In the interest of the people of Barbados, this Democratic Labour Party administration will remain committed to our goals of restructuring the economy of Barbados. We will also continue to govern by doing what is in the best interest of the people of Barbados. As we go about the process of restructuring the economy and carry out the measures in the fiscal consolidation programme, some of the medication which we have to take may be bitter but in the end it is for a good cause.
The 19-month fiscal consolidation program was introduced in August 2013, thirteen months ago. Towards the end of the presentation by the Minister of Finance, he rallied Barbadians to support the measures recognising that they would redound to the benefit of the nation. He stated, “It is crafted to protect the things we hold dear and create new platforms for future success. It will not be easy nor will it be painless, but it will be worth it in the end. For the pain we bare now, will be the gain we secure in the future.”
In dealing with the Global Economic recession from 2008, this DLP administration insisted that we must maintain the social safety-net. When we look at what we have done during the time, this administration has managed to sheild Barbadian from the full blow of the economic downturn.
An examination of unemployment figures across the Caribbean would reveal that Barbados had fared better than others during this recession. With the exception of Trinidad whose unemployment rate stood at 5.9% at the end of 2013 all the other territories had unemployment rates above 13%: Jamaica – 16.3%, The Bahamas – 16.2%, St. Lucia – 20%, Grenada – 33.5%. At the end of 2013 the unemployment rate for Barbados stood at 11.4%. As a result of the decision by the Government of Barbados to reduce the size of the Public Sector in an effort to reduce the expenditure of the Government, the unemployment rate has increased to 13.2% in 2014. Government’s efforts to maintain the social safety nets have helped to keep Barbadians gainfully employed through most of the economic crisis.
The introduction of the 20% payment of tuition fees by the students of the University of the West Indies was another of the fiscal consolidation measures introduced to reduce the expenditure of the Government. This was done in an effort to put government’s funding to UWI on a more sustainable level.
The Consolidation Tax and the Solid Waste Tax were introduced as part of the Government’s revenue earning measures to help to reduce the fiscal deficit. We all know the level of debate and the marches which took place especially with regard to the Municipal Solid Waste Tax. However, these measures were deem necessary to put the economy of Barbados on a better footing.
Government has also done all that it could to stimulate the private sector and revive the tourism Industry. The consessions which were offered to Sandals we heavily criticised and chastised by the opposition and some sectors of the private sector. However, we can see today the benefit of allowing the Sandals brand to set up in Barbados. Many eager Barbadians will be anxiously hoping to be employed at the new property when it is reopened in January 2015. We are sure the Jobfair scheduled for October will be well attended.
We remain committed to developing a green economy in Barbados and that is beginning to thrieve. It is all part of this administration’s efforts to restructure the economy of Barbados.
For many of us it appears that the Government is doing what is necessary to restructure the economy and deal with the economic challenges facing Barbados. Even the IMF in their most recent assessment in June 2014 recognised that the Government of Barbados had a programme in place to deal with the economic challenges, recognising that the government had implemented most of their announced budgetary measures and urged them to do any necessary adjustments to meet the targets.
In the Article IV consultation in January 2014 the IMF gave a green light to the fiscal measures, indicating that if they were fully implemented they should stabilize the debt levels by 2016.
From the last Central Bank report in June 2014 the reserves have stabilized. The fiscal consolidation programme yielded an estimated 51 million in the first quarter of the fiscal year. With 6 months remaining in the 19 month fiscal consolidation programme allow the measures to work. Government has come through the darkest part of the economic recession with a home grown remedy which is far more palatable than any IMF induced programme. We will see the fruits of our hard work and determination soon!