Chairman of the Center for International Migration and Integration, Israeli national, Arnon Mantver, told a wide cross-section of the Guyanese diaspora on Sept. 23, that education, cultural identity, volunteerism and NGO participation were important in drafting a strategy.
Mantver, who did a comprehensive power point presentation to engage nationals in the process, during a consultative meeting on Guyana’s draft Diaspora Engagement Strategy, said the diaspora has to be strengthened through a diaspora center. He laid out a plan that would include, Information Technology and Social Media to finalize the strategy.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) that sponsored the forum at York College, in Queens, chaired by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, and attended by Consul General Barbara Atherly, Ambassador Michael Ten-Pow, and Head of the Diaspora Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Michael Brotherson met to finalize the strategy.
Mantver, an (IOM) consultant, who had arrived from Israel on the same day, called for developing short and long-term programs at home and abroad to better equip the diaspora. He stated that the model worked for Israel, and assured Guyanese nationals that it would work for them, through visits by government ministers, annual campaigns based on fundraising mechanism, diaspora organizations input, and innovation and creativity from the diaspora.
Minister Greenidge who was in the United States attending the 72 Session of the United Nations, spoke of Guyana’s oil wealth and how it would impact Guyana’s development and migrants who could benefit from Exxon Mobile contract procurement.
He told nationals to be imaginative in their thinking, and how to take advantage of opportunities available to them.
“The ministry of natural resource has an obligation and commitment to receive from you, a statement of interest to secure Exxon Mobile, procurement and we would make sure that systems are in place to direct you on how to express your interest,” said Greenidge.
“If you want to get more value added, you have to compete as a contractor, he said, adding that experienced past contractors bidding for works, could not complete counteract documents, to satisfy the qualifications needed for certain contacts.
He later invited Guyanese to send questions to the ministry, through the Guyana consulate for further discussion.
Michael Brotherson, in turn said this particular exercise was a continuation process that began two years ago with Chair, Minister Greenidge, and the government, that is committed to an enhanced diaspora engagement in general with Guyanese abroad.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has daily oversight so we are spearheading and ensuring that the diaspora engagement strategy is finally laid on the tablet, and shared with the diaspora when approved by the cabinet,” said Brotherson.
“We believe in transparency and exclusivity, and we believe Guyanese should have an input, and given opportunity to participate. The process cannot be infinite but we have a collaboration with the International Organization for Migration ) and they have chosen New York and Toronto where nationals are highly populated.” The documents should be finalized within a few months, he added.
“It is government policy to put in place, the framework of expatriates and us at home, how those frameworks are conducted, like the removal of red tape, for those who want to do philanthropic work, donate, volunteer, or invest in their country.”
He added that when there is a structured relationship, then the many voices could be heard from a formal representative.
Guyana’s Diaspora Engagement Strategy, which, is aimed primarily at developing a sustainable and enhanced relationship between the government of Guyana and the Diaspora, said Consul General Barbara Atherly, was set-up after a consultation with International Organization for Migration , not only in New York, but in other countries where Guyanese live, to get inputs in drafting a strategy for engagement of the diaspora with Guyana to see how things could be streamlined in terms of their approach to support Guyana.
Sub-committees were formed based on the ministries involved in the report. They now need to go back to the diaspora to get their comments so there is ownership at the end, said GC Atherly.
“IOM funded the forum so persons from the diaspora can contribute to finalizing the project. We were not able to get into groups to discuss the strategy further, because time did not permit,” said the consul general.
“However, persons could feed in their comments and we will share them with the consultants.” Such comments can be made on the website cgnyg