Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler (left), and Digicel’s Head of Sales and Marketing, try out a product at the new DigiCentre at Mall Internationale. (C.Pitt/BGIS)
Buoyed by a projected eight per cent reduction in the island’s fiscal deficit of its gross domestic product (GDP) by month-end, Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, said provisional figures showed that the economy is making positive strides in the right direction.
He made this revelation yesterday, during the official opening of the DigiCentre at Mall Internationale, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael.
Mr. Sinckler noted that provisional and revised figures provided by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the Central Bank of Barbados on the country’s economic outturn last year, showed "at the worst, we have halted the decline we saw in 2009 of 4.7 per cent and at best, we will record a small increase in output in 2010, of 0.3 per cent of GDP".??????
He added:?? "I am reasonably happy that we are getting traction from the policies that we have implemented and that the trajectory is going in the right direction.?? Let me hasten to add, that while these are provisional figures, we are confident that Barbados’ economy is moving in the right direction.?? As we bring the fiscal deficit down and reduce government’s reliance on deficit financing, our contracting of debt to meet our financing requirement is expected to slow and make managing our financial liabilities more comforting."
Mr. Sinckler maintained that the measures outlined in the upcoming 2011-2012 Estimates, represented government’s continued efforts to "gradually, but with determined efforts, reduce the fiscal deficit and put the public accounts back into a state of discipline and manageability by 2014".
He further stated: "This course of action and the accompanying roadmap to achieving these objectives, are sensibly laid out in government’s Medium Term Fiscal Strategy, which, when twinned with the sister document the Medium Term Development Strategy, clearly delineates what government’s economic, fiscal and development policy framework is, how it proposes to implement it and what results we expect to achieve by doing so," Mr. Sinckler emphasised.
In light of these objectives, the Minister of Finance revealed government’s course of action in dealing with the island’s economic revival.
These goals, Mr. Sinckler said are: to halt the decline in the economy by reversing negative trends in GDP output in the shortest possible time frame and return the country to positive economic growth; reduce the fiscal deficit to a sustainable level to achieve a small surplus by 2015; shrink the country’s debt to GDP ratio to below 100 per cent in line with internationally accepted benchmark standards of 60 to 70 per cent; and reposition Barbados as a major foreign direct investment hub (FDI).
He also pledged government’s commitment to: investment in education, health; environmental preservation and enhancement; energy efficiency and diversification; building out new potential sectors for business investment in the cultural sectors and renewable energy, while at the same time, diversifying traditional sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, international business; financial services and agriculture; and to create a strong safety net to cushion the impact of adverse economic and social conditions among the less fortunate.
Mr. Sinckler also reported positive growth in the island’s FDI and revealed that it had recorded a $158 increase over the previous levels last year and emphasised "this, [FDI] while encouraging, will not cause us to lose focus of our objectives to ensure that we continue to work to bring Barbados back to the levels of the pre-crisis."
He declared: "Even as we begin to see signs of a recovery as a government, we will not lose focus with small victories on a large battlefield. If anything, it has emboldened us to try harder, work smarter and to find ways to build effective partnerships with the private sector, that will underwrite our economic recovery, secure balanced and sustainable development for generations to come, and ensure that Barbadians can continue to have the highest possible levels of living standards in the world."