Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler fully supports the idea of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) proposal by Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick to help grow the Barbados economy.
However, he agreed it would have to be “explored” to find out whether it was feasible.
Following a recent trip to the Middle East, Dr Estwick spoke of having discussions with the Arabs about having the Caribbean become the new “bread basket” for the entire Gulf region, with Barbados serving as a transshipment hub, a trade hub and a tourism hub and capitalizing on its easterly location.
Sinckler told Barbados TODAY while he was not yet aware of the details of the discussion between Dr Estwick and the Arabs, he welcomed any opportunity that provided for the island to expand its economy and create jobs.
He said Dr Estwick’s full report was scheduled to go to Cabinet soon.
“When it is fully presented to Cabinet then we will discuss it. But we are keen to explore all and any opportunities that present themselves to Barbados to be able to earn foreign exchange, to be able to create economic activities, to grow jobs and to do things that would redound to the benefit of Barbadians,” said Sinckler.
“So to the extend that that is the case then yes, we will fully flesh out and discuss it once Dr Estwick has an opportunity to present the full findings and discussions from the trip that he took to the UAE . . . but of course it has our full support in terms of our effort to broaden the scope of what we are doing,” he added.
Dr Estwick did not say what his new proposal would amount to in financial terms. However, he said he was confident it
was the strategy that would “move the island forward by leaps and bounds”.
The first UAE proposal he put on the table was back in January 2014, when he had written to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart appealing to him to take up an offer from the oil-rich nation to restore Barbados’ economic growth.
The offer included a US$4 billion fund with negotiable terms of a fixed interest rate of two to four per cent over a 30-year period. However, that plan never materialized.