The likelihood of Barbados benefitting from a multi-million dollar natural gas pipeline from Trinidad and Tobago has increased, with the last of several agreements needed for the project to take place now in the hands of the government minister responsible.
Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick announced this development yesterday during the Estimates Debate, as he touted what he suggested was a nation-building stimulus planned by Government, as the better alternative to the money in your pocket policies advanced by the Barbados Labour Party.
The St. Philip West MP told the House of Assembly: “I have with me in my possession a document which is the final piece of the natural gas pipeline project that was stalled under the last administration from 2004. This, Sir, is from the natural gas company of Trinidad and Tobago indicating a gas supply agreement.
“The importance of that project, Sir, is that once the natural gas comes to this country we are in a position to reduce the cost of electricity from 90 cents per kilowatt hour down to 40 cents per kilowatt hour, again creating jobs and creating new opportunities for Barbadians. That is how you economically diversify the economy.”
Estwick said several other projects expected to restructure the economy and stimulate new areas of activity were also on course to start.
“You do the same thing, Sir, by developing the Barbados Cane Industry Restructuring Project, and we are far advanced in that as well and that project will produce electricity for the grid and will also generate 25 megawatts of electricity for 55, 000 homes in Barbados from sugar cane. That is how you create new enterprise, thousands of jobs created,” he said.
“In addition to that, for the first time you will have the opportunity to stop importing molasses from Suriname as well as Guyana. Right now we import 85 per cent of that, Sir, and the new … factory will produce all of [our domestic needs].
“That is how you create new enterprises, that is how you diversify an economy. You don’t do it by putting money in people’s pockets to spend on consumer durables and refrigerators, and hair dos and ugly teeth, you don’t do that,” he added.
The minister said there was a need to change the character of Barbados’ economy since the current model was of lesser value, although he said the island could not afford to discard important industries like tourism and international business .
“To move it (the economy) forward you don’t move it forward unless you change the character of the economy in such a way that your GDP is produced in a different way from what help created the problem in the first place. So the heavy dependence on tourism and international business could be mitigated by other sectors that help us to earn foreign exchange and save foreign exchange,” he said.
“In addition to that, we are not saying that you don’t invest in the sectors, we want to expand the international business sector, we want to expand the tourism sector so … you create efficiencies, you expand the port, make it more efficient, more competitive.
“That is the difference between that side and this side and … our stimulus is about infrastructure, it is about new enterprise, it is not about expenditure on consumer goods, that’s the fundamental difference between the two stimulus packages and as a result of that I stand in support of the proposals by the Minister of Finance,” Estwick stated. (SC)