BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday November 30, 2012 – Barbados is celebrating its 46th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Friday with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart telling nationals that the achievements of the island over the years have “fully justified” the decision to break colonial ties with the United Kingdom.
He said at the social, political and economic levels, Barbados has made tremendous strides.
“At the social level, we can boast of having a Barbados that is more balanced and inclusive today than at any other time in our history; our children now have access to education from the nursery to the tertiary levels; enlightened legislative reforms have `massively expanded the rights of our women.
“We continue to provide for the care and protection of our aged; the disabled continue to benefit from mechanisms put in place to integrate them into the mainstream of our society; our social safety net continues to provide effective cover for the more vulnerable groups in the society; and we continue to provide for a secure future by making a strategic investment in our youth.”
He said economically, the island has been able create an environment friendly both to the local and the foreigner who wants to invest and expanded opportunities to encourage the development of micro- and small businesses.
“On the whole, we have been fostering the development of an entrepreneurial culture in Barbados,” he said, noting that politically, “we have deepened those processes and strengthened those institutions that both encourage popular participation and guarantee the freedom of the individual.
“Is it any wonder then that Barbados has been described as a country with one of the highest levels of human development in the developing world? Is it any wonder that Barbados is a leader in the world among small island developing states? Is it any wonder that our success continues to baffle countries much larger and better resourced, materially, than ours?”
But he warned Barbadians that the island’s development has been hit by the global financial and economic crisis to the point that the “sectors from which we have traditionally earned our foreign exchange have faced unprecedented challenges”.
But he said given the social partnership forged two decades ago between the employers, the trade unions and the government has allowed the island to meet the challenges “successfully”.
“The alertness of the government, the efforts of these social partners, and the patience, the intelligence, and the understanding of the people of Barbados are a sure guarantee that we will continue to withstand the worst effects of this global crisis.”
In his message, Prime Minister Stuart reminded nationals that independence never promised to confer only benefits.
“It also imposes serious responsibilities – the responsibility to be productive and efficient in what we do; the responsibility to nurture and to guard jealously those moral and spiritual values which have served us so well throughout our history, especially our post-Independence history”.
“Our aim must be to create a Barbados in which can be found families that are sound, communities that are vibrant, a society that is just, and a nation in which the well known Barbadian resilience continues to reveal itself.
“We are living in very difficult and challenging times. Information and communications technology has brought within the reach of every citizen ease of access to developments social, political and economic taking place far beyond the shores of Barbados.
“Our options, however, are not unlimited. As we embark on our 47th year as a nation, let us not forget that the options we take will influence the choices we make and will determine the future we create,” Prime Minister Stuart added.
The island is observing the anniversary with the traditional military parade and the honouring some of its nationals for their contributions to the island’s development.
Among them are Chief Justice Marston Creighton Dacosta Gibson and economist, Professor Dr Frank Walton Alleyne, who have been awarded the Knight of St Andrew, the island’s highest honour.
Sir Martson has been honoured for his contribution to the legal profession, while Sir Frank’s award is for his outstanding contribution to education, especially at the tertiary level, and for public service.
Meanwhile, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said that Barbados has made impressive progress and achieved an “enviable level of development in the relatively short timeframe of 46 years. “Creatively harnessing, rather than allowing themselves to be limited by small size and limited resources, Barbadians have registered economic and social gains that inspire the global community of developing states and certainly those of the Caribbean Community,” he said. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)