Government values the continued contributions of Barbadians living overseas and is putting in place initiatives to better facilitate this support.

This was outlined by Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick. He was giving an overview entitled: "Investment Opportunities in Barbados: Capital and Skills of Overseas Barbadians" last Saturday, at the Barbados Network Consultation’s Inaugural Diaspora Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He said some of the measures would include the establishment of a unit to assist those persons who may want to relocate or to establish a business; the review of incentives offered; the development of a comprehensive database with information on the geographical location of Barbadians as well as their skills and interests; and the establishment of a Council for Investment, Foreign Exchange and the Diaspora.

Dr.Estwick indicated that Barbadians abroad had been making invaluable contributions to the economy of the country with remittances to the tune of $263 million in 2006; through the purchase of new homes, or by undertaking extensive?? renovations to existing ones, thus contributing to the growth of the construction sector and employment in general.

"The Government of Barbados, being cognisant of the role that the Diaspora has played in the development of Barbados, is certain that you will continue to play a significant role in the future development of this country….The challenge for us is to encourage Barbadians, wherever they are living, to be on board in the economic recovery of our country in terms of their contribution to the continued development and success of Barbados," he maintained.

Dr.Estwick pointed to the many investment opportunities available, such as real estate, the stock exchange, credit unions and government securities, call centres, medical transcription, manufacturing, international banking, mutual funds and the ship registry organisation.

In addition, the Economic Affairs Minister stated Government had prioritised the development of a green economy and was offering concessions to businesses and investors who were developing products that were geared towards energy conservation and the minimisation of the use of fossil fuels.

The three-day conference, which had as its theme, "Strengthening the Bonds that Unite Us," was convened to explore greater avenues of cooperation between Barbadians living at home and abroad, who are desirous of contributing to the development of their homeland.

??It was coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.??

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