Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds this afternoon berated Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley for saying he had seen no change since the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government assumed office 17 months ago.
During his brief contribution to the Debt Holder (Approval of Debt Restructuring) Validation Bill 2019, Symmonds insisted that change had been occurring throughout all sectors.
He said while the Opposition Leader expected some kind of magical transformation to take place that was simply not possible.
Symmonds pointed to the soon to be restarted projects at Sam Lord’s Castle and the construction of the Hyatt as proof that headway had been made.
“How dare the Leader of the Opposition stand here and say he doesn’t see change being made. The transformation is there for all to see, the climate of interest in investment is not just foreign investors looking to come here.
“He wants to see the hotels appear as if overnight abracadbra we could have a 418-room hotel there, but the reality is that the first step they have to express some interest and now we have so many people lining up to express interest” Symmonds said, while pointing out that there was an investors’ conference on the island earlier this year.
The outspoken Minister said in April, 50 potential investors had expressed an interest in Barbados “for tourism purposes”.
“When last over the course of the last decade did we see anybody express interest in this country in terms of investment?” Symmonds asked.
He said what had made Government’s strides that more impressive was the horrible state in which the last administration had left the country’s economy.
“Investors didn’t express any confidence in the country under the last administration. Between April and now we have five properties already with Town Planning and more lining up to come,” Symmonds said.
He further pointed to Government’s push towards renewable energy and the ban on plastics as other initiatives implemented.
The Minister said the backing of the International Monetary Fund was also further proof of the progress which Barbados had made.
“This administration has committed itself to dependence on fossil fuel by the year 2030 and we are on the road in that direction. No other administration in the history of this country made the commitment to start the work…and the ban on plastics as well.
“All of these are things that enabled people in the wider world to look at Barbados differently today and all are doing so. We have seen the International Monetary Fund’s response to Barbados, we have seen the UN embrace our leader in the warmest way…so I hear the Leader of the Opposition but I am not going to dwell with him in the land of the absurdity. Fundamental processes of change are taking place in this country…” Symmonds insisted.