Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Cleviston Haynes. (Photo: Central Bank of Barbados)

Barbados’ economy is already showing “encouraging signs”, says Governor of the Central Bank, Cleviston Haynes.

He made the comments today as he addressed the 2019 Week of Excellence, under the theme: Driving Change Towards the New Economy, at the Courtney Blackman Grande Salle, Central Bank.

Mr. Haynes told his audience: “Our public finances have been reordered to the extent that we are on target to achieve a primary surplus of 3.3 per cent of GDP for Financial Year 2018/19. Tax refund payments have resumed and the central government is now making payments on a timely basis.

“The implementation of the domestic debt restructuring has facilitated a reduction in the debt ratio, which is now targeted to fall to 60 per cent by 2033.

Our demonstrated commitment to adjustment and structural reforms has garnered the support of the IDB and the CDB and our Gross International Reserves now exceed the benchmark of 12 weeks of import cover. Confidence, so necessary for investment and growth, is returning.”

The Governor stressed, however, that Government could not relax, as a sustainable path required those involved to build on the successes.  He added that they would also need to implement reforms, including those needed to strengthen the financial management of public enterprises, improve the quality of service delivery within the public sector and enhance tax administration.

Describing the new economy as knowledge-based and services and technology driven, he pointed out that it promoted innovation and creativity, and was fast-paced and customer-focused. According to him, the new economy is competitive and requires resilience. “It is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.  It reminds us that change is constant,” he contended.

Mr. Haynes suggested that the country had to be prepared to adapt to tectonic shifts in the economic environment. He said Government had been constantly assessing its ability to adapt to the threats posed by competitors and to the potential shocks on the horizon.

“As an economy, we have to embrace emerging opportunities that promote diversification and enhance competiveness.  Firms and industries that are reluctant, or unable to adapt, risk extinction.

“Facing this new economy, therefore, requires change. The Barbados Economic and Recovery Transformation (BERT) programme symbolizes one aspect of this change, as we seek to restore economic and fiscal discipline. However, there is also a need for a change in attitudes, a change in behaviours, a change in mind-set and a change in culture,” he surmised.

The Governor underscored the importance of data, saying data and analytics would better allow officials to innovate and inform real-time decision-making.  He said from a Central Bank perspective, having timely and accurate data would allow them to monitor what was happening in the economy, recognize trends and make sound recommendations for public policy.

He, therefore, urged those in the public sector to cooperate and ensure their data was accurate and submitted in a timely manner.

Mr. Haynes stated that the financial sector was changing rapidly and noted that the Bank must adapt.  He said the Bank was working with Government and the private sector to modernize the framework for payments.  “We are automating more of our internal processes and systems to improve our service to you,” he added.

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