THE Government of Guyana will be hosting its Inaugural Diaspora Conference on Saturday, May 22, under the theme, ‘A New Era of Engagement for the Guyanese Diaspora.’ The virtual forum, according to Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud, seeks to provide a platform for Guyanese working and residing outside of Guyana to be constructively engaged on matters relating to the country’s development and how they can contribute. It is slated to commence promptly at 09:00hrs.
Persaud told reporters at a press conference on Monday that the engagement is in keeping with an earlier commitment made by President, Dr. Irfaan Ali to provide opportunities for Guyanese in the diaspora to participate and make positive contributions towards the transformation and development of their homeland. “It is well documented that the Guyanese diaspora is highly skilled, patriotic and have a great desire to contribute,” Persaud said.
He noted too that the conference will seek to examine a number of areas and sectors including remigration, security, trade and investment prospects, as well as agriculture and youth development.
“It is envisioned that the conference will help to assure the diaspora of the Government’s commitment to fostering a deepened and sustained relationship to allow their participation in the country’s development,” the Foreign Secretary affirmed.
Responding to questions, Persaud assured that the engagements will not be part of “just another conference,” but will have an impact on future plans and policies instituted by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government. “It is intended to be one with a specific outcome and one that will inform government policy and interaction,” Persaud said.
He further noted that the PPP/C’s commitment to supporting diaspora dialogue and contribution is aptly reflected in the move to establish a Diaspora Unit as a budgeted component of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Persaud believes that the forum will better enable and equip the newly-established Diaspora Unit to create a work programme which can be much more responsive to the needs of the diaspora.
“We expect from this conference to use the feedback so that it can impact on the Government’s plans to further engagement,” Persaud posited, adding, “this conference is about ensuring there is sustained and long-term results.”
The conference also forms part of a broader objective to craft a Guyana Diaspora Engagement Strategy and Plan of Action, which will further guide diaspora engagements and partnerships.
In addition to President Ali delivering the keynote address, the forum will also feature presentations and discussions led by various government ministers and senior officials, including Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh.
Other ministers slated to address the conference include Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn; Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal; Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd.
A number of other state agencies such as the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Guyana Tourism Authority and the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) are also expected to participate. Other key players, including the Private Sector Commission, led by Paul Cheong, and several foreign missions in Guyana, have also committed to be part of the initiative.
So far, in excess of 500 persons and groups outside of Guyana, particularly in the United States and Canada, have already registered to be part of the conference which will ultimately accommodate no more than 1,000 virtual participants. Ms. Rosalinda Rasul, who heads the Diaspora Unit, said that Guyanese in the United Kingdom have also expressed interest in being part of the forum
During a panel discussion held in February, President Ali had underscored the critical role of the diaspora communities in taking Guyana forward. “With the magnitude and scale of developmental opportunities that will take place, it requires a different mindset and I would like to see the diaspora coming together with their investment potential. It will be incredible if they come together and push for the opportunities that are ahead,” Dr. Ali had previously said.
Overseas-based Guyanese who wish to participate in Saturday’s conference, can visit https://www.minfor.gov.gy/virtual-diaspora-conference-2021-registration to get registered.