Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick (File Photo)
Government has firm plans to keep monitoring the island’s economic performance and put it on a better footing. This was revealed by Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, who announced proposals to implement an early warning system to track the economic performance in the tourism industry, international business and other vital income-generating sectors.
He gave this undertaking while fielding questions from journalists following a tour of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Pelican Estate, St. Michael headquarters yesterday.
Underscoring the importance of the warning system, the Minister said: “With the economic crisis unfolding worldwide, we have to be able to track the magnitude of its impact and the rate of change of that magnitude of the impact on the sectors that we depend on. So, we need to be able to track what is happening, for example, to bookings at a hotel, airlift capacity and the number of tourists passing through the airport.
“This would give Government an idea as to how the tourism product is being affected by the international crisis. By doing this, it would allow us to put pre-emptive structures in place to mitigate the impact on our foreign reserves earnings,” Dr. Estwick said.
He also revealed that Government was keeping a close watch on the island’s international business and export sectors with the former, expected to have implications for the island’s fiscal deficit.
“We would expect that international business would be compromised to some extent and this could result in some difficulties in revenue earnings. The international business sector I think, contributes about 50 percent of our corporation tax. So, if there is any impact on the international business sector, which we expect to occur because of the global slowdown, that is going to have implications for the fiscal deficit of Barbados,” Dr. Estwick stated.
To facilitate the monitoring system, the Minister of Economic Affairs said the necessary Information Communication Technology (ICT) base was being developed to allow officials to track macro-economic information. The system would also be linked to the ASYCUDA system currently used by the Customs and Excise Department and the hotel sector’s computer systems.
“We are in the process of working through the ICT platform to be sure that we have such a system up and running in the near future. It is also directly linked to what Economic Affairs is doing in terms of the requirements for the special working group that was put together by the Prime Minister which evolved out of a special stimulus package for the island,” Dr Estwick said.