STATEMENT BY Senator the Honourable Lynette Eastmond
Minister of Commerce
Consumer Affairs and Business Development
November 18, 2005
Thank you, Mr. President,
First of all, I wish on behalf of the
Barbados Delegation, to express our appreciation and
gratitude to the government and people of Tunisia for the
excellent facilities which they have placed at our disposal
and for the generous hospitality extended to us since our
arrival in Tunisia. I would also like to congratulate the
organizers of this event for putting on a very successful
I must point out that Barbados attached
the greatest importance to the World Summit on the
Information Society process from the very beginning when the
idea was raised at the International Telecommunication Union
Plenipotentiary Conference in 1998. In spite of our limited
resources, we sought to participate in the various
proceedings in recognition of the potential of Information
and Communication Technologies to transform economies and
facilitate meaningful participation in the global economy.
In many of the studies conducted by
international organisations that seek to make
recommendations for the development of small states and
developing countries, there is one underlying theme. That
theme is that ICTs, properly harnessed, can revolutionise
societies, businesses and economies, all for the good of the
Having accepted this thesis, it is now
most important for small and developing countries like
Barbados to ensure that international governance rules for
this great leveller are not now formulated in the interest
of any one group of Nations.
That is why it is so important for the
international community to take special action to ensure
that all countries can participate in the benefits of the
Information Society, irrespective of their economic
circumstances and geographic location.
We believe that it is timely to remind
ourselves of our lofty commitments to build a people-centred,
inclusive and development-oriented Information Society.
Let us not ever lose sight of those
principles in our efforts to find solutions to the problems
confronting the development of mankind.
I wish to re-enforce the point that ICTs
have the potential to help us to develop our economies and
to improve the quality of life of our people. But there is a
real danger that the progress of some societies could be
retarded as a consequence of lack of access or only very
limited access to the new technologies.
In this respect, the Government of
Barbados has been taking a number of initiatives to help
ensure that Barbados does not miss out on the opportunity to
become an active member of the Information Society.
We have liberalised our
telecommunications sector and this action has created
immediate benefits to Barbadian consumers in the form of
lower prices, greater choice in the form of service
offerings and enhancement in the quality of service.
We have embarked on a programme of
legislative reform to provide a more favourable environment
for the development of Information and Communication
In this connection, we have enacted an
Electronic Transactions Act which, among other things,
provides individuals and businesses with an opportunity to
exercise choice by creating equivalency between electronic
documents and paper-based documents.
We have also enacted consumer protection
legislation to ensure that consumers are given certain basic
rights, whether conducting business in a face to face
situation or whether through distance selling means, and
that these rights can be properly safeguarded.
Additionally, we have enacted a Computer
Misuse Act to curb the mis-use or abuse of computer systems.
We are also preparing a Data Protection Act and a Freedom of
I note with deep interest that several
Countries have been stressing the importance of building
capacity. Barbados is ever-conscious of this need and so,
through a Community Technology Programme, it is providing
training in ICTs for thousands of Barbadians in their own
communities, at times convenient to them. This is but one
step in our efforts to promote a culture of
entrepreneurship, whereby as many persons as possible will
be encouraged to use their newly acquired skills to generate
income for themselves and their families.
It has also been most encouraging to see
young children as well as senior citizens participating
actively in this programme, particularly those persons who
might not otherwise have been able to access the technology.
Mr. President, in the spirit of the
Geneva Plan of Action, we are in the final stages of
preparing a national strategy to assist us in making full
use of ICTs for stimulating national development.
Barbados is committed to the most
efficient use of ICTs in every aspect of economic and social
development of the country as well as the Caribbean
Community region as we engage in the development of the
CARICOM Single Market and Economy. In so doing, we believe
that the technology issues are secondary to the human
problems of organizational structure and business process
change that will be necessary to maximize the effectiveness
of our investment in technology.
On the issue of financing, Mr. President,
I believe very strongly that the International Community
needs to do more to improve access by developing countries,
in order to support development initiatives in the area of
Again, we wish to underscore the
importance we attach to the commitment made by developed
countries in the Monterrey Consensus, and other fora, to
provide 0.7% of their Gross National Product in the form of
Official Development Assistance.
As we look to the future, I believe that
more than ever, we must be prepared to work together in this
common cause. Indeed, as we renew our commitment to
realizing the Millennium Development goals and to fight the
ills of this world such as hunger and malnutrition, poverty
in all its forms and reduce the effects of natural
disasters, we should seek to exploit the virtues of ICTs to
enhance our actions.
Mr. President, we wish to commend the
efforts of all those persons who participated in the
preparatory process for the Summit and especially the
dialogue on Internet governance. Additionally, we wish to
compliment all those who worked so tirelessly to make the
Internet what it is today. For the Internet is clearly an
international resource which we must all ensure that we
The World Summit on the Information
Society process has been instructive for us all and we have
gained much from the dialogue and expanded participation of
the business community and civil society. Similarly, we have
all gained from an appreciation of our cultural differences
and diverse national considerations. No matter how strong
our differences were at times, our fundamental common
interests of humanity for improvement for all mankind
allowed us to reach consensus on the thorniest issues.
We are satisfied that all those who
believe in multilateralism, transparency and democracy will
find that the proposed forum for Internet governance will
provide an indispensable and desirable space for dialogue
such that we can better cope with any new and unforeseen
Let us recommit to building a
knowledge-based, all-inclusive Information Society where all
States can have a reasonable opportunity to share in the
benefits of development and a real opportunity to improve
the quality of life of their people.
I thank you.