Christmas Message from the Hon. Kerrie Symmonds Senior Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade

My fellow Barbadians and friends of Barbados,

As newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade I am delighted and deeply honoured to join you as we celebrate this Christmas Season.

Please allow me reflect and to remind you of our journey, a journey that has essentially been the foundation upon which we have built a nation of which we can all be justly proud.  Ours has been a journey that should remind us of our motto “Pride and Industry” where we have continued to show resilience even in the toughest of times.  In recent years, the term “Diaspora Diplomacy” has emerged to describe an important area within the diplomatic agenda, as governments have become more attentive to the potential and influence of those citizens who are residing outside of their nation’s borders and have grown to recognize the value in harnessing the resources available to their Diaspora. If truth be told, from the beginning as an independent nation and continuing over the years, Barbados’ engagement with its Diaspora has always been a pivotal aspect of our social and economic development model.

Successive governments of our country have recognized and been thankful for the tremendous contribution which you the members of the diaspora have made and are continuing to make, to the development of our nation.  In the midst of turmoil, strife and uncertainty in the international financial markets, and in the teeth of political and social upheaval in regions across the globe, the effects of which have been negatively impacting on our ability to provide an acceptable standard of living for our people, you have proven to be true, trustworthy and dependable partners in our national developmental efforts.  For this selfless service, Barbados is eternally grateful.

Building on this strong partnership the government is determined that its diaspora worldwide should be integrally involved in future national developmental initiatives.  By participating in these public and private sector endeavours, you will have opportunities to make financial, economic and technological investments for your own benefit and for the benefit of your children, grandchildren and generations yet unborn. Such partnerships ultimately will also redound to the benefit of Barbados.  You have also demonstrated that located among you, is a wellspring of knowledge, social, technological ability and skillsets ranging across the entire span of human endeavour.  The government is very aware that timely and accurate information is critical for the success of any initiatives which offer the opportunity to utilize your skills and abilities. I am very excited about the prospects for such cooperation and commit this Ministry to consistently keeping you abreast of any and all opportunities. I therefore eagerly look forward to the possibilities which the future holds for us in deepening our work together.

I am also pleased to announce that given the significance and importance of the Barbadian Diaspora, we are committed to revitalising our diasporic relations through placing even greater emphasis on our partnerships and through the further strengthening of the Barbados Network Programme which provides eligible citizens with duty-free concessions to resettle at home.  To this end, the Consular Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is in the final stages of streamlining the application process, which will be in a digital format, thus making it more accessible to citizens where ever they are in the world.  The programme will now be fully administered online via a portal where the application and supporting documents can be submitted immediately, thereby removing any areas of stress and uncertainty that may have previously confronted some applicants.  The Division is also delving into further review of the diaspora policy in order to update it and make it more relevant to present day and future needs.

My friends it is my desire that together we can successfully structure an interactive Barbadian diaspora where there is a constant exchange of ideas, experiences and information flowing between and among the various Barbadian organizations and associations across the different regions of the globe, and with the government. If we can achieve this, we will create an environment in which best practices are shared and can be adapted and where possible, replicated for the benefit of all members of our diaspora wherever they may be located.  I have also, recognized that in these harsh economic times some of our members are experiencing major challenges. They must be assured, that they are not forgotten and they must increasingly benefit from the assistance and support emanating from our Barbadian organizations in their communities.  I invite you to commit with me to the creation of a better Barbados through our collective endeavours and by so doing bring even greater honour to our country which we so dearly love.

I wish you all a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous 2023.

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