Canada has lavished high praise on the Mottley administration for its management of the economy in the year it’s been in office.
Addressing a reception last night at her official residence in St James to mark Canada Day, when the confederation of British North American colonies was formed into a single nation in 1867, Canada’s High Commissioner to Barbados, Marie Legault, saluted Barbadian efforts to revive the economy.
Those efforts included a $580 million (US$290 million) International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement which Government entered into shortly after assuming office in May last year.
Legault said: “When you start from being the third most indebted country in the world at 176 per cent debt to GDP, and you bring it down to 120 per cent, that’s pretty amazing.
“It has not been easy. It took a lot of work, determination and focus, and of course, we are just at the beginning of the process.
“I am proud to say that Canada has been a constant partner in the measures taken, at the board of the IMF, in the debt restructuring or, for instance, a request by the Government, to provide over $1.5 million in long-term technical assistance to reform the customs department. So it is very impressive what has been achieved by Barbados.”
In response, Prime Minister Mottley thanked the government of Canada for its support over the past year, which according to her, was one of the most difficult that Barbados has had to navigate since becoming an independent nation in 1966.
“And the record must show that the people and government of Canada have been at our side whether in the negotiations of the IMF programme, such that we were able to conclude it within three months and to have an agreement by the first of October last year, whether in the negotiation of technical assistance with the World Bank, for which your reps are our representatives in the Bank, whether in your continued commitment to other regional institutions, whether in your provision of the long-term technical assistance for us with the Barbados Revenue Authority in the Customs Department that we are now about to benefit from.”
She added that Government has not taken Canada’s support lightly, and pledged to continue to work that country on other areas, particularly maintaining peace throughout the region.
Touching on the ongoing international efforts to restore peace in Venezuela through the Lima Group of nations, Mottley said: “We’re conscious that we don’t agree necessarily on everything, and even though we may disagree as to the road, at least our commitment to peaceful solutions, whether through Lima or non-Lima procedures, will allow us to have the same objective.
“But on most on everything else, our values and our principles have coincided. And the first step to determining whether you are a true friend, is first to determine who and what you stand for.
“And I have therefore come to exercise very simply the task this evening of saying to you and to your government thank you for walking this difficult road with us.”
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat has adopted a position of non-interference and non-intervention in the
affairs of Venezuela, where opposition leader Juan Guaido, backed by several western countries has been seeking to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office, after he was sworn in for a second consecutive term earlier this year.
CARICOM has been working with Mexico and Uruguay, through the Montevideo Mechanism, to promote dialogue on Venezuela in a bid to restore peace in the South American country.
High Commissioner Legault told last night’s reception that the crisis in Caracas has been “at the forefront of our preoccupation”.
She said: “We continue our active participation in the Lima Group and have facilitated dialogue between Caribbean countries and Juan Guaido’s team. Barbados has been a partner with us in the search for a peaceful, Venezuela-led solution to the crisis.”