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"Barbadian sentiments about the SIDS conference"
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"Barbadian sentiments about the SIDS conference"

Lyn-Marie BlackmanThe cost of attending the recent Small Island Developing States conference drew criticism from some quarters, but Lyn-Marie Blackman, 27, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Barbados, argues the venture is an investment.

‘Samoa bound’ is the heading of the article which goes on to state that the Barbados government has sent a ten-member delegation to Samoa for the SIDS 2014 conference at a cost of a quarter million dollars.[1]

The Nation, a local Barbadian newspaper, sought to pay interest to the SIDS conference in its online issue of Friday August 29th 2014. The conference was highlighted as environmental in nature, however, many locals are up in arms over the expense.

Barbados has seen the job cuts of approximately 3000 public sector workers[2] and several of these individuals have been having difficulty accessing the funds that are owed to them by government. Budget cuts made to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) totalled 35 million BBD$[3]. Many Barbadian students are now having to fund their own tuition fees to The University of the West Indies (UWI)[4]. Youth unemployment  is at 11.6 per cent and general unemployment at 30 per cent[5]. Listening to the local call-in radio programmes and the plight of those affected by these austerity measures it has become apparent that many view the expense of the trip as a slap in the face.

Some of the sentiments were, “How can they spend that amount of tax-payers’ money with the way the Barbadian economy is going?” “What benefits will Barbados get from the conference?” “Why did so many people have to attend the conference?” “The conference is pointless”.

Having written an article about the relevancy the SIDS conference holds for Barbados, I know that most of the cynical comments are coming from people who are under pressure financially and would welcome any relief. I totally get it. It is human nature that when one is undergoing some form of hardship one can only see their own problem, and this can taint one’s view of anything that appears to be counter-productive to their problem being solved.

However, this gives a clear picture of the vulnerability of our respective SIDS – being cash strapped and the need for foreign direct investment (FDI).

How does a government plagued with a troubled economy, unhappy citizens and having to be present at the SIDS conference table equate in terms of happiness for everyone? The formula is: Delegates + its citizens’ concerns + genuine partnerships = success despite challenges.

[1] http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/samoa-bound/

[2] http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/12/14/barbados-plans-job-cuts-to-3000-public-sector-workers/

[3] http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/boyce-lists-qeh-cuts/

[4] http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/bajans-to-pay-tuition-fees-at-uwi-from-2014/

[5] https://labour.gov.bb/pdf/Key_Trends/Youth_Emp_Rate_2003-2013.pdf

photo credit: Alan A. Lew via photopin cc
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About me: I am a conservative and articulate individual with an innate desire to see love, peace and unity triumph. My interests lie in medical research. I enjoy researching medical news from around the world and reporting it in my monthly newsletter entitled L.I.F.E.

I love biomedical science and believe it holds the key to a healthier society. I aspire to become a medical researcher and writer. My focus now is obtaining more exposure for my newsletters: L.I.F.E. and The Believer.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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