EDITORIAL: Now is the time for action
The Barbados Network Consultation 2014 conference, which ends today on at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, has the potential to produce meaningful results for this country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs must, however, guard against the consultation being just another talk shop with grandiose plans which are merely recorded and then shelved.
Rather, decisions must be taken with clearly identified action plans. Most importantly, someone must be given responsibility and held accountable for implementation of a clear set of deliverables within a specific time frame.
It is heartening that Barbadians have “come home” primarily from United States, Canada, Britain and Panama to participate in this third biennial diaspora conference.
The Freundel Stuart administration clearly appreciates the potential resource, both political and economic, that resides in Barbadians scattered across the world. The usefulness of this group would have been effectively highlighted during the lobby in Britain when the Caribbean had to unite in the fight against the punitive Air Passenger Duty. The political weight of Barbadian and Caribbean residents in the United Kingdom clearly carried some sway in helping to get necessary changes to the levy.
There are tens of thousands of first and second generation migrants who live in North America and Europe and they offer enormous potential to Barbados if properly engaged. We must capitalise on exploiting the resources in the diaspora: the skills, talent, capital and philanthropy.
While Government must be a facilitator in conventions such as this one, it will be the private sector, big and small, which must be involved in a meaningful way by taking the alliances forward. They are the ones best suited to identify the niches and build new realistic business opportunities.
Many of those attending the conference, and indeed most Barbadians, will be anxious to hear what comes out of the interaction with the Cabinet. This must not be a public relations exercise but rather an opportunity for frank discussion in areas relating to Government’s challenges, success and roadblocks. Again, the diaspora has the expertise to help in realistic ways ranging from education and training, to tourism, science and technology, agriculture and health care.
By the time the conference ends today, it should not have been a mere feast of semantics, reflecting on history and grand wishes. The record will show that much of what emanates from these consultations are lofty declarations full of nothing more than platitudes. This must not be the case on this occasion. It is a time for action.