Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, addressing the press launch.(C. Pitt/BGIS)

The Barbadian diaspora has been assured that they mean more to this country than simply being a source of financial remittances.

However, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, has declared that Government is "very much interested in social remittances".

Minister McClean was speaking at the press launch of the Barbados Network Consultation (BNC) 2012, commonly referred to as the 2nd Diaspora Conference, which is slated to be held on the island from August 7 to 10.

Noting that social remittances are those contributions that build the social capital of a country, she outlined that with the digital revolution and modern communication tools, "[Barbados] can utilise existing technologies to draw on the capacity of Barbadians overseas."

She pointed out that Barbados’ investment into its people through the provision of free universal education to its citizens "is a significant investment not only in the building of this country, but has also contributed to the building of the nations where Barbadians reside…

"Barbados has been able to demonstrate to the world that while we may be small, we are a force to be reckoned with – as a nation, and as the persons who represent this nation," she said, further declaring that the BNC 2012 was one of several initiatives aimed at fully engaging the diaspora and recognising the long standing contribution of Barbadians around the world.

The Foreign Affairs Minister added that the notion of social remittances could result in the demise of the brain drain phenomenon. She indicated that years ago when persons received secondary and tertiary education and then left the island, there was little or no access to their capabilities.

"Today, the physical absence from Barbados is no longer a major barrier; people can now operate in real time," she said, also stating that with internet access, a computer or even a fax machine, entrepreneurs could now communicate and form ties with their counterparts worldwide.

Minister McClean noted that the format and itinerary for the BNC 2012 was based on input from strategic stakeholders.?? Stating that she was directly involved in the planning and facilitation of this year’s conference, she affirmed that consultations were held with the diaspora, missions, youth representatives on the island and abroad, and other stakeholders, in an effort to provide an experience that appealed to all generations.

Stressing that the BNC 2012 would be significantly more than a "talk shop", the Foreign Affairs Minister confirmed that the four-day event would include entertainment, cultural activities, historical excursions and business networking sessions.??

Barbadians living aboard are encouraged to register for the 2nd Diaspora Conference online at www.foreign.gov.bb/barbadosnetwork.????


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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