First major diaspora conference set for May 22

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will run off a major virtual diaspora conference on May 22, 2021, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud announced on Thursday.

With hopes of attracting interested groups and individuals, both at home and across the diaspora, the conference will see the participation of President Irfaan Ali as a featured guest.

Persaud said key agencies like the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) will participate.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Housing and Tourism among others are also likely to offer presentations and make themselves available for engagement prior to, during and after the conference.

The Foreign Secretary said the conference is seen as one part of forging ahead with the government’s plan of engaging and involving the diaspora to support its national development priorities.

He said with the work done in recent months, the recently reintegrated Diaspora Unit was able to detect interest in the diaspora and will use the conference to start the level of engagement needed.

Persons will soon be able to register for the conference with no limit on the number of participants since it is being held virtually.

Persaud cautioned that with a keen interest in diaspora activities the emphasis is not to disadvantage persons who remained to live and work in Guyana.

He said it is about complimenting the progress in Guyana with the support of Guyanese living abroad.

“It is not taking away opportunities from people here or giving preferential access or opportunities to persons abroad,” he added.

As a first, almost $50 million was set aside in the 2021 National Budget to support diaspora engagement activities.

Persaud said this is necessary so that Guyana does not lose the second and third generation of Guyanese living abroad.

Additionally, with plans to set up diaspora desks at embassies and missions abroad, Persaud said the first desk was set up at the Consular Office in New York with an appointed officer.

This facility is expected to support trade and investment interests and will soon be established at other missions and embassies.

Persaud said everything is being done to ensure that the country does not lose touch with its highly valuable human resource abroad and it seeks to attract the skills and capital to support what is happening in and around Guyana.

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