Government???s revised fiscal consolidation programme, introduced a year ago to stabilise the foreign exchange market and protect the Barbados dollar, is working.

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, reminded members of the media at a press conference yesterday of the programme???s objectives ??? the principal one being the stabilisation of the foreign exchange market and the others being to reduce the fiscal deficit to more manageable levels, and to slow and eventually cut the growth of public debt.

He revealed: ???Having gone through more than a year of implementing and managing the key elements of the programme, I am able to report to the nation that we have in fact seen appreciable gains towards achieving our objectives with several successes, some more significant than others, and some still slightly less than satisfactory results.???

The Minister disclosed that the most notable success has been ???the return of stability and confidence in the foreign exchange market???. According to him, it was clear from the current figures available to Government that the fiscal consolidation programme had been effective in restoring balance to the foreign exchange market and in securing the Barbados dollar.

He said that normal patterns of changes in foreign exchange reserves had been restored and reserves were currently equivalent to 15 weeks of import cover.??The Finance Minister also pointed to positive growth in foreign inflows, net of outflows, which now stood at $266 million, more than for the same period last year.

He attributed this, in part, to a resurgence in second home market sales, with developers reporting the movement of real estate inventory at a faster rate in the past 10 months than for the previous three years. ???Equally, evidence is becoming clearer every day that external investors, behind a positive shift in government policy on investment, are seeing renewed opportunities on island,??? he added.

Despite these successes, Mr. Sinckler warned that Barbados was not yet out of the woods and needed to continue to forge ahead with efforts to further strengthen the foreign exchange market and grow foreign investments.

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