EU helping hand for Barbados
Government’s Human Resource Development Programme (HRD) has received a further boost to the tune of $35.6 million.
Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Mikael Barfod, made the announcement this morning at a joint news conference with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler at Government Headquarters.
Barfod said the money is part of the EU’s continuing support for the HRD. ”This is the third payment of our overall contribution of $130 million to be sector. This grant financing is being made a budget support. This means that the money is transferred directly to the state treasury. This is what you in Barbados call the Consolidated Fund,” the
He told reporters another payment was expected to be disbursed during the second half of this year, provided that the payments and credits were forthcoming. The foreign diplomat expressed the view that an investment in human capital represented one of the most critical engines of economic recovery for Barbados.
”It is pivotal to better responding to the challenges of job creation, reduction in unemployment and retooling of the workforce. We therefore believe that our support to this sector is needed now more than ever,” he added.
He conceded that Barbados has made a significant investment in education over the past few decades, but pointed out that the country now needed to better leverage its investment in education into tangible outputs.
Barfod believes such a move ought to engage the private sector more and encourage increased foreign direct investment in the country.
”At the same time, we recognize that there have been some challenges with achieving economic stability. The increase in unemployment from 11.2 per cent in 2013 to presently 12.3 per cent coupled with the retrenchment of over 3,000 public workers is public knowledge.”
The EU envoy said such numbers created an understandable level of anxiety within any country and a picture of an economy running on half steam. He however believes that the glass is actually half full.
”The EU takes note of the efforts made to stabilize the Barbados economy through the home-grown development strategy, while acknowledging that the economy is still at a critical juncture. The Barbados economy is showing signs of recovery with growth returning in 2014. The outlook for 2015 has also improved with the decline in world energy prices and a robust recovery in the United States and increased airlift from new markets such as Brazil which are all expected to have a positive impact on the Barbados economy,” Barfod stated.
Minister Sinckler noted that the HRD seeks to unleash the potential among Barbadians across a number of spectrums. He said the central focus in this case was among public sector employees even though it is not limited to this category of workers.
”The programme has been going exceedingly well. The ministries and department have been meeting their targets. Indeed, we have designed that programme similar to the HIV/AIDS Programme with the World Bank. It is cross-sectorial, interdisciplinary and reaches almost every segment of endeavour across the services provided in Barbados,” the Cabinet Minister stated.