Despite Government being a 49 per cent shareholder in regional air carrier, Liat, Industry Minister Donville Inniss has expressed concern over the high cost of intra-regional travel, stating that it is impacting negatively on the movement of goods throughout the region.
He made these comments today during a press conference at the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), following a five-day CARICOM trade mission aimed at increasing exports to St. Lucia, Grenada and Guyana.
Explaining that some of the challenges identified by the BIDC in terms of regional trade lie in the area of transportation, Mr. Inniss further stated that with regard to the movement of goods throughout the region, shipping was not one of the easiest things to do nor was it the most cost effective.
??????This is certainly a matter that we have to discuss and make some decisions on with respect to the CARICOM arrangement. I note that some strides have been made but we still have a way to go with the movement of goods throughout the region,??? he added.
Lamenting that the other aspect of travel was the sheer cost and difficulty of flying around the Caribbean, the Minister argued that this was something that could not be ignored.
???I have raised this matter with my counterpart in the Ministry of International Transport???Liat is pretty much the main vehicle we have for moving throughout the region and I am sure we all appreciate the challenge that Liat has, including the lack of financial support from governments in the region who benefit tremendously from Liat.
???I remind people that the Barbados Government is a 49 per cent shareholder and perhaps the one that is holding the largest amount of debt over Liat but certainly if we are able to move our people throughout the region at a lower cost and with less hassle, I think we will get a far greater appreciation of the goods and services produced in the region.???
Mr. Inniss maintained that during his trip the matter was raised with his ministerial colleagues and he proffered the view that he was not satisfied that those who should be benefiting from increased travel were included when conversations were being held about international transport in the region.
???We do not really get the opinion of ministries of Commerce and Trade in a lot of the dialogue but that certainly has to change going forward,??? he surmised.
The mission was one of the major activities in the BIDC’s Going Global programme, and is the first of several other activities to expand both Barbados??? export market space and the number of companies exporting.
The theme for the CARICOM mission: Embracing Our Region, underscores the desire for greater collaboration between Barbados and its regional partners and neighbours. A second mission to the northern CARICOM is scheduled for later in 2016.??