source: Guyana Chronicle)

By Svetlana Marshall

…to be submitted to Cabinet by month end

THE draft Diaspora Engagement Strategy and Action Plan is currently before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs having been completed by consultants from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge has disclosed.

The policy paper will formally guide the administration’s relationship with the diaspora with focus on three main operational areas–Diaspora Communities, Home Country and IT Social Media.

In an exclusive interview with Guyana Chronicle at his South Road, Georgetown Office on Thursday, the Foreign Affairs Minister disclosed that the draft report was submitted to the Ministry’s Diaspora Unit following the completion of another round of consultations funded by the IOM. In 2017, a Cabinet sub-committee was established to finalise the draft Diaspora Engagement Strategy and Action Plan but there were concerns raised that greater consultations needed to be done, and it was on this basis that IOM agreed to fund another round of consultation.

“The IOM, which had carried out the study based on recommendations, even on how to sample, agreed to do another round, that round has been completed. The consultant has prepared a draft and that draft has come to us,” Minister Greenidge told this newspaper.

He added that the draft Diaspora Engagement Strategy and Action Plan was reviewed by the Ministry’s Diaspora Unit and is currently on his desk. “I have not yet read it,” he posited.
Once reviewed by him, the report will return to Cabinet for an analysis of the recommendations before a decision is made on its implementation. “It has taken into account considerations which may not have been raised in the first round, and additional issues that were raised as a result of that round,” Minister Greenidge explained. The Foreign Affairs Minister anticipates that the draft document will be sent to Cabinet before the end of the month.

During one of the consultative meetings on the draft strategy and action plan last September in New York, IOM Consultant, Arnon Mantver had underscored the importance of having a sustainable diasporic relationship. Describing the strategy as very practical, Mantver, who had travelled from Israel for the forum, had said there are four key aspects of the strategy that ought to be implemented.

The first of those key aspects, he said, is the strengthening and expansion of the Diaspora Unit in Guyana, which was established back in 2011. “You have to build the centre; a professional centre,” he emphasised. “Four people alone cannot deal with the diaspora, and to put policies and to analyse realities, and to come up with solutions… So, you need a strong centre.”

Having a strong centre, on the other hand, Mantver said, calls for immediate implementation, which will allow the unit to communicate and collaborate effectively with the diaspora.

Additionally, he said short and long-term youth programmes, should be boosted. Exchange programme for youths would allow them to build international ties from an early age, while gaining a wealth of experience, the IOM Consultant had explained.

He also underscored the importance of bringing innovation and creativity to the table that would attract young people into becoming a part of the process. Remittances, in the form of philanthropy, is another area of significant interest, the IOM Consultant had noted.

“Remittance is private money,” he said, and there are two elements: How you spend the private money; you can either waste it or you can use it for self-development of the family, education, improving infrastructure or supplementing basic needs, but remittances also can be allocated for the public good.” While he noted that this has been the trend in places such as Israel and Mexico. He, however, warned against abuse and mismanagement.

In general, he believes that the government, through the unit, should focus on critical areas before branching off to other areas of concern, warning that resources should not be spread thin.
Last year, Cabinet had a preliminary examination of the draft strategy, and had mandated a number of ministers, including the Ministers of Citizenship, Business and Public Security, to review the proposals with the intention of providing recommendations.

(Sourced from Guyana Chronicle– January 12, 2018)

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