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Bajan PM talks Diaspora investment, climate change

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia A. Mottley speaking with the Barbadian Diaspora in Brooklyn last week.
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Many hands make light work.

That is the motto the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley regularly uttered when she spoke with members of the Brooklyn Barbadian community last week in Crown Heights. As the first woman to hold her island nation’s highest office, she assured her countryfolk that her administration is set on putting the country on the right path.

She said her government was going to bring forth several new ways that the Barbadian Diaspora could commit to their country, particularly by investing more in the country’s economy and elevating it.

“I’ve come to Brooklyn to say to you that we need some people. We need some marketing people, and we need some people to apply to those jobs across the Diaspora,” she said.

The prime minister told guests that it was crucial for Barbadians abroad to be daily promoters of the country, which in turn will have greater effects for the island long-term, and will introduce a law to facilitate that.

“We need to be able have each and everyone of you tell the story of Barbados, market the mission of Barbados, and helps us along that way because as I say at home all the time — many hands make light work,” said Mottley. “However you choose to be Barbadian, we have determined that we’re going to bring legislation very shortly that will allow every Barbadian to be a promoter of investment and marketing of Barbados.”

The legislation will allow the larger community across the world to present projects to a committee that will oversee project pitches, according to Mottley. And she added that she wants to create an effortless process for ownership and investments in property and businesses.

Another main focus of her meeting was the examination of climate change and how it can have a great impact on the future of Barbados. She explained that as the environmental issue continues to be a growing concern for many countries around the world, Barbados faces a unique challenge. Mottley said that it was an urgent task of hers to prevent that.

“Part of our payback project has to be about rebuilding our coral reefs because your children and grandchildren must know what it’s like to live on an island that still has its fish and plant life and all kinds of things that they enjoy because we had a healthy set of coral reefs around us,” she said.

She added that by next year the country will begin implementing a plastic ban.

“I’m happy to be part of a government that says ‘No, we are not going to add anymore plastic and Styrofoam to the ocean,’” said Mottley. “As of April 1, 2019, the minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy has announced that we will work to ban all Styrofoam and single-use plastic.”

The ban will not include all plastics, and will make special exceptions for medication and several food products. But the larger work comes from the rest of the world, added Mottley.

“We’re not the ones making the gasses and different things that cause it, but who’s on the frontline?,” she asked. “Your voice becomes a credible voice to help us fight this battle with climate change — this is causing the storms and hurricanes, and coastal economy to erode. This is what’s causing family property, ability to go home and live comfortable to be affected.”

Mottley also touched on the country’s outstanding debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), noting that the country is one of the most indebted nations in the world, and the most indebted country in the Caribbean. But she said her government has plans to remedy the outstanding debt and begin the early stage at reducing it.

“We’re not where we want to be but we’re going to get there,” said Mottley. “We’ve got this, and we have a staff level agreement that is going to the International Monetary Fund that will require some discipline.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Posted 12:00 am, October 4, 2018
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