Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick (FP)

A Government Minister has lauded the economic contributions of Barbadians, who, though thousands of miles away, have contributed to the transformation of the island over the years.

Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, made this observation while delivering the feature address at the St. Patrick’s Heritage and Community Association Banquet Dinner, last Saturday. The event was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Underscoring the importance of remittances, he added that statistics showed that these had grown from $64 million in 1992, to $263 million, in 2006.?? Additionally, regular visits to the island had resulted in a steady flow of foreign exchange, which "helped to level out the peaks and troughs of the tourism year".

He also outlined other initiatives by Government to acknowledge repeat visitors to the island. "The Prime Minister has made available the facilities of Ilaro Court for regular receptions and has taken the relationship a step further, by recognising the Barbadian diaspora as an essential member of Team Barbados and a vital partner in the island’s development."

Dr. Estwick disclosed that attempts to cement this relationship had commenced since 1991, with the establishment of the Charter for Returning Nationals, which provided concessions to encourage Barbadians abroad to resettle here when they retired.

The Economic Affairs Minister also alluded to the creation of the Barbados Network databank to encourage the investment of foreign exchange by Barbados Networkers.

Apart from this databank, Dr. Estwick also spoke about the setting-up of the Council for Investment, Exports, Foreign Exchange and the Diaspora (CIEX), and the novel Foundation for Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, as two projects that would enhance the island’s social and economic landscape.

He added: "These initiatives will be closely monitored and developed through biennial diaspora conferences, the first of which will be held in August."

The Economic Affairs Minister lauded the Association for its efforts and stressed: "What you are doing should certainly be emulated by communities right across Barbados."

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