Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference to Feature the ‘Gov’t at Your Service’

Photo: National Housing Trust
Director of Citizenship at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), Carol Hammond.

Photo courtesy of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency

Story Highlights

  • Visiting participants in the upcoming Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference, slated for July 23 to 26 in Kingston, will experience the benefits of the ‘Government at Your Service’ one-stop shop facility, which will be utilised at the event.
  • Chair of the Government at Your Service Committee and RGD Marketing and Planning Manager, Nicole Whyte, says the participating agencies will be endeavouring to meet the needs of the visiting delegates, in recognition of the conference’s duration.
  • The ‘Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference’, which is organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, will be held under the theme ‘Partnering for Growth’.

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Visiting participants in the upcoming Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference, slated for July 23 to 26 in Kingston, will experience the benefits of the ‘Government at Your Service’ one-stop shop facility, which will be utilised at the event.

This provision will see 11 State agencies collaborating to provide their services to attendees.

They include the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency; Registrar General’s Department (RGD); National Housing Trust (NHT); National Insurance Scheme (NIS); and Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), among others.

Scores of persons from the main diaspora locations of Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, as well as other non-traditional locations, are expected in the island for the biennial conference, which will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

It is anticipated that many of these persons will use the opportunity to transact engagements, including passport renewals and updating birth certificates, for which they are expected to benefit from speedy and efficient service delivery with the various agencies engaged.

Chair of the Government at Your Service Committee and RGD Marketing and Planning Manager, Nicole Whyte, says the participating agencies will be endeavouring to meet the needs of the visiting delegates, in recognition of the conference’s duration.

” We will be there from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. offering whatever services they require. We’ll have individual booths, and they can come and conduct the business there,” she says.

Miss Whyte, who outlined some of the services to be offered, notes that persons who, for example, may have black and white versions of their marriage certificates that they want upgraded to the new coloured format, whose documents may have errors for correction or might want additional copies, will be accommodated by the RGD.

“So we (will) offer those services… in such a way that they can transact business on Monday and pick up the certificates on Tuesday.  So they are able to come to the conference and transact business, go back to their sessions and when they are ready to leave the conference, they are in possession of what they paid for,” she adds.

National Housing Trust Assistant General Manager for Marketing and Sales, Joyce Simms-Wilson. Photo contributed by the National Housing Trust

Miss Whyte says while certain activities cannot be done overnight, participants can be assured of efficient service delivery from all participating agencies, adding that “it’s really about providing a convenience and all of these (entities) are here to make doing business with the government easy for them”.

Director of Citizenship at PICA, Carol Hammond, tells JIS News that the agency welcomes the opportunity to be a part of Government At your Service, noting that services will be available in three areas.

“We will be offering the services for persons who wish to renew their Jamaican passport, for persons who are eligible for unconditional landing to make their application and for persons who wish to apply for citizenship,” she outlines.

Additionally, Mrs. Hammond says if delegates’ family members travel to the conference, they, too, can apply for the benefit by submitting the requisite documents.  These include the original of both sets of certificates.

She advises that conference participants who intend to change their documents or have them adjusted, can submit an application to the Embassy or Consulate closest to them, which will then forward it to the relevant agency, thereby allowing for adequate time for processing and delivery when they get to Jamaica.

Mrs. Hammond says persons who intend to take advantage of the express service while at the conference should be prepared to come in early.

“They should come in before 10:00 a.m. on day two of the conference so that the passport can be delivered on the following day (day three) of the conference.  If the application is made after 10:30 a.m., other arrangements will have to be made for the passport to be delivered here at our office, or we (will) have it delivered to them at the mission closest to them wherever they live,” she states

The NHT’s Assistant General Manager for Marketing and Sales, Joyce Simms-Wilson, says the agency considers its participation in the conference key to the entity’s business, as it offers an opportunity for face-to-face dialogue with Jamaicans living overseas to discuss the voluntary contributions programme.

She says there are three categories that the Trust is interested in. One is those interested in owning homes in Jamaica or in helping persons in Jamaica to own homes but have never registered with the Trust, hence the agency will be using the opportunity to broaden the contribution network

 

Chair of the Government at Your Service Committee and the Registrar General’s Department Marketing and Planning Manager, Nicole Whyte. Photo contributed by the Registrar General’s Department

“The other set are those who were contributing and are now no longer contributing. We want to encourage them to continue contributing. There are also mortgagers whom we want to come forward so we can give them the status of their accounts. We also want to target the millennials to let them be a part of the Jamaican landscape, to own something,” she says.

Mr. Simms-Wilson also notes that the NHT will be endeavouring to learn more about Jamaicans in the diaspora, in order to understand what it is they want and what are their expectations.  To this end, she says the Trust will be carrying out a survey, so as to understand the participants.

The ‘Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference’, which is organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, will be held under the theme ‘Partnering for Growth’.

Its schedule also includes church services to launch the week; the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards to recognise Jamaicans for outstanding service in their communities of residence overseas; a conference dialogue to facilitate an exchange of views and ideas on building a better and prosperous nation; a marketplace exposition to highlight the best of Jamaica’s culture and entertainment; and a youth forum that engages second-, third- and fourth-generation diaspora members.

The activities will culminate with the Diaspora Day of Service, which will see members being mobilised in projects that enable them to give back to their communities.