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US $100m a year from diaspora


TONY BEST

US $100m a year from diaspora

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IF THE REMITTANCE figures are accurate, Bajans abroad have sent more than US$1 billion to relatives back home since the turn of 21st century, and the nation’s leader Freundel Stuart, wants that level of giving to continue.

In a 49th Independence anniversary message read to overseas Barbadian communities, the Prime Minister acknowledged the “significant contribution” of Bajans to their birthplace’s “success” and was quick to urge them to give even more.

“You have assisted in reducing many of our developmental deficits at the human resource, technological, cultural, social welfare and philanthropic levels,” he told the estimated 150 000 Bajans in Canada, the United States, Britain and elsewhere.

The message was read in Brooklyn at the annual Independence church service.

“I solicit your continued support in the form of encouragement, prayers, financial investment, philanthropic initiatives, remittances and a variety of other means which can redound to the development of our beloved Barbados; and invite your reflection as we approach our 50th year,” added Stuart. “As Prime Minister, I commit to continuing to serve all Barbadians with dedication and loyalty.”

According to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations, Barbadians – on average – have been remitting at least US$100 million annually to friends and relatives.

Jamaicans give US$2.2 billion annually to their homeland, while Haitians remit at least US$1 billion. Guyanese send back more than US$700 million annually. Jamaicans, Haitians and Guyanese have the largest diaspora communities in CARICOM.

Interestingly, the Barbados Central Bank hasn’t confirmed the level of remittances to the country.

With Barbados planning its 50th Independence anniversary celebrations in 2016, Stuart said that the biennial Barbados Network Consultation conference, which the Government has organised since 2008, would be held August 2 to 4 next year in Bridgetown.

“This will be a platform for Barbadians living overseas to interface and engage the Cabinet, private sector and civil society on issues of national significance,” explained Stuart.

Collectively, CARICOM states receive about US$5 billion in annual remittances. (TB)

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