We must travel!
Government Ministers must travel if Barbados is to effectively continue its multilateral engagements, notwithstanding budget cuts.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean made the point in response to criticisms of a recent trip undertaken to Samoa by a delegation headed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
In the face of widespread debate questioning the expense and necessity of such a trip, Senator McClean countered that it was about Government’s “objective of pursuing our economic interests; the desire to ensure that we properly represent the interest of Barbados abroad and ensure that we build relations at the bilateral and multilateral level.”
There are just some meetings where a physical presence was necessary, she said.
“Barbados cannot stop its multilateral engagement with the network of countries and therefore we have to understand that there will be travel, notwithstanding cuts in budgets,” McClean told the SUNDAY SUN. However, she said her own ministry had “significantly cut back on travel” for meetings and was engaging in more videoconferencing to contain costs.
She said there were continuing efforts to have a leaner, yet effective foreign service and cuts had been made in various areas. Personally, she had sacrificed the services of a personal assistant, while in some instances foreign service officers who had completed their tour of duty had not been replaced.