Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is pictured as he addressed the Central Bank of Barbados’ 40th anniversary dinner and Gala Awards Ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, last Saturday. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados’ Central Bank has been hailed as an institution of integrity and as a beacon of this county’s economic stability.

The comments were made by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as he addressed the Bank’s 40th anniversary gala and awards ceremony last Saturday, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Speaking against the backdrop of the global economic recession and trade and capital market liberalisation that have severely affected?? this country and several others, Mr. Stuart said as the chief depository of Government funds, the Bank had "allowed Barbados to absorb?? these shocks and to steer clear of any kinds of social dislocation".

He added that the Bank had provided government, employers, trade unions and the social partnership with "timely reliable information and advice" and had assiduously protected the Barbados currency which was pegged to the US dollar since 1975.

"With equal fervor, the Bank, by carefully drafted guidelines, has protected Barbados from the threat of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and has let slip no opportunity to defend and promote the International Business and Financial Services Sector," he noted.

Mr. Stuart reiterated that the Central Bank had always acted with a sense of caution engendered by a profound understanding of the complexity of economic affairs and the realisation that there were "no quick fixes and no magical solutions to the modern challenges of economies operating in an interconnected global market place".

Referring to Governor Dr. DeLisle Worrell’s?? assessment in the Central Bank’s January 2012 Financial and Stability Report, the Prime Minister quoted Dr. Worrell as pointing out that inspite of the weak global and domestic environments, the Barbados financial system was robust, with banks remaining highly liquid, well capitalised and profitable.

Providing evidence of this as indicated in the Report, he added, "the Bank’s foreign exchange reserves increased by $3.8 million; real output increased by an estimated 1.5 per cent, stimulated in part by 2.4 per cent growth in tourist arrivals; and the fiscal deficit was reduced from 9.1 per cent of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] in fiscal 2010/2011 to an estimated 5.4 per cent in the fiscal year ended last month."

Mr. Stuart noted that in light of the external and domestic environment, government had been proactive, and as a result of the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy and the Medium-Term Development Strategy, the economy was slowly recovering. He said the measures had been designed "to guide the country towards recovery from the global recession, with the assistance from the Central Bank". He further added that Government intended to reduce the ratio of Government debt to GDP from fiscal year 2013/14 onwards.

However, on the negative side, Mr. Stuart noted that the unemployment rate stood at 11.2 per cent in 2011, while the inflation rate was 9.4 per cent, as a result of rising oil and food prices; and government debt had increased to the equivalent of 74 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product at the end of March 2012, as compared to 72 per cent a year earlier.

The Prime Minister suggested that the onus was now on the "better educated and enterprising Barbadians to take advantage of the opportunities presented, to network with investors at home and abroad, and to take advantage of the increasing number of niches identified for the creation of both employment and wealth."


Prime Minister Freundel Stuart presenting Maureen Hoyte with her award for 38 years of service. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Several members of staff were presented with long service awards at the ceremony.??Angolyn Kirton, Sheila Legall, Maureen Hoyte and Yvonne Parris copped awards for 38 years of service, while Kester Guy received?? the Emotional Intelligence Award.


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