NEW YORK – In her first meeting with the Barbadian Diaspora as Prime Minister, Mia Mottley has sought to recruit her compatriots for the Government’s economic recovery mission by selling Barbados abroad and investing at home.
“Ive come to Brooklyn to say thank you . . . I’ve come to Brooklyn to say to you that we need some marketing people, to apply for those jobs across the Diaspora. And we need each and everyone of you, not to just fly the flag of Barbados, but to tell the story of Barbados, market the mission of Barbados, and help us in that way, for, as I always say, many hands make light work,” Prime Minister Mottley’s told a town hall meeting Wednesday, at The Friends of Crown Heights Community Centre in Brooklyn.
The Prime Minister in New York for her first United Nations General Assembly said she and her aides “could not leave New York without rubbing shoulders with you in Brooklyn”.
In a characteristic off-the-speech, she held what appeared to be continuous conversation with Bajan-Brooklynites, aimed at persuading them to become active and willing citizens and do more than wave the Barbados’ flag – a role, she said, that had already been outlined in the Throne Speech and defined by the portfolios assigned to ministers.
New legislation is coming to allow Barbadians to “be a promoter and marketer of Barbados”, she promised the standing-room-only community centre’s hall.
As she urged the Barbadian immigrant community to invest in the island, she suggested that a team of Government officials would be on hand to fast-track approvals for investment projects.
“If you bring a project to the table and are willing to register as an investor, there will be a committee of public servants and social partners, who will say yes to your project . . . In that way it will not be the friends of the political class or civil servant who will get the reward for a project, but all Barbadians,” she told the town hall meeting.
Mottley also reported her satisfaction with the progress of talks her team – which included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Jerome Walcott and Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic – held at United Nations sub-committee meetings, declared there were some in the international community who were willing to help the country.
“We have wind in our sails. The point is that our voice has to be out there, if we are to create the policy space to make life better for you, for me, and all our citizens. I come to you, therefore with winds in our sails,” the Prime Minister said, repeating her frequent description of the Freundel Stuart’s administration ten-year tenure as a “lost decade”.
“We have not reached where we want to get because we are coming from far – and we are coming from far because we have lost a decade. We have lost a decade of savings, we have lost a decade in terms of debt and we have become the third most indebted country in the world,” she told the community centre audience.
She repeatedly promised that there will be wider conversation with the Barbadian people, as she responded to a wide range of audience questions, and peppered her remarks with homespun aphorisms, including “how you start, is how you finish”.
Mottley was joined in the three-hour event by Ministers Walcott and Bostic, Ambassador-at-large Dame Billie Miller, UN envoy Liz Thompson, Consul General Dr Donna Hunte-Cox, and personal aide Jessica Odle-Baril.
Several members of the audience congratulated Prime Minister Mottley, while others pledged their contribution to the Government’s mission to rebuild the economy during the meeting at the community centre’s hall that seats about 600 persons.
“I have been living here for some time. I don’t recall any town meeting to be this big,” remarked Bajan-Brooklynite Archie Miller.