The Prime Minister has urged the business community to ensure Barbados must never again find itself solely dependent on economic activity within its local geographic space.
The admonition came as business leaders prepared to meet Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on mutual investment opportunities for the two countries.
In her opening remarks at this afternoon’s business forum held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Mottley noted that the Barbados private sector is “liquid” -suggesting that it is awash in cash only because it thinks of investment within the confines of a 166-square-mile landmass.
“All of us know that Barbados is seeking to come out of an economic recession but we must never find ourselves again in a position where we are dependent purely on the economic activity that takes place on this 166 square miles, she said.”
The Prime Minister noted that while the country was making positive strides towards economic growth, the country was still not at a stage where it was earning enough export capital to safeguard against a future world recession.
She declared: “This country is liquid, as there is currently $9 billion in savings but we have not found the appropriate financial instruments to be able to fuel our own domestic economic growth but also the export capital that will shield us in the case of another economic recession.”
She noted that this investment potential is not just concentrated in the hands of a few.
“This is not just wealth that is concentrated in the hands of a few but rather it is wealth that is equally in the credit union movement across the mass of this country.
“What is missing is the financial literacy among the persons who own the wealth.
“In addition, there must be instrument through which these investments can take place,” she said.
Mottley contended that fostering stronger ties with countries like Kenya, would not only provide Barbadians with greater investment scope but would give Kenyans the opportunity to benefit from Barbados’ recently lowered corporate tax regime, as well as providing them with a gateway to Latin America and other parts of the Americas.
She told the executives: “If we can find mechanisms for partnerships both here and in Kenya… we can have Kenyans investing in our tourism product as well as provide an international domicile for Kenyan investors for them to get into Latin America or any part of the Americas.
“We believe that there are benefits for each of us.”
In his remarks to the gathering of potential investors, President Kenyatta echoed Mottley sentiments and went into greater detail about some of the investment opportunities available in the East African republic.
He declared that there is fertile ground for economic partnerships in the marine freighting, as the Bridgetown port and Kenya’s Mombasa port are both strategic hubs for transporting goods from east to west.
In a reference to the historic slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean, he said: “Let’s not forget that these are not routes that we are creating.
“These routes were created a long time ago and used for a vile business, but we can turn these routes into prosperity for our countries by working together.”
The Kenyan leader sought to equate access to investment in Kenya with access to the African continent and its affiliates.