As the government ramps up its promotion of a major diaspora conference set for May 22, 2021, Foreign Secretary (FS), Robert Persaud, has assured that while conference fatigue may deter persons from the virtual engagement, it will not just be a talk shop.
During a press briefing on Monday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Persaud said the conference will facilitate constructive dialogue in keeping with President Irfaan Ali’s promise to “aggressively pursue the involvement of the diaspora in national development.”
He said the conference seeks to provide a platform of exchange between the government and the diaspora, while at the same time, clarifying that it is not intended to offer any preference to the diaspora but rather equal opportunities.
“This is not just another conference. The fact that you have the President, the Vice President, several Ministers of Government addressing key topics; it is intended to be one with a specific outcome and one that will inform government policy and interaction… this conference is about ensuring there is sustained and long term results,” Persaud said.
Through the conference, hundreds of persons will be placed in the virtual space and hold discussions on a range of issues, including remigration, tourism, trade, investment prospects, youth engagement opportunities and philanthropy.
The conference will see the participation of President Ali as a featured guest.
He will be joined by Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo and several government ministers, including the Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Minister of Housing and Water among others.
Other agencies like the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) will also participate.
With 500 groups and individuals from across the diaspora already registered, the Diaspora Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said registration will close when 1,000 persons have been registered.
The Head of that Unit, Rosalinda Rasul, said while groups in Guyana will be a part of the conference, the majority of registration came from the United States and Canada. Groups in United Kingdom (UK) have also shown great interest, Rasul said.
With a 100% by in, Rasul explained that prior to the conference, the Unit has been engaging groups globally to advance the government’s diaspora development agenda.
It is through these prior engagements that the Unit was able to detect interest in the diaspora and will use the conference to start the level of engagement needed. Issues and concerns raised by the groups will also be addressed.
This Unit will be primarily responsible for the implementation and monitoring of Guyana’s Diaspora Policy.
In keeping with the theme of the conference: “A New Era of Engagement for the Guyanese Diaspora,” the Unit has been working to develop the necessary framework to allow for structured and sustained engagement with the diaspora.
The conference, which is regarded as an example of such engagement, seeks to introduce the new policy and unit, provide a platform for the sharing of information, and generally reassure the diaspora of the government’s commitment to ensuring diaspora engagement in national development.