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Proposed Changes to British Pension System to be Discussed at Diaspora Conference


Proposed changes to the pension regulations in Britain and the Airline Passenger Duty (APD) are among issues to be out on the table by the United Kingdom (UK) Diaspora at the upcoming Diaspora Conference in Montego Bay.

Members of the UK delegation met with High Commissioner to London, Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet-Assamba on Saturday, June 1, to discuss the preparations for the June 16 to 19 conference as well as issues germane to the delegates.

Minister-Counsellor for Diaspora and Consular Affairs, Lincoln Downer, also addressed the meeting, which was held at the High Commission in London.

On the matter of the pension reform, the High Commissioner explained that the proposal plan by the British Government is to restrict the access of spouses of UK pensioners living outside of the UK to this benefit, at the death of the pensioner.

This move, she said, could have a serious impact on Jamaicans, and is to be addressed at a special session of the conference.

As it relates to the APD, the High Commissioner stated that the lobby has now moved into a new phase, with the focus now on having the Caribbean re-banded from Band C to Band B, which is the same category as the United States.

This re-branding will reduce the level of the APD tax being paid to travel to the Caribbean and bring more equity to the system. 

The High Commissioner said that the UK Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals will be called upon to lobby their Members of Parliament and other political leaders to support the call to have the Caribbean re-banded.

The delegates were also advised of a session of the conference, which will focus on how the Diaspora can support development in Jamaica, in the areas of education and health. 

The meeting also examined how the High Commission and the community can work together to better engage with the second, third and fourth generations.

A number of suggestions were made, including the appointment of Youth Ambassadors, more use of social media, especially Twitter, as well as specially planned regional social events targeting young people including a youth symposium.

There was also discussion on how community groups can involve young people in their organisations to develop their interest in both the work of the group and in Jamaica. 

High Commissioner Assamba warned that if the organisations did not attract and get the younger generation involved, many would be in danger of dying out.

The Diaspora Conference, under the theme: ‘A Nation on a Mission: Jamaica Diaspora Partnership for Development’, will be held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.  

There will be special focus on trade and investment, with specific opportunities for the Diaspora to expand their business interest in Jamaica.