Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is giving the assurance that the economy is showing signs of growth and his administration remained committed to keeping it this way.
“The Government continues to keep the ship of state steady and on a growth path in a still volatile global economic environment,” Stuart said this morning as he addressed the fourth biennial Barbados Network Consultation Diaspora Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The Central Bank of Barbados reported last month that the economy grew by 1.3 per cent during the first half of this year, compared to “virtually no growth” during the corresponding period last year.
However, it said several factors, including unexpected delays in major tourism investment projects and a slight decline in tourist arrivals in the second quarter, along with external debt service requirements, resulted in the stock of international reserves falling by $43 million to $884 million.
While Stuart did not mention any of these factors, he told the visiting Barbadians that the country was “courageously and creatively” navigating the tough times.
“The challenges of downturn and recession are being courageously and creatively navigated. Our faith in the future and in the promise of Barbados as a nation continues to flourish with undiminished vigour,” he stressed.
The Prime Minister assured that his administration’s policy was based on the principle that Barbados was not just an economy but also a society.
In this regard, he said, Government’s primary focus was the provision of a high standard of health care and education, and that the needs of vulnerable and challenged Barbadians would be met through social development programmes.
Stuart implored the Barbadian Diaspora to reflect positive Barbadian habits and values, such as love for family; looking after the vulnerable and poor; respect for other each other and a commitment to democracy and to the rule of law.
He said while progress and modernization had affected some of those value, “for the most part they are alive and well even today, by comparison with many other countries”.
“I continue to encourage you to both present and represent Barbados well in the cities and countries where you reside; to maintain a good profile and energetic involvement in the communities you call home,” Stuart told those gathered for the opening of the three-day conference being held under the theme, One Nation, One Family: Celebrating 50 Years of Independence, Shaping Global Citizens.
Calling on the Diaspora to engage in “deep reflection” as they took part in both the conference and celebrations for the island’s 50th anniversary of Independence, Stuart said the Diaspora remained a critical component of Government’s development thrust for the island, and that he remained fully aware of the many ways in which those living overseas contributed to the local society and economy.