Barbados’ economy has “turned the corner” and the prospects for this year look good. Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the necessary hard work had been done for this positive result to be seen.
She made the comments recently as she delivered remarks at the official opening of the IX Annual Consultation of Caribbean Governors meeting, at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
Ms. Mottley continued: “This economy will continue to grow by the decisions that we take to deconstruct the practices that have hobbled it; the practices that have restricted the conduct of business.
“In addition, the building out of the infrastructure as we are doing, for example, with the Caribbean Development Bank we are relaying the runway … to ensure that we are not compromised in the delivery of our tourism product.”
She disclosed that on February 6 the foreign exchange reserves stood at US$740 million and 18.7 weeks of cover.
Ms. Mottley noted that Barbados celebrated its 50th anniversary as a member of the IDB last year, and during the period, the bank had executed over 174 projects of different types here.
She highlighted education and coastal protection as some of the areas in which “wonderful work second to none” had been carried out.
The Prime Minister told her audience that the ground water crisis and Sargassum sea weed influx continued to be of concern to the region.
“These things are having a deleterious impact on the performance of our economy and the capacity of our economy to be resilient. These are some of the things that we hope as we go forward that the bank will allow us to drill down to meet the concerns,” she stated.
The region, Ms. Mottley insisted, could not sustain the levels of growth without new creative financial instruments.
She opined that the natural disaster clauses, which Government had put in its new financial instruments, was a model which she believed should be examined by the bank.
Noting the fragility of Caribbean countries, she contended that it made no sense leaving what could happen after a natural disaster to chance.
“To that extent, what the natural disaster clauses do is to provide certainty as to what will happen if an event of a certain seriousness takes place, such that we can literally defer our interest … and defer the payment for principle for two years ….
“In the case of Barbados … it will save us over the course of the two years over a billion dollars, which in the context of a serious natural disaster, … is the fiscal flexibility, the fiscal elbow room that we need,” she explained.
Ms. Mottley said Caribbean governments were committed to making life better for citizens. She highlighted education, public health and affordable access to health care as notable aspects of that commitment.
During his address, President of the IDB, Luis Alberto Moreno, said the untapped potential of citizens of the Caribbean must be harnessed.
To ignite economic growth, he continued, Caribbean countries needed to revamp their economies to ensure they were on the cutting edge in the public and private sectors.
“They also need to better exploit domestic and regional markets, increasing integration within the region,” Mr. Moreno stated.
He said that despite obvious challenges, including climate change and related natural disasters, this was a promising time for the region. He pointed out that the Caribbean offers an oasis of stability.