Jamaican Government Urges NAJASO Delegates to Invest in Homeland
Ambassador Curtis A. Ward
The thrust of the messages delivered by Jamaican government ministers to the NAJASO convention is to encourage the diaspora to take advantage of investment opportunities in Jamaica. Accordingly, the diaspora would be contributing to helping the government achieve its growth and prosperity objectives.
NAJASO delegates had anticipated welcoming the Hon. Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, as the evening’s keynote speaker. However, breaking with precedence and due to scheduling issues he sent a representative. The Hon. Dr. Horace Chang delivered the Prime Minister’s message.
The Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism and longtime friend of NAJASO received a very warm welcome from the delegates as he preceded Dr. Chang to the podium. Minister Bartlett, who has been associated with NAJASO since its early years in the 1970s, was invited in his own stead. He recalled his long relationship with the organization reminding delegates that he has participated in NAJASO Conventions in places such as Chicago, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Hartford, and others. He paid tribute to the vision of the late Ambassador Alfred Rattray, OJ, founder of NAJASO, and to those original delegates who were present and still participating in NAJASO’s affairs after 40 years of service to the organization. He also paid tribute to those original delegates who have passed on.
In his message to the delegates, Minister Bartlett recounted the many successes of the tourism sector and its importance to the Jamaican economy. In addition to record growth of tourist arrivals, he noted also the increased level of investments in the sector. He urged NAJASO members and the Jamaican diaspora generally to explore and take advantage of the many opportunities for investment in the tourism sector. Minister Bartlett’s statement was well received by the delegates.
Her Excellency Audrey Marks, Jamaica’s ambassador the United States, before introducing the keynote speaker, lauded the delegates and NAJASO as an organization which provided a mechanism for broad outreach to the Jamaican diaspora. She reiterated her previous commitment to working with NAJASO to expand its outreach to and facilitation of engagement with the entire diaspora community.
The Hon. Dr. Horace Chang who represented Prime Minister Holness informed the gathering of the government’s growth and prosperity program and objectives. As minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Dr. Chang provided a broad overview of the areas of focus of the Economic Growth Council and urged members of the diaspora to buy into the program. He noted the many opportunities for diaspora investment in Jamaica’s development. Dr. Chang also highlighted areas of job growth in the Jamaican economy.
A number of local businesses and local leaders were represented at the Banquet. In attendance were His Worship the Mayor of Montego Bay, Councilor Homer Davis, J.P. and Mrs. Davis, the Acting Custos of the Parish of St. James, the Hon. Claudette Bryan, J.P., and Mr. Bryan. Mrs. Bryan also presented the Governor General’s message at the opening ceremony of the Convention.
NAJASO closed off its Convention earlier that afternoon with the election of officers. Among them were a new CEO and President-elect Dr. Robert Clarke, M.D. who heads up the Help Jamaica Medical Mission, a NAJASO member organization out of New Jersey. The health mission by the group will be in September 2017 when they are expected to see and treat over two thousand patients. Dr. Richard Constable, M.D. was reelected Chairman of the Board of NAJASO.
Ambassador Curtis A. Ward
© Curtis A. Ward/The Ward Post