Given its small population, Barbados will need nationals and businesses in its CARICOM neighbours to help transform its economy, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said this morning.
She said: “Barbados does not have enough people producing on a daily basis to be able to make the transformation that it needs to carry us to the next level.
“And that is why, on a sustained basis, I take the responsibility as lead Prime Minister for the CARICOM Single Market and Single Economy as passionately as I take the responsibility for the domestic affairs of this country… for the two are inextricably linked.”
This is why her Government has fought hard to bring the private sector and labour movement to the table at the regional level, Mottley told the Regional Forum on Transformation at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The Prime Minister is insisting that it is these two sectors that would make the defining difference to production and integration and lead to regional transformation and sustainable and inclusive growth.
In the meantime, she declared, Barbados was taking steps to deal with its debt problems in order to help itself climb out of being the third most indebted country in the world.
She told the forum that yesterday the Government launched its international debt exchange, which she hopes would end the debt restructuring saga within the next two weeks.
Mottley said: “With this debt restructuring, our debt to GDP ratio will come down, we believe, to 114 per cent that is roughly 118 per cent after we successfully concluded the domestic debt exchange.
“What is required in this country now and throughout the region is sustained performance and restructuring and measures to boost growth.”
In seeking to press home the point that Barbados cannot achieve its transformation alone, the Prime Minister reminded her political counterparts at the conference that it did not make sense for each country to add to its own social and economic battles by trying to fight alone.
Mottley said: “Our battles are large already and we have to have a sustained programme of training to be able to bring our people fully into the third decade of the 21st century. It is not going to be overnight.
“But let us not make our jobs that much more difficult.”
As she addressed fellow prime ministers, ministers of finance and senior representatives of international financial institutions, she again underlined the problem of graduation – global funding agencies which blocked countries from access to concessionary lending owing to relatively high levels of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita while not recognizing their vulnerability.
Graduation is another reason, Mottley argued, why CARICOM states must help each other in whatever ways possible. [email protected]