Thursday 12 December, 2019

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley defends overseas trips

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Prime Minister and Leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Mia Mottley has defended her overseas travel - saying the trips are necessary to improve the country's position on the global market.

She was responding to critics who raised concerns surrounding the frequency with which she and members of her Cabinet travel overseas.

Mottley has attended a number of out-of-island engagements during 17 months in office; the latest trip was at the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York last month to speak on climate change. 

Speaking to party supporters at the St Michael West meeting on Sunday night, the PM explained the purpose of the trips is to demonstrate to international countries that the new Barbados government “means business”.

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“For those who want to talk about travel … no amount of letter-writing or emails or phone calls would cause people to believe that Barbados has a different government.

"Too many times in the last 17 months they thought that Barbados was just not interested. In this era of fake news, you can’t send an email and cause people to know that you are somebody different. You have to go and you have to shake hands and build networks... and give us the best chance that we can get for this country.”

The party leader said the trips were neither excessive nor extravagant.

“If the travel is necessary, we do it… and even when travel takes place, there is no extravagance. I’m not travelling first class, I’m not staying in the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons. It is not about luxury, it is about giving Barbados the best possible chance.”  

Mottley said maintaining relationships with international countries is critical, especially considering Barbados and other countries in the region, run the risk of losing its correspondent banking.

“The banks overseas have said that if you bank these people in Barbados or Trinidad or in the Caribbean, it is too high a risk for us. What are we to do if our banking sector is cut off? We are told that countries like Bahamas and Barbados and Trinidad are middle-income. So where do we finance our development from, if we don’t get them to understand that they need new criteria to determine whether we are worthy or not?”

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