Diaspora bond to be launched soon, says David Panton

Chairman of the Diaspora Task Force of the Economic Growth Council (EGC) Dr David Panton says a Jamaican Diaspora bond will be launched later this year, or early next year, in which Jamaicans in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada can participate.

Dr Panton made the disclosure during an update about the progress of initiatives being undertaken by the EGC at the Jamaica 55 Diaspora 2017 Conference on the second day of the conference last week..

“We have started that process and we feel fairly confident that we will be able to have a bond which we can launch if not later this year, then certainly in early next year,” he said.

Addressing the Diaspora Growth Forum session organised by the Jamaica National Group, Dr Panton said that bonds were being used by other countries, such as Israel, and had proven to be a successful method of engaging the Diaspora in investing in their homeland.

“…They (the Jewish Diaspora) did this because of their commitment to the State of Israel...on which they wanted to make a tremendous impact. Therefore, I believe that approach of setting up an entity, such as...the Jamaican Bond Agency, as it were, could make a significant impact on our country,” he said, noting that the Jamaican Diaspora was investing in Jamaica through remittances of some US$2.2 billion a year.

“Jamaicans are not poor; they are sending back a lot of money to Jamaica. They clearly have the capital; however, the question is how do we incentivise the members of the Jamaican Diaspora to effectively participate and engage in Jamaica,” he suggested.

Recently, managing director of JN Bank, Maureen Hayden-Cater urged the Government to establish more concrete avenues for Jamaicans in the Diaspora to contribute to the development of the nation. In reference to 2013 data published by InfoDev for the World Bank, she noted that a quarter of Jamaicans in the Diaspora had investable wealth or annual earnings of US$100,000 or more. More than 70 per cent are interested in investing in start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises, and 63 per cent are also interested in Diaspora bonds.

“We must recognise that Jamaica is not only an island of some 2.7 million people, we are much bigger and expansive than that,” said Hayden-Cater who was speaking against the background of JN Bank's launch of its JN Diaspora Certificate of Deposit in March, with tenure from one to five years and starting at £1,000, CA$1,000, or US$2,000. Interest at the top end of the longest terms on these investments range from 1.5 per cent in pounds, 1.1 per cent in Canadian dollars to 1.8 per cent in US dollars.

Two per cent of the interest income earned by individual investors through the JN Diaspora Certificate of Deposit will be matched by JN Bank and contributed to social enterprises engaged in the JN Foundation's Social Enterprise Boost Initiative.

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