Thousands of Barbadians living abroad will soon have a new investment option through which they can contribute to this country’s economic development, especially in challenges times.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced this morning that work had started on developing a Diaspora bond that would allow Barbadians and Barbadian descendants overseas, to invest in a specially designed investment instrument.
Delivering the feature address at the official opening of the Barbados Network Consultation’s Second Diaspora Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Stuart also invited the overseas-based nationals to take up government’s recent offer to invest in share ownership of the Grantley Adams International Airport and the Barbados Port Authority.
“Barbados Networkers would be particularly interested in the decision by Government to divest some of its interests by, for example, undertaking an Initial Public Offering of 30 per cent of the shares of Grantley Adams International Airport Inc., and Barbados Port Authority, and the listing of these companies on the Barbados Stock Exchange,” he added.
The government leader urged the members of the Diaspora not to panic regarding this country’s current economic challenges, considering it had experienced serious recession before, and had always pulled through.
He disclosed, too, that work was continuing on a proposed Council for Investment, Export and Foreign Exchange.
“Barbadians abroad have always contributed massively to our overall development through remittances, and successive studies have pointed to a significant increase in these remittances during the past two decades,” Stuart observed.
“In 2010 I reminded you that these income flows are now among the top sources of foreign exchange, in some years exceeding the amounts received in the form of foreign direct investment and assistance from developed countries.”
He noted that a study in 2008 found that Barbados was the second largest recipient of remittances in the Caribbean, after Jamaica.
“A substantial portion of these remittances was invested in savings bonds by Barbadians living in the Diaspora as well as by those who have returned home from England, the United States of America and elsewhere,” he pointed out.
Stuart noted that, without any fanfare, Barbadians of the Diaspora had become major partners in the development of Barbados.
“Today, I urge you to recognise the important role that you play in the development of Barbados, to take that role seriously and to strengthen the networks for action, wherever you happen to live. This Barbados Network Consultation is the place where you all come together and prove that there is indeed strength in unity.”
The Prime Minister told the well-attended conference, that this strength and unity were even more important in these times, especially considering that since 2008, Barbados and other countries around the world, had been confronted by the worst downturn in nearly 100 years. He suggested that it was a state of affairs which needed the constructive input of all citizens and friends, wherever they may live.
The ruling Democratic Labour Party leader also informed the consultation that the Barbados Family and Friends Club, which was launched in July 2009, aimed at encouraging more visitors to the island, continued to thrive.
“This dynamic effort to market Barbados as a good place to visit, to relax, to learn, to invest and to live, has no doubt encouraged many of you and several of your friends to come for the Crop-Over events,” declared the Prime Minister.
Stuart implored those nationals living abroad to use their current visit to Barbados to connect with their communities, the people to whom they remained attached and among whom they may plan to resettle one day.
“We need you to assist with the planning and implementation of programmes among the youth, the elderly, the differently able, the poor; to assist with infrastructural development; and to assist with the greening of our economy,” said the Prime Minister.
He asked them to use the conference as their forum for making recommendations, following through with them, recording their achievements and reporting back. (EJ)