Eliciting the expertise of Barbadians living overseas to assist in this country’s future development is high on the agenda for Government.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, gave notice of her administration’s intention "…to create a comprehensive structure to embrace the Barbadian diaspora as an integral part of the economic, social and cultural development of Barbados."

She was speaking this morning at the opening ceremony of the Inaugural Diaspora Conference, also known as the Barbados Network Consultation, where she told those gathered of government’s plans to strengthen ties with the "tens of thousands of Barbadians living overseas," hence the theme: "Strengthening the Bonds that unite us".

In describing how the concept for the conference originated, Senator McClean pointed out that Prime Minister David Thompson, made it his special mission to reach out to Barbadians in every foreign jurisdiction that he visited, and encouraged them to share their ideas and experiences with the policy makers at home.

In lauding the initiative, the Foreign Minister said "each one of us here [today] has a solemn duty to work to make this Inaugural Consultation a resounding success.

"The programme has been designed to encompass a wide range of expert presentations in the areas of tourism, investment, philanthropy, and the cultural industries, all of which we believe are of significant interest to Overseas Barbadians, and all of which offer real opportunities for us to develop mutually beneficial partnerships," she surmised.??

Adding that one of government’s primary objectives for hosting the consultation was to listen to concerns, learn of personal experiences as well as receive ideas, Senator McClean assured those in attendance that "we will then ensure that we find appropriate mechanisms for incorporating your viable proposals into the mainstream of Government’s plans and policies for the development of Barbados."

She further added it was her hope that over the next two days "a clear plan of action for the future would be charted."

The conference concludes tomorrow Saturday, August 7, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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