Minister of Industry, International Business and Commerce Donville Inniss has defended a recent trip to the People’s Republic of China by a 20-member delegation.
However, he did not say what was the cost of the three-week trip or if Government had financed it.
The 20-member team, which consisted of private and public sector officials, went to China in March in an effort to, among other things, experience first-hand the business environment there, understand the commercial development and identify trade opportunities.
The group included representatives from the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), Invest Barbados, the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Customs and Excise department, the Central Bank of Barbados, the Barbados National Standards Institute (BNSI), the BHTA, Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI), Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity (BIMAP), the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), as well as representatives from four manufacturing firms.
In an address to an audience of local businesspeople and officials, including Chinese diplomats, Inniss said the Government of Barbados was not wasting taxpayers’ money on overseas trips. He said the mission was critical in order to deepen relations between the two countries and to increase trade.
“I know there is a lot of fanfare every time a minister gets on an aircraft these days. It seems as though people are waiting at the airport with their cameras to take a photo and then say that the Government is wasting money. We don’t waste money. The truth of the matter is that every venture, every trip like this [is] well thought out and well planned and certainly has deliverables at the state level. We don’t waste taxpayers’ money,” insisted Inniss.
“Let me add that the mission does not end with this event here today,” he added.
“The BIDC, BNSI, BIMAP and all of those, along with my ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and others who would have participated, will continue to avail themselves of this experience and to actually identify those products and services that we believe can primarily find a niche in the Chinese market and aggressively pursue them. So there will be times when we will have to make other trips to China,” said Inniss.
Expressing gratitude to the Chinese government for its support, Inniss added: “I wish once again to reiterate, Madam Ambassador [Wang Ke], to thank you for the support you gave recently to Minister Stephen Lashley and his wife and delegation. We appreciate your financial contribution.”
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley had earlier questioned the necessity and funding of a recent trip to China by an 11-member delegation, which included Lashley and his wife, at a time when Government was laying off workers to rein in spending.
However, Lashley defended the trip, saying that he was “invited on an official visit to the People’s Republic of China” and “the Government of Barbados was not called upon to finance my trip, the trip of my wife or the trip of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Culture”.