Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Terrelonge hails Diaspora Conference as ‘great homecoming’

Published:Friday | June 14, 2024 | 12:09 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter
Alando Terrelonge, minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
Alando Terrelonge, minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

Despite ongoing criticism from elements in the diaspora, Alando Terrelonge, state minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, says organisers are well prepared and the Government is pleased with the number of persons who have already registered for the upcoming 10th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference.

The conference is set to open on Sunday and will run until June 20 in St James at the Montego Bay Convention Centre under the theme ‘United for Jamaica’s Transformation: Fostering Peace, Productivity, and Youth Empowerment’.

Speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, Terrelonge would neither confirm nor deny reports that the Government has busted its budget for the four-day event but said that Jamaica is “abuzz with excitement”.

“Our registration figures are at 890 this minute, and persons continue to register for the conference,” Terrelonge told The Gleaner. “There are also individuals who have indicated they will be registering for just particular days on site, and we we still have those numbers to be counted.

“We have surpassed the registration numbers from previous conferences, and we are excited about that. Our conference numbers are looking good, and we’re very excited about the pace of registration and the interest in the conference.”

Terrelonge added that the conference would provide an opportunity for members of the diaspora to play a role in the island’s development and learn about investment opportunities in several growth sectors in the country.

“It is a great homecoming where we will have thought leaders from across the diaspora as well as key industry players who will be here to discuss and shape the future of Jamaica,” he said.

Seeking to allay concerns in the diaspora about the direction in which the country is headed, he also pointed to Jamaica’s net international reserve being at a historic high, as well as the debt-to-GDP ratio being lowered from 144 per cent to 72 per cent, and argued that there is great investor confidence in the island.

“We’re saying to the diaspora, when you come to the conference, you will learn more about the great investment opportunities, so among the topics we have on the Monday will be our wealth-creation seminar, which will be led by industry giants, for example, Jamaica National, Victoria Mutual, [and] the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,” Terrelonge said.

Tomorrow, there will be pre-conference registration and Diaspora Council meetings,while on Sunday, pre-conference activities will continue with a church service, Diaspora Council meetings, and an opening reception.

The official start will be on Monday with a ‘Power Breakfast’, the opening of the conference marketplace, a Government At Your Service session, workshops, meetings, cultural overlay, and a legacy partner-hosted event.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is expected to give a keynote address, and on Wednesday, there will be activities similar to the day before.